BBYO Summer Blog
BBYO’s Judaic immersive summer program that explores the way participants think about Judaism and its role in their lives.
Kallah Goes Grassroots with Limmud Day
Posted on 07/23/2012 @ 01:00 PM
Last weekend more than twenty Jewish professionals from organizations all over the United States came to Camp Perlman to teach for free. BBYO organized a Limmud day, and it was a huge success.
Kallah campers learned about Jewish Humanism, consent and sex ed, philosophy, online resources, AEPi, interfaith families, and much more. Over sixty different sessions were held, and the teens took full advantage of all of the opportunities to learn.
Emmie Herbstman was excited to learn from different perspectives. Afterward she explained, "I thought it was a great experience to be taught by educators who aren't here all the time."
The educators themselves made sure their discussions were on topics that would grab the teens' attention while maintaining the depth that would engage them in meaningful intellectual inquiry.
Unsurprisingly, Mimi Lowe Arbeit's session on "Can Hookups be Holy" was a huge hit, as many teens were interested in learning how a sex educator could connect relationships to Jewish values. Mimi led a great discussion that touched upon the importance of communication and consent when navigating interpersonal relationships; her previous experiences as a professional sex educator helped her really get through to the teens even when talking about awkward subjects.
Each educator led multiple sessions. For example, David Levy, of JewishBoston.com, led a session on Jewish Ethics for Online Living on Friday morning and a different session on how to use online tools when running your chapter in the afternoon.
The educators also ran electives on Saturday and made themselves available to Kallah participants during Saturday afternoon in case any of the teens wanted to follow up on the subjects that were raised during the sessions.
Some of the sessions touched upon ideas that aren't usually taught until college or graduate school, such as the gender theory that Joanna Ware of Keshet discussed in her "How to Be an Ally to LGBTQ People" session, or the examination of Emanuel Levinas that Suzie Schwartz brought up in her session on radical Jewish ethics.
Kami Salman was really taken by the entire concept of a Limmud day. She later said, "I thought it was fascinating that [Limmud] started in the UK. It was a great experience to have all those people come to help educate us."
Alana Kessler even tried her hand at leading a session during Saturday's shabbat electives time. She led a very well attended discussion on being a chapter president, and she was completely thrilled with how it turned out. When asked about her feelings about Limmud, Alana raved, "Teaching was the coolest experience I had at Kallah! It was awesome to share my opinions and give advice to friends here."
Hopefully Alana and other campers will continue their learning and Limmud participation in the future--they certainly built a good foundation at Kallah.
Gaining New Perspectives
Posted on 07/22/2012 @ 04:00 PM
Whether they're Orthodox or Reform, they're probably friends with someone in BBYO! Last week the Kallah teens completely embodied pluralist Judaism by doing two different exchange programs with other Jewish summer programs in the Northeast. First, the teens visited nearby Camp Morasha to get a taste of what Orthodox teens do at summer camp - Moshava and Mesora Camps also joined in on the adventure. Later in the week, Kallah had Maccabiah with the Reform teens at NFTY's Camp Kutz in New York. And finally, our Orthodox friends came to visit camp Perlman to get a taste of what Kallah looks like on its own turf!
The campers really enjoyed the learning experiences they had as well as the social connections they made. Aaron Salz was enthusiastic about the Morasha exchange: "I loved it. It gave me a chance to connect with orthodox kids my age and to learn about their traditions." He grinned, and then added, "Also, I loved dancing with them!" The teens did get a chance to dance with their Orthodox counterparts--an interesting moment, considering the fact that many of the Morasha campers are shomer n'giah and do not touch the opposite sex before marriage. Kallah campers learned a lot during the exchange, including how being shomer n'giah doesn't stop Orthodox kids from dancing and singing and having fun.
Some of our campers are more experienced with observant Judaism. Jennie Neuman described her perspective: "I go to a Jewish day school, so it wasn't really anything new for me, but it was interesting to see how orthodox kids go to camp. " Many BBYO girls were particularly interested in ways Morasha campers maintained codes of modesty in dress while dealing with the heat and humidity at summer camp - a particularly relevant challenge this year. As it turns out, denim skirts are surprisingly cool on hot summer days!
Our exchange with NFTY was a big moment for both organizations, as both sides are looking to forge more of an alliance in future years. All the teens were excited for Maccabiah and despite the challenges around the weather, the Kallah teens participated happily in the biggest Maccabiah ever, and many made new friends in the process.
The day was full of excitement, as there were races, dance offs, and Jewish knowledge competitions planned. While the rain that afternoon cancelled the swimming pool activities, there were still plenty of indoor competitions and activities--including a new line dance everyone learned called "The Wobble." (Ask your teen to demonstrate for you at home, or check out the video online!)
Jessica Baar enjoyed connecting with her Reform counterparts. She explained,"It reminded me of convention back home--I learned a lot about NFTY. I come from a Reform background, so that was interesting for me."
Lindsey Block shared her sentiment, adding, "It was a very long day, but it was great that we got to be exposed to a new organization."
Kallah's new connections were forged all week long, from Orthodox to Reform and back again. By Shabbat it was clear that the teens really understood the benefits of being pluralist and being able to have meaningful Jewish discussions with all different kinds of people. Another jam packed week of Jewish learning lies ahead!
Kallah in the News!
Posted on 07/20/2012 @ 11:25 AM
Check out this article from eJewish Philanthropy about our Maccabiah Games with URJ Kutz Camp on Wednesday. Way to go everyone on a successful collboration!
Surprises Abound at Kallah!
Posted on 07/18/2012 @ 04:40 PM
It has been an eventful day at Kallah; last night participants returned from our exchange with Camp Morasha, Mesora and Moshava (more on that coming soon) to an "ambush" where they were divided into military units and required to discover pieces of intelligence leading to...Maccabiah 2012!
Our teens were divided into six teams and briefed for the following day. We prepared them for a day of competitions, excitement and fun, but what we didn't tell them is that our day would be taking place in Warwick, NY at URJ Kutz Camp!
This morning, we surprised our teens and loaded them on the bus, where we in turn surprised 200+ NFTY teens by arriving to join them for the day. Our six teams combined with theirs and team captains from both camps joined forces for an incredible collaboration.
While the weather has not been so great, teens are dancing, participating in a very serious debate about cereals (our favorite quote so far: "Crunch Berries promote Pluralism because of all the different colors and tastes"), and spending time together.
We'll be back at camp tonight in time to get ready for a low-key day tomorrow, followed by a return visit from our Morasha/Mesora/Moshava friends, and guests for Limmud Kallah on Friday.
So much more to come from us soon, but for now, we're signing off from Warwick to go be with our friends from Kutz!
Posted on 07/16/2012 @ 12:40 AM
"I love Israel!"
"I love Israel MORE!"
Tyler Zuckerman and Liam Murray were excited about this evening's Israel narratives program, and while their debate during dinner was somewhat lacking in nuance, it was definitely full of enthusiasm.
Other teens were slightly more articulate when discussing their expectations for the evening's program.
"I'm excited to better my knowledge of Israel--and possibly to become persuaded to visit!" Michael Vivier looked forward to hearing the staff members' positive memories of Israel.
There were dozens of stations around camp where staff members walked the teens through their personal experiences on Israel trips, from spiritual moments at the Wall to more secular fun at the Shouk and in Tel Aviv.
The program was designed specifically to demonstrate moments teens might have on a journey to Israel, and while it did not attempt to cover up current Palestinian political entanglements, it avoided becoming mired in political debate by focusing on actual experiences staff members have had (rather than the staff's political analysis of their experiences.)
There was a station wherein curriculum director Suzie Schwartz discussed her experience at a checkpoint in Israel, and some of the teens were especially keen on learning the on the ground consequences of Middle Eastern conflict policies.
Bianca Levy explained her interest succintly: "I'm excited to better my education about Israel and the Israeli conflict."
The entire program went well, and at the end of the evening there was a cheerful bonfire as the teens finished their rotations.
They discussed some of the day's activities, including the beginning of their specialist chugim. "I liked the chug!" Kayla Berlinberg exclaimed to her friends.
"Me too!" Laura Gorenshtein agreed,
"Eric Hunker is really cool." Talia Hoffman nodded her enthusiastic agreement and then turned to a nearby staff member and explained, "We're in Kallah-capella."
When asked for a comment on his popularity with the girls, songleader Eric Hunker grinned and exclaimed, "Awesome!" He then modestly--and hilariously--began a mock award acceptance speech, "I'd like to thank my parents..."
Thanks, Moms and Dads. It was another great day at Kallah 2012.