by Susan Alexander, Associate Director
One of my favorite weekends of the year is when I facilitate OSRUI’s Mother & Daughter Kallah. This is a program designed for mothers, grandmothers, aunts and the girls they love ages 5-12.
The connection between mothers and daughters is probably the most profound of human connections. With today’sbusy lifestyles, sometimes this relationship needs to be charged with something new to keep it alive and growing. This weekend is designed to deepen that bond between these women and girls while they play and pray at camp.
The playing includes much of what camp has to offer…archery, Krav Maga, hiking, hay rides, campfires, challenge high ropes course, art and singing. We have done some really great projects during this weekend like making masks and silk screened challah covers. The weekend usually has a theme, and for our Tikkun Olam theme, the mothers and daughters made two sets of lovely Shabbat candlesticks (Hiddur Mitzvah Project). One set was to be used in their homes and one set was sent to a Jewish community in Cuba, where Jewish ritual objects are not plentiful. A project like this is not only fun but it allows the parent to instill values in their children while they work together.
One project that we do at each retreat is the Mother & Daughter Kallah Quilt. Each participant is given a card to design. The design can be about their mom, their daughter, the weekend, OSRUI, or anything meaningful to them. The finished cards are combined to create a beautiful quilt.
Services are a wonderful part of the weekend as the generations pray, sing and discuss Torah together. I personally love when we unroll the Torah scroll and I can ask questions and/or tell a story with the moms and daughters eagerly participating and surprising each other with their vast knowledge. The singing sometimes brings tears – of joy, I mean, of joy – not because we are off key. The sound of the young and older female voices joined in prayer and song is breathtaking!
There are mixers during the weekend so that new friendships are forged as families get to know each other. There is also an evening discussion for “adults only,” where all sorts of issues, from “My Greatest Fears/My Greatest Hopes,” to “Healthy Eating and Living,” are discussed.
Evening programs have been talent shows, drum circles, project runway (where the girls had to make their own costumes from a t-shirt, duct tape and fabric markers), and a take on “Minute to Win It” where the daughters get to see their mothers creating cheers and engaged in games and being totally and crazily into the moment.
The weekend ends with a Friendship circle. It is here where the participants talk about how meaningful the weekend has been to them. It is both amazing and touching to hear what they all have to say about how much this experience has meant to them and how they will be back….and they do return. The girls who are 12 want me to start working to create Mother/Daughter 2, for ages 13 and up. Teenage girls want to be at camp to play and pray with their mothers!? Yes, they do! I am getting to work.