Sh’mitah Camp

Camp is in full swing, we are getting to know each other, playing fun games together and this week we are learning about Sh’mitah.

Playing a version of the game, “Where the Wind Blows”. A child shared something they like, in any category and anyone that also likes it stands up.

Sh’mitah can be found in the Torah in several places, including the book of Exodus, chapter 23, the book of Leviticus, chapter 25 and the book of Deuteronomy, chapter 15. These sections include some details about the way that land that is used to grow food is treated (in the torah). In each of these parts of the torah, there is some variation of the idea of, “growing for six years and letting land rest every seventh year”.

The French medieval commentator, Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki (also known as Rashi), wrote about the section of text from the book of Leviticus, chapter 25. Rashi added that anything that would grow during a Sh’mitah year (it wasn’t planted on purpose, but sometimes seeds land in a field and grow!) is ownerless, these crops are available to anyone who wants to take them.

For the younger group, we started the week by exploring rest. There was rest for humans, which we explored through body movement games. This was followed by drawing reflection about how your body feels after expending energy and where they felt it. Responses included:

  • Legs
  • Feet
  • Mouth
  • Belly
  • All over.
Body movement exploration.
Drawing reflection.

We went on a walk where we noticed things in nature that were resting. We saw trees, bushes, flowers, birds at a birdfeeder, we felt the wind, and we heard city sounds, like an ambulance and the Metra train.

We learned about the farming process. In these photos we are pretending to be seeds, plants, farmers, or the sun. One way the “farmers” took care of “the seeds and plants” was by watering them. We also harvested and brought our harvest to grocery stores and farmers’ markets.

We also started working on a banner about our week. In these photo children are collaging a field. Some children planned to include specific features, like rows of crops including soil and plants, trees and the sky.

We introduced the concept of Hefker, where any crops that grow in a Sh’mitah year are ownerless. These crops are available to anyone who wants to take them.

We played a game where we brought Hefker foods to a common spot. Then, we took turns going to pick up just what we needed. When the final child went to go get food from the baskets, they found that they couldn’t get what they needed to, so they asked the group. The children checked to see if they had any extra to share and they did!

We also baked something yummy that we decided to bring to the Hyde Park Love Fridge, once food goes into the Fridge it is Hefker (ownerless) and anyone can take it if they need it.

Looking forward to another week of camp next week which is about Rosh Hashanah!

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