Shema as the Key to Connecting with Jewish Life

An update from Rabbi Elliot Goldberg, Rosh Limud:

We say it regularly—twice a day, even—but rarely get past “Hear” and “God is One.” But what’s it all about? This kayitz, in our Limud (educational) programming and throughout the machaneh (camp), we are using the Shema as a master key to unlock an exploration of our Jewish identities and deepen our connection to Jewish life, the Jewish people and Israel. 

The theme of this kayitz, “Shema,” provides our teaching tzevet (staff) with a wide variety of topics to explore with our chanichim (campers), including:

  • The meaning of the Shema and the passages that surround it in the siddur (prayer book).
  • The rituals that are associated with the Shema in tefilla and at other moments.
  • The value of listening and making space for others to be heard.
  • Tools and strategies that we can utilize to make difficult conversations possible and keep them civil.
  • What it means to be a part of the people of Israel.
  • Our relationship with the state and land of Israel.

During the opening weeks of the kayitz, we’ve challenged our chanichim to make the most of their tefillah experience by engaging with the texts of the siddur. And we’ve given them space to reflect on the past year and give voice, in an age-appropriate way, to their feelings, questions, concerns, and thoughts about the war in Israel and its impact on their lives at home.

Just as important as what they are learning is who they are learning with. The informal setting of camp allows our chanichim to develop life-long connections to leading scholars, rabbis, and educators. Conversations that begin in Limud often continue at the Agam (lake), while waiting on a mirpesset (porch) for the rain to pass, on the path to the Chadar Ochel (Dining Hall), and for many years to come.

Our initial conversations have been engaging and meaningful; we’re looking to build upon them in the weeks ahead.

Categories: Director, Hinuch, Israel, Limud