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!