by Brian Avner and Missy Bell, Tzofim Segel (Faculty)
A couple of days ago in Tzofim, one of the chanichim (campers) said to us (the segel), “My mom told me that you’re educators. I thought you were rabbis!” We said to her, “Oh? What made you think that?” And she replied, “Well, you do rabbi things!” “Like what?” we asked. She said, “you lead t’filah (services)!” And we reminded her that anyone can lead t’filah – even the chanichim!
At OSRUI, the chanichim have the opportunity to lead evening t’filot at least once, if not several times, throughout the session. They work with the segel to choose a theme, and each chanich writes an original iyun (contemplation) that they read aloud during t’filot. Some of the themes this session in Tzofim have included gratitude, community, and peace.
Last night’s theme was “what teva (nature) means to me.” While Tzofim usually prays in their beautiful Beit T’filah (worship space) downstairs, the group planning this t’filah decided it would be most appropriate to pray on the beach. They could not have chosen a better place. As they reflected on the beauty and the peacefulness of teva, and as they reminded everyone to listen as we sang Shema, we could hear the crickets chirping and the waves gently crashing onto the rocks. A water skier even wiped out in front of us just before we sang Mi Shebeirach (don’t worry! He was ok!)
Throughout the session, there are so many ways for our chanichim and madrichim (counselors) to be involved in leading t’filot. In addition to writing iyunim, our chanichim help with songleading and with galilah (dressing the Torah after the Torah Service). Our madrichim songlead, read Torah, and do hagbah (lifting the Torah to show everyone the portion that was read. Did you know – Tzofim has the heaviest Torah on camp!) All of these roles in leading t’filot are great ways for chanichim to express themselves, to conquer fears of public speaking, and to engage deeply with prayer and Torah. We’re looking forward to a great last week of t’filot!
Brian Avner serves as Director of Youth Education at Congregation Sinai in Fox Point, WI. Missy Bell serves as Director of Education at BJBE in Deerfield, IL.