Shalom Maalot Parents,
Our story begins at the dawn of time. Before humans, before organisms. There was a prophecy foretold millennia ago: Ma’alot would have the most amazing summer of their lives in 2016 and Talia Schwartz would eat the hottest pepper known to humankind (she doesn’t know about the second part). At least the former is certainly turning out to be true already! Like a detective with a bad memory who is embarrassed about it, I suggest we go back to the initial scenes at least one more time and examine them in detail because I just want to make sure we really covered everything.
We last saw Ma’alot on Thursday evening. That night brought us our first chinuchi (educational pe’ulah [activity]) with the morim (teachers) about our theme for the summer: Ten li Yavneh v’chachameah (give me Yavneh and its wise people, a reference to the sages of Jerusalem moving their academy to the town of Yavneh in the aftermath of the Roman siege of Jerusalem). The chanichim (campers) learned deeply about the struggles of our Jewish ancestors and how to, like the sages, preserve our tradition in our own lives.
Friday morning was the normal schedule of kitah (class), Ma’alot peulah (Ma’alot activity where we get to do our own fun/leadership development), and chug (elective). In the afternoon, the chanichim had the chance to meet their Gurim (the youngest aydah [age group]) buddies, as Ma’alot always does. The chanichim felt comfortable in their newfound responsibilities and leadership roles. As Shabbat settled over the machaneh (camp), sprinkling everyone with mellow feelings and happy thoughts, the tone changed. Multi-year followers of this blog will be well aware that this writer often has trouble describing the absolute splendor and comfort of Shabbat, how inherently all of Yavneh feels the connections that bind us together as Jews and humans, how the Divine is able to work itself into every minute in a revealed manner, so suffice to say that the chanichim were blown away, that they told this writer this past Shabbat was the best they’ve ever had at Yavneh, and that the food was amazing. Saturday night the chanichim had the chance to stay with their Kerem (the CITs and oldest chanichim in camp) and bond with them.
Sunday was an absurdly busy day and here’s why!! It’s because it was Yom Debbie (literally Debbie day, celebrating Debbie’s 26th and final summer). We had a parade all around the machaneh, had a performance from the Yavneh super band, and dedicated a Sefer Torah (Torah) in Debbie’s honor. We also had karaoke and other fun activities. The night wound down with fireworks and a bit more dancing. As the chanichim went to get ready for bed, our smiles relaxed as we fell asleep, ready to face a fun July 4th and our first full week at camp!