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Kallah Blog

BBYO’s Judaic immersive summer program that explores the way participants think about Judaism and its role in their lives.


Shabbat at Kallah

Posted on 07/27/2014 @ 11:21 AM

Shabbat has always been one of my favorite aspects about Judaism, especially in BBYO. At the beginning of Kallah we chose different Shabbat programmatic committees and really made this Shabbat about us, the Kallah community. Before Shabbat we got to take photos in the small quad with old and new friends, capturing the moment to ensure we never forget how amazing Shabbat was. After that we had participant led menorah lighting and Kabbalat Shabbat, which helped us welcome Shabbat to our camp. We then celebrated with a delicious Shabbat dinner that encouraged everyone to sit with new people based on similar traits, I sat at the wisdom table with a variety of old and new people. We finished the night with our first separates that increased the brotherhood among all the participants.

The next morning the Shabbat atmosphere of the previous night continued. I, along with many others, decided to keep Shomer Shabbat, staying away from all technology to immerse myself in Kallah. During the day, we were able to attend a variety of services and electives, furthering our connection to different aspects of Judaism while having fun. We then had an extra long Shabbat free time where we could meet new people, ask questions to staff, play sports, or just hang out and relax around camp. That night we got an amazing opportunity to talk to a panel of our Jewish educators. This allowed us to ask a variety of questions to the many Jewish educators that we had connected to in the past week. Finally, our communal Havdallah brought everyone together once again to celebrate the closing of Shabbat and the beginning of the next week.

Nathaniel Bernstein Great Midwest Region

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New Classes

Posted on 07/24/2014 @ 05:24 PM

I am attending International Kallah because I am extremely passionate about being an active member of the Jewish community, and I wanted a forum to discuss some of my ideas with other knowledgeable teens.

Through the Limmud framework, participants at Kallah can attend various classes led by our very own Jewish Educators. The two courses I have taken are ‘Exploring Israel’, taught by Ian Kandel and ‘Sex and Beyond’ taught by Rabbi Allen Saks.

Ian’s course has two main foci: learning the roots of Zionism and learning about current pressing events in Israel, including the political tensions that exist. We explore the 2000 year old Jewish ideal of returning to our homeland, Israel, and review historical documents, such as the poem that Hatikva was taken from. Because of this course I feel more educated and capable of having intellectual conversations about the ethical and political situations in the country currently.

In Rabbi Allen’s course, ‘Sex and Beyond,’ we explore the expectations and stereotypes about sex in the Jewish religion. We also explore how these ideas have changed over time. We discuss the differences between men and women in sexual environments, and what is considered appropriate for each gender. Rabbi Allen has used readings, discussions, and TV shows (such as Seinfeld) to help teach about these topics. Both of my classes have given me a lot of information to take home with me, as well as allowed myself and my peers express our own thoughts on the class topics. I look forward to continuing my lessons in Ian’s class, as well as starting a new course, entitled ‘God Talk,’ which is being taught by Tali Adler, an instructor currently in rabbinical school.

Itay Barylka

Central Region West

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My First Jewish Experience

Posted on 07/23/2014 @ 11:31 AM

When I signed up for International Kallah last fall as a girl who went to religious school for over eight years, I thought I knew who I was as a person and as a Jew. Now, over a week into Kallah, my perspective has changed more than I thought possible. Every morning and afternoon, the whole Kallah community comes together to pray. No matter what sect you are or how much practice you have had, the educators make it easy to participate and be a part of the community. The past five prayer services that we have engaged in as a community have ranged from musical services led by Eric and Happie, meditative services led by Rabbi Zac, and even an Orthodox style service with split genders and a Mechitza. Being able to participate in services that I would not necessarily engage in at home has definitely opened my eyes to other areas of Judaism. The broad range of services is keeping everyone here engaged and eager to pray. Not only is Kallah a place where everyone is welcome; Kallah is a place where everyone is fully engaged in learning, prayer, and being a part of a community. Praying in this Kehillah (community) has been meaningful beyond words for me and the other teens here. Apart from praying, Kallah has given me amazing opportunities to practice and learn about my Judaism. The most prevalent example of this happened to me on the first full day of being at Kallah. I had no idea that the first full day was the 17th of Tammuz and the beginning of the three-week mourning period for T’sha B’av (the destruction of the temple.) I, along with 30 other teens, took the chance to fast from sunrise to sunset and spend the day commemorating and learning about the destruction of the temple. Growing closer to the other teens and staff members fasting with me, although I was hungry, was the most meaningful way that I could have hoped to start my Kallah journey. During meals, we hung out in the big quad, distracting our minds and stomachs from the struggle before us. We spent our entire day trying to explain our decisions to our peers. For me, thinking about those whom we lost and being able to learn in-depth about our history as a Jewish people was not even a question, but more an obligation.

Molly Ball

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Kallah Is In Full Swing!

Posted on 07/17/2014 @ 11:44 AM

We are in our third full day of Kallah programming! On the opening night, coordinators Gary Levine and Tracey Katz opened the program introducing the Kallah theme: Prepare Me to Be a Sanctuary. As friends reunited from other summer experiences, teens spread out around camp and began exploring thought provoking Judaic questions. The program helped teens begin to identify where they stand in their Jewish beliefs, values, and thought.

In the morning, the Kallah community woke up early for daily Shacharit (morning prayer). Many teens, for the first time, are participating in a cycle of daily morning prayer. Following services, an educator panel was open so participants could learn about their different learning options. At Kallah, educators are teaching a wide array of topics including, but not limited to, G-d, the conflict in Israel, Jewish Debates, and Judaism/Spirituality in nature. Teens were also able to select Chugim, a series of specialized afternoon activities. The Kallah Chugim options offered by our specialists include culinary arts, photography, songwriting, Israeli dance, and more. Continuing with the variety of choices, in the afternoon, participants spread out with Educators and Madrichim to begin planning the evening programs that are offered at Kallah.

Yesterday, participants got their first taste of a normal day at Kallah by attending their Limmud (learning) sessions with their educators and their Chugim groups. Everyone is looking forward to building relationships with the Educators and Madrichim they have been assigned to. In the evening, the Hebrew Mamita, a famous Jewish slam poet, joined the Kallah community to address major Jewish teen issues like anti-semitism. Every dorm had the opportunity to break up and write their own poem and perform it to everyone at Kallah under our beautiful tree in the large quad. It was an inspiring night for everyone.

Stay tuned for more Kallah updates!

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Kallah 2014 Coming Soon!

Posted on 05/05/2014 @ 05:00 PM

Tags: kallah

Kallah 2014 will be here soon! Make sure to check back here for blog updates and below for pictures!

Here's to an epic #BBYOSummer2014

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