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Combating Apathy

It is my first year on tzevet (staff) and last session, I worked with the chotrimot (going into 7th grade). 

Peula schichva, or pish, is a daily activity for just over an hour and a half in which chanichimot (campers) learn about various topics with their kvutza (age groups) through methods and sichot (discussions). Throughout the session, the chotrimot learned about a range of topics, from Jewish identity and history to environmentalism and capitalism to racial (mis)representation in the media. 

Our final peula shichva was structured around combating apathy and complacency and empowering youth to take a stand. We began by asking the chotrimot to react to various statements concerning small-scale to large-scale problems (“At my school, we don’t get time off for Yom Kippur, meaning that I can’t spend high holy days with my family;” “Millions of people around the world do not have access to fresh water”). They responded with one of four statements: "I can make change"; "I don’t know how to make change"; "I can’t make change"; "I don’t care about making change", and explained their reactions. 

Following the first method, we split the kids up into 3 groups and gave them scenarios off of which they based skits. The scenarios involved bullying, pollution, and robbery. We then discussed the definition of bystander and their personal experiences. After that, we read the short statement/poem by Martin Niem√∂ller, outspoken opponent of Adolf Hitler, titled “First They Came.” Many of the chotrimot had previous exposure to this poem, but they thought critically about the message and discussed the consequences of apathy and indifference. To conclude, the chotrimot created a list of 6 issues, big or small, which they would like to change. For each issue, they brainstormed ways in which they could create change, both as individuals and as the Machaneh Gilboa community. It was inspiring to see such impassioned responses from the chotrimot, who had spent the whole session learning about issues that they now seemed eager to change.

 - Clara Epstein, Kvutza 67, Gilboa Madricha