Engaging in 'Dialogue' in the Summer Camp in Moscow
'Dialogue' was the theme of this summer camp. A total of 130 campers participated in this camp, ages 11 – 13. The campers took part in a multitude of lively 'dialogues'; with themselves, between the generations, with Israel, and with Jewish Communities around the world.
The campers were divided into smaller groups. The Philosophy group, for example, studied the Jewish Family looking at its uniqueness and peculiarities.
The theme was presented through family values and heirlooms which were passed down from generation to generation. The children were asked: "What in their house is older than they are?"
Tanya, a 12 year old camper, responded to this question by telling the story of her great grandmother's ring, which had been passed down in her family for more than 70 years.
She said that would take care of the ring as carefully as her mother has because it not only embodies her family's history but it also the history of the Jewish people.
Tanya said that only now does she fully understand how much her great
grandmother's ring means to her.
- A Letter from Marina, one of the Israeli counselors at this camp:
My name is Marina. I’m 28 and I’ve lived in Israel for many years. I’m an Israeli. I am the Israeli who finished school in Israel, who graduated the University in Israel, who served in the army in Israel. I’m the Israeli who happened to come to Israel thanks to my parents, and who had never before thought of what it meant – to be Jewish. I had mostly associated with the people who came from Russia. The people, whose attitudes to Israel were the same as mine, and who, just like me, did not see the difference between a Jew and an Israeli. I used to say I’m an Israeli: that’s where my Jewish identification reached.
So it had been, until the day came, it was a year ago when I accidentally heard from a friend about school for madrichim(counselors to the FSU summer camps.) I decided it might be of interest to me. I don’t even know why I thought so. I had never before worked with children. And I had never before considered this job as a Job. I had always believed that a madrich (counselor) is someone who was supposed to entertain children and who had at least 253 games for them in “his pocket”. As I saw it this job did not have any relation to education.
But, with every new class, I realized how wrong I had been, and how much in my life I had lost, and how much there was still to learn.
And so I arrived at the camp. Never before had I felt so nervous. I felt like I did not know anything, because one thing was to discuss theoretical stuff and make up class plans, events and discussions, while it was a completely different thing to see these kids face to face. I learned with the kids. It was like mutual exploration ofmyself, the world around me, my Jewishness, Israel, etc.
It was a Dialogue, a dialogue of generations and cultures. Only at that very moment did I realize what it meant to be Jewish! At that very moment I felt – I was a Jew! I wanted to know more about my family, about my roots. That was when I came to the realization that what I was doing was really important and how significant it was that I should have come to Moscow. I was able to tell these kids about myself and my Israel, so that they could never lose touch with their roots, their Jewishness and with Israel.
Marina: "Only now do I understand what being a counselor and
teacher mean and I know how much more there still is to learn in the future."
- Interview with Sveta Tsigel, a 12 year old camper from Tambov, Russia
"This is my second time at the camp. I learned about the camp from the coordinator of the local Jewish community. I actually don’t attend any Jewish events or clubs, except going to the camp once a year. Everything has closed down in our city – Ulpans, Sunday schools, ets., which had existed when I was a little girl, while now nothing is left, at all. I really like it at the camp. Last year at the camp, I studied design. This year I’m learning geography, some interesting things about cities of the world.
For me being Jewish means to observe traditions. Israel is of major importance to the Jewish People. I have a friend in Israel and his name is Alex. Previously, he lived in Moldova. I would like to go to Israel. It is so beautiful. I know that a lot of Jews died in terroristic explosions and I was shocked when I found this out.
Where I live Jews are not liked very much. I can’t tell my friends I have been to a Jewish camp. But, maybe I will tell my best friends this time.I would like to attend a Jewish Youth Club during the year, but we don’t have one in our city.
Sveta: "What I really like at camp is that I’m listened to.
Adults care what I think."
- Interview with Lisa Lutskaya,10 years old from Nizhniy Novgorod.
"This is my first time in the camp. Mom and I found out about the camp from the internet. We were just searching for a summer camp for me and it’s so happened that we found this one – a Jewish camp. We felt so excited. We go to the synagogue on holidays but we don’t have a Jewish Club in my city and Hebrew is not taught. There are not any programs for children at the synagogue.. It’s great to be Jewish. I can feel that we are special. I think that Israel is a magic country. I’m eager to go there. I’d like to learn Hebrew. Our counselors (madrichim) can speak it! "
Lisa: I’m having fun here at this summer camp.
I’ve made a lot of new friends; we are studying different subjects
and playing a lot of games.
June 24th – July 7th, 2010 / Tamuz 5770