You may recall the letter we recently shared from the Heart sisters in Atlanta, begging us to open a ChillZone in their neighborhood. At the time, we really didn’t see how it would be possible, but in this line of business, you learn pretty quickly that nothing is impossible.
A short while after we got the letter, a staff member of TheZone from Atlanta, Adina Caplan, told us that she’d be home for mid-winter break and by any chance would we like her to run a one-time ChillZone while she was there?
Well, you can guess what we answered to that! The Hearts were true to their word and brought many friends along. As you can see from the pictures, everyone had a great time!
As a plus, none of the other girls who came were TheZone campers… or shall we say, have been TheZone campers in the past. Judging by their enthusiasm, there will be several new campers from Atlanta in camp this summer!
As Adina said, “next time (Pesach???), it will be even better!” Seems like the Someone is listening to those Heart girls!
How could we not share this beautifully touching letter from a couple of Chillers-at-heart in Atlanta?
Here are some highlights:
“… I miss the learning, the dancing, the prizes, all the smiling faces and the happiness in the air, it feels like you are soaring through the air. Whenever someone brings up a topic that can connect to ChillZone in any way, it brings my neshama [soul] to tears to remember the happiness and joy before we moved to Atlanta…. ChillZone is a place where you can laugh, sing, play, see smiles on everyone’s faces, see old friends, rejoice and much more…
It would mean a lot to me and my neshama for you to make a ChillZone in Atlanta please!!!”
Cancel ChillZone Brooklyn?! Well, you can try…
With heavy snow causing treacherous driving conditions across the East Coast a couple of weeks ago, many ChillZone programs were, to many children’s dismay, forced to cancel. But Elazar Wacholder, an Oorah volunteer, had a feeling that there would surely be some boys who wouldn’t get the update, so he made the trek to the Brooklyn ChillZone location at the usual time on Motzoei Shabbos. Sure enough, twenty boys and four staff members showed up.
Despite the frigidity outdoors, the Torah learning went strong and continued even longer than the usual time. As the boys were enjoying the hot food after the learning, Ariel’s* father told Elazar the most incredible story.
Read the story in the Yated’s Oorah column.
Trekking through a rare Jerusalem snowstorm to ChillZone.
Scores of boys braved heavy snow and freezing rain to make it to ChillZone in Jerusalem. Read more and see the photos in this week’s Yated Oorah Nachas Files
Staten Island ChillZone girls’ memorial cards
We at Oorah and TheZone were saddened to learn of the recent passing of the father of two of our Zoniacs and Staten Island Chillers, Aharon (Ari) Gruenzweig. At last night’s ChillZone program in Staten Island, the girls dedicated their learning in memory of Ariella and Dina’s father.
Aliza Perles, Head Chiller of ChillZone Staten Island, gave each of the girls a memorial card to dedicate their learning l’ilui nishmas Mr. Gruenzweig. “Aliza capitalized on a real teachable moment at ChillZone tonight,” Rabbi Avraham Krawiec commented, “and we thank her as well for the nechama (comfort) these cards will hopefully bring.”
Another exciting season of ChillZone has officially begun, bigger and better than ever before. We’ve got 31 locations for boys and girls all across the country, from Boston, MA to Great Neck, NY to Bensalem, PA to Rockville, MD… and even out of the country, with groups in Toronto and Israel too. Many locations have doubled or tripled in size since last year. ChillZone in Philly began with 8 girls last year; this year, 50 showed up to opening week.
Every ChillZone is a mix of learning and fun, good food and exciting prizes, warmth and friendship. And you’d be surprised how much the kids really learn at ChillZone.
A camp TorahMate told us something amazing. Learning with his TorahMate, a 10 year old from a day school in Brooklyn, this week, he was impressed with the boy’s superb command of the parsha. He was particularly impressed because the week before, the boy had demonstrated a clear lack of knowledge about the parsha of the week. So he asked his TorahMate, “Who taught you the parsha this week? Did you learn it in school?”
“Nah,” replied the boy. “I don’t remember anything we learn in school. We learned about the parsha in ChillZone. That’s where I know it from.”
ChillZone is one of Oorah‘s most rapidly expanding programs, with Rabbi Avi Schnall, its national director, leading the growth. ChillZone is a weekly learning program with groups in many locations across the US and Canada. Besides learning, there’s pizza, prizes and lots of time for fun.
ChillZone leaders are dedicated young men and women who bring tremendous energy and warmth to each group. And this doesn’t go unnoticed by the communities that host ChillZone programs.
Manhattan’s West Side Synagogue is the location of one of ChillZone’s newer groups, and clearly, judging by their rabbi’s blog, they’re impressed. In his post “Miley Cyrus and Our Daughters” Rabbi Strulowitz comments that one of the beauties of ChillZone is that it gives impressionable young girls “confident, stylish and grounded” role models.
With a short break for summer and camp, ChillZones will be starting again on October 12.