Rabbi Ilana Greenfield Baden, Director of Community Engagement, Jewish Federation of Greater Ann Arbor, Ann Arbor, MI and Cantorial Soloist Ilana Axel, Beth Tikvah Congregation, Hoffman Estates, IL, Segel in Chalutzim
As Chalutzim faculty, we have the honor of witnessing first-hand what a powerful experience this Hebrew immersion program is. From the moment the campers arrived at OSRUI, the counselors greeted them with smiles, warmth, and Hebrew. At first the teens were in a bit of shock, but as they started to get the rhythm of some familiar words and as they started to get the hang of the staff’s pantomime styles, the Chalutzim campers embraced this opportunity to learn, grow, and bond.
As we begin the third week, it is a joy to see the campers engage more actively in the Hebrew process, as well as in camp itself. In addition to the regular daily schedule, Chalutzim has special events, such as Yom Avodah (Day of Work)—in which the unit beautified its area, and Shabbat—which is always a moving experience. This past Shabbat was particularly meaningful, as singer/songwriter Billy Jonas joined us for our Friday evening service.
One of our favorite aspects of Shabbat is the faculty-camper session we have in the afternoon in which we talk with the campers in English. It is their opportunity to check in with us and discuss what is on their minds. It was wonderful to hear from them at our most recent discussion how much they are enjoying their time at Chalutzim and how much it means to them. We are pleased to be able to say that the feeling is mutual!
[Check out this video of Chalutzim dancing to "Sieben Sieben"]