Friday, July 20, 2007

Meaningful or Cruel?

"Speaking of Tisha B'Av at camp, I don't know if I've ever posted what happened that summer, but I was 12, and our division was made up of 10-12 year olds. The week leading up to Tisha B'Av, we had arts and crafts every day but Shabbat. They gave us a piece of construction paper, and our assignment was to decorate it with our ideas about Judaism, Israel and Jerusalem.
For those of you who've never been to camp, a week at camp is like a month or more back in the real world. We really poured our hearts into those little projects.
When Eicha was finished, kinot started, but the littler kids, which included me that year, were led out before that. They took us back to one of the sports fields, and when we were all standing there, they turned on a light, and we saw that they had assembled all of our art projects into a magnificent tapestry. It was beautiful, and they had it up on two poles with the light shining on it. I don't think I'll ever forget the way it looked.
And then they torched it.
Of course, if someone were to try this stunt in 2005, they'd be sued into financial oblivion for traumatizing the children, and I was certainly traumatized by it. Hell, that was 30 years ago, and it's vivid in my memory. But I think it was great.
We had discussion groups the next day where we talked about it. Of course, losing a piece of paper that you'd spent maybe 4-5 hours decorating hardly compares to what we're remembering on Tisha B'Av, but for kids, it's something that's small enough to be grasped, and enough of a loss to hurt."

Found this at "Jew without Labels"


Blogger Chana said...

Cruel. I am not a fan. I understand what they were trying to teach, but God knows this is not the way to go about it.

July 20, 2007 12:25 PM  
Blogger The back of the hill said...

Painfull to read.
Definitely cruel.

July 20, 2007 2:20 PM  
Blogger Miri said...

I've heard other versions of this activity. The one that brought it home best was at a camp where they actually spent several weeks working on a detailed model of the Beit HaMikdash. That would've been traumatizing.
I really don't think I disagree with the practice. I think it's kind of an important lesson a)to give children a sense of what loss means and b)also to teach them that losing a piece of paper is a whole lot better than losing homes and families. Sense of perspective. But perhaps kids these days aren't really up to that.

July 22, 2007 8:54 AM  

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