Or Haneshamah (OrH), Ottawa’s Reconstructionist congregation, will launch a new Saturday educational program for elementary school-age children in September, which is modelled on the summer camp experience.
“It’s called Machaneh Shabbat Camp,” said Rabbi Elizabeth Bolton of OrH. “This is a weekly camp at shul.”
“It’s an alternative concept where all of the kids will be together some of the time and will work with the educator and volunteers at other times in smaller groups,” explained OrH board member Heni Nadel.
“This kind of learning allows older kids to be role models and younger kids to be heard as equals. The idea is that the campers and their families will live their Jewishness. Part of each morning session will include incorporating the campers into our adult service, if only for a short time, as appropriate for their ages,” said Nadel.
Rabbi Bolton said there has been a lot of exploration in the United States, “re-visiting, revamping, recharging and remaking supplementary education in congregational life.”
“Our vision for Shabbat camp is to hone in on what you can do once a week,” said Rabbi Bolton, who is director of the program and will work closely with lead educator
“Ever since I first started working in Jewish education in 1994,” said Delicate, “I have been excited by the idea that the goal of Jewish education is to light a spark that will connect the person to the Jewish people and inspire them to pursue lifelong Jewish learning. Machaneh Shabbat Camp, with its family-based-approach to ‘doing Jewish,’ is a perfect match to my own philosophy.”
“Summer camp is the marker. Kids have fun-loving guides and do Jewish learning and experiences around all kinds of themes,” said Rabbi Bolton. “They learn to see the world through Jewish eyes and learn about Jewish values. They participate in Jewish activities with other Jewish children. That’s what Shabbat camp will look like.”
Some parents and congregants will also be at camp as guides. As well, high school students earning their volunteer credits will help with what they’re good at, like crafts, speaking about their travels and speaking Hebrew, she said.
The program will be open to all members of the community.
“The concept is that the camp will be experiential, not exclusively academic, and the knowledge will be absorbed through a series of group and individual activities including music, drama, art, tefillah, outdoor activities, etc., all done at an appropriate level,” said Nadel. “[It] is a great way for kids to learn at their own pace and soak up the learning.”
OrH activities take place in rented space at the Unitarian Congregation, 30 Cleary Avenue, and the Machaneh Shabbat Camp will take place there.
Visit www.orh.ca for more information or to register for the camp.