Campers in Kishinev, Moldova break the Abraham Code, discover Israeli art, explore the joys of Shabbat.
During a week-long Jewish Agency summer camp in Kishinev, Moldova, campers were on a quest to break the Abraham Code. A game modeled after the Da Vinci Code, it encouraged them to delve into the many wonders of Judaism, Jewish history and tradition. The campers were thrilled with all their discoveries and expressed this in a variety of ways.
As part of the game, the campers met with an "old hermit" each evening, who reminded them about the events which took place during the day and gave them a hint about upcoming events. The hermit helped the campers review topics learned that day and get ready for new information. In addition, each camper received a small backpack and explorer's diary for the notes, a pen, a cup and a t-shirt. These items helped create an atmosphere of journey and every camper was like an explorer, who took notes exploring their Jewish heritage.
In the arts and crafts workshops, the campers made portraits in the style of a famous Israeli illustrator and caricature artist, Hanoch Piven. Just like Piven, who uses a variety of media to create his works, the campers painted with the help of ice-cream sticks, corks, lids, pieces of paper and even garbage.
Some campers decided to work in Piven's style and made portraits of famous Jewish and Israeli personalities, others drew counselors and campers.
Campers display their artwork made out of everyday materials.
The Shabbat celebration was the highlight of the week. Following the service, the campers enjoyed a lively Shabbat meal, with everyone part of a large, warm family with Shabbat songs, candles, Kiddush, festive food, and a great Shabbat atmosphere.
Before dinner: kabbalat Shabbat services took place outdoors, where the campers with the assistance of the counselors learned and sang traditional Shabbat nigunim (hymns) and reviewed the weekly Torah portion.
Campers seen lighting the Shabbat candles
Interviews with campers:
"My name is Tatyana Komleva and this is my third time at camp. I study at the Jewish school in Kishinev. At school, I learn about Jewish traditions, celebrate Jewish holidays, and simply have fun with other Jewish kids. But the summer camp is a special experience because it such an intense week! We try to learn as much as we can in a short period of time. Here at the camp, I celebrated my first Shabbat and met my best friends. That first camp I attended changed my life completely and every other camp has made my life better and better. If only I could express in words the impact of the camp. Every year, we sing the anthem of the camp, which has the following words: "Let the white-and-blue flag soar, let the Jewish heart beat, let there be a Jewish camp, and let everyone have a good time". These words capture the camp experience for me."
"If you ask me: "What does it mean for you to be Jewish?" I would answer: "Come to our camp and you will understand"
"My name is Alexander Melnik. I am 15 years old and this was my first time at the camp. I found out about the camp when I came across an article in the local newspaper. I just took the phone, called, and registered. To be honest, I had no idea what to expect from this camp. When I got the information pack from the Jewish Agency, I realized that the organizers were up to something serious as the program of the camp seemed very interesting and there was much to look forward to. I was absolutely right! Not only did I gain learn much at camp but what I learnt also made me think.
I live in a very small town called Rybnitsa in Moldova. After the camp, I took part in a tour around Jewish Rybnitsa and I learned a lot about the Jewish history of my town.. Now I realize that being a Jew is a great responsibility as each Jew has to follow many commandments. I was surprised to discover the important place Shabbat holds for my people, the day which unites all the people into one family.
Everything we discussed with our counselors was extremely interesting: I learned many fascinating facts about Jerusalem, Jewish and Israeli culture, Jewish traditions, and Israeli cinema, which differs from the cinema I know. I learned about prominent Jewish leaders, the threat of assimilation, and learned how my people became a nation and settled in the Land of Israel for the first time. The only thing I can say now is: the camp is simply awesome!"
"The camp helped me discover my Jewish identity."
"My name is Irina Bronstein and I'm 16 years old from Yedintsy, Moldova. This is my second time at camp. I learned about the camp last year when Jewish Agency representatives called me and asked if I would be interested in joining the camp. This year, I phoned them myself after seeing an article about it in the local Jewish newspaper.
Unfortunately, I don't have a chance to participate in other organized Jewish activities during the year as I live in a small town, where there are almost no Jews and no youth club. However, every time there is a holiday celebration or a camp I am happy to participate. It is very important for me.
For me being Jewish means leading a Jewish way of life, even if you are residing in a small town where there is no longer a community. To be a Jew means keeping the traditions and not forgetting one's roots. It means loving my family, celebrating Jewish holidays, cooking Jewish food, and trying to keep kosher, and be connected to Israel. I love Israel and hope to one day to go to Israel and participate in the Selah program."
"The things I like the most about the camp are the dance classes, all the activities on history and tradition – I adored those. To be honest, I liked everything this year."
"My name is Igor Kertzman and I am a 16 years old from Kishinev. This is the first time I am at camp. I learned about the camp from friends of mine who participated in the camp last year
Up until now, I haven't participated in any organized activities but I am going to join the youth club in September. What I liked most about the camp is my counselors, group activities about Jewish heroism, Jerusalem, and the Jewish family, I also liked the Israeli movies, the Shabbat celebration, and I liked to make notes about the events in my diary."
"For me being Jewish means a feeling of belonging to the Jewish people, protecting my Jewish friends, lighting candles on Shabbat, knowing what's happening in Israel, and following a Jewish way of life. Israel is the country which connects us with our history, culture, traditions and the land – in other words, everything that makes us Jewish. I am thinking about participating in Selah or Na'aleh and I would also like to serve in IDF."
July 18-25, 2010/Av 5770