Omanut and Its 16 Splendid Facets
Try to say Jewelry, Sharpie Art, Comics, Mosaic, Origami, Pottery Wheel Ceramics, Hand Ceramics, Digital Photography, Painting, Silk Painting, Carpentry, Magic Cards, Pinterest, Illustration, Fimo Art and Video all in one breath! These are all separate chugim (specialty groups) our chanichim (campers) are enjoying, under the leadership of our Rosh Omanut (Head of Art) Debra Ackerman. Debra describes this extensive Omanut program as one that imparts detailed and real skills, and of course it is fun the way all the chugim at Palmer are fun. She notes it is not a crafts program from kits, and not just filling a time slot. Jewish themes and projects are subtly introduced and are optional; for example, Hebrew stencils are available if a chanich wishes to use them. The Jewish concept of Hiddur Mitzva (the overarching Mitzva to beautify all the other mitzvot) weaves its way in and around the entire Omanut program, in overt and subtle ways. The Omanut Building and the Omanut chugim that extend beyond (under the tent, in Nagarut, and the Solelim Moadon) all exude a quiet, calm, happy, Hiddur Mitzva ambience.
Every one of the chug leaders has their unique input into and perspective about Omanut. For example, Omer, head of comics, a native of Petach Tikva, is having a lot of fun with this chug and the chanichim. Rabbi Marcy Delbick, head of hand ceramics for 5 years, loves this chug because the campers uncover their inner creativity and acquire skills as they form their original pieces. Further, she witnesses the chanichim helping each other, working together, encouraging each other, sharing materials, respecting the work of others, and speaking nicely to each other. Through these words and actions, even if their artwork is not inherently Jewish — the chanichim are practicing Jewish values throughout the entire process of creating the artwork.
Aliza Chameides, head of pottery wheel ceramics, leads the pottery wheel ceramics chug, and her chanichim were intrigued to learn that she previously served as an animator at Disney. Aliza worked on Hercules, Tarzan and The Emperor’s New Groove! She loves how the chanichim learn new techniques that enable their creativity to emerge; they grow and have new ideas, and love to run with their projects. Some choose to create Judaic ceramics, such as Kiddush cups; others do not. Nili, head of mosaics, hales from Moshav Hatzeva, and loves the calming, quiet ambiance of the mosaics room. She loves learning and teaching new things, and learning about American culture. Ariella, the Pinterest at Ramah chug leader, notes that Omanut at Palmer is where Judaism and creativity intersect. Devorah of Digital Photography notes that her chug helps the chanichim focus on details around camp that they otherwise would never have noticed. Deborah of Silk Art emphasizes that for many chanichim, Omanut is their “happy place” at camp. They love creating a variety of silk art projects such as pillows, challah covers, tallitot and wall hangings. She also notes that the chanichim engage with each other in a positive, complimentary fashion that expresses Jewish values.
Last but far from least, Olivia Petshaft, as Assistant to Omanut, began as a chanicha at Palmer in 2010, was in Nivonim ’13, and this is her fourth year on tzevet. As a chanicha, she loved and lived in Omanut — which was definitely her happy place. So much so — that she is currently studying animation at the School of Visual Arts! Debra and Olivia are pictured here: