Tsfat & Y’Rush Mitzvah Project

  • Tsfat and Y’Rush’s mitzvah project for the summer of 2012 was a very ambitious and rewarding one. Prior to the start of camp, we generally come up with some ideas for the mitzvot projects and then allow the campers to choose which one appeals to them. This year, we chose the project and explained it to them when they arrived at camp.

    In conjunction with our involvement in the Goodman Modern Israel History Initiative (which Camp Pembroke is very proud to have been chosen to be part of, and which assisted us with programs to use in bringing more exciting Israel programming into camp), we thought about increasing the seating capacity in our Pine Grove, where we hold Shabbat services. We had ten “naked” benches constructed for us, and asked the ninth and tenth graders to research famous Jewish women in history; women who have made a significant contribution to our history or our lives as Jewish young women. The girls quickly got to work and came up with twelve women they wanted to immortalize on the benches.

    It took most of the summer to learn about the women they had chosen, to design, paint, and seal them. It was incredibly impressive to watch the process, as the plain benches morphed into something so much more meaningful and special. The girls broke off into teams to paint their respective benches, and worked day and night to complete them so that they could be used for the first time at our Bat Mitzvah service on August 4 th. On Friday evening before the Saturday Bat Mitzvah service, we created a Walk of the Righteous Jewish Women (fashioned after the Walk of the Righteous Gentiles at Yad Vashem), and our campers walked between the benches to get their first look at the handiwork of our oldest campers. The creators of the benches made brief presentations during the Friday evening service, so that the rest of our camp community could learn something about the people for whom the benches had been made.

    There was a bench created for Debbie Friedman, one for Miriam, one for Esther, one for Henrietta Szold (for whom our dining hall is named), one for Anne Frank and Miep, one for Mayim Bialik and Karen Leibowitz, one for Eve, one for Golda Meir, one for Myra Kraft, and one in memory of Hannah Senesh, whose story is fascinating.

    Camp Pembroke has not, in my memory, attempted a project of this magnitude – and I am very proud of our campers for following this one through to completion. Not only did our campers learn much about twelve important Jewish women, but they gave back a tremendous amount to our Camp Pembroke community. They grew personally from this experience, and have a lot to share about the creative and educational journey they all participated in. Our Pine Grove, which previously consisted of only green benches, now boasts lots of color and interest because of the ten newly interspersed benches created by our ninth and tenth grade girls, under the direction of Ben Rotenberg, our Head of Jewish Life and Learning.

    I hope that you will all have an opportunity to come to Camp Pembroke so that you can see the beautiful artwork for yourselves; it is proudly on display all summer long, and has clearly made an impact on everyone here at Camp Pembroke this summer. This is a project that will long be remembered and appreciated, and I truly thank all those involved in it for leaving this wonderful contribution to our campus.

    With love and pride,


One response to “Tsfat & Y’Rush Mitzvah Project”

  1. Emily Gitelson Berman says:

    Had the privilege of seeing the new benches first hand August 5th, while on a tour with my daughter (Pembroke’s newest camper!!).  They truly are beautiful and inspiring!

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