Today was Special Day, a full day of super kef (fun) activities that also involved chinuch (education)! This session’s Special Day was themed Willy Wonka, so when we woke up we got golden tickets to Wonka’s factory.
We ate a sweet breakfast and then explored the factory! Some of the rooms we visited were the Fizzy Lifting Drink room, the Marshmallow room, Everlasting Gobstoppers, Golden Eggs, Dum-Dum Oreo Trivia, and Games Galore Gatorade. At each of these stations we played a fun game relating to the candy being made.
After our tour of the factory, Wonka asked us to join the Oompa Loompa workforce and begin our jobs. But first, we had to be trained. We started out by signing work contracts, learning Oompa Loompa songs, making Oompa Loompa ID cards, and learning about Wonka’s factory.
Then we did a relay to get dressed for work. Once we had become Oompa Loompas, we practiced picking Cocoa Puffs, milking chocolate cows, juicing oranges, packaging chocolate, and creating Wonka commercials. Finally, we came up with new inventions by experimenting with weird flavor combinations.
After our transformation and training, we all ate lunch in the factory. Then we did another rotation of activities, but this time they weren’t quite as fun. We saw the hard labor behind all of the candy we’d been enjoying. Some of these stations included scrubbing the factory machinery with toothbrushes, planting Skittles, disposing of overgrown Gobstoppers, and de-contaminating chocolate milk.
These activities became monotonous, and some of the head Oompa Loompas started whispering to us that we were being exploited by Wonka! We started to believe this when we couldn’t even afford candy to enjoy on our very short break.
Then Willy Wonka announced that he was leaving the factory for a short time to go on a cruise. As soon as he left, the Oompa Loompas were free to tell us the harsh reality of working at Wonka’s factory. We went around to hear from different old Oompa workers, and we learned about many of the issues they faced, including low minimum wage, unpaid overtime, repetitive labor, lack of health insurance, and classist education and opportunities. After hearing the hardships behind the sugarcoated jobs, we had chugim (interest groups) discussing various labor issues in the real world. Some of the options were Jews in labor movements, tipping culture, racism in labor movements, and traditional Jewish views on labor.
Then we split into different groups to learn about resistance! Each group practiced a different method of resistance, including knowing their rights, negotiating, chanting through a megaphone, strikes and walkouts, and a banner drop.
Then everybody came back together to share the resistance methods they’d explored and create an escalation plan for improving working conditions at Wonka’s factory. After discussing each method, we decided on an order in which to enact them and came up with a list of demands including higher wages, an eight-hour workday, and more Twizzlers!
We took a break to eat dinner, but then we began our direct action, starting with knowing and demanding our rights. Wonka responded by challenging us to a game of tug-of-war, and since we lost, he refused to respect our rights. We moved on to step two of our escalation plan: negotiation. We tried to debate with Wonka, but he wouldn’t listen, so we moved on to the next step: chants and speeches. We read out our demands through a megaphone and gave speeches explaining why they were important. One of the chants the chanichimot (campers) made up went like this:
Oompa Loompa doopity doo, we want workers’ rights how about you?
Our verbal appeals failed to convince Wonka, so we unveiled a banner on which we’d painted “Wonka is Wack!” Then Wonka challenged us to another match of tug-of-war, but this time more of the Oompa Loompas had been convinced to join the fight for workers’ rights, so we won!
Wonka finally conceded. He apologized for mistreating us and granted our demands. We celebrated our victory with a pool party and delicious kibbud (dessert)!
Special Day was packed with fun, candy, and important lessons!