Pearlstone Conference and Retreat Center, Baltimore, Maryland
by Ralph Schwartz, Tikvah Director
Last weekend, the Tikvah Program held its first Shabbaton in many years. Eighteen campers from across the country gathered, along with Tikvah staff, to celebrate a classic Ramah Shabbat in February. Our theme was taken from Dr. Seuss's book, Oh, the Places You'll Go. We participated in many great discussions, some based on the books The Lorax and The Butter Battle Book, and touched on the themes of Jewish environmentalism and the origins of conflicts and wars.
The biggest hit of the Shabbaton was definitely the Saturday night activities of scrapbook making, karaoke, and ice cream sundaes. We also had a special treat on Shabbat afternoon when we took a guided tour of KAYAM, the Jewish organic garden, greenhouse and farm. We learned how the Jewish community of Baltimore is using the Torah and Talmud to teach organic farming to the community.
This looked like a typical Shabbaton: Tikvah campers led t'fillot, read Torah and Haftorah, reconnected with old friends, laughed and hugged a lot, played games and engaged in stimulating discussions on Jewish themes. However, what made this Shabbaton extra special was that, for many of the participants, it was their first Shabbaton. Their faces reflected the excitement and joy of this wonderful experience. Everyone had a great time and can't wait until we all return to camp again for the summer of 2011. How many days until camp begins?