BBYO Summer Blog
Jammers Visit DC JCC
Posted on 07/26/2010 @ 11:31 AM
Saturday, July 24th, was a truly beautiful day.
Of course the late wake up for Shabbat was nice, but that was just the beginning. Some of the Jammers, Jen Fallick, Adam Greenwald, and I went to the DC JCC where the Bet Mishpacha meet, a gay/lesbian congregation.
At first it started out like a regular shabbat service, with a few changes such as not using the word "Lord" in respect to the women of the congregation. After the torah was brought out and read from, the almost rabbi Adam Greenwald asked me if I wanted to be Bat-Mitzvahed and I excitedly said yes (P.S. I come from a intermarriage where my mother's side is Jewish and my father's is Christian so I wasn't brought up in a religious household. I was the only Jammer who hadn't went to Hebrew school and had a Bat-Mitzvah.)
So when Rabbi Tobi Manewith asked if there were any aliyahs, Adam announced that there was a Bat-Mitzvah. The congregation clapped as I walked up to the Torah. Adam helped me in saying the prayer to put my tallit on for the first time. Then Rabbi Tobi and I pointed to the section of the Torah where we would be reading from with the yad. I recited the prayer (which was transliterated because I can't, unfortunately, read Hebrew.) and the congregation replied, then I continued on to read the rest of the prayer. Once I finished Rabbi Tobi read from the Torah. Afterwards Adam read a prayer from his prayer book to me, blessing me as a Bat Mitzvah. To close, I touched the Torah with my tallit and then helped dress the Torah. The congregation cheered and to be honest, I had never had such a powerful Jewish experience in my entire life. I felt so connected and accepted into the Jewish community. I had always felt left out from the other Jewish kids because I never really had done anything to be an official part of the Jewish community, but now I had. Throughout the entire experience, a smile was glued to my face.
After the service was a delicious kiddish loaded with bagels, lox, egg salad, cake, and other amazing foods. Once we got back to the Hillel we celebrated again with an ice cream kiddish with the rest of the impact group.
Once the Havdallah service was completed that night, the kids threw me my own Bat Mitzvah party! It was such an awesome experience. I first got lifted in the chair as everyone danced in a circle around me. It was so beautiful to see everyone in support of my special day and being in the spotlight as a Bat Mitzvah. After singing some more songs we played the cheesy bat Mitzvah party games like Coke and Pepsi and Huggie Bear. To end the party we played Zip Zap Zop.
It was an absolutely amazing experience and I appreciated it so much. I love all of the friends I made at DC JAM and I loved that they were all there for me for my Bat Mitzvah.
I'm really sad to go, but I will be bringing so much from this trip home with me. Thanks DC JAM.
Jammers Lobby on Capitol Hill
Posted on 07/22/2010 @ 10:58 AM
Hi, my name is Seth Lipshutz and today during Impact D.C. JAM our group of 'JAMMERS' got to go and lobby on Capitol Hill. Lobbying was an amazing experience for everyone on this program. Each one of the 'JAMMERS' got to go to each of our respective state Senators and Representatives, depending on the situation, and talked about issues that effect both our communities and nation.
During my personal experience going to meet Senator Lautenberg and his Legislative Correspondent, a fellow JAMMER and I were able to lobby him on the issue of Don't Ask Don't Tell. Me and my fellow New Jersey citizens, were then able to get a picture with the senator himself and talk about where we are from and where we go to school.
After leaving the Senators office a few of the campers, one counselor, and myself ran into Senator Mary Landrieu from Louisiana and Noah Weinberg, another camper, was able to lobby her to vote for The Dream Act. Before the left she said, “Go home and tell your friends that you just won a Senator’s vote.” It was incredible.
After the group left the Senate building we walked to Union Station to get some lunch. After lunch we used our gallery passes to watch the Senate in session. It was amazing, considering we saw Senator Mary Landrieu from Louisiana. After watching this for a few minutes, a few of us left Capitol Hill, but most of the group watched the House of Representatives vote and pass a bill.
With all of the scorching heat and hustle and bustle of the metro station, the day was very good and we were all able to share an amazing experience on Capitol Hill we won't soon forget.
Busy Schedule for DC Jammers
Posted on 07/21/2010 @ 03:49 PM
Hello Friends, Parents, Comrades!
We have had a busy couple of days here at DC JAM. Yesterday was T'sha B'Av, a Jewish day of mourning that many of our participants and staff members commemorated through a traditional 24-hour fast. In the spirit of the holiday, which marks the destruction of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, our Jammers toured the United States Holocaust Museum. Everyone handled this particularly difficult experience with maturity and supported each other throughout.
The rest of the day was fairly low-key, out of respect for the Washingtonian heat and the needs of those fasting. A few of us watched the classic movie Casablanca in the library of the George Washington Hillel. Others went to explore Georgetown or to hear prominent speakers at the Brookings Institute in downtown DC.
Our evening concluded with a gorging dinner to break the fast and a remarkable Q&A with Holocaust survivor and Civil Rights activist Marione Ingram.
Today's activities began with community service at either Bright Beginnings or the Center for Creative Non-Violence (CCNV). This afternoon we will be focusing on our preparations for lobbying on Capitol Hill tomorrow.
Week 2 of Impact: DC Jam 2
Posted on 07/19/2010 @ 12:15 PM
Week 2 of Impact: DC JAM is off to a great start.
This morning the students went to the United States Institute of Peace for a simulation on Arab/Israeli conflict. Each student was assigned a role to understand issues happening in Israel on a whole new level.
In the afternoon, we visited the Israeli embassy for a tour and a speaker on Israeli politics.
This evening, we will begin observing Tisha B’av. Our whole group will be attending a service lead by the DC Minyan at the DC JCC and will then have time to reflect on the experience.
Shabbat at Impact: DC Jam 2
Posted on 07/19/2010 @ 11:46 AM
I’m Merrit Corrigan from Plano, Texas and I want to share a little bit about my first Shabbat here at Impact DC JAM- because it was one of the most incredible and memorable Jewish experiences I have ever had.
Shabbat started Friday night in typical BBYO fashion; girls and boys dressed all fancy, flashing cameras trying to capture the moments for Facebook later, and sitting down in a circle for services. However, unlike usual, there was no urge to rush through services to get to the next program. This Shabbat was a place where everyone felt comfortable and excited to express Judaism differently but together in our pluralistic community.
Friday night services consisted of praying, singing, twirling to the Miriam song, and ended dancing down the stairs for our tasty Kosher dinner. The best part of the evening was our “no-mic night” that was a Shabbat friendly way for all us Jammers to express ourselves. People sang, recited slam poetry, played music, and I even slipped in my infamous “bunny story.”
Saturday was even more amazing. The group split for morning services. I ended up attending the conservadox services at DC Minyan. I initially had some difficulty following without my comfort zone of Hebrew transliterations to fall back on, but everyone was so helpful. Staff and participants guided me (and others who typically worship differently) through the prayer book to make it easy for all of us. The congregation welcomed PANIM with open arms and I got the honor of opening and closing the arc!
After free time in Georgetown, dinner, and a song session, the evening wrapped up with a havdallah service on the National Mall in front of the Lincoln Memorial. It truly was one of the most overwhelming experiences I have ever had. Feeling so comfortable and connected to the people around me is really the only layer I can actually explain. I felt so blessed to be in a country where I can express my religious beliefs and mix them with my government and culture. Tears collected in everyone’s eyes and ran down our checks as we realized that this is a moment that should make us proud to be Jewish Americans (or American Jews which ever way you feel).
As we opened our eyes and our voices stopped chanting the prayers, we were asked to call out some words that would help us describe the beautiful service we were leaving behind. These words not only applied to havdallah but DC Jam as a whole, it truly makes us feel:
“GRATEFUL”, “JEWISH”, “LOVED”, “FREE”, and, of course, “POWERFUL”