This week we had Maccabiah at Camp Chai at the J. There are so many things at summer camp that make memories that last a lifetime.
How do we connect those great camp times with Jewish learning? It is not impossible to find Jewish learning in everything we do. For this year’s Maccabiah, we got our inspiration from the new movie Jurassic World. All kids love dinosaurs.
We told the children that dinosaurs had once roamed in Dallas. We broke into four teams with a different dino for each team. It was two days of great fun and wonderful memories created.
But what does that have to do with being Jewish? It the book What’s Jewish About Butterflies?, authors Maxine Segal Handelman and Deborah L. Schein answer questions about many different things that we may not see as Jewish.
The values associated with dinosaurs are Kavod — Respect (in case a dinosaur shows up at Shabbat), Maaseh Bereisheet — Miracle of Creation (those were some really crazy ideas that God had) and Talmud Torah — Study (kids love to learn about dinosaurs)!
There is an Israel connection as dinosaur footprints were sighted in the Judean Hills near Bet Zayit and, of course, archeologists abound in Israel so who knows what they will find.
Probably the most interesting connection is from the book …And Then There Were Dinosaurs by Sari Steinberg. It is a wonderfully artistic reimagining of the legend “Six Worlds Were Created Before Our World.” The idea is that God tried six times before our world and dinosaurs were one of those attempts that didn’t work. The conversations about this idea and why the dinosaurs failed can be amazing with both children and adults.
However, at Camp Chai our dinosaurs competed in fun activities and the campers learned without realizing it. Camp is a place to grow and change through experiences together. The Jewish connection to all that we do is experienced and the values embraced — all while having a great time.