by Rachel, American Christian Faith Adviser for NC
As we continue to learn from our Jewish friends about the tradition of Shabbat, we took on the theme of “rest” today. The Jewish kids and staff here at camp each have different traditions of how they keep Shabbat. Some staff and campers abstain from listening to music or doing work that might seem simple to some (like writing), other campers and staff take on the spirit of rest and Shabbat in different ways. It has been eye-opening to learn from each of them.
This morning we had the privilege of seeing a Torah scroll unrolled led by Rabbi Laurie, the head of the 7th grade LEAP program. All of the campers sat in two rows of benches facing each other. We laid sheets and blankets across our laps so the Torah would not touch us or fall to the floor as it rolled by.
Laurie explained that we would be unrolling and rolling the entire Torah (about the length of an American football field) from start to finish. As the Torah was unrolled Laurie and Lauren, American Jewish Faith Adviser for the 6th grade, shared with us some facts about the Torah and how a Torah is written and purchased and meant to be treated.
Two of the Jewish girls from Jerusalem, Arielle and Maya, recited their Torah portion from their bat mitzvahs when the group had scrolled to it. Some of the most beautiful moments this week have been when kids have had the opportunities to share these important moments with their new friends. Everyone listened respectfully and watched as the intricate Hebrew letters slid across their laps.
In the 6th grade morning session with our facilitator, Jill, we were able to spend some more time sharing our stories with one another. As part of a larger exercise, Jill laid maps of the campers homes out on the benches.
Among the maps were Jerusalem, North Carolina and Georgia. Each camper then got to choose a map to bring back to the larger circle and share. The second the campers had maps of home in their hands their faces lit up and they started telling stories to one another.
“This is my street!”
“That’s the pond near where I live.”
“This is how I walk to my school in Jerusalem.”
One conversation in particular caught my ear. Nick, one of the 6th grade counselors, was talking with our campers Yona and Nur. He was talking about his 3 minute commute from his home in South Carolina to work across the border in Georgia. He pointed at the map on the floor and traced his route.
“3 minutes to cross?” Yona asked. “No police?”
Jill, who was listening on helped facilitate the conversation to explain that in the US there are no checkpoints or police when you cross a border into another state.
Yona, an Israeli camper, was sensitive to something that many of the Palestinians and Israelis at camp and back home may have to face daily. Hearing his questions and observation struck a chord with each of us who overheard.
It’s through these moments of sharing and awareness of each other that we really begin to form deep understandings.
In the afternoon the 6th grade took some time for much needed rest with a silent meditation together by the lake.
After the meditation the kids were able to come back as a group and get together in a way that we haven’t before. Seeing the kids playing games together this afternoon was a sign of the days ahead. Tomorrow we are looking forward to learning more about Christianity at an Episcopal Church in Asheville.