Today is a great day at camp! Thursday is Choose Your Own Prayer Challenge. For our daily Z’man Kodesh (holy time), each camper selects a way to pray that speaks to them – could be something they love, something they want to learn more about, or just something they want to try out. Two options that were really well-attended today were the artistic prayer and outdoor prayer options.
The artistic option today was an exploration of Hanoch Piven, an Israeli artist. Piven is known for portraits of famous people made of things and objects that he finds. See the featured photo for his portrait of Theodor Herzl. Campers explored their own Jewish identity through his art in discussion and hands-on activities.
The outdoor option today was hiking through Herzl’s trails while learning and reciting prayers about nature. Campers hiked with a “chevruta” (learning partner, root word is “friend”). Together, they explored their relationship to the natural world through a Jewish lens.
This is a rich area for discussion and observance that can be overlooked in our “real” lives. There is a prayer to say when we see a rainbow, a prayer to acknowledge beauty, a prayer to be said when encountering an unusual creature…There’s a prayer for the blessing of the sun but it can only be said every 28 years so it wasn’t said today! (Intrigued? Here’s a quick read.) . At camp, these prayers take on special significance – and will be remembered when a camper encounters a thing of beauty, a rainbow, an animal in the future, engaging them at that moment with their Judaism.
These were choices were offered in addition to a meditative service, a yoga option, and a traditional camp service. Our intention for this weekly exploration is to highlight the many ways to access our Judaism and engage with Jewish texts. Providing many (and perhaps unexpected) options makes it clear to campers that they can incorporate prayer in their lives in many ways and find meaning in their choices.
It is a beautiful day here so I am heading down to spend some time with our waterfront staff. I will tell you about my time there tomorrow!