Sunday, November 22, 2009

Erev Nativ, B'yachad, Shabbat Kodesh

Weeks go by very fast so I don’t even know if I’ll cover everything worth covering on this.  But there are a few things I want to highlight:

*Tuesday night’s Erev Nativ was split by track.  We were supposed to go out, but instead we got into pajamas and brought blankets and pillows down to Level -3 of the new building.  The first part of the night, we had an opportunity to raise general issues, but I’m not interested in that here.  But a very important point was made that breakfast sucks and we need more pancakes and French Toast.  We played “share or dare” with yarn.  Basically, one person (in this case David) started with the yarn and could either “share” something that they’ve done on Nativ that’s special or they could “dare” themselves (or the group) to do something extraordinary on Nativ.  The dares ranged from speaking more Hebrew, doing more in Jerusalem and Israel, getting to know more people, making good use of time… So someone shares or dares, and then they throw the yarn to someone else. I dared myself to branch out in Jerusalem and do more with my Shabbatot.  I now have yet another yarn braclet on my hand!  I’ve barely been with the group for group bonding, since I came late, so I’m glad we had some group bonding time at this point in the year.

*Thursday night-Friday morning was our first B’yachad Seminar.  B’yachad is a program funded by the Avi Chai foundation to train American camp counselors spending time in Israel in Israel-related matters for camp.  There were about thirty Nativers that participated in this seminar, many of whom are Ramah employees but a few other camps are represented in the mix as well.  Last year, they did the retreat at Beit Nativ, but this year they’re taking us out for the seminars.  We went to a hotel in Ma’ale Hachamisha, and for the short 30-45 minute drive, it was totally worth the tasty food and a real bed (my bed at Beit Nativ sucks).  Our facilitators are Moshe, a former Emtza/SWUSY Shaliach and Pilgrimage group leader, and Shira, who’s in my Talmud class at the CY, and they both did a fantastic job, be’emet.  We opened by writing down our expectations for the program and what we want to bring home on the back of puzzle pieces and then we put the puzzle together.  After dinner, we did unpacking camp memories: we put an object related to camp into a suitcase, and then, after sharing an Israel experience that has impacted us, we shared our objects.  People had t-shirts, iPods, pictures, and other stuff that they shared.  These got pretty entertaining.  Part of the upshot of sharing these two things was that our experiences this year will become integral parts of us, just like our camp experiences, that we’ll be ready to share this summer.  Afterwards we did a paperbag drama game – we had some objects and had to make a skit relating to Israel.  They were all hilarious. This sparked a discussion as to the fluffy, sugar coated nature of teaching Israel to campers versus the possible need to present a more authentic Israel.  It was an lively conversation, and people expressed opinions eloquently.  Friday morning was devoted to Israel-Diaspora relations: American Jews’ relationship to Israel and Israelis’ relationship to America.  It was a very thought provoking seminar overall, with lots of humorous elements courtesy of a funny group of people, but a very productive overnight.

*Shabbat – I went to Yakar Friday night with Brenna (who had just returned from Greece).  I ended up leading Mincha – who would have thought.  Eventually many more Nativers showed up, and while the entire area in front of me was empty as I davened Mincha (I stood in the middle), it slowly filled up.  I like standing for Kabbalat Shabbat, and it was extremely spirited, so I liked that.  Nothing much more to say.  I walked with Shira (who led the B’yachad seminar) to her apartment for Shabbat dinner.  While we waited for other guests we played SET, which I hadn’t played in a while, but I didn’t do too shabby.  But dinner was nice – it was Shira’s roommates, a friend serving in the Army that had Friday night off, and two friends of one of her roomate’s from Hebrew U.  A lot of the conversation was in Hebrew and I was tired, so I didn’t follow a lot, but as usual it was an interesting conversation.  The soldier who went to Maryland gave me some tips on teachers to take and we talked about Jewish life there.  Then Saturday morning, David and I went back to America for services, aka Yemin Moshe, where all of the tunes are American and the sermon was in English.  It was a nice service, just very American – but it still represented the best of America, at least.  While Yemin Moshe is mostly known for good kiddushes, this one wasn’t so good.  Then David and I went to Rabbi Paul and Nina Freedman for lunch and had a nice time.  Lots of food, they’re very entertaining, but fairly low key.  Then I napped, nothing special the rest of Shabbat.

New week!  We’ll see what goes down.

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