By Beth Lipschutz, Moshavah Segel (Faculty)
During t’filah (service) prep the other morning, two Moshavah chanichim (campers) asked if they could participate in leading the service by playing their guitars. “Of course!” I answered. This was camp t’filah at it’s finest. The group of chanichim did a beautiful job of explaining the different prayers and leading their peers in song, and the chilly evening even felt warmer because we were surrounded by the voices of over 50 Mosh campers enthusiastically participating in prayer.
Then I got to experience t’filah in the Beit T’filah (sanctuary) for the first time this session. I participated in a service being led by a group of Moshavah chanichim, who worked together to educate the unit about different social justice issues and how they related to the different prayers. It was inspiring to watch middle schoolers show their passion for such important topics, and prayer, at the same time. An especially proud moment was being able to watch a former Missouri Valley NFTY President lead us in song. She is a great reminder of how her time in NFTY during the school year and her summer experiences at OSRUI support her continued connection to Judaism.
The enthusiasm isn’t only for t’filah or other musical moments. Since arriving at OSRUI, the Moshavah chanichim have been excited to participate in many different activities. We’ve completed team building challenges to learn about Derech Eretz (community mindedness), which is showing integrity and treating each other well. We’ve played games to practice speaking Hebrew and have split off into chugim (electives), where campers got to choose different activities such as Etgar, photography, horseback riding, cooking, paddle boating, and more around camp. We have also learned about different environmental concerns, and will continue these important conversations about how we can make a difference in our world. Overall, we’ve spent time getting to know each other, listening, joking, and building a community. We may have only been here a week, but I see Jewish identities being strengthened and lifelong friendships being formed. I’m honored to be a part of this thoughtful community that upholds the same Jewish values as the NFTY community all over North America.
Beth Lipschutz serves as Regional Director of Youth Engagement for NFTY Missouri Valley.