Perhaps slightly more tired and bug-ridden than usual, a group of 75 D.C. Birthright alums and Israeli peers just returned from Capital Camps in Pennsylvania Sunday evening after spending two days and nights on a Jewish retreat.
This so called “reverse mifgash” programming was suggested by a recent Birthright participant who wanted to provide a similar opportunity for Israelis to experience Jewish culture and peers abroad. The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington helped to raise $18,000 to bring a group of 10 to the D.C. area for cultural touring, meetings with Congressmen, and finally, a weekend on this beautiful campus to contemplate Judaism and its many facets with the rest of us.
Another Federation Leadership retreat was going on at the same time, and we got to share programming with those people, including some meals, Shabbat services, and a lecture on Judaism by Rabbi Dr. Lawrence Hoffman.
On our own, we listened to performances by racy comedian Dan Ahdoot, religious musician Rick Recht, and provocative actor Robbie Gringras. Though it rained pretty frequently, we also got to get a leg up on outdoor activities like swimming, basketball, and braving rope courses and zip lines. Nighttime was filled with enthusiastic bentsching, singing, dancing, bonfires and karaoke. And just in case you think we had too much free time on our hands, we also talked about the meaning of Jewish community with J-Fed’s scholar-in-residence Dr. Erica Brown, and EVP/CEO Dr. Misha Galperin. 😉
I can’t write a sentence further without taking the time to give props to the amazing young leadership staff who made sure that the rest of us got as much out of this weekend as possible. Their dedication is a true mitzvah.
One of the main themes that came out of our retreat was thinking of ways to “pay it forward” with perpetrating our Jewish community and pride. It got me to thinking about this blog—how I started it because I love to write and I love these events, but more than that, to show my appreciation for Jewish communal workers and to provide a resource for interested Jews in the D.C. area. As I come back from my retreat, feeling refreshed through my fatigue, I am committed to continuing with and hopefully expanding this progress. Please, to anyone reading this, let me know if there’s anything in the D.C. Jewish community that you’d like me to write about!
In the meantime, enjoy the rest of my Reverse Mifgash pictures here. For more information, we have a Facebook group here, and additional social networking tools should be on their way in the near future to keep us connected to this amazing experience.
To get involved with the D.C. Birthright chapter either as an alum or a prospective participant, send an email over to firstname.lastname@example.org. Next year, this retreat can be part yours as well!