Hello from Argentina! We hope you are all doing well! We just wanted to give you a little update on our incredible trip to Argentina!
We started off in a province just north of Buenos Aires called Entre Rios, where we visited three different towns founded by Jewish immigrants and developed into the history of these Eastern European Jews who came straight to Argentina in the 1800s and started vibrant, lasting communities. Then we visited five different old synagogues, three of which are still in use today. Next, we joined a small but passionate congregation for Chanukah candle lighting and also did Mincha and Hallel at some of the synagogues that are infrequently used. It was inspiring to see the few, albeit powerful, individuals with so much passion to carry on their Jewish traditions. The group loved bringing light into some of the antiquated synagogues that hadn’t been used in decades, especially during Chanukah.
A small Jewish school in a town called Villa Clara was our next stop. We played some intense fútbol with the children and gifted them Chanukah presents. Then we spent a couple of hours cleaning graves at a massive Jewish cemetery while learning about prominent figures that ignited such passionate communities. We came back to Buenos Aires that night and joined a group of young Jewish Argentines for an exciting Chanukah party!
The bulk of our trip was spent volunteering as American “shlichim” for a Jewish summer camp for children from Buenos Aires. We engaged in their programming, davened shacharit and Kabbalat Shabbat/Shabbat morning services with them, and played tons of fútbol. We learned so much from the chanichim (campers) and madrichim (counselors), not only about Argentinian traditions and cheers (especially after the World Cup win) but also about Jewish culture and traditions that they carry and pass down. It was fascinating to see their camp traditions and to compare their Jewish camp experience with ours. They use some same tunes for Kabbalat Shabbat/shacharit, which is amazing considering the tunes have traveled thousands of miles to Jews around the world. Our group taught them a few of our classic tunes/teffilot: Ma Rabu and Or Chadash. They were all so thrilled to learn from us and continued to sing them even when we weren’t there.
On December 27, we came back to Buenos Aires and visited a couple of Jewish sites in the city, toured a gorgeous synagogue/museum, walked around the heavily Jewish neighborhood of Once and ate the only other kosher McDonald’s other than Israel! We also toured the enormous JCC/community center called Hacoaj right outside the city. It was absolutely fascinating to learn some of the Jewish history of Buenos Aires and contrast it with the modern, robust Jewish communities and facilities in the city.
This trip inspired us in countless ways and ignited additional passion for camp, Jewish traditions and world Jewry. It was incredible how welcoming and open the entire camp was and how willing they were to share their traditions with us. They brought us into their camp as if it was also our home. It really gave us insight into how Israeli mishlachat feel at our camps and how our camps can how we make them feel at home. Our group also brainstormed different ways we can help introduce the mishlachat to our camp traditions and make them feel as welcome as possible for the entire duration of their time with us.
Thank you for choosing us to experience this insightful journey. We are excited to bring everything we learned back to Ramah Darom and make it an even more spirited, inclusive and passionate environment.
Sam & Lily