This is Kyna Levi, your friendly Camp Wise Jewish Educator. I’m new to Camp Wise this summer, and already the kavanah (spirituality) at this place has made me feel right at home! This summer I look forward to sharing a Facebook post each Wednesday that talks about our preparations for Shabbat at Camp Wise.
Each week at Camp Wise a different Village (age group) takes responsibility for “hosting” a Shabbat. This means that Nate (our Shabbat Specialist) and I meet with the village three times proceeding Shabbat. The two of us and their village staff help the campers prepare a Friday night service, a Saturday morning service, and a Havdallah service. In addition campers split into committees that welcome the rest of camp to celebrate the week. The committees include a Choir, an Interpretive Dance Committee, a ShabbART Committee (that makes decorations for our Chadar Ochel (dining hall)), a Creative Writing Committee, a Pageant Committee (that comes up with a short play that explains the Torah portion), and a Countdown Committee (that helps camp get excited for the upcoming Shabbat). All of the committees base their work on a theme that they pick after exploring the Parashat haShavua (weekly Torah portion).
This week the Noar (8th and 9th grade) campers chose the theme of “being a good neighbor” after reading Korach (Numbers 16:1-18:32). In that portion Korach, a member of the tribe of Levi, convinces his neighbors and 250 other important men to rebel against Moses and Aaron. The group approaches Moses and Aaron and declares that they themselves can be better leaders. They ask Moses and Aaron what makes them so important.
Moses, feeling extremely hurt and shocked by the confrontation, tells them that God will decide. He proposes that both parties bring an offering of incense to see which one God accepts. Moses continues to speak to Korach, unsure the root of the problem. He reiterates that Korach is a member of the tribe of Levi and already has a special role in the service of God. Moses asks Korach why he and the others have made the choice to pick on Aaron. Later that evening Moses speaks with God. God becomes increasingly angry with the children of Israel and wants to destroy them all. Even though Moses is annoyed by the rebellion, he convinces God not to destroy the children of Israel.
The next morning, Moses warns the children of Israel to stay away from Korach and his followers because God is going to do something very harsh to punish them–like opening up the ground to swallow everyone. As soon as Moses finishes speaking the ground quakes and swallows Korach and his followers. Soon after a fire consumes the 250 men offering incense. Aaron remains unharmed.
After reading the portion the Noar campers discussed the importance of a the strong kehilla (community), at Camp Wise. They were guided to consider respectful ways of voicing dissent and differing opinions. Finally the campers discussed the importance of being a good neighbor within the camp community. From there Noar decided on the theme, “If you want a bad neighbor, Korach is there.” The theme, of course, was sung to the tune of the State Farm jingle, which gave us all a good laugh!
The Misparim (Countdown) group started off with a bang with a cleverly crafted skit that had the entire Chadar on their benches cheering. The ShabbART group began creating signs and challah covers for the tables. Kotevim (Creative Writing) put together an assortment of poems, haiku, stories and journal entries. Rikkud (Dance) and Shira (Choir) are both well into the creative processes that will be shared this Friday and Saturday. Noar is super excited to lead services this week. I could not be more excited to support this group in leading camp through our first Shabbat together. It looks like a wonderful beginning to an amazing summer of Kavanah (spirituality) at Camp Wise!