Weekly Roundup by Shloime Schwartz P.H.D.

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Week of Shabbos, July 15th, 2012

Shabbos in T’zfat!

The mere name conjures vivid images of winding streets, mystical ancient synagogues, and a sagely old south African man, clad all in white and handing out free horseshoes to everyone. Camp S’dei Chemed International Boys Division spent a deeply spiritual weekend in the northernmost of israel’s four holy cities, bunked in authentic T’zfat apartments on Rechov Ha’ari. Rabbi Reznik led us in two beautiful meals, sharing with us both incisive Divrei Torah and the latest in pharmacological piskei Halacha. We bid farewell to the shabbos queen at the beirav carlebach minyan, where campers endeared themselves to the regulars with their respectful participation in the havdallah ceremony. After an inspiring walk to the city’s highest point, the Mitzuda on Motzei Shabbos, we agreed that our time in T’zfat had helped us transcend our physical bodies and that we now more closely resembled creatures ┬ácomposed from a cosmic fusion of pure light and positive energy.


Black Canyon! The mere name conjures vivid images of canyons, blackness, and black canyons. After a 6:30 departure, CSCIBD sojourned from T’zfas unto the soaring mountains that surround the Nachal Yehudia, where we davened shachris and prepared to embark on our hikes. Assistant rotating head staff assistant Moishe Singer led the tour B group in some vaguely yoga-like stretches to limber up before setting out on the black canyon hike, a strenuous but exhilarating journey that involved cliff diving, rappelling, and a fair amount of crying. The more casually inclined Tour A group opted for a hike with a more casual incline, and followed resident spelunker Rabbi D. Druyen deep into the Zevitan Valley, which winds its sinuous path around the Zevitan River. Cliffs were dived off of, sandwiches were eaten, rocks were removed from sneakers and socks were tossed away unto the bushes.


Sdei chemed enjoyed a camp day at our sun dappled base in scenic Telzstone. Set high on a hill, the Neve Zion campus is built in the neo-gothic revival style and features impermeable dormitories, exclusive basketball courts, elegant bomb shelters, acre of rolling lawn, a semi-functional soda machine and the world’s most popular bais medrash lobby. Campers enjoyed high spirited games of basketball, volleyball, Ultimate and some kind of game where tired looking boys listlessly kicked a black and white ball around. I was later informed that this sad display of effete footwork is a “sport” called “soccer” and is “played” by “people” all over the globe, although it is mostly favored by Europeans and other assorted degenerates. Later in the afternoon the younger bunks enjoyed some much needed down time while the S.A.s took the local Superbus to the Mevaseret Mall to cash in on the free time they had earned for their titanic deeds of self sacrifice. (Though their response retroactively was revealed to be Pavlovian, they still deserve our admiration and respect.) as evening fell the camp prepared for Midnight biking through Jerusalem, a new and exciting night activity for CSCI. Biking through the hills of Jerusalem, breathing the rarified air and dodging the homicidal drivers, we were able to discover a side to Jerusalem we had not previously known. The familiar streets of the old city seemed repainted by the moonlight and felt brand new under our wheels. Tour guide Phil pointed out all the fabulous sights and gave us perspective on a very special night,

At the Tel Morasha Archeological dig, you can smash history with a pick, scoop antiquity with a trowel, and sift through your heritage looking for jawbones and shards of pottery. Traveling under an assumed name, CSCIBD arrived at the dig which featured an astonishing 5000 caves and 189 cave systems. Our pep and pun filled tour guide/ archaeological mastermind Missy instructed us in the basics of the very complex digging process (smash dirt with pointy thing), then we started excavating in earnest.The caves date back to the Hasmonean era, and the artifacts we found, such as a dreidel handle and an entire box of Telshe Yeshiva wax candles bore out this cave dating. (which just means the it proves the accuracy of the date we were told the caves were from. There was no actual, like, CAVE DATING.) special mention to SA counselor Shloime Kramer who discovered an entire set of perfectly preserved china, several large jugs, a bow an arrow, a copy of the dead sea scrolls, the cure for the common cold, and the bones of Jimmy Hoffa. Later missy led us on a underground adventure through one of the industry caves. A main industry of these cave dwellers was the raising of pigeons. The pigeons served many purposes: they fertilized the fields, delivered messages and could be trained, either as dancing pigeons to entertain the young and infirm, or to be attack pigeons in times of war. It was through one of these erstwhile pigeon roosteries that we climbed through, sliding through tiny apertures and falling down unseen steps. A cold pool was waiting for us in nearby Beit Meir, where the camp rabbeim joined the boys for a refreshing swim and waterfight.


Masada called for us early wednesday morning, and we made the long trek up the mountain, torches in one hand and a grape juice bottle full of coffee in the other. After an uplifting shachris at the summit camp traveled to the dead sea, which struck me with the areas of similarity it shares with chicken soup: it’s hot, it can be unpleasant during the summer, but it’s good for you. Next on the agenda was another food-like attraction: the caesar salad-esque Ein Bokek hike, with its brown crouton-ish canyons cut through by the lettucey foliage below. Our appetites for dam building and waterfall sliding satiated, we headed toward yeruchem, where we got some much needed rest as well as a sumptuous barbecue dinner. For after dinner entertainment, we enjoyed the pool of Mr. Ahmed Chicken and son.

That israel’s air force has the most pizazz was a fact unknown to most of us before we met out tour guide Rome at the Israeli Air Force museum. Rome taught us about all of the fabulous fighter jets Israel has had over the years and how glamorous the pilots who fly them are. The museums charms exhausted, CSCIBD headed towards Buki’s Farm, where the boys fed goats, taunted an ostrich, made friends with some sheep and learned where cheese comes from, afterwards applying this knowledge towards the making of actual cheese. The buses rolled into camp on rosh chodesh, exhausting but having enjoyed a wonderful southern overnight.

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