Tiyul USA 2021
Here, at the intersection of learning and life, our students create their own Jewish identities. The culmination of the Bernard Zell education is our Tiyul, when 8th-graders take a special journey where their years of learning come together in a life-changing experience they'll never forget.
Our first day was a long one, spanning more than 700 miles across six different states but it was clear from the enthusiasm on both busses that students were thrilled to be back together. While we caught a few picturesque glimpses of nature from the highway, we arrived at camp after dark so students haven’t yet taken in the full beauty of their surroundings—but they’ll undoubtedly be surprised by something quite different from Chicago when the sun comes up.
As you’ll read through the words of Asher, Claire, Danny, Ashley and Zoe, the time was filled with chess games, movies, pizza and a general enthusiasm for the journey ahead. Read about day one by clicking 'Read More' below and don’t forget to check-out all the photos in the gallery.
Day three of Tiyul allowed for a wide range of activities—some of which challenged students individually and many others provided an opportunity for working together as a team. Canoeing, led by Ms. Hirt, was an act of cooperation with paddlers working together to propel themselves forward and the high ropes course demanded that all participants remain in physical contact with each other, offering both physical and emotional support to peers. The evening concluded with a student-planned, western-themed casino night where students played games to win a variety of treats. Read more from a few eighth-graders below.
Today we began with an early breakfast at camp before loading up the buses to begin our Civil Rights tour. Upon arrival in Montgomery, Alabama we grabbed a quick lunch then were met by Billy Planer of Etgar 36 who eloquently described the story of what led to Rosa Parks’ arrest as students sat, enraptured, at the site of her historic bus ride. Having built the foundation of Civil Rights knowledge, we then proceeded to the Equal Justice Initiative’s National Memorial for Peace and Justice—an incredibly moving and somber memorial to the more than 4,400 African American men, women and children who were victims of lynching between 1877 and 1950. After exiting the memorial, our entire group circled up to recite a mourner's kaddish for these lives lost and spent time in our small groups debriefing on the experience. Finally, we moved to Montgomery’s Wright Brother’s Park for some relaxation time, a lasagna dinner and a closing presentation from Billy who connected the Civil Rights movement to the Jewish experience. Read about all of this from the students below.
On day five of Tiyul, students met with incredible figures of the Civil Rights movement and heard their stories firsthand. Facilitated by Billy Planer of Etgar 36, he set the stage and provided thoughtful context so students could understand the magnitude of these individuals’ contributions to history. Students were enraptured and respectful, and when the time was right, asked questions that demonstrated their genuine curiosity and hunger to learn. Through both Selma and Birmingham the eighth grade class saw history lifted off the page. Here’s how a few students described it.
DAY SIX AND SEVEN
Friday at camp was a great day including hikes in the woods, challah braiding, the creation of Shabbat-o-grams and bsamim bags all before a beautiful Kabbalat Shabbat overlooking Ramah Darom’s lake. Following student-led songs and prayer, the group made their way to the dining hall for a festive meal followed by a rousing game of challenge bingo that involved the game’s traditional rules but with a unique twist. In the morning, the day began with Tefillah (see Noah T.’s d’var below) and a Tefillah scavenger hunt. Due to a rainy day many opted for a low-key Shabbas with board games and card games, but others took advantage of camp’s Beit Am, a covered area with a full basketball court and when the sun started to come out other started to toss around a frisbee on the field. The ShinShinim then led a student reflection on Jewish identity and after dinner was a beautiful Havdalah service and the BZ B’nai Mitzvah Bash. Read more from the students below.
On day eight, students got up early for the drive to Copperhill, Tennessee. In less than two hours we arrived at Raft One where students split into two groups—half started their day with rafting and the other half with ziplining. We came together for a quick box lunch before swapping and heading out in the afternoon for the opposite activity. By the end of the afternoon everyone was exhausted but elated. We traveled back to camp for dinner followed by the option of a late night softball game, or smores and a movie in the outdoor amphitheater. Hear more from the following students.
Our last full day at camp! Students hopped aboard the bus for a short trip to Dillard Stables where each got the opportunity to ride a horse through an incredibly picturesque North Georgia landscape. Back at camp students led their peers in tie-dying, yoga and stretching, chocolate ball making and more. The ShinShinim led students in a reflection activity and after dinner the staff gave out paper plate awards recognizing everyone’s unique contributions to the grade. The day concluded with a full-grade softball game that was won on a walk-off hit. Read more from our students below.