Two lines of Nivonim dressed in all black led up to the Bet Am (large theater). They cheered as younger aidot dressed in yellow, purple, orange, red, blue, and white ran in through the Bet Am doors.
There was an immense amount of ruach (energy) in the room. As campers filed in through the main entrance our tizmoret (band) played songs from a variety of camp musicals: “Let It Go,” “Fame,” and “Hair.” Even though Machon just learned the song for their play a week ago, the entire room burst into the Hebrew lyrics to “Chanutiya Shel Pachad” (“Prologue/Little Shop of Horrors”) from Little Shop of Horrors. As people kept streaming in, the room was filled with song and dance in preparation for the entire event to start.
Three stages were set up across the room. Two were smaller, meant for shirah (music) staff to use to stand on as they played their guitars and helped guide the aidot singing. Behind the center stage was a tie-dyed banner with various Hebrew phrases related to the international theme of this year’s Zimriyah. Both behind and on each of the stages were papier-mâché globes. The tizmoret was situated on the back of the stage behind our MC’s for the evening, Elissa H. and Eric H. from Nivonim. The Zimriyah officially opened with Director Jacob Cytryn introducing our first Alufei HaAshpah (contest for cleaning camp) winners as well as the winners of the coveted “University of Conover” jackets during our winter contest.
Each of the aidot, beginning with Rishonim (staff children) sang a song related to the night’s theme: Jews Around the World. The songs were all in Hebrew but had origins from a diverse array of countries. Each aidah sang with enthusiasm. The MC’s introduced each aidah’s Zimriyah song with a short joke, followed by Nivonim’s Abby B. raising up a sign and chanting both the Hebrew and English name for the song’s country of origin—the campers chanted along. Working our way across the large theater, we heard each aidah’s Zimriyah song, concluding with Nivonim and staff.
The atmosphere in the room was stuffed full with excitement. As the aidot finished up their Zimriyah songs, we travelled the room again to hear the aidot songs. Many aidot gathered in circles, jumping up and down along to their cheers. Solelim’s song concludes with a cheer to the tune of “Wrecking Ball,” where they surprised the entire Bet Am by throwing a huge stuffed bear into the air every time a pair of cymbals were hit. When it finally came time for Nivonim’s song, they shocked the entire room. Even though they’d been singing an active song, “Tony Chestnut” as the opening to their aidah song, they revealed a new opening, their real opening: the tune to “Yah Ribon,” with the words “Nay nay nay Nivo—anu Nivonim” (“We are Nivonim”). Nivonim sang with the utmost ruach, truly embodying the energy pulsating through the room the entire night.
The Roshei Aidot, holding up the Himnon Ramah banner (our camp song, sung at every camp wide event) looked out at the sea of colors coming together on the Bet Am floor. It was an incredible sight seeing every camper’s smile, their arms wrapped around the shoulders of the person next to them; it was incredible hearing their loud voices and feeling the floor shake as everyone jumped at particular, traditional moments together.
Strumming on their guitars after finishing Himnon Ramah, shirah staff began our newest “Oseh Shalom” tune. Not a foot or a voice in the room was silenced. Feet were stamping, hands were clapping. As camp sang more and more songs, the aidot were sent to bed from youngest to oldest. Machon and Nivonim sang and danced together for nearly an hour after the conclusion of the Zimriyah—before Machon left for bed and Nivonim continued singing a bit longer together—they stood together in a circle singing at the top of their lungs.