July 18, 2024
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Chesed Is an Integral Part of Camp Mesorah

As the Nine Days commenced, campers at Mesorah participated in a camp-wide chesed carnival. While campers are still enjoying their fun summer experience, the importance of connecting them with the historical significance of the days preceding Tisha B’av is central to Mesorah’s chinuch programming.

Camp Mesorah held a ‘chesed day’ in which different booths were set up throughout camp representing several non-profit organizations that Mesorah has chosen to partner with, including Yachad, Leket Israel, IDF Lone Soldier Center and the Jewish Learning Initiative on Campus at Binghamton.

Camp Mesorah is fortunate to be a partner with Yachad all summer long. To increase awareness and sensitivity towards others, specifically those with special needs, a booth was established in which campers received stickers with various labels and were instructed to treat the peers in their group as the label indicated. Campers then discussed how this made them feel and learned the importance of treating everyone equally without superficial labels.

Campers decorated over 300 tote bags for the Leket Israel Sayeret Tapuz project in Israel. Israeli teenagers will use the decorated bags to rescue fresh produce from private backyards and gardens in Israel that otherwise would go to waste. The collected produce will be distributed to underprivileged residents in Israel, providing nutritious fruits and vegetables to those in need.

Campers also wrote letters to Israeli soldiers thanking them for their national service. The campers put a lot of thought into drafting heartfelt letters, hoping that they will provide words of encouragement to the defenders of the state of Israel during these trying times. The letters will be distributed to the chayalim this summer.

With the guidance of Rabbi Akiva Weiss, chinuch staff member at Camp Mesorah and head of the Jewish Learning Initiative on Campus (JLIC) at Binghamton University, campers wrapped 200 tea lights and wrote Shabbat greetings inside welcome bags for new students on campus this upcoming academic school year. JLIC, a program run by the Orthodox Union, was created to help young men and women thrive in a secular campus environment and help Jewish students observe key aspects of Jewish life, such as tefillah, kashrut, Shabbat and chagim.

As a separate chesed initiative, the Teen division at Camp Mesorah worked on a special project as they headed into the Nine Days. They had the idea to dedicate one of the most popular activities in camp, the IDF training course, in memory of Ezra Schwartz z’l. On their three-day trip to Boston, the teens stopped at the Schwartz home, where Ezra’s mother Ruth spoke about her son and his love for life. She passed around pictures of Ezra and talked about acts of chesed were central to his life. She spoke of his love for camp and even read letters from Ezra’s campers who clearly adored him. The Mesorah teens were moved and in awe of how Mrs. Schwartz displayed a tremendous amount of strength and was able to relate to them. Many campers expressed how this visit to the Schwartz home was the highlight of their trip to Boston.

Rabbi Daniel Hartstein, head of the Mesorah Beit Midrash program and one of the chaperones on the trip, explained to the campers that this time of year on the Jewish calendar is a time to stress the notion of kiddush Hashem, sanctifying God’s name in this world. Ezra did this in life and the Schwartz family has continued this legacy through their strong emunah during a most challenging time. On behalf of Camp Mesorah, Rabbi Hartstein presented a picture of the plaque that was dedicated to Ezra and hung at the Mesorah IDF training course. Mrs. Schwartz was moved by the presentation, especially in light of the fact that Ezra’s last act of chesed was delivering food to chayalim.

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