By Raphaella Ruggiero, Photographer and Communications Specialist
Chana Rothman is a musician, an educator, an activist, and a mom. You may recognize her name from her music and from a mention in a blog post from 2011, ‘Yom Huledet Sameach!’, with her song “Simplify Yourself” being a ‘must-have’ on any Camp birthday playlist.
This summer, Chana taught a different repertoire than last year. In changing the repertoire, it allowed her to talk about a lot of different topics with the campers. “Gates of Justice” is a piece she sang this summer, and Chana uses it as an avenue to talk about justice, issues we currently face, and how to go about fixing the world. Chana’s role as an educator is to encourage thoughts and conversations and ways the campers might mobilize any ideas they are passionate about into something real in the future. In the past year, Chana has also been working a lot with movement- practicing yoga with the campers and then talking about what the campers might be wishing for themselves or want to bring out in themselves.
One song in particular that campers sang was one Chana wrote the music and English for herself, based on Opening the Gates of Justice. Campers went on to speak about the meaning behind the song and about some of the things that are broken in the world. They then divided into groups and wrote what came to their minds. Some campers wrote down words, and others poetry and songs. In addition, she sang ‘We are One’ with some of her groups, which was also sung on Shabbat; this song is particularly powerful as it’s all about the Jewish community coming together, despite everyone’s differences, cherishing what makes everyone unique, and shows the importance of unity.
Chana worked with all the different age groups at camp during Masheshu, singing songs together and having conversations about important topics in life and at camp. She encouraged the campers to take the time to think about and share with each other ways they can fix the wrongs in our broken world. Chana had the campers make a list of all of the things in the world that needed fixing in line with the theme of Tikkun Olam (repairing the world). She said she felt inspired by the campers; had an adult looked at this list, they likely would have felt so defeated and heartbroken, but the campers had such optimism and used this list as motivation. They were excited to talk about how they could address these problems. Chana said she apologized on behalf of those who came before them for what is broken. One camper in particular spoke up and said, ”well, this happens every year- and it has to- because it’s our job as we inherit the Earth to step up and make it a better place, otherwise nothing will change”.