Saturday, November 21, 2009

Kadima, B'nei Akiva

This weekend marked the end of Chodesh Irgun, the month of B'nei Akiva madness. The month always starts off slowly, with a peula or two the first week, and maybe three the second week. Then things really kick into high gear, when the kids and especially the madrichim get worried that the dances are not going to be learned - each group does a "dance" performance on the last night of the month. So at that point, the peulot get more frequent and last later into the night, despite the best intentions of the madrichim, and the kids get tired-er and it just spirals.

After Thursday night's performance, the kids eventually trickled home. With no reason to go to sleep, as there was no school for them the next morning due to a generous miscalculation by the school administration, Dani and Pacey (who was sleeping over while his folks were away) watched a movie and got to sleep at a reasonable hour. Ariella was extremely jealous, since she did have school and thus lost out on the movie night. She had ample reason to be annoyed, frankly. The assumption that only the kids who participated in performing would be tired was sort of silly, since most have younger siblings who attended the festivities. Then again, the performers have been existing in a perpetual state of sleep deprivation for days... Ayelet came home, but did not go to sleep, resulting in much unhappiness all around on Friday. Shana headed out to join in the B'nei Akiva Cheraya Bet (high school age) painting of the walls around the basketball court. If B'nei Akiva likes anything nearly as much as lighting things on fire, it is painting any blank surface. She returned at about 1:30, when she could no longer hold a brush.

Friday was a rush of packing up cookies - sorry, no pix this week - and cooking for Shabbat. The cookie flavors were triple chocolate cookies, lemon glazed ginger crisps, chai sugar cookies, thin mint sandwiches, chocolate peanut butter brownies, and cinnamon squares. That was not exactly what I had planned earlier in the week, but blackouts tend to throw off your plans jsut a wee bit. We had company Friday night, Huda and Mark and four of five of their kids. Their older daughter stayed home sick, but their oldest son, who was supposed to be at a B'nei Akiva dinner, got one whiff of the delicacies being served to the kids there and headed over to join his family instead. We had a great time with them, and I got a wonderful greeting from their youngest daughter in shul the next morning. I love having 2 1/1 year old friends - they are so guile-less! After shul, we went to a small kiddush at Phil and Judy's to commemorate the 20th yahrzeit of Phil's grandmother. We spent a long time there, ate a lot of really delicious salads, and came home for lunch, sans Dani and Ayelet, who were lunching with their shvatim. Ayelet, as is her tradition, came home with a friend once the "meal" was over to eat lunch. We headed over to the Moadon to see the mud sculptures the groups had made - because the snif is currently under the construction, they can not paint the rooms, so this was a substitute for the usual activity. On a side note, my kids can't get over the fact that the quietest place on the yishuv - the library - is being constructed on top of the loudest place in the yishuv - the snif. Let's hear it for some mighty fine urban planning. We also checked out the walls of the migrash to see the paintings. Then we NAPPED - it was awesome!

After Shabbat came the final leg of the BA celebrations. The evening began with all of the kids parading to the migrash. The ninth graders did their daglanut - flag dance, which is less weird than my translation would make you think (if I can figure out how to embed a video, I will so you can see it - it's inexplicably moving, as it should just be silly, but it isn't!), and then the fourth graders were welcomed into B'nei Akiva. That was a truly sweet moment, as the ninth graders, on the cusp of joining the official named shvatim, made a tunnel of flags for the youngest members to walk through. It was just like walking through the rows of chayalim at the airport at the Nefesh B'nefesh welcoming, except the flags here were much bigger. Then the fourth grade groups did their dances, which were really well done, especially for such little kids. Kol hakavod to their madrichim! The evening ended with a mifkad of the entire yishuv. Signs indicating each shevet were all around the perimeter of the migrash, and we lined up with our respective age groups. It was a very moving experience, to see so many people who had been involved with B'nei Akiva in their youth in so many countries, now singing together the words of the songs we all knew - Yad Achim, Hatikva, and Ani Ma'amin. And those who were finding their first involvement through their kids, and even those who never learned the words, I am sure it was quite the moment for them as well. I am really grateful to B'nei Akiva for giving me the grounding in Religious Zionism, even if I didn't realize at the time that I was absorbing the values of Torah V'Avodah. Back then, it was just fun and something to do Shabbat afternoon.

The newest shevet received their name, Lehava, and things were set on fire, just because. Then the night came to an end for me and Ariella, but Shana stayed out to collect her new sweatshirts, Dani hung out for a bit with his friends and madrichim, and Ayelet went to a bonfire and barbeque for her shevet, returning home smelling like Lag B'Omer. Now Chodesh Irgun is finally over, in theory the kids can concentrate on learning in school (don't worry, Chanuka vacation is almost here), and I am sure we will have to twist Dani and Ayelet's arms to go to peulot, especially on Shabbat. But it was fun while it lasted.

B'virkat chaverim l'torah v'avodah,

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