Saturday, October 13, 2007

Great Shabbat service

This morning, we had "Camp Shabbat" at our synagogue. They had a regular "grownup" service upstairs in the double-classroom, and in the social hall we had the rabbi who is the assistant director of Camp Ramah, the Conservative Movement's summer sleep-over camp in Palmer, MA.

It was so nice - brought back so many memories of my time in USY (United Synagogue Youth, the Conservative Movement's teen youth group). It was a very kid-friendly service, with the rabbi asking the kids a lot of quesitons about the service. Micah and Sam, of course, had plenty to say. Sofia lasted through the service, too. During the (abbreviated) Torah reading, Micah, Sofia and their two friends B & A [brother and sister same age as my 2] sat on the floor in front of the reading table.

After lunch, they had a panel of teens who are seasoned summer campers. CJP (Combined Jewish Philanthropies) has done extenive studies proving that the best way to ensure lasting connections to Judaism is through 3 things: Jewish summer camps, at least 8 years of extensive religious or day school, and peer-group visits to Israel in the teen years. So this was a chance for us parents of young kids to hear about the camp experience.

It's very interesting for me, especially because Camp Ramah (among other places) has a Special Needs section of the camp also, and there are options for partial or full inclusion as needed. I know Sofia will go eventually (hopefully in the inclusion program), but I had a lot of questions for them about Sam. I'm not convinced that he'd do well at summer camp. Between the moodiness and the anxiety, I was very glad to hear what their process is for figuring out who qualifies for the special needs program (they'd work with us, the school and his psychologist to find the best situation for him).

It was a blast, and we were there until 2:45. Micah made friends with the visiting rabbi, exchanging "secret handshakes" and chatting away. (The guy is very young, just out of the seminary, and he and his wife have a very adorable 17 month old who were also there. Ah, youth!).

Sofia was asleep when we got home, so she snoozed while I took down the lights form the Sukkah and the boys played and David started a chat with the neighbors. It turned into a 2 hour chat with a LOT of people, because today we all got a notice about the mishegas of our "trsutee" land - basically, the 24 houses on this street co-own the land behind us (conservation or wetlands or something like that). The Trustee who was supposed to collect the taxes from us each year never did, but claims he did, and if people did pay, he never paid thw town, so now they want everyone to pay a flat fee, regardless of how long you've lived here. It's a big mess, so we'll have a homeowner's meeting this week and consult all sorts of lawyers. Stay tuned.

We took the kids to our favorite sushi place, Michi Kusa, in Framingham. They eat well there - edamame, age tofu, Sam and Sofia split salmon teriyaki and Micah gets 2 special cucumber/avocado makis without sesame, while David and I pig out on sushi. And the owner knows us (because we are there so often) so it's really fun.

Boys were basically asleep when we got home, I think Sofia is down now.

Tomorrow brings soccer and maybe the local renaissance festival. Hopefully the weather will be good.