by Erin Binder, Nitzotzot/Kochavim Unit Head
We’ve all seen Cupcake Wars on the Food Network, but when one of my staff members came to me and suggested it as a program idea for our 4th-5th graders, we struggled with how to make it into a quality program befitting a Jewish summer camp. After some brainstorming, we decided to make the theme of our Kalsman Kupcake Wars (see what just happened there?!) Jewish Holidays.
After assembling the Nitzotzot unit, we asked the kids to name their favorite Jewish holidays. Of course we got the immediate answers of Hanukkah, Passover and Rosh Hashanah. After a minute of thought, we also heard Tu B’Shevat, Purim, Sukkot, and my all time favorite, Shabbat! We split into 7 teams, each assigned a holiday and sent them to the task of designing their theme, which required them to talk about the different elements of the holiday and things they like most about them. Our awesome faculty (Rabbis Jason Levine and Lynn Butner, as well as Sharon Moskovitz and Sara Ellenson) served as judges with criteria based on creativity, application of the holiday theme and teamwork.
In each group there were 4-5 campers – each person had their own cupcake to decorate but the goal was to produce a cohesive holiday presentation. We had frosting and a whole slew of toppings – M&Ms, apple jacks, graham crackers, pretzels and raisins. With such an odd combination and a specific task set before them, I was very impressed with what they were able to do. At the end, they presented their festive cupcakes to the judges and we were all blown away. Passover took first place with Shabbat and Tu B’Shevat as honorable mentions.
Hopefully we achieved the goal of having fun, but also thinking about the Jewish holidays in a unique and sweet way!