Region: Moscow and periphery
Brief history of the community: First mentions of Jews in Moscow appear in 15th century, when Jewish merchants come to trade in the city. In 18th century a law about Pale of Settlement was signed which restricted Jewish presence in the big cities. Jews could freely come to the city just after the revolution of 1917.
There are about 170 thousand Jews living in Moscow. The Jewish life in the city is vivid and rich. Many international and local Jewish organizations work there. There are 4 big synagogues, 5 kosher restaurants, Jewish day and Sunday schools, community centers etc.
In year 2012 over 700 Jewish kids and youth participated in the Jewish Agency summer camp program in the region.
The following report from the Jewish Agency Moscow summer camp was prepared by Ksenia, one of the campers.
One Day in the Moscow Camp 2012
Hi! My name is Ksenia and I’m a camper in Jewish Agency Summer camp in Moscow. This summer I chose the workshop for making the “Time Fest” (the Festival) newspaper about everything what happened the day before and what is going to happen with us tomorrow in the camp. Together with the counselors we have already learned about the blog conception of “One Day”. Now I’ll show how it works.
The morning started with every day tradition of the camp dance. Love it!
Morning session…hmm...I think I’ll go to Visual Communications (VK) – I’ve heard those making graffiti!
Masha, 14 years old, from Visual Communication group:
“Today I came to our group place and it was already covered with photos of streets. At first I didn’t realize that this was Israel. I thought that in Israel there were only stones and old places. But on these photos I saw modern streets and youth cultural places of Tel Aviv. Our counselors told us that the graffiti art is the strongest instrument in social and political non formal dialogue. And there are a lot of famous graffiti artists in Israel. We formulated our messages - our place in Jewish community here and connection to our Homeland there, our roots that are both here and there. And now I’m here, I can’t believe that we drew our graffiti – our message to the world!”
Well, it’s really cool. I think I have enough time till the start of the second session to go to group Magen – one of the Israeli counselors is giving Krav maga lessons.
Maya, 16 years old, from Shield/Magen group:
“I have never thought how Jews protected themselves during the history. Of course I knew about anti-Semitism and about dark moments in Our People’s history but I never thought that even in day by day life we need to protect ourselves in mental, intellectual and physical ways. It’s not always protection from somebody or an enemy. I think we need to protect ourselves from assimilation. This is the greatest danger and it depends on us. We have to learn and to know Jewish traditions and to be able to keep them. Today we study Krav Maga – Israeli protection tactic that is cool and suitable for girls! I hope I’ll never need to use it but just in case...you know..”
Well, this is very interesting and if I knew they would study Krav Maga I would have joined them. After the lunch I’m planning to visit two workshops. The first one is the theatre of Shadows. They are preparing for a play called “Izya the super Jewish Hero”.
Misha, 15 years old, “Theatre of Shadows” workshop:
“I’m going to the Jewish Agency camps every summer. This summer I chose the theater of shadows workshop. I think we have a wonderful opportunity to be actors but also to learn the technique of Shadows playing. Now we are running through new play about Jewish Super Hero. His name is Izya – it means Israel. At first we had a serious and multi perspective debate about the Jewish superpower. In what cases Jewish super hero may use it? Does he have to use it on Shabbat? Now we’ve already made the script but I can’t talk about it – this is secret!”
Ok, the day after tomorrow I’ll see the play. Now I’m going to the second workshop for today – Theme of Body.
Roma, 15 years old “Theme of Body” workshop:
This is my second time in the Jewish Agency summer camp. I chose this workshop because I’m interested in music and body language. I was curious because I knew nothing about Jewish conception of health and the connection between soul and body. During the first part of the workshop we learned about Rambam’s and Ramban’s interpretations of Kashrut and how it influences our bodies and souls. And now we are making performance -something between play and dance about the first day of Creation. We took the Torah text as a script and it turned out to be very appropriate for representation. And now I have to go – we need to rehears the performance once again before the Shabbat!”
Well we finished Shabbat Ceremony and are going to evening event. Today it’s dedicated to Jewish Home and Tish – the old Jewish tradition of visiting friends, rabbis, sages and to learn special aspects of Judaism. I’ll visit some of the stations to see what is happening there.
Yug, 19 years old, counselor:
“We decided that participants need to know how Jewish wedding looks like. Of course we are only showing the wedding ceremony but for a lot of campers it is the only opportunity to see it. Especially for campers who live in small towns where we don’t have a big community or Rabbi. We want to show and to explain every little part of the ceremony. So don’t miss a thing!”
The second station is “The museum of Jewish Tradition”.
Don, 14 years old:
“Well, I know a lot about Jewish tradition. My father and I are always going to Synagogue on Yom Kippur and I even had a Bar mitzvah ceremony. But I never saw the Tfillin inside. The counselors brought blanks of Tfillin that Moscow community gave them. On every blank I saw how does it change and what is inside it. I put Tfillin only once but now I know that every morning millions of Jewish people all around the world are putting Tfillin and this is very exiting feeling!
So together we visited only the small part of events and activities that happened in our camp today, but I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did!