Our First Camp Shabbat

first shabbatShabbat at camp begins at 1:30 every Friday when camp gathers on the kikar (grassy area in the heart of camp) for kikar dancing. Even though it rained Friday morning, kikar dancing was still held outside for all of our campers and counselors to enjoy, both by dancing and by watching. When kikar dancing ends with Yoya, we head into the chadar (cafeteria) for a special lunch of grilled cheese and tomato soup.

Friday afternoon, after all of our campers have extended nikayon (cabin cleaning), shower, and dress in their best Shabbat clothing, they head to their aidot areas for hachanah l’shabbat—where they gather to take pictures, say Shabbat Shalom to their friends, and prepare for the Shabbat ahead as an aidah (division). With their aidot, they sing songs and learn about their Shabbat theme. The Nivonim (entering 11th grade) create two welcoming lines leading down toward the benches where camp sits for Kabbalat Shabbat. Because the grass was still wet Friday evening, all of camp gathered in the Bet Am (large theater) for services instead of coming together on the lower kikar, near the lake, to pray as usual.

first shabbat

Nivonim welcoming camp into the Bet Am for Kabbalat Shabbat

Near the end of services, after the most beautiful Kabbalat Shabbat singing reverberated off of the walls of the Bet Am, Director Jacob Cytryn addressed all of camp: “I considered starting by asking everyone to focus on the Bima instead of on the play plaques lining the walls around us. But I think we can learn a lot from these plaques.”

On the far right wall of Bet Am is situated a plaque for which Jacob’s father, Rabbi Eric Cytrtyn, was the Rosh Aidah (unit head). On the opposite end of that same wall, is a play plaque from when Jacob was a Rosh Aidah. These cycles of camp continue. Roughly every seven years the play rotation starts over—Solelim performs “Free to Be You and Me,” Bogrim performs “Grease,” or Nivonim performs “Mamma Mia.” The plaques lining the walls of the Bet Am tell a story of where camp has been and where it will continue in the future. Just as we end the week every Friday and Saturday with a restful and meaningful Shabbat, we come to camp every summer, taking two months of the year each and every year to grow and develop. Then the cycle continues.

As we think back on this first Shabbat for our campers who will be here for two-. four-, or eight- weeks, we think about the cycles they are beginning here at camp. Here were some of their favorite moments from this past Shabbat:

first shabbatIsaac B., Kochavim: My Shabbat walk with my sister was really relaxing and I got to see a lot more of camp.

Samantha K., Garinim: My favorite part of Shabbat was Ramahkellah, when people sang on the kikar before dinner.

Anya S., Garinim: I loved when we went to do Havdallah in pajamas with Kochavim in the teatron (small theater).

Maya G., Solelim: I liked Kabbalat Shabbat with the whole camp together.

Noah J., Shoafim: I liked having free time since I got to read a lot

Esther G., Bogrim: I liked being able to go on walks and being able to rest. I enjoyed walking around with the people and just talking.

Dotan A., Machon: I really enjoyed Seudah Shlishit (Saturday night singing) and Friday night singing—it was really powerful in this camp atmosphere.

Ely G., Tikvah: I liked the relaxation, the discussion, how we treat Shabbat as so special. Dinner, all of the meals, and the singing was great too.

first shabbatEmet L., Nivonim: I really liked playing ultimate Frisbee on the lower kikar.

Avi G., Atzmayim: I liked celebrating Shabbat with all of my friends, the Atzmayim. I also liked being with Ann Lesley and Scott Rosen and their family.

Jared Skoff, Nivonim Counselor: I had really great talks with my campers. I learned a lot about what their hobbies, talents, and what their goals are in life and the summer.

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