As we recover from the whirlwind and chaos that is Pesach (Baruch Hashem!), we pause for a moment to reflect on the Yom Tov that passed. Pesach at TheZone was memorable, yet indescribable. With hundreds of Oorah families and campers passing through over Yom Tov, it is hard to capture the flavor and the spirit of the holiday. But, with the help of several participants, we will try.
With 350(!!!!) guests sitting around our Seder table, led by Rabbi Chaim Mintz, we still were able to have one unified Seder. Many participants remarked on the beauty of having so many different “types” of Jews all celebrating together in complete unity. Ma nishtana was recited in at least a dozen languages, including Hungarian, Farsi, Russian and even sign language!
Dueling Rabbis got all the parents and teachers in attendance heatedly debating the merits of homework. Oorah’s signature Yaalili contest had both Sephardim and Ashkenazim entertained. And throughout the Yom Tov, thought-provoking discussions, conversations and learning sessions abounded. And could we forget to mention the non-gebrokts muffins?!
In the words of one guest, “I never experienced such a thing! It was Gan Eden! Such love! Such achdut! Nowhere is there anything like what I saw!”
The inspiration of Pesach at TheZone resonated with so many who told us of the changes they have made in their own lives because of the experience. We close with the remarkable testimony of a touched mother:
“Spending the first days of Pesach at TheZone with the wonderful Oorah family was a life-changing experience.
I got a chance to witness and be part of a REAL, MEANINGFUL Jewish experience. One where I was not judged based on my appearance, but instead cherished- for being me!
It was the first time in 30 years that I felt accepted in a religious environment. It has made me realize that there are G-dly people in the world and that I can join them in serving Hashem in a way that makes sense to me.
This experience was made even more special by the fact that it has given me (a single mother) the desire to raise my son in a Jewish environment. Before this Pesach, I did not ever consider sending my son to a Jewish school. Now, I hope he will start his Jewish education in Oorah’s preschool in Staten Island!
No words can express my gratitude to Rabbi Mintz… I hope to start with a TorahMate soon and to become stronger in my devotion to G-d every day…”