by Ben Haberman, Counselor & Communications Assistant
In Hagirah (Hagigah & Hevrah), campers are given the opportunity to try new forms of expression. Whether they are choosing to express themselves through what they are passionate about, performance, visual art, or comedy, they are able to grow their skill set to better articulate the feelings and messages they are trying to convey. This growth is done through a Yetzirah (major). Yetzirot take place in a two hour block every day where campers learn a specific skill from faculty, specialists, and each other. Each camper gains different things from their Yetzirot. What may be impactful to one camper may not carry the same weight to another.
One of our most traditional Yetzirot is Tallit making. Campers who choose this Yetzirah are able to paint or tie dye a tallit so that it connects to them in a significant way. It is led by Jordan Davidson who is also a Hagirah counselor herself. Evan Delanoy did Tallitot making in the first two weeks of our session. When talking to Evan he said “I thought it was fun and it was nice to have a tallit that I had made myself. It was also super peaceful to paint the tallit.”
Another one of our Yetzirot was taken from the Hevrah program. In this Yetzirah campers have become educated on issues in our society and the ways that they can make a change. In the first two weeks they prepared for Lobby Day, where they presented to an assembly member in the California state legislature over Zoom. In a “normal” summer, Hevrah campers travel to Sacramento or San Francisco to lobby in person. In the second two weeks they have focused on programming for Hagirah festival and programming for the entire session in order to educate them on the issues at hand. Sadie Brown is in Social Justice Yetzirah and she says “We are focused on Climate Change and I really like it, it’s inspiring, and I’ve learned a lot. It was also the first time I had been able to lead my peers in a program which was awesome.”
In addition to all the art that was created those who wanted a change of pace were able to participate in the art of ultimate. In the art of the ultimate campers learned technical skills, learned to throw farther and more accurately, and new plays for when they play in games at camp and outside of camp. Griffin Paulino was in the Art of Ultimate. Griffin said “I really enjoyed the Yetzirah, and I thought I improved my throwing and game knowledge. It also helped those in the yetzirah help the session as a whole to beat Rishonim in the game. I thought it was a great experience to learn how to be better at the game ,and all the drills were super fun. Rich also made it fun and made sure each thing would help us in the long run.” Rich Slaton played Ultimate Frisbee at UCSB in college and brought that knowledge with him in crafting the Yetzirah.
Formative drawing is another one of the options our campers had in the first two weeks. Maika Hammer says he learned a lot and it was fun to have a space to create and that he was able to learn many new techniques. This was thanks to the incredible guidance that formative drawing got from Izzy Young, our assistant art director. They worked with multiple mediums such as charcoal, ink, and different types of graphite.
A staple of almost every Hagigah festival is the portion performed by Dance Yetzriah. Led by Simcha Hanin this year our campers learned choreography as well as routines. Hannah Binder was in dance Yetzirah and says this about her experience, “I learned how to express my feelings toward Judaism through dancing and movement. I like getting to dance with other people my age who also felt the same way I did.” The group’s final dance that they will perform at the festival is centered around antisemitism and how it has impacted them.
Strings and things is one of our newest Yetzirot. Campers have learned how to crochet, embroider, and work on needle point projects. They have split into smaller groups and focused on the projects that interest themselves most. In the crochet groups people have made shirts, bucket hats that look like fruits, and bags as well as other things. Lana Wood is in strings and things and has this to say “ I learned how to Crochet ,and I like the class ,and it’s relaxing ,and it’s not stressful. Even though I had a hard time at first it was a positive environment because there was always someone willing to help you fix it.”
Regardless of what Yetzirah the campers chose, an overwhelming feeling of pride in what they made can be felt. Whether it is more tangible like the visual arts or it’s more abstract like the skills gained in frisbee or surrounding lobbying, they are all coming away with new skills and fond memories from what they made this summer (and an awesome session song!) The pride they feel was displayed at the Peachy Levy Festival where presentations and performances were showcased for the whole camp!