By Benjy Forester, Rosh Tikvah
This year, the Tikvah theme is focused on Birkat Habayit, or the Blessing for the Home. With our brand new Moadon Tikvah, we hope to transform the beautiful new space into a place we know we can call home. Along the theme of the home, this past Shabbat focused on the idea of hospitality, or hachnasat orchim. A major part of the Tikvah program has always been welcoming guests, including playing with our 1-on-1 chaverim (“buddies”) from Machon, or inviting staff members from around camp to our Shabbat kiddush. Together, we unpacked what it means to be a guest and a host, and what kinds of responsibilities each of those roles carries. Staff members helped transform one room of Moadon Tikvah into a Bedouin Tent, and other staff members dressed in costume to welcome Tikvah campers into their home, teaching them how to say thank you in Arabic, serving them tea, chickpeas, and pita, and informing them about some Bedouin traditions. The groups then traveled to a very different tea party, this time sitting at a British style meal with a properly set table and very proper decorum. We practiced manners and table etiquette, and compared the experiences of the two different tea parties. Finally, we played a trivia game to think about some famous hosts we know, including Abraham, Rebecca, and even Oprah Winfrey.
The Tikvah program offers incredibly thoughtful programming that provides Jewish content, social skills training, and of course fun for our campers. As campers took off their shoes to enter the Bedouin tent, they really felt the shift in mindset and environment, and the juxtaposition with the British tea party gave them the chance to consider how we adapt our etiquette to different circumstances. Rather than providing a formal lesson on the values and skills of hospitality, we usedJewish and cultural experiences to engage our campers in meaningful discussion and practice. As we continue to explore the theme of the home and how we bless our homes throughout the summer, we look forward to finding more opportunities to engage our campers with the many relevant themes relating to the home.