AVI CHAI concluded its general grant making on December 31, 2019.

Yitro: The Shabbat Experience

Posted by: Guest

March 26, 2019

In this post and its accompanying photos, Teri McGuire from the Foundation for Jewish Camp (FJC) reflects on the third seminar of the fourth cohort of the Yitro Leadership Program, which is funded by The AVI CHAI Foundation. The program works with associate and assistant camp directors, with the goals of strengthening their leadership skills, with emphasis on their identities as Jewish leaders, in order to enhance Jewish culture and experience at camp. The program creates a strong network of peers for continuing collaboration and learning. More information about the Yitro program can be found here.
By: Teri McGuire
“I want to hear, somebody pray. I want to hear, somebody pray. Down in the valley, and over yonder, I want to hear somebody pray.”
The words of this song reverberated through the otherwise non-spiritual space of the Doubletree Hotel as twenty-six individuals who had never prayed together before sang them out. Looking around the circle it was apparent: most had never sung this song before, but they were learning it – together.
That is how the Shabbat experience of our Yitro cohort began, bringing participants with different backgrounds, beliefs and knowledge-bases together with a unified goal: to explore new aspects of our Jewish personal and professional selves.
Together we engaged in learning, prayer, and social programming that made us think, question, and laugh. We could try to describe to you the impact these 25 hours had on the group, but Yitro fellows say it better.
I am inspired that other professionals in Jewish camping are thirsty for further Jewish learning, and inspired to continue pushing myself to learn.
– Julia Chatinover (Camp Ramah in the Rockies)
I want to bring the same ruach from our Shabbat together to my own Shabbat practices back home.
– Elliot Shiner-Cahn (Camp Zeke)
After the Shabbat experience with Yitro, I’m going to focus more on how I show up Jewishly at camp and how I can continue to learn from the cohort on ways to do this.
–Amy Coran (Camp Pembroke)
Although we all have very different ways of observing Shabbat, it is incredible how much every camp values Shabbat in their community. Yitro gave me the opportunity to experience and learn about everyone’s special Shabbat time at camp!
– Bette Amir-Brownstein (B’nai B’rith Camp)
This was the first time we’ve ever spent Shabbat together and it felt like we’ve been doing it for years. As a result I am thinking about how the power of community and taking chances can lend to powerful new discoveries and connections.
– Simcha Cohen (Herzl Camp)
There is a proverb that teaches “If you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together.” Our Shabbat experience together went by so fast, but it took our group to new heights, ones we never would have been able to reach had we not gone together.

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