By Lauren Chizner, Limud Director
Passover came early this year for Nitzanim campers. Last Friday, campers met in the Hockey Pavilion ready to celebrate Passover with PJ Our Way, a program from PJ Library that offers exceptional books with Jewish themes for children ages 8 ½ to 11. Throughout the summer, Nitzanim campers have explored different ways of accessing God, including stories, parables, texts, poems, and direct experience. Their learning culminated in a celebration of the four promises God made to the Jewish people that we remember during Passover—to free us from slavery, to bring us out of Egypt, to bring us to Israel, and to give us the Torah and make us a people.
Camp was the backdrop for the celebration as campers and staff rotated through four stations. The volleyball court was the setting for remembering the time as slaves. Nitzanim campers participated in activities such as breaking free from a human knot and making pyramids out of cups. They got to eat the charoset, which symbolizes the mortar used by the Israelites while enslaved in Egypt.
Working together as a bunk in a ropes course activity, the campers crossed the Red Sea at the football field, making their way out of Egypt. Their final act as slaves came when they each made their own matzah up at Teva. They had to work quickly to make their matzah, careful not to let it cook too long so it didn’t rise. As they marched out of Teva back to the hockey pavilion, they reached freedom and Israel. Campers celebrated by making their own tambourines, symbols of the singing and dancing that the women did as they crossed the Red Sea.
Our unit reunited in the hockey pavilion for one last Passover ritual…searching for the afikomen. One counselor from each bunk hid the afikomen and the bunk searched for it. Once they found their afikomen, as with any Passover seder, they got a prize—a book from PJ Our Way! The kids had so much fun celebrating Passover in the middle of July and were so excited about their book. If you are interested in finding out more about PJ Our Way or want to sign your child up to receive free Jewish books, visit their website.
Lauren Chizner lives in Dix Hills, New York (on Long Island) with her husband, Rabbi Todd Chizner, and her 3 Crane Lakers- Jacob, Jed, and Rachel. During the year, Lauren is the Religious School Director at Port Jewish Center in Port Washington. She also runs an interfaith Israel program for Jewish and Catholic 11th graders on Long Island called Project Understanding. This is Lauren’s 11th summer at CLC and she serves as our Limud Director.