Letter from Odessa, 2011 camp
Bella, the local counselor:
From childhood I loved to plan everything beforehand. I liked to estimate how much time I spend for shower or breakfast. Before starting doing anything I always thought if I had enough time for that.
For this camp I planned everything day by day. The theme of the whole camp was "Israel and Diaspora". In the first day we started with the ancient history – Abraham – the forefather of the Jewish people. The 2nd day – Moses and the promised land of Israel. The 3rd day – Jewish shtetls, traditional Jewish way of life. The 4th day – Shabbat as a meeting point of Israel and Diaspora. The 5th day – Tanakh – the book of Jewish people. The 6th day – Modern Israel. The 7th day – Israel and the Diaspora – how to build effective communication.
In the camp I am working with the youngest group of kids aged just 8-10. From the very first day I admired their attitude to time. Dozens of times during the day I heard: "We have 3 more minutes to play!" I could not understand that until Shabbat started.
Many of the kids learnt about Shabbat for the first time in their life. Borya, a 9 years old boy from Odessa came up to me at the Shabbat dinner and whispered: "My grandmother said that I'm Jewish but she never told me about this nice holiday. I want to celebrate it at home every week…Will you help me to persuade my parents?"
Shabbat was bright and friendly. We were speaking about Shabbat as a meeting point for all the Jews around the world. In the evening we planned Havdalah ceremony. The two girls came up to me asking how much time do we have until the Shabbat end. I looked at my watch and sad that it was half an hour more.
- Just half an hour?
- Half and hour and one minute.
- One minute is very important especially when we are speaking about Shabbat!
And they ran away. I never thought that these "one minute" are important. At that moment I decided to live like these kids counting every half a minute. And since then I feel that I have much more time!
We have a lot to learn from these children who do not remember Soviet times and are proud to be Jewish. They just lack some knowledge in Jewish tradition, culture and history. They have the rest – the confidence, the curiosity, and the passion.