My Interpretations of Jewish History from Biblical Times to Present in
St. Petersburg, Russia
Ages: 11 – 13
Imagine walking through camp and meeting famous Jewish historical figures along the way. This is exactly the experience the campers had on their first Shabbat evening together. They participated in a station game where they "met" with Abraham, Sarah, Joseph, Judah Maccabee, Queen Esther, and other Jewish personalities. During the game, the campers were presented with personal stories and dilemmas each character had faced in the past. Working in small groups, the campers gave recommendations on how to best solve these dilemmas.
Campers act out Abraham and Sarah leaving for the Promised Land
Some of the dilemmas included whether or not Joseph should forgive his brothers, if Sarah should leave her mother country and follow Abraham to the Promised Land, and if Judah Maccabee should fight for the independence of his country. Through this activity, the campers came understand the major dilemmas of ancient Jewish history and they enjoyed giving advice and interacting with their historical characters.
Campers Read up on Famous Jewish Personalities.
What's in a name? Well, just ask the campers who undertook an investigation of their own family trees. Together, they created a long list of all their family names and even called home to their parents to fill in any missing information. Following this activity, a Master Class was given by Lika Frenkel, one of the major Yiddish Culture Specialists in St. Petersburg. She gave the participants an introductory lesson on the Yiddish roots of their names and the geographical locations of the shtetls and towns and their origins. During this special session, a lot of exciting discoveries were made by the participants. Some discovered that their familes had come from the same shtetl and that they shared the same family names. One of the campers, Sasha Tselker, found out the meaning of his family name and this discovery was very meaningful for him. His counselors noticed a difference in Sasha from the moment he learned about his family name. One of the counselors wrote,"Sasha has a deeper realization of his personal link to Jewish history and the Jewish topics of the camp and it has motivated him to want to learn more."
What's in a Name Activity: Learning about Jewish history through your family name.
Sasha, 13 years old from Frankfurt, Germany
"Hi, my name is Sasha and I am 13 years old. I live in Frankfurt, Germany. Even though I live in Germany, I have always identified myself as Russian. This year, however, my grandparents who live in St. Petersburg decided to send me to this summer camp.
I never realized that I was a Jew and did not fully comprehend this until the topic of the Holocaust came up in group dicussions and a survivor spoke with us about how she had escaped from the ghetto. All these things made me think differently about myself. Now I see that I belong to the Jewish People."
A big part of part of camp is just being together…
A group hug is a great way to end the day.
July 20 - August, 2009