Monday 8 July 2013

Day camp enjoys a truly multicultural experience

From the files of Rabbi Menachem Posner.

Over 800 Jewish children from all across the Montreal area joined together to laugh and sing with a Mexican comic and enjoy the antics of two French-Canadian acrobats. How’s that for a multicultural experience?

Rabbi Dovid Weinbaum, coordinator of the annual event, explained: “We call it the inter-camp day, and it’s an opportunity for Jewish kids from a rainbow of Jewish day camps to see kids just like them deepening their connection to Judaism and having a blast. With kids from eight camps servicing preschool to pre-teen, we work hard to create a program that is fun, meaningful, and memorable for everyone.”

A special feature of this year’s program was guest comic Rabbi Benny Hershcovich, who also directs the Chabad center in Cabo S. Lucas, Mexico. A quasi-celebrity due to his popular weekly Youtube videos, which blend slapstick humor and fast-paced Torah thoughts, Hershcovich led the children in reciting Torah verses and singing classic Jewish camp songs as well as an original humorous composition.

A Montreal native, Hershcovich says he was in Montreal, “to give my children a dose of Jewish community. Back at in Mexico, they can sometimes think they are the only Jewish kids in the world. Having them spend a month in Montreal every summer is crucial to their identities. An event like this is by far the biggest Jewish gathering they have ever experienced in their lives, so it is really exciting.” 

Hershcovich was followed by Circo Comedia, a globetrotting duo of daredevils, whose frolics ranged from silly to downright frightening at times.

“It was so awesome,” said six-year-old Veronique Levy of Hampstead, QC, a camper at Camp Gan Israel of TMR and VSL, “I got to see my friends who are in other camps. Rabbi Benny was super-funny, and the acrobats—especially the guy in roller-skates—were so crazy!”

But most important according to Weinbaum, was “the fact that hundreds of children gathered together to learn Torah, strengthen their commitment to Judaism and celebrate. This was our largest crowd ever. It was amazing to see the happy children, singing, clapping and dancing to new and old Hebrew tunes.”

The brainchild of Rabbi Moshe & Dina Krasnanski of Chabad of TMR, and Rabbi Schneur & Leah Silberstein of Chabad of VSL, inter-camp day has become a summer highlight for Quebec campers. The over 800 children in attendance represented: Camp Gan Israel branches in Town of Mount Royal (TMR), Ville St. Laurent (VSL), and Dollard; Camp Ohr Menachem in Côte Saint-Luc; Yeshivah Levi Yitzchak, Beth Rivkah Pre-School, and the boys and girls divisions of Camp Geulah in Côte des Neiges.

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