Blog  What Would You Leave Home For?

What Would You Leave Home For?

By Vanessa Ehrlich, RJE, Rabbi Jody Cook, and Mandy Herlich, RJE, Our Kallah Segel

In Kallah Gimmel, we experience the fear of leaving home, the joy of being in a new home, and all the feels in between.  During our regularly scheduled tochnit boker (morning program), we welcomed visitors Abraham and Sarah to our eidah (unit).  Abraham and Sarah told us about their lives and how much they love being at machane (camp) OSRUI. Then, we got to experience for ourselves what it might have been like to be told by God to Lech Lecha – leave our homes for a new and unknown place.  We stood in a circle and took turns walking through the middle blindfolded.  Some ran, some walked slowly, some went straight, some veered diagonal, but all made it across.  This activity was to show that we must have perseverance and trust in one another. This not only caught the excitement of our chanichim (campers), but our madrichim (counselors) as well.  We asked all of our chanichim how they felt about the experience and they responded excitedly with words such as “fun”, “scary”, “nerve-wracking”, “special”, and “supported”. We observed that MOST chanichim would walk confidently to the middle of the circle and for some reason slow down there. 

(See the video of this activity here:

Everyone wanted a turn and we were able to make sure that they did. All participants made it across the circle especially with the help of their community who cheered them on and kept them safe.  We did this activity during our first week, as we are all new to Kallah Gimmel 2019.  Like Abraham and Sarah we all left home to become a new community. We know as we navigate through the rest of our session we will have to persevere (the virtue of Ometz) and work together to overcome challenges.  It is wonderful to see the growth of our chanichim physically and spiritually.  

Speaking of unique travel related experiences, we were lucky enough to get a flyover by a pilot with a connection to camp! The pilot dropped down to 1,000 feet and made a few passes over our pool party. We waved and he took these pictures. Other than it being a super cool experience for all of us, there is in fact a lot of meaning we can find in this event. Getting into a small plane and taking it up yourself is no small feat of bravery. But by taking that leap (or that trip down the runway) you are able to see life from a completely different perspective. Flying for many is nerve-wracking, or even frightening, but there is a certain peace that comes with having that view of the world. Just as 50 years ago this weekend, man set foot on the moon and provided us with a completely different view of the world, we hope we can guide the chanichim through new experiences and help them soar to new heights. There is much research about how positively camp affects our children.  As faculty we are privileged to eat, play, and pray daily with 68 chanichim and another 25 madrichim.  We are grateful for this opportunity to enrich the lives of the chanichim!

Vanessa Ehrlich, RJE serves as the Director of Lifelong Learning at Lakeside Congregation in Highland Park, IL. Rabbi Jody Cook serves as the Director of Education at Sinai Temple in Champaign, IL. Mandy Herlich, RJE serves as the Director of Lifelong Learning at Temple Beth-El in Northbrook, IL.