Summer Week 2015’s theme was “The European Tour”. The synagogue foyer was suitably transformed to resemble an airport border control, complete with passport desk, metal detector and a menacing looking security guard to boot… (At least Bernie tried to look menacing). The children had their NWSS passports stamped each morning with the flags of the countries that they would be “visiting” that day.
The week started off with the traditional mug decorating activity, seeing some wonderful creations from our young and not-so-young artists. Day one focused on the Jews of southern Europe with a wide game about the Spanish Inquisition. Day two transported the children to the Low Countries. Day three journeyed to Northern Europe and finally on Day four we completed our European tour in the east of the continent. Quite a lot of travelling in such a short time!
While “visiting” the various countries, the children learned about how Hebrew books and maps were produced in Portugal, Italy and Spain. They looked at famous Jewish poetry and produced fantastic video drama sketches (with more than a little help from the very talented Sophia) – I especially liked the Jewish Dracula. The children also took part in cooking a variety of traditional Jewish foods from the various countries, with the delicious cinnamon cookies from Holland being a personal favourite of mine. Thank you Gillie.
Some amazing artwork was produced by the children themselves, ranging from Judaica items using boxes, tinfoil and string to the now customary Summer Week tie-dye t-shirts. The children also enjoyed creating cut-outs of traditional costumes from the countries visited. The most impressive creation of Summer Week 2015 has to be the HUGE cardboard Golem created. The children had a lot of fun making it and it was indeed very impressive – If ever so slightly scary! It was also exciting to see it being destroyed by our burly assistants (Ben, Liron and Matthew) – during the service no less!
Every year, lunch times are my favourite occasion during the whole Summer Week. All the banter, rhyming songs and just general silliness is fantastic as well as loud! Favourite songs include the ‘Banana song’ (that now seems to have a fair trade version), ‘Shake your booty’ and the all time favourite ‘Father Abraham’. This year I even managed to learn and keep up with Birkat – mainly thanks to Rebecca and Seevan. I am surprised the tables survived all the tapping and banging!
Throughout the week, the young leaders really were the life and soul of Summer Week. They truly are such fantastic role models and inspiration to our children. They worked very hard all week, running on very little sleep, constantly singing and entertaining us all. I am full of admiration for them all and can only hope that my boys turn out so well at their age!
In my opinion the most amazing aspect of Summer Week is the cross-age activities. Where else do children get to spend so much time with children who are older than they are? It is also a pleasure to see how the helpers mature into young adults and find their feet as part of the leadership experience. I cannot wait for Jonathan and Daniel to be helpers, who seem to have such a good vibrant relationship amongst themselves. It is wonderful for the kids to see these role models and it is lovely for us to see what our children will hopefully become.
The children who come to Summer Week develop a sense of belonging to the synagogue and community. I think this is emphasised by taking part in the sleepovers, which helps them to feel that NWSS is “their synagogue”, rather than just the place their parents take them to. I know many of us will sing all the silly Summer Week songs we’ve learned throughout much of the year to come. There has been nothing cuter than seeing my little Daniel performing the actions to “jump jump, shake your booty” with his little touches.
There is so much more to write – the sleepover mayhem; the delicious pancakes prepared by Alison; the lovely service the children led at the Friday Kabbalat Shabbat; the delicious challot the children made, with help from Orna; the scrumptious dinner brought in by Jenny and so much more – and so many more people to thank. So many people helped out, either coming in for a few hours, helping out in the kitchen, donating dressing up costumes and much more. But one thing is certain. Summer Week would not have happened without the tireless efforts of Rebecca and Alyssa to whom we all owe a tremendous debt of gratitude. (To all the helpers as well – Editors).
So, if you know any children who might be interested, please let them know what an amazing week they will have at Summer Week – it’s fantastic and I look forward to many more Summer Weeks to come.