Bergenfield—A few weeks ago in The Jewish Week, Elli Fisher wrote an article about how unfortunate it is that Orthodox Jewish men avoid the performing arts areas, but he never mentioned anything about Jewish women and girls. Women and girls have a lot of halachot that they have to follow that keep them from the performing arts as well. For example, I am an 11-year-old girl, and I always wanted to be an actress, but I never thought I could. Then I discovered a wonderful opportunity for Jewish girls. It’s called the Maor Performing Arts Summer Program, but known to most simply as “Camp Maor.”
Camp Maor is a performing arts camp for Jewish girls. It has a tzniut dress code, and they have a final non-musical performance for the whole family, as well as a dancing and singing performance for only women.
Camp Maor has three age divisions: Miriam, the youngest; Esther, the middle; and Rivka, the oldest. Miriam and Esther join together for the final performance. Rivka has its own performance. In 2014 the performance was Alice in Wonderland, and a separate variety performance with singing and dancing. All the divisions do the same performance, just not at the same time.
There are three majors in Camp Maor, acting major, dancing major, and singing major. All the campers get to choose which major they would like to be in. Then towards the end of the summer, each major starts working on a performance to put on during the Festival of Arts. The Festival of Arts takes place in the last week of camp, when all of the majors come together and perform for the camp what they’ve been working on. We also did a performance at Camp HASC.
Camp Maor is a very special camp, because it has a way to keep the campers from being lonely or homesick. All the campers have an opportunity, if they wish, to get a pen pal before camp. Another camper who is going to be in their bunk will write to them either by email or by regular mail, and they will write back. I chose to do that before camp last year and I had an already-made friend. Camp Maor also has a very special treat for all of the campers on the first day of camp! All of the campers get to go to a Broadway show. In 2014 the campers went to see Aladdin and stayed back to talk to some of the cast members after the show. It really taught us a lot more about acting, singing, and dancing.
Though the main focus is performing arts, Camp Maor also has a swimming pool, and a time to do sports. The camp also has a night activity every night. Once we had a very special night activity that started during the day! Throughout the day, staff members would hand out tickets to campers who were behaving nicely. Then, when it was night activity time, all the campers were led to the theater and they were divided into groups led by counselors. All of the girls in each group put their tickets together and then they bid on strange items, for example, a toilet plunger, a water gun, an electric candle, and much, much more. They soon discovered those objects were props. Every group had five minutes to come up with a small skit, using the objects they had won. They also had to make it funny. It was a very fun night.
Shabbos at Camp Maor is really special. The first Shabbos at Camp Maor, the campers got paired up with a big sister/little sister from the other show. For example, since there were two performances, one for each division, the girl who played Alice in the younger division performance paired up with the older girl who played Alice, and the big sisters/little sisters would practice their lines together. The first Shabbos also had a special activity with one of the dance directors. She taught the campers how to turn a dance into a tefillah.
Camp Maor is a wonderful opportunity for young Jewish girls to focus on the performing arts and keep the halachot. I can’t wait to go back!
By Chava Schapiro, 6th Grader,
Yeshiva Samson Raphael Hirsch (Breuer’s)