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BBYO Summer Blog

Kallah Day 6 and 7

Posted on 07/24/2013 @ 02:00 AM

Tags: kallah

Now that we're a week into Kallah, we've settled into a pattern. Mornings are spent with Judaic educators. Then, afternoons are spent in electives, such as chugim and specialist series, in which teens do activities ranging from acapella to making murals for camp. Finally, everyday ends with an evening program and perhaps rikkudim (Israeli dancing).

Yesterday's evening program was an Israeli narrative program, in which we explored our connection to Israel, whether it's from the classroom, from a visit, or because we've spent our whole life in Israel - like our shlichot (Israeli representatives) Nitzan and Orna!

Today's evening program was about 21st Century Judaism. We split up into 7 groups and created solutions to contemporary Jewish issues such as connecting Israelis with North American Jews, supporting stigmatized Jewish communities, and encouraging Jewish art.

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Kallah Day 5

Posted on 07/22/2013 @ 02:00 PM

Tags: kallah

Kallah is now well under way as we have started another week of programming. In addition to continuing our "hat'khalot" rotations (introductory rotations with our Jewish educators), we also had our first chugim (elective courses). Throughout Kallah, teens will attend 9 chugim sessions with the instructor they have chosen. Electives include media, Jewish cooking, and 3-D art.

Our night program covered the topic of mikveh (ritual immersion for the purpose of achieving purity). Our Jewish educators each taught the teens about a certain aspect of mikveh, and then the teens got to simulate the ritual purification by crossing a stream that we have on camp while saying the prayer. Afterward, we all enjoyed a shira (singing session) around a campfire in our amphitheater.

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Our First Sabbath is Over

Posted on 07/21/2013 @ 01:13 PM

Tags: kallah

The first Sabbath of Kallah 2013 has come and gone, and it was quite memorable. Many of our teens don't get to regularly enjoy "the day of rest", as they are often busy amidst their hectic lives, and so Kallah provides them with a special opportunity to have a powerful experience.

On Friday evening the teens got all dressed up (and took plenty of pictures to prove it), before participating in a Menorah Lighting and Kabbalat Shabbat (service to bring in the Sabbath) coordinated by one of the teens' Shabbat planning groups. Afterward, teens and staff alike enjoyed a couple of energetic Shabbat Shira sessions (singing Shabbat-related songs) with our talented song-leaders, Eric Hunker and Happie Hoffman. Once dancing and singing came to a close, the boys and girls split up into what we call AZA and BBG separates. The boys discussed superheroes, and what constitutes a righteous Aleph (member of AZA), while the girls grappled with sacred space and time.

The teens got to sleep in on Saturday morning as breakfast was optional, before going into Shabbat services. Following services, the teens got to choose from an array of Shabbat electives, including an introduction to Israeli politics, an explanation of what working on Shabbat entails, and an exploration of whether Bob Dylan's lyrics make him a prophet (some of the teens had their first-ever exposure to Bob Dylan!).

One of the major factors that separates the Shabbat schedule from the rest of the week is that we have an extended chofesh (period of free time) on the Sabbath. Many teens are trying to keep at least some aspects of Shomer Shabbos (observing the Sabbath) while at Kallah, and during their 4-hour chofesh is when they really started to miss electronics. Nonetheless, most teens found something to read, or someone interesting to talk to, and realized that having a break from their cell phone can be quite refreshing.

Toward the end of the Sabbath our educators put together a panel so that the teens could ask all the questions that may have been looming in the back of their minds. We ended the Sabbath with a camp-wide Havdallah session, and then the teens got to enjoy an evening program put together by the madrichim (counselors). At the end of an eventful Sabbath, the teens went back into their dorms and got ready for a full schedule today to kick off the week.

Teens described this past Sabbath as a meaningful experience, and once they explore Judaism further during this upcoming week, their next Sabbath should be even more special.

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Kallah Day 2

Posted on 07/19/2013 @ 06:00 AM

Tags: kallah

The second full day of Kallah is in the books! Once again we had Shacharit and Mincha (which are daily occurrences at Kallah), but we also several other activities that made our day a great success.

Firstly, we had Limmud Kallah for the first time. This program is based off of the international conference, Limmud (Hebrew for teaching), which puts together a retreat that connects Jews from a wide spectrum of backgrounds and brings in Jewish educators to teach a variety of classes. In our version, we had 4 rounds of classes taught by members of our educator team and a slew of guests. Each round teens chose the class that intrigued them most. Courses offered included "Lady Jew" by Kallah educator Emily Hyatt, "Introduction to Mindfulness Meditation" by guest Jonah Potasznik, "Adam and Eve as You've Never Seen Them Before" by Kallah educator Rabbi Moshe Saks, and "Organizing for Social Change" by guest Alon Mazor.

Our night program was a very unique experience as we visited one of our neighbors, Camp Morasha. What made tonight so special is that Camp Morasha, in addition to the two other camps that were visiting along with us, is an Orthodox Jewish summer camp. Our teens got to spend several hours interacting with teenagers their age who live an Orthodox lifestyle.

To start off, Teens from all four camps were split into small discussion groups (which had members from each of the camps), where they shared with one another basic information about themselves such as their hobbies, or what their Bar (or Bat) Mitzvah was like. Later on, the teens participated in a lively session of rikkudim (Israeli dancing) together. The teens were able to get to know each other and ask all sorts of questions that may have been in the back of their minds, like how being Shomer Negia (when Orthodox Jews cannot touch members of the opposite gender until marriage) works. Many of our teens seemed very surprised to learn that beside dressing a little bit differently, Orthodox teens are just like them, participating in the same hobbies and rooting for the same sports teams. By the end of the night there was plenty of sharing of phone numbers and Facebook information between all of the teens.

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Day 1 is Complete!

Posted on 07/18/2013 @ 06:00 AM

Tags: kallah

We have officially concluded our first full day at Kallah 2013.

Teens got a taste of what they should be expecting out of the next 3 weeks: As will be the case typically, we had both a Shacharit (morning services) and Mincha (afternoon services), and the teens went through rotations that provided them with a sneak peak into what their education sessions will look like. Some of the topics include "Spirituality and Nature", "Prayer", "History of Modern Zionism", and "Ethics and Morals".

Teens also had their first session of Shabbat planning, in which different committees will be coordinating our Shabbat programming and services.

Finally, we had our first session of Rikkudum (Israeli dancing) - a camp favorite which will be a regular activity!

Once again, photos from Kallah will be posted daily (Monday through Friday) on

www.facebook.com/BBYOinsider

under "photos", then "albums", then "Kallah 2013".

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