A year in the life of Bonimot Tzedek!

This year was our first year of running the full Bonimot Tzedek program. While year round justice based programming has happened in the past, this year felt really special! At the start of this year we had a peula (activity) about the interconnectedness of social justice issues and how they are all important but sometimes you need to be able to focus in to be efficient and effective organizers. Together, we chose to focus on issues of Immigration Justice in our communities.

Some highlights from this year included:

  • Speaking at the Priorities Hearing in front of Montgomery County state delegates, and 100 other people, about the TRUST Act.
  • Going to Annapolis to lobby for the TRUST Act.
  • Learning about art activism and designing what billboards we would want to see in a better world.
  • Speaking to a senior organizer from CASA de Maryland about the difference between direct service and direct action.
  • Going to Philadelphia for a weekend seminar about Jewish history, how we map power, and how we’re all connected in social justice work.

We ended our year with a meaningful party where the participants had a chance to share things they had learned throughout the year. I felt really honored to be able to learn alongside the participants and lead this program. One of the most impactful lessons I learned this year was that the youth are not just the leaders of tomorrow, they are who we should be looking towards today – they understand the complexities and the challenges of the world we are living in deeply and they have the hope, the creativity and the agency to create and dream up a better one. I am grateful that I got to share that dream with them for a few months and I am so excited to see how the program grows and develops over the next few years. We have some special things planned for Yom Tzedek so keep an eye out for that as well!

I know the program is going to be in good hands with Sara! She’s gsaraoing to take over for me (Yael) starting in August! Sara recently graduate from Smith College with a BA in Sociology. In her last year of college, she spent most of her time facilitating a class on grassroots community organizing. Through this she became really interested in dialogue facilitation and radical/experiential education. Sara grew up in Rockville, and attended Jewish summer camp for 11 summers. She’s really passionate about social justice work and youth empowerment and is so excited to be joining the Mosh community!

If you want to register for Bonimot Tzedek 2019-20 you can do so here: https://forms.gle/uD87va5B6YYShBFF7

 

 

 

Advertisements

Farewell!

We have reached the end of the summer! We worked so hard to make it a memorable and inspiring summer for all of your kids, and I hope by reading the blog, you’ve been able to glean some of the that Mosh Magic that we cultivated this summer. It has been a pleasure writing for the blog this entire summer to provide insight on the inner workings of machaneh, and I hope you’ve all enjoyed it as well! Thanks again, and see you all next summer!

Moshly yours,

Simone

Yom Tzedek

I accompanied the solelimot and chotrimot on their trip to First Fruits Farm for Yom Tzedek. This farm is unique in that it donates all of its produce to local food banks, and it is run purely off of volunteers, like us! The farm is about forty minutes away, so we loaded up on the bus and set off for Freeland, Maryland. Once we arrived, we were shown a video on the impact of the farm and learned about those that we were helping. Then, it was off to the fields! First Fruits grows many different crops, but today, they had us picking tomatoes. The chanichimot all got buckets and wandered up and down the rows of tomatoes, picking the ripe fruit and leaving the green ones for a later group. Once they filled up a bucket, they emptied it into a truck and kept on picking tomatoes. Though it was hot with the sun right overhead, we made sure everyone stayed hydrated.

This was an important activity for the kids to participate in; for one, they got to exert their inner farmer, but they also got to participate in giving their labor as tzedakah, or charity. Tzedakah comes from the Hebrew word tzedek, meaning justice. It is a Jewish value to pursue justice whenever possible, which is why we take the chanichimot to the farm to volunteer their time.

Moshly yours,

Simone

Yom English

We speak Hebrew a lot at machaneh; in fact, when making announcements and using the intercom, we exclusively use Hebrew. Chanichimot who arrive at machaneh knowing little to no Hebrew return home with a new albeit very specific knowledge of Hebrew. Your child may speak of camp, substituting words“bathroom” and “tent” for sherutim and ohel. Chanichimot know basic words that are often called over the intercom, like “achshav” which means now, and “dakot” which means minutes. Instead of hearing “breakfast is in ten minutes” at 8:35 in the morning, chanichimot hear “Aruchat boker b’od eser dakot”. At this point it’s also safe to say they also probably know the Hebrew word from “Intercom”. This is all to say, your children hear and understand a surprising amount of Hebrew while at machaneh, and this is not inadvertent.

Yesterday was Yom English, or English Day – a day of speaking solely English. While it began just as basic translations, such as calling “madrichimot” counselors or saying “morning gathering” instead “hitkansut boker”, the day quickly spiraled into an awkward attempt at forcing a translation on to our basic activities. You may have noticed while reading the glossary post that some of the translations sound awkward or cumbersome, especially if you have experienced these structures at machaneh already. For example, sadnaot is the time in the day where each age group splits off and does traditional camp activities, like tubing, ropes course, dancing, etc. However, sadnaot literally translates to “workshops”. The same goes for chugim, which translates to “interest groups” which sounds far too formal for what they actually are. The kids had a lot of fun learning the exact meanings of these words, and they even learned the actual translations of their age group titles, which can be found on the glossary post.

In addition to the times of day and the names of places, a majority of the songs we sing here are in Hebrew. The songs that we sing each morning and each evening are both in Hebrew. The lullaby we sing in a big circle after the tochnit erev (evening activity) is in Hebrew. Before each meal we sing a Hebrew Poem by the secular Poet Chaim Nachman Bialik blessing the workers that helped create the food on our table, and optionally after the meal the Birkat Hamazon, which many chanichimot have started to sing of their own accord. We translated that for them as well and sang it in English. This isn’t even counting all of the Hebrew cheers we do during meals or the Shabbat shira songs that we sing exclusively on Shabbat. It was silly for the kids to read the translations of the songs that we sing so often, fumble through the tune with a wildly different number of syllables, and often learn some new meaning behind the traditions that underpin a normal day of Jewish activity and culture at Machaneh.

This sudden shift in routine elucidated the sheer amount of Hebrew we use at machaneh. From each building having a Hebrew name, and in the case of our tents and cabins, the name of a Kibbutz, to translating words we’ve never thought to translate, like “brerot” or “sadnaot”and even each-others names, the chanichimot definitely added to their vocabulary today. But more so than that, they also learned of the importance of having the Hebrew language and the ownership they can enact over it. Here at Mosh, we have transformed the Hebrew language to be more inclusive, using the gender neutral suffix “-imot”instead of the gendered “im” or “ot”, as well as the suffix “ol”, derived from the word for all which is “kol”. It is important for chanichimot to feel this sense of ownership over the Hebrew language, as its fluidity relies heavily on their participation in it.

From all of us here at builders of the freedom camp colony, have a great day.

 

Moshly yours,

Simone

Huggy-Kissy Time!

Friday night, just before Shabbat begins, is a time where clean chanichimot can pose for pictures taken by yours truly! This time of the day is called “Huggy-Kissy Time,” as it is when we all hug each other and wish each other a good Shabbos. This time marks the start to a beautiful Shabbat!

We are looking forward to the last week of machaneh!

Moshly yours,

Simone

MLC/Sif

Today, I attended the anaf MLC/Sif. This anaf sweeps the MLC (Moadon L’Chaver – Clubhouse of Friendship) and cleans the sif (sifria – library). While it may seem trivial or unimportant in the grand scheme of camp, this is one of the most important tasks at machaneh! The MLC is used for almost every single activity at machaneh, and therefore sees its fair share of dusty feet, weird insects, and lots and lots of dirt! The sifria is also used heavily at machaneh, as it is one of the bigger indoor spaces besides the chadar ochel. These spaces get dirty quickly, and it’s the job of MLC/Sif to clean them! In the sif, chanichimot put away books and board games in addition to sweeping, while also collecting lost items that people have left there and putting them in the lost and found to be returned to their owners later. In the MLC, chanichimot sweep the entire area, and on Fridays, they sweep and mop. Despite being manual labor, chanichimot have a lot of fun with avoda, and the chanichimot in MLC/Sif listen to fun music as they clean up, and can often be seen singing into the handles of their brooms.

DSC_0061DSC_0057DSC_0052DSC_0051DSC_0050DSC_0049

Moshly yours,

Simone

Special Day – Environmentalism

Hello Earthlings!

Today was special day! The day was themed around the movie WALL-E, with a greater overarching educational goal of teaching about environmentalism.

We began in the year 2050, and the world was no longer recognizable. Resources were depleted, pollution had overtaken nature, and humans had been replaced by robots.

The chanichimot began the day with a carnival where they learned the ins and outs of being robots. They got their faces painted, adopted robot identities, learned how to speak robot, etc. Once they completed robot boot camp, the chanichimot were then split into groups for a round robins, where they did fun activities modeled around different environmental issues, such as an oil spill slip and slide.

Just before lunch, the chanichimot time traveled back the present day. Then, after lunch, they did another round robin, this time consisting of themed activities relating to the present day environmental issues that we face. These stations were themed around current issues like deforestation, plastic usage, fracking, fossil fuels, and others.

After that round robin, WALL-E and Eve, the characters from the movie, gathered the chanichimot into one big group to play a machaneh-wide game of “Hunger Games.” Each chanichol had to try to get each other out by pulling the streamers out from where they are tucked into on the other person’s body.

Then chanichimot had some swimming time at the “last body of water on Earth” (the pool), because the oceans had evaporated with the depletion of the atmosphere.

After pool time, the chanichimot got to choose two of seven different chugim centered around specific environmental topics. The topics covered dumpster diving, food justice and Jewish farming practices, GMOs, fish farming, city planning, environmental racism, and consumerism.

Just as the chanichimot began feeling helpless in their impact on saving the environment, we ran a carnival proposing different environmentally aware/active ways to combat all of these environmental issues. Activities were centered around reducing waste, promoting moral environmental practices, not buying new clothing, buying local, and writing letters to representatives asking them (Cuomo, Hogan, Wolf, etc.) to prioritize the environment.

By the end of the day and after dinner, the chanichimot had gained an extraordinary amount of information on how to fight for the environment. They then split up by age group for a sikkum (closing discussion) regarding all that they had learned throughout the day. In their own circles, each shikva processed the day and related it back to machaneh and the things we do here, like composting. We asked the kids to change habits at home in order to live more environmentally friendly lives, whether that be buying local produce, shopping at thrift stores, or something else. For the older chanichimot, we read an article discussing teens leading the movement against climate change and proposed ways for them to get involved.

Overall, the day was educational and fun, and the chanichimot came out of it with tons of new knowledge on how they can contribute positively to the environment so that we never see a world like WALL-E’s.

 

Moshly yours,

Simone

P.S. Check out the CampMinder for more photos!