Do you know how to make fire the way the Biblical patriarchs did?
Forty-four fathers and their teenage sons now do, after the fifth-annual It’s A Guy Thing Retreat, sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles. Held the weekend of December 2-4, 2011, at the Brandeis-Bardin Campus of American Jewish University, and produced with the Board of Rabbis of Southern California, the retreat brings 8th and 9th grade teens and their primary male mentor together for two and half days of outdoor activities and sports, challenging learning programs, innovative explorations of Torah and ritual, and unique camaraderie.
Designed to address the specific needs of post-Bar Mitzvah boys, and to build connections to Jewish life for adult men, It’s A Guy Thing provides new ways of “doing Jewish” outside of the synagogue. Led by master educators, rabbis and students, the men and teens encounter nature and engage with many of the pressing issues between father-figures and sons through programs designed especially for the Jewish Federation and this retreat.
“This retreat is based on the most recent research into the brain development of adolescent males,” said Rabbi Jon Hanish of Temple Kol Tikvah, the lead creator of the program. “What we discovered is that the adult males were even more hungry for inspiring Jewish content that was outdoors, active and fun. When you’re having fun, you learn more and you bond more.”
The adults and teens use flint, rocks and dried bark to make fire for lighting Shabbat candles; they sing new versions of old standards from Shabbat services; they engage in a “speed chevruta” to study famous, and not so famous quotes, about the journey into manhood, in which teens and adults get to share their textual insights with each other, followed by an opportunity to create their own proverb about manhood. There is a thrilling drum circle, Bibliodrama and Storahtelling for Saturday’s Torah service, pick-up sports, teambuilding, ropes course, golf instruction, and incomparable guided treks through the vast Brandeis property.
It’s A Guy Thing is part of Jewish Education — Formal and Informal of the Ensuring the Jewish Future Initiative at the The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, in partnership with the Board of Rabbis of Southern California.