Blog  A Firsthand Account of Avodah

A Firsthand Account of Avodah

 By Emma Nathenson, member of Avodah Bet

Avodah, or “work” in Hebrew, introduces rising seniors to the role of staff and a deeper connection to the Jewish religion. From the very first day on, we are treated as part of a team, receiving staff bracelets along with new responsibilities. Avodahnicks are tasked with taking care of camp, choosing from various work rotations. We begin the day with breakfast and morning services, often lead creatively by a group of avodahnicks. This allows us the freedom to engage in Judaism in a personalized way, and encourages new perspectives on daily prayer. Morning services are followed by Limud (learning), which are lessons led by the unit’s rabbi surrounding Jewish topics, both old and modern. A subject that we have been delving into this session is responsa, which entertains questions not yet answered. In this space we freely discuss themes or dilemmas that we may not have the chance to grapple with otherwise.

Following limud, Avodah splits into their morning rotations. A fellow avodahnick, Jacob Dunn, works in the adventure rotation. This includes helping at Etgar, OSRUI’s high ropes course, and in the camp gan (garden).

“My favorite part about teva (nature) is teaching kids about the plants that grow here at OSRUI,” he shares.

Others enjoy working alongside the Israeli staff in the Mirkaz Ivrit (Hebrew center), or answering phone calls and sorting mail in the office. A popular rotation, Grounds and Maintenance + Kitchen, allows a group to switch between cleaning camps facilities and working in the kitchen. Emma Nathanson explains her favorite part:

“Kitchen cookies, vacuum dance parties, and the high school musical soundtrack keep me smiling!”

Other rotations such as Stables let avodahnicks lead chugim (elective activates for campers) and care for horses and flex (my job!) helps where needs be. This year the role of Rosh Slushy, managing camp’s slushy machine, has even been added as one of my flex tasks.

Our rotations not only teach us how to handle responsibilities of a job, but remind us of the amount work required to keep this camp running. It teaches us not to take essential aspects at OSRUI (like our meals) for granted, and respect the effort put in. No matter what rotation we do, however, we all learn the same things throughout the summer. This is the time for individual growth as well as team building, and the developing of skills to use as mature people and future counselors. Taking on more adult responsibilities in camp’s nurturing environment is a unique privilege, and does not go unnoticed in Avodah.

Emma Nathenson is entering her senior year of high school, and is currently on the Flex Rotation in Avodah.