A Magen David hangs around most of our necks, a tiny symbol signaling a shared belief, shared traditions and shared history. We’ve known each other for less than two weeks, but, beyond our shared passion for journalism, our community has bonded us.
Eleven Jewish cherubs gathered on the second Friday of the program to celebrate Shabbat, a Jewish holiday that occurs every week. The night was complete with Target candles, grape juice and challah. Some of us had never spoken before, but now, we had a reason to connect and get to know each other.
Dressed in matching white and equipped with the prayers pulled up on our phones, we recited them together. Our voices echoed through the piano lounge in a chorus of harmonic notes as we sang the words we all knew instinctively.
Between bites of challah and sips of grape juice, we exchanged sleepaway camp details, stories of friends we didn’t realize we shared and memories of the program so far. Conversation flowed easily as the candles burned.
We didn’t need fancy candlesticks or prayer books. The piano lounge, home to impromptu piano recitals, late-night check-ins, deep conversations and cherub talent shows, had become our synagogue. Eleven kids had created our very own Jewish community, brought together by rituals that made an unfamiliar place feel just a little bit more like home.