Commemorating Tisha B’Av at Day Camp

Tisha B’Av is a solemn, little known Jewish holiday that commemorates the destruction of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem thousands of years ago.  Tisha B’Av literally means the ninth day of the Hebrew month of Av and usually occurs during camp. This year Tisha B’Av fell on July 15.

Usually a day of fasting and introspection, Camp directors have grappled with how to acknowledge this sad holiday during the fun, carefree days of camp.  To turn a sad day into a meaningful and educational experience, many camp directors choose to pick up on the themes of Tikkun Olam (Repairing the World) and Gemilut Hasadim (performing Acts of Loving Kindness).

Here’s what two camps at the Henry Kaufmann Campgrounds Staten Island site, the Staten Island JCC and the Jewish Community House of Bensonhurst, did to commemorate Tisha B’Av.

Maccabiah 5th -7th grade girls make bracelets to benefit the American Cancer Society.

Maccabiah 5th -7th grade girls make bracelets to benefit the American Cancer Society.

The Lillian Schwartz Day Camp chose to hold their annual “Day of Caring and Sharing.” Campers participated in an array of activities that celebrate the Jewish value of helping those in need.  Each division participated in an activity designed to raise money for charitable organizations.

  • Marvin’s Camp and Nesiyah/Teen Travel decorated the Marvin’s Camp shelter area
  • Maccabiah and Marvin’s Camp designed bracelets to sell
  • CIT’s participated in a Swim-a-Thon
  • K’ton Ton, Shalom, Chalutz, Maccabiah and Marvin’s Camp participated in a camp-wide walk-a-thon and dance-a-thon.
  • The entire camp was asked to bring in non-perishable food items for a week long food drive.
Campers write and post their ideas about spreading loving kindness throughout camp.

Campers write and post their ideas about spreading loving kindness throughout camp.

Marks JCH Day Camp uses weekly themes to teach campers about Jewish values.  To commemorate Tisha B’Av, this week’s theme was Acts of Loving Kindness, Gemilut Hasadim.  Campers discussed how to fight against baseless hatred and how to spread love and kindness in camp. Campers pledged to keep animosity out of camp by sharing with their group mates, helping those in need, cheering up those who are sad and much more!

It’s not always easy to take something serious and turn it into a fun, hands on learning experience. Thanks goodness for great and creative camp directors that can do just that!

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