Israel 07.28.17

Exploring Our Camp’s Values in the Land of Israel

Exploring Our Camp’s Values in the Land of Israel

By Rachel Landman, Assistant Director at URJ 6 Points Sci-Tech Academy

This year, URJ 6 Points Sci-Tech Academy brought our love for Jewish camp and for science and technology to Israel for the first time.

We explored Israel from top to bottom in 3 weeks! We were under the lens of a microscope, we barely had a minute the catch our breath between digging through ancient ruins, discovering marine life in the Mediterranean, and testing the newest inventions at start-ups in Jerusalem and Haifa.

Every Friday when the entire country of Israel began to slow down, we did too. We watched the sun set over the hills of the Galilee, city of Jerusalem, the expansive Negev desert, and everyone took a deep breath in as we finally had our much anticipated day of rest.

As we embarked on our first ever Sci-Tech Israel adventure, we focused on developing special moments and traditions that can be carried on through future generations of Sci-Tech campers.

One of which was the exploration of our four core values: Wonder (מלכות), Perseverance (נצח), Social Responsibility (אחריות), and Connection (קשר).

Wonder (מלכות): Each Shabbat our campers explored Judaism and what it means to be Jewish leaders with continued wonder. A teen run Shabbat committee planned and lead Friday evening, Saturday morning, and Havdallah services. They chose prayers, melodies, and songs that connected with our camp’s program and community. One of these traditions was to close each service with Od Yavo Shalom Aleinu, a song sung in Hebrew and Arabic that states “Peace will come upon us.” During the second Shabbat, following many of our Teen’s first ever trip to the Kotel, they took time for introspection, asking themselves, as Jews from North America, what this holy site means to them.

Perseverance (נצח): After spending the week learning from entrepreneurs, researchers, and innovators throughout Israel, Shabbat was the time for our participants to put what they had learned to action. During our first Shabbat, we were joined by entrepreneurs from the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism who through perseverance went from exactly where our Sci-Tech Israel teens are to start-up success. They led us through innovation challenges and left us with the message that anyone can be an inventor, but you must dream and dare to take risks.

Social Responsibility (אחריות): As young Jewish scientists, innovators, entrepreneurs, and leaders what is our responsibility to do Tikkun Olam? We asked this question on Shabbat as we reflected on how the Israeli companies and research institutions we were learning from pursued Tikkun Olam through various means. Some pursued Tikkun Olam through the products they developed and others through the method of development. After seeing many examples of Social Responsibility exhibited, our teens went through a Tikkun Olam design thinking challenge during our final Shabbat, creating apps that motivate teens to get off their phones and help others do the same time.

Connection (קשר): During our weekly Shabbat D’var Torah and check-ins we made connections between the many sites we had visited the previous week. Shabbat was also a time to build community, whether through singing together outside during services, coming together for a Shabbat basketball game or pool time, working together to program a new iPhone app, or just relaxing in hammocks at the Kibbutz.

Shabbat was not just about reflecting on the past week, but also preparing for the week ahead. It’s especially special during the summer when you’re with your camp friends. We used Shabbat morning services as our way to culminate all we had learned and accomplished previously and as we transitions into Havdallah at the end of the day, we began to prepare and discuss our expectations and excitement for the week ahead.

On the whirlwind adventure of Sci-Tech Israel’s Pioneer Summer, Shabbat was a beloved time to sing, play, laugh, smile, and process our many new experiences! We are so excited to bring what we learned in Israel back to camp.