Latvia's Summer Takeover

September 19, 2019
Ariela Mareida

Riga, Latvia

Class of 2020

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Mishpoha Olameinu 2019

In June, our community had a great event called Mishpoha Olameinu. It is the only Baltic summer camp where an entire family can participate. Mishpoha Olameinu is filled with day and evening events, which are prepared for kids and their parents. This year we enjoyed a bubble display by Valdman show and even professional motorcyclists on Harley Davidson bikes. Children were making their own ice-cream and having fun in their groups with madrichim. Here we see a great sense of community because someone who attended as a kid years ago is able to return now with their family and also see their friends from before.

Olameinu 2019

Olameinu is the biggest European Jewish camp for the Baltic states. No words can explain how beautiful and impressive this summer camp is. 400 children and 60 staff members come together. Olameinu is a community, where every person, child or madrich is an inalienable part, which makes this event magical. Olameinu is made to give children Jewish identity, to show them how strong we are together. We make them feel the importance and beauty of Jewish traditions. This year we had some special events, like laser tag, and trampolines. Every Big game and evening program was made with love and diligence. This camp is not just for children. It is for every volunteer, for every person who is a part of Olameinu. Because this camp is made with love and every camp is a great memory, which stays in our souls forever.

Szarvas 2019

For Jewish teenagers all over the world, Szarvas is a great ending of summer. Some people can’t imagine their summer journey without this camp. Szarvas is a time of powerful unity, where teenagers make lifelong friendships with people from different corners of our planet.

“It was my last Szarvas. My Golan was great and my madrichim were the best. We had a great room with girls from Baltics and I already miss them all. This year’s theme was Jewish Bookshelf, every event was really powerful and connected to the theme. Yes, Baltics teenagers are really energetic, but that is why we are unique and very united. Szarvas will always stay in my heart as a warm and lovely memory. Something that I will never forget.” 

JCC Planning Seminar

This seminar gave us an opportunity to start this year together as one team. We listened to great lectures, given by our professionals – Julia Balanova, Anna Kashina, and Pavel Miloslavin. We had lectures about project planning, Jewish culture, and finances. We worked as one crew, connecting our programs with each other and planning for the year ahead. Inna Lapidus-Kimbere was a seminar organizer and leader, who showed us the right direction.

ILSI (Int’l Leadership Seminar in Israel)

“I can’t tell you about ILSI in a few sentences, to understand, what I’m talking about, you need to experience this adventure by yourself.”

What is ILSI? It’s a bunch of new emotions and different feelings. Teenagers traveled around every corner of Israel, from Safed to the Negev. Certainly, it’s a great new experience and motivation to return to Israel again and again.

“Every place which we have seen was connected with ancient history or somebody’s personal story. I can tell you from my heart that this adventure was unforgettable. It was my first time in Israel and now I understand for sure that this time wasn’t the last.”

What is good about ILSI? Teenagers are learning Jewish history and the history of Israel. They understand how difficult the struggle was to establish the Jewish state and how important this place is to the Jewish people.

“We were in Jerusalem and I understood that it’s not just a town. Do you see? Jerusalem is a religious center for different nationalities from all over the world. It made me feel really proud.” Proud? Yes, proud. It makes us feel proud, that here, in our homeland, we are open to every human being. That is why ILSI is so important. To feel proud of your country, which was created by your people. Place, where you feel connected to every Jewish soul. Place, where you understand the importance of your self-identity.

CLTC 7 (Chapter Leadership Training Conference)

“What I will never forget from CLTC? How united BBG’s and AZA’s are. They had never seen each other before, but after a few hours, they become family.”

The atmosphere on CLTC was great. It was shaped by every person who participated in this event. The majority of lectures were about leadership skills and getting people to mobilize within a chapter. If your dream is to become a real leader, CLTC is the place for you.

“What I really liked was that we were named as chapters, not groups as we had used to in our camps. We even created our own flag! I enjoyed our small elections which helped me to better understand how this system works

CLTC is a place, where people with different backgrounds and personalities have to work together and understand each other. This program is really helpful for international teens because it makes them feel involved and needed.

“This program helped me to understand, how systems work in BBYO. Now I have something new and exciting to bring to my community at home. I clearly understand what it will take to achieve our next steps. The importance of this program is that every teenager leaves feeling more confident in knowing what they want to do when they come back home. They have a plan and after CLTC they are ready to make big changes.

International Kallah

“Kallah is one of the only places in the world where different types of Jewish people truly become unified as one.” In this program, you can explore the traditions of Orthodox Judaism and also find something you relate to in Reform Judaism. Kallah is a three week long adventure, where Jewish professionals bring new topics about religion, politics, Israel and music every week. Here, all teenagers can find something really close to their hearts. “This summer I had the privilege of attending the International Kallah program that helped me explore many different aspects of Judaism and rediscover what Judaism means to me.” The most memorable experience during the program was the Shabbat, where teenagers heard the story of the Holocaust from survivors themselves.

“That program touched me so much and pushed me to do more to make sure that the stories we hear now would be heard by the future generations. I am thankful to everyone who helped make Kallah such a great experience and will forever cherish the memories and keep the friendships I made during the program.” What do we know about Kallah? It’s a long journey, which helps teenagers to find themselves, sometimes, to understand, who they really are. “I think that Kallah is an ideal place to find your Jewish “I”. Kallah is something that we are ready to hold in our souls forever. ”

ILTC (International Leadership Training Conference)

“ILTC is a very interesting and informative event where you can make a lot of new friends from all over the world.”

Sessions were dedicated to leadership, community systems, and BBYO chapters. They heard a lot of new information, very useful and developing. Planning programs and growing membership is important so that teenagers can learn something from their own peers and not just from teachers or professionals. They learn something from each other, by their own experience and experience of their friends. It was a moment for teens to understand that they mean something, that they can make their own decisions. It made them all feel on the top of the world.

“I really enjoyed the blueprints. I feel like I have heard something important what I can bring to my community and it’s a great experience, I think.” Learning methods for ILTC are productive. Teenagers have a learning time but they also have time to spend with each other. 

“I enjoyed planning committee, where we made our own programs in groups and then had a chance to show these to other teenagers and staff at ILTC. For example, my group made a mock kickoff event. I have never made anything like this before! We could do something by ourselves. Nobody looked at our status, or how old are we. Nobody cared, that we are teenagers. It was our high point and we felt really proud.”

Ambassadors to Bulgaria

“I was so scared at the beginning. I went to the program where I knew just a few people. But it became the most interesting experience in my life so quickly!” 

This program brought out a lot of emotions in the participants which are really hard to explain. They have seen the Jewish part of Bulgaria, which became a discovery for some of them. They have now seen the Bulgarian community that is so beautiful and powerful.

 “Now I see the future of Bulgarian Jewish life in their teens. That is something I have learned from this adventure. I was so impressed by the power of their unity. I miss this really much” Maybe this is the most important for all of us? Teens, who understand, that Jewish life not just in Bulgaria, but in every country in the world is in their hands. Teenagers who are the creators of unity and future.

Ambassadors to Argentina

“The trip to Argentina was one of the brightest experiences of my life. I was amazed unstoppably, starting from an incredible Buenos Aires city tour, to unbelievable sights of Iguazú.” This trip was filled with different excursions through Argentina. Every excursion was really special and informative. Teens have seen the whole life of Jewish history in Argentina, from the very past until the present day. “My favorite place we got to see  was the Hebraica. There is located within the JCC of Argentina. You can see something similar to your community and totally different at the same time.”

Exploring the city of Buenos Aires and the nature of Iguazú is something that participants will never forget. But the most important thing is the connections they’ve made, not only with their groups but also with people from Hebraica. “One of the most special aspects of this trip, of course, were people, who I met and now I have friends from Argentina, USA, and Lithuania. I would love to once come back and visit this beautiful place again.”

Teenagers had experienced the beauty of Shabbat traditions, which sometimes are very new to international groups. But it’s the only way how we catch the vibe – by exploring our difference. “The feeling finally understanding how big the Jewish community is - impossible to explain. Heading back to Buenos Aires I will never forget the best Shabbat in my life. Songs, people, and just all the atmosphere. This trip reminded me why I love being Jewish.”

August Execs

“ I have no words to explain how powerful and life-changing this journey was for me.” 

August Execs is the program, where teenagers and staff all over the world come together, to make this world a better place for every Jewish teenager, for every Jewish soul. “I enjoyed the conference. Really. I was listening and participating, I was trying my best because I knew that it’s important for our general future.”

Every session at this conference was special. Participants learned about topics ranging from budgeting to membership growth, and more. It felt like every moment was a chance to grow and celebrate.

“You know, it’s such a great feeling when you are learning something that you have never heard before. No matter lectures or Havdalah songs. That is why Execs is so unique. Here you are open to all new knowledge and information.”

Shabbat and Havdalah at Execs is an unforgettable experience. Here, the beauty of old traditions come together with pluralism and love. You feel invited and needed.

“This difference makes us feel united. We all are so different, so unique. But we all are Jews and we come as one big family. It’s something magical.”

Every minute of Execs was filled with big steps for the future. Every person brought their own opinion and feedback. Teenagers and Staff shared their thoughts because it’s the only way to make our future much brighter.

Ariela is a leader in Noar Latvia.

All views expressed on content written for The Shofar represent the opinions and thoughts of the individual authors. The author biography represents the author at the time in which they were in BBYO.

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