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Color Games, Hero Worship and Counter-Cultural Learning

How would you describe the qualities of a hero?

Ask the 4th-6th graders who attended Congregation Or Ami’s retreat, or their 8th-12th grade Madrichim, and you will receive a very clear answer. A hero has:


Yes, that’s what our staff taught our students this weekend.

In the midst of our weekend, we were divided into color teams for our color games. Elsewhere called a “color war,” at Or Ami we focused on the games, and less on the battles. Through relay races, art projects, cheer creation and more, the teams had fun, made noise (oy, so much noise) and explored how to be heroes in the midst of competition.

Of course, our take on heroism is a particularly Jewish conception of these qualities, derived from a famous Talmudic passage from Pirkei Avot.

Power, teach the rabbis, is not about being physically stronger. Rather, it’s about having the strength to control one’s passionate.

Wealth is not about having the most money. It’s about being content – finding comfort – in what one has. (Stop trying to keep up with the Jones’s – or the Steins).

Wisdom is not the accumulation of information, which is easy to do in this internet-connected world. Our rabbis teach us that true wisdom is found in those who learn from every person.

Finally, the honorable individual is she or he who gives honor to others.

Did we mention that our students met real life heroes? First, during Shabbat services, the staff and Madrichim shared stories about their own everyday heroes. Then on Shabbat morning, we met Or Ami parents who were paramedics and other heroically helping careers.

In a world that idolizes celebrity, money, and power, it was refreshing to spend a weekend focused on those qualities: real life wisdom, contentment with what one has, self-control and honoring others.

We thank Rabbi Julia Weisz, Master teacher Patti Jo Wolfson, nurse Caryl Kaplan, rabbinic students Jonathan Rothstein-Fisch and Rachel Marks, our faculty and our Madrichim for creating a safe, fun, learning, nurturing camp weekend. We created friendships, deepened relationships, celebrated Shabbat and more.

What were your child’s favorite parts?

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