“I will lift up mine eyes unto the mountains, from whence cometh my help” -Psalms 121:1
Torah has several accounts of those who seek guidance, enlightenment, and inspiration from the divine by climbing hills, ascending mountains, or otherwise pursuing high, holy places. Similarly, the fifth – eighth grade students at Tucson Hebrew Academy eagerly look forward to their annual trip to Mt. Lemmon, where they bond with each other, connect with G-d, and enjoy the beauty and sanctity of nature! This year’s trip was a little different—rather than being held the first week of the school year and focusing on several get-to-know-you activities, THA’s overnight trip took place during Chol HaMoed Sukkot, giving students the unique opportunity to examine and practice their faith in new ways and in beautiful surroundings.
They started off by making and decorating their own journals, within which they were encouraged to record their observations, feelings, and experiences. Later that afternoon, they participated in several activities, including learning an Israeli dance with Ms. Feldman, going on a hike with Coach Hudson and Ms. Reynolds, making friendship bracelets with Ms. Lionheart, sketching from nature with Mr. Metz, and competing in a hilarious and collaborative game called ‘land rafting’ with Mr. Davis.
After lunch, the fifth-grade children returned home, leaving the sixth-eighth grade children to take part in the first annual Sukkot Building Competition with Rabbi Dr. Cody Bahir. Armed with PVC pipes, construction paper, tape, twine, canvas drop cloths, and various found materials, the children divided into four teams and had two hours to design and build a sukkah (temporary hut built for use during Sukkot) to eat dinner in. Creativity abounded! The children worked earnestly together, knowing their sukkah would be judged in 5 areas: teamwork; stability of construction; adherence to kashrut (the state of being kosher); cohesiveness of aesthetics; and incorporation of natural elements. Having spent several weeks already studying the significance and purpose of the sukkah, each team took their task seriously. In the end, it was incredibly difficult to pick a winner, as each sukkah was a testament to the incredible effort, learning, and dedication of each team! The Sukkot Building Competition was such a success, it is sure to become a beloved tradition for years to come.
No trip to Mt. Lemmon would be complete without s’mores and music around the campfire! Mr. Weber brought his ukulele and the happy sounds of children singing rose into the night sky for many hours. Tucson Hebrew Academy gratefully acknowledges how lucky it is to have dedicated faculty and staff who poured time, thought, and effort into making this year’s Mt. Lemmon trip the best one yet. The countdown to the next trip has already begun!