The 5th and 6th Grade Brandeis Students, accompanied by faculty members Donna Weiss and Heidi Beyer, had the opportunity to partake in a unique four day educational and spiritual experience. The Teva program is located at the Isabella Friedman Campus in Connecticut. Students awoke each day to hot chocolate prior to davening Shacharit. A buffet breakfast was offered to all on a daily basis after which Pisolet (waste) was weighed with the goal of reducing individual and group waste. Students differentiated waste from compost material. They made their own lunches and embarked on five hour hikes with their group leaders. Students were separated into groups of eight which gave them the chance to connect with one another and learn the importance of working together and team building. Students learned fire building, and some made their cheese sandwiches into grilled cheese. Others roasted apples on the fire they created, and a few melted some leftover chocolate over the fire to make fondue. Students explored the woods, climbed snow covered mountains, and reached the summit for an amazing view of the overlook. Some students actually saw goats climb a slide and come back down. Students met with Teva staff to discuss their impact for the future by thinking about how they envisioned the world and what steps they can take to realize the change.
Each afternoon, students had free time followed by plays performed by Teva staff regarding religious texts and environmental themes. After a buffet dinner each night, students went on night hikes or had elective activities including creating challah covers, carving yads from wood, or making hand washing cups. After meals, prayers were said followed by performances from the campus band where students actively learned environmentally themed songs. It was not until their return trip home that they found the need to use electronics which were stored by the teachers throughout the trip. Students made wonderful and long-lasting memories, strengthened friendships, and cultivated their relationship with nature and Judaism.