Avi McGrady participated in Adventure Rabbi’s Adventure Bar Mitzvah Class. In this essay, he reflects on how climbing a mountain and making matzah ball soup helped him become a Bar Mitzvah.
D’var Shana – Thoughts About the Year
Have you ever had a Bar or Bat Mitzvah? You might remember how challenging it was to prepare. But how about a challenge that involved trekking up a 10,000-foot mountain? Maybe doing an iron chef challenge like making matzah ball soup and challah for Shabbat? In my adventure class, we combined these experiences of learning life skills with learning about Judaism like learning Hebrew and ancient prayers.
In one of my most memorable classes, we trekked Deer Mountain, and we experienced various weather conditions. It was definitely one of my favorite experiences because my friends were alongside me the entire time. It seemed like the weather couldn’t make up its mind: “Oh, it’s all sunny, I’m ready to keep climbing. Oh wait, it’s raining again.” These short-term weather cycles went on for the whole second half of our hike when we were hiking back down. When I first learned about the hike, I was not excited at all. In the end, it was one of my favorites. I had a great time talking to friends and hiking up an enormous mountain, I was able to take care of myself, but I also looked out for my friends and it made me feel really proud.
This climb reminded me, that it would take lots of work to prepare for my Bar-Mitzvah but I would take it one step at a time. It felt great to connect to Jewish values through friendship with other Jewish people, and being out in nature.
Even though a lot of our experiences in the adventure class were outdoors, one of my favorites was at one of my classmate’s house, in the kitchen challenge with an activity called Iron Chef Shabbat!
Second Class – Iron Chef with Adventure Classmates
This class was my overall favorite even though I don’t necessarily like cooking, but I like eating! I got to brainstorm ideas with my group, which had to do with baking challah and making matzah ball soup. It was hard making decisions as a group–especially when our matzah ball soup disappeared, which caused a big problem for our group. This class had us work together in groups of four and try not to mess up the kitchen too much. But there arose a problem, a very big one. Our matzah ball soup batches were put in the refrigerator to cool, and when it was time to take our batches out from the refrigerator, my group and I ended up, possibly with another group’s batch of soup! What we discovered was another group’s matzah ball soup tasted similar but still different, so it was hard to tell the difference between the soups. We put shredded cheese in our matzah ball soup, and the other group put chips in theirs. When the Iron Chef class was done, I now have a memory that will last–forever. Still, to this day, our group has never identified who’s soup was who’s whos, But both were delicious and we had a great time!
I feel like all of these activities in the adventure class all year long were really good for me. They helped me grow socially and maybe even spiritually. The experiences I have had over the year in the adventure class were ones to remember forever.