New Siddur Enhances Shabbat Experience

New Siddur Enhances Shabbat Experience

Creating Camp Interlaken’s Siddur HaMachaneh was a spiritual and creative journey that began several years ago. “The existing photocopied siddurim, used at services on Friday night and Saturday morning, were showing signs of wear and no longer represented the intentionality behind Camp’s worship services and what made Interlaken Shabbat so special,” Said Toni Davison Levenberg, Director of the Steve & Shari Sadek Family Camp Interlaken JCC.

The process began with staff and campers collaborating during the summer of 2019 about what were the most important parts of the Shabbat experience at Camp. Beth Garfinkle Hancock, a Jewish educator from the JCC Association, was hired as a consultant to lead and guide the project, and the JCC Marketing team was brought on to facilitate design and production.

The team started by evaluating the current siddur and looking at examples from other camps before conjuring up a vision of what elements would make the new siddur feel like it best represented the Camp Interlaken Shabbat experience: the size, the feel, the art, the extra content. It was determined that the most important change would be creating beautiful soft-cover books that belong to each camper, a treasure they use during their years at camp and then have as a keepsake forever. It was decided that the books would also include “My Shabbat Experience” pages, a place to document their most sacred Shabbat memories each year.

Originally intended to be completed for Summer 2020, the project was extended an extra year in light of the overnight camp closures caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Over many months, the team curated photos to highlight some of the most loved places and moments in camp, pored over meaningful quotes, poetry, and thought-provoking questions that would enhance services, and agonized over every detail and decision. James A. Sweet and his family made a generous donation to the project and the books are lovingly dedicated to the memory of Tracy Sweet. The final product, titled Siddur HaMacheneh (Camp Prayer Book) uses watercolor treatments of iconic places at camp, design elements, and written reflections in the sidebars to try to capture the indescribable feeling of Shabbat at Camp.

This two-year labor of love was finally presented to campers this past summer at the first Shabbat service of the season. Sheryl Rubin, Camp Interlaken alum and former Camp Committee Chair noted, “To see every camper holding their own siddur as the whole Camp community recited the Shehecheyanu brought tears to our eyes. Delivering this meaningful addition to camp during a summer like no other only made it that much more special.”

All Summer 2021 Camp Interlaken families were sent a copy of Siddur HaMacheneh to keep at home. Alumni and other camp friends interested in purchasing a copy for themselves are encouraged to contact Holly White at 414-967-8240

Click here to read more stories of impact from the 2021-22 Annual Report.