BBYO Summer Blog
BBYO’s Judaic immersive summer program that explores the way participants think about Judaism and its role in their lives.
Global Jewry - France
Posted on 08/05/2013 @ 07:00 AM
As Kallah wraps up, we reflect upon the great memories that we had. One of the awesome experiences that Kallah affords us is the opportunity to meet Jewish teens from around the world, and so I'd like to share a blog written by participants Alex Danoff and Idan Hovav about Jewry in France.
This year at BBYO's International Kallah, teens from eight different countries are in attendance, including France, Serbia, Canada, Bulgaria, and others. By welcoming all these young Jews from outside the United States, BBYO works to encourage global Jewry, especially in countries with developing Jewish populations.
Although France has approximately 540,000 Jews within its border, less than 97,000 are teenagers. Of these, just 150 are in BBYO there. In France, BBYO is active in 11 cities in three parts of the country.
Ivan Touati, a teen from France is here at Kallah, and he has a lot to say about issues back home. When asked about being a Jew in France, he describes it as “Frustrating. Most of the Jews in France stay very close together and don’t mix with other people. It creates anti-Semitism.” Even so, he likes being Jewish and going to synagogue. He attends a liberal synagogue, which is the France equivalent to reform. According to him, they can get up to 400 attendees at services for Yom Kippur, an impressive showing considering the relatively small Jewish community. Ivan also teaches Talmud and Torah to 8 and 9 year olds once a week.
Not only does having a teen from France here expose other participants to new languages, cultures, and people, it's also living proof that BBYO is a globally active organization with members everywhere in the world.
In France, BBYO competes for members with a Zionist youth group called Hashomer Hatzair. This organization recruits strongly in France and other European countries. Although many members of this organization do not join BBYO, both youth groups work toward the same goal: providing Jewish teens with a better Jewish experience.
Recap of the Week
Posted on 08/03/2013 @ 10:00 PM
As the final Shabbat of Kallah winds down, we reflect on the eventful week that has passed by.
We began the week off right on Sunday night when Dan Nichols came to perform for our camp, in addition to two guest camps. The teens loved hearing some of their favorite Kallah songs being sung by the man who actually wrote them. Another highlight was that a group of our musically talented kids got to go up on the stage and perform several songs along with Dan.
Tuesday was another unforgettable night as we had another exchange with Camp Morasha. At the beginning of Kallah, we went to visit them, and on Tuesday they returned the favor and came to visit us. The boys and girls had separate programming, and then everyone camp together for some rikkudim (Israeli dancing) and a camp fire. Seeing a group of Jewish teens from such a variety of backgrounds all standing with their arms wrapped around one another singing together is not an image I will soon forget.
Wednesday night was special as we got to experience Israel through a different lens. Our program was Israel 360, in which different aspects of Israel are analyzed thoroughly (from all 360 degrees). Teens got to explore various views of issues surrounding the Dead Sea, the four quarters of Jerusalem, and serving in the IDF.
Thursday was the famous color war! Teens got split up into 4 teams (green, blue, yellow, and red), and ferociously competed against each other in matches of ultimate frisbee, basketball, soccer, gaga ball, a tug-of-war, relay races in the pool, a skit, song, and banner. All of the teams had plenty of spirit and put in a valiant effort, but in the end the yellow team came out victorious.
Finally, last night we began our last Shabbat, which was special and unique like all Perlman Shabbats are. We had our last Shabbat Shira (song session) and Shabbat services of the summer, and tomorrow night we'll be finishing camp off right with our annual talent show - Cafe Kallah.
Review of July 20th's Program Pt. 2
Posted on 07/29/2013 @ 07:00 AM
The roots of our K'far continued to blossom as we delved into our second program of the evening.
"Welcome to IDF high command," shouted the program leaders. We then presented with the case of Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier captured by militants and held hostage for years. Our commanders relayed to us an offer from his captors for his return. The request called for the release of 2000 Palestinian terrorists and a lift of the naval blockade on Gaza. Then, in small groups, we discussed either an acceptance or a counter offer. Final responses varied but the discussion that fostered them was an unparalleled insight into our brothers' opinions and the complex intricacies of this real-life dilemma .
For our final program of the evening, the shocking reality that the State of Israel has no constitution. Each group was presented with a question that deeply proves at Israel's role in the world and her relation to he Jewish people worldwide. For example, "Does Israel need to be the epicenter of the Jewish people?" Groups discussed and answered the questions after serious debate, the answers forming the constitution we crafted as a group.
This first evening of K'far programming was stupendously formative for our group unity, planting the seeds of fraternity in the Kallah 2013 garden.
Thanks for reading. B'Shalom,
Eli Shankman and Josh Kaplan
Review of July 20th's Program Pt. 1
Posted on 07/29/2013 @ 02:00 AM
Eli Shankman and Josh Kaplan here!
You can't spell "fraternity" without the "nity" in "unity", and here at K'far AZA that's what we're all about. But what is K'far AZA you ask? Well, let me tell you! K'far means village in Hebrew, and much like the shtetls and village communities of yore, we take the value of K'far AZA to develop a tightly knit gaggle of young Jewish leaders here at Perlman. Every Saturday night, the Alephs of Kallah 2013 are graced with a unique opportunity to participate in programming specifically targeting the formation of bonds in our K'far this year!
About a week ago, on the night of July 20th we experienced our very first K'far program. The program was centered around three activities, each focusing on a different element of defending and fashioning our own Jewish identities. As the night started we gathered around a small amphitheater and were instructed to divide into small groups. Each group had its own leader who served as a tour guide and these groups lined up in a queue outside of a small building dubbed "The Museum of Jewish History". As participants entered the museum their eyes were immediately drawn to tables that lined the walls and in a logical counterclockwise progression. The tables were covered in different Jewish ritual items, everything from menorahs to kiddish cups, tefillin to siddurim. Participants approached the first table and the tour guide began his spiel. Every item he picked up was accompanied by a short explanation of its use or purpose, all pointing to the fact that Jews were devil worshipers and Christian killers, and these were the instruments of their demonic agenda. Alephs in the room looked on in disgust and confusion as these blasphemously inaccurate reports went on and on. Then we came to the "Wall of Heroes". Glorifying pictures and biographies of historically infamous anti-Semites dressed the wall. After that participants were directed to view the educational video (a parody of Hey Jude by the Westborough Baptist Church). This video explained all the sins that the Jews have committed, including many shots of young children singing along. Finally we departed the museum and debriefed the experience in another classroom. It was revealed that the museum reflected a Nazi dream of creating a museum of Jewish reflects once the final solution was complete. People shared feelings of anger and sickness but finally agreed on the uplifting sentiment that no people had ever succeeded in exterminating all Jews and that we would stay strong to make sure nothing like that could be a reality in our lifetime or generations to come.
Two more activities came to follow this already unbelievable experience both enhancing our outlook upon Israel and our own morals. These discussions gave us an insight into our brothers' perspectives developing the roots of a true K'far.
Stay tuned for Part 2 describing the rest of the evening.
Review of the Morasha Exchange
Posted on 07/25/2013 @ 02:08 AM
Rebecca Lewis and Maeghan Jakubovitz here!
On Thursday July 18th, 2013, we went to camp Morasha, an orthodox camp, and had an exchange with them along with two other orthodox camps. Prior to going to the camp the boys and girls dressed in traditionally modest clothing with covered knees and shoulders.
While we were there we split into groups with a few teens from each camp, including some of the leaders. We got to talk to one another about our beliefs and what we like to do. The conversations ranged from favorite movies to our Jewish identities and belief in G-d. It was eye-opening to see how similar we are even though we have different customs and interesting to learn about our differences as well.
After that, we had an awesome dance where the boys and girls were separated by a michzah. We learned how they traditionally danced and listened to some of their favorite songs. Here we got to talk to some of the teens on a more personal level where they were very open about some of the struggles they face along with their favorite aspects of the lives they lead as orthodox teens.
This was such an awesome experience for all of us. Kallah is very excited for them to come visit our camp on July 30th and to find out more about their traditions, and for them to see ours.