First a word from our sponsor: Our next meeting is Thursday, March, 21, 7pm. The topic is Holistic Health: Medical and Recreational Marijuana. Details about the speaker can be found on our website, tassisterhood.org.
Sisterhood raises money through raffles at our monthly meetings and other fundraisers to offer camperships which help families afford to send their kids to Jewish camps. In this endeavor, we team up with MoTAS. We ask the kids to give back to Sisterhood and MoTAS in two ways: by volunteering a little bit of time and by writing a Thank You note.
The campership program gives kids the opportunity to actively contribute to the cost of attending camp. Having worked to earn a campership makes them value their time at camp more. And we have observed that the kids learn concrete skills when they volunteer. Once, when they were helping us with apples and honey, we had them gift wrap the honey jars for the clergy. We learned that none of them knew how to wrap a present, so we taught them how. Another time, a youth was helping make punch, which requires opening a can of pineapple juice with a church key. We instructed him on how to use a church key to open a can.
Camperships are just one of the ways that Sisterhood supports our youth. You can read about some of the other things we do on our website, tassisterhood.org, under "Mitzvot". We hope you will help us support our youth by participating in our fundraisers, or by donating directly to Sisterhood.
Speaking of attending camp, we tell of Elsie Reich. In the winter of 1945, Elsie Reich and her husband Harry bought seven acres of land in Salisbury, Connecticut. Harry was listed as the owner, but Elsie managed the property. She employed homeless people recommended to her by a New York City clergyman. In the summer of 1946, she opened Berkshire Hills Camp. It provided Jewish children with “amusement, recreation, entertainment and instruction.” Elsie Reich was only one of the many Jewish women who became involved with summer camping in the first half of the twentieth century.
Summer camps fostered the development of ethnic pride that helped children cope with the antisemitism that defined their young American lives. Summer camps also strengthened the Jewish child’s sense of self by providing an ethnic interpretation of American life. Jewishness was woven into the fabric of daily life. Hebrew place names, symbols, stories and plays textured the camp’s physical and cultural landscapes.
When Elsie Reich opened Berkshire Hills Camp in 1946, she was perpetuating a female tradition that had existed for thirty years. What was true then is still true today. Every summer, thousands of Jewish children have their Jewish identities forged and deepened through summer camp experiences. Sisterhood is proud to do their part in sustaining the Jewish camp experience for our kids.
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