My Journey of Becoming a Madricha

April 2, 2024
Lea Mordkovich

Berlin, Germany

Class of 2025

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Since I was 10 years old,  I have attended the summer and winter holiday camps of ZWST Germany.  Jewish children and teenagers can attend the holiday camps from the ages of 7 to 18. From the ages of 7 to 12, you go on summer and winter holiday camps in Bad Sobernheim, a place in the southwestern part of Germany. The summer and winter camps take place in a house called “Max-Wilner-Heim,” which has been owned by the ZWST since the year 1997. You take part in different programs which often have a focus on Jewishness, Israel, etc.; going on trips to nearby cities, celebrating Shabbat together, and more. When you reach the age of 12, you are officially allowed to go to the summer camps in Italy. There, you also take part in very interesting programs, and even though they are a little bit more challenging (suitable for 12-18 year olds) they are still very, very fun. You go to the beach, amusement parks, waterparks, and so on. For so many Jewish children and teenagers in Germany, it is something natural to go on those summer and winter camps starting from a very early age. I can only speak for myself, but I can say that I got to know almost 60% of all of my friends through those holiday camps. 

The system of those summer and winter camps is like this: first, many Jewish children and teens from different cities in Germany arrive. Then, they are all separated in Kwutzod, or groups, by age. Every Kwutza has one or two Madrichim or Madrichot, the people who look after the kids/teens and offer them kind of a safe space during their stay in the camp.

That all for sure sounds very intriguing, but who does those programs, and how do children and teenagers stay motivated to keep on participating in those summer and winter camps? It’s the Madrichim and Madrichot.

Since I was little, every holiday, I went to those camps. The Madrichim and Madrichot were always people that I looked up to and saw as role models. Since my first summer camp in 2016, the Machane, it has been my dream to be a Madricha when I am old enough. I also wanted to inspire people, to be someone they can look up to, to be a role model, and to create a safe space for children and teenagers outside of their homes. At a holiday camp of this kind, the Madrichim and Madrichot bear responsibility for the children and teenagers for a very long time. My goal was always to try to make the best out of it for them. In the winter of 2022, I was at my last winter camp. Many of my friends told me about the Midor Ledor seminars (“Midor Ledor'' means “From Generation to Generation” in Hebrew), the seminars you can do to become a madrich and madricha. 

So, for 6 weekends evenly distributed throughout the year, teens from the ages of 15 to about 20 come together in the Max Willner Heim in Bad Sobernheim, where the winter and summer camps for the younger also take place, and learn from the best Madrichim and Madrichot about their tricks and methods on how to be a good Madrich or Madricha. 

Midor Ledor — From Generation to Generation. 

So, with many of my friends, I traveled to Bad Sobernheim 6 times this year. From where I live in Germany, it’s a 7-hour train ride, but it was worth it. I got to learn from the best, and I also got the opportunity to perform programs I planned myself like Peulot (group activities and workshops for smaller groups), evening programs (a fun program after a long day), or I got to learn how to teach a new dance or song correctly. So, my year was packed with trying new things and stepping outside of my comfort zone. I feel that I have grown. Those seminars really helped me to get to know myself better and to follow my goal, the youthwork. 

The last and longest seminar was from December 24th to January 5th, but it was different. It was a simulation of creating a winter camp by ourselves, together with the people participating. We planned everything from the morning Tfila to the last minute of the evening program. It was very exhausting, but I had so much fun and it was an experience I wouldn’t trade for the world. In those 6 seminars (7 with the 10 day long seminar), I got to meet the best people and got closer than I ever thought possible with many of them. I am thankful for the experience I had with others but also with myself. The things I learned, the things I did, and the things I can do now, thanks to those seminars, is something unique. Now, I can be the person I looked up to as a little girl. Now, I can be the role model. Now, I can create a safe space. Now, I can be a Madricha, go on Machane, and inspire others. And I couldn’t be more thankful.

Thank you,

ZWST Germany!!

Lea is a BBG, from Berlin, Germany, and is a member of ZWST.

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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