Menachem Weiss, a “special” teen with CP, reports every week to Merkaz Ha’inyanim on an angle of life that he alone can talk about
Ezer Mizion’s Matan – Petach Tikvah Summer Camp
Shalom dear readers!
Finally, the day arrived to set off to the Matan Club summer camp. At 8:30 in the morning, we came to the pick-up station in Petach Tikvah. The buses were already lined up, and some of the campers were already on board.
Like last year, this time again the bus was equipped with a ramp and I was able to ride right on with my wheelchair. This is the most comfortable way to ride and Ezer Mizion always tries to think of everything. They put me in a good spot and fastened the chair so it wouldn’t move around during the trip. My attendant sat right near me. That made me feel comfortable. We set off and drove directly to the Kinneret. On the way there, my personal counselor was on the second bus, so I only got to meet him later, on the boat. His name is Chaim and he is really nice. They all are. It’s the Ezer Mizion trademark.
When we got to the Kinneret, a boat was waiting for us at the dock to start off camp with an exciting boat ride. The whole way, they played Chassidic music and it was very lively. After the boat trip, the unbelievable happened. We got to experience the Kinneret right up close. In fact, I was really in it! Can you imagine! My attendant, together with my counselor, arranged for me to have a special wheelchair that could take me right up to the water. The experience was amazing!
After the swim, we went straight to Chispin. First came Tefillat Minchah (afternoon prayers). Then we were served a hot meal. After such a day, I was starved!,Following the meal, it was already time for Maariv (evening prayers). I expected the day to end at that point but I was surprised. After Tefillat Maariv, a singer arrived, along with a keyboard musician to accompany him. Rabbi Yisraeli, the director of the Matan Club joined us and we had a mock wedding. One of the campers was the “chatan”(groom) and my counselor draped himself in a tablecloth and played the role of “kallah (bride).” Two boys walked them to the chuppah (marriage canopy), and afterwards, they made Sheva Berachot (special blessings said at a wedding) and gave out cake. We went to sleep really late. Please don’t tell my mother.
The next morning, after Tefillat Shacharit (morning prayers) and breakfast, they brought us jeeps. My counselor Chaim lifted me up and put me on the seat right next to the driver, the most exciting place to be. On the way, we took a break and ate watermelon. Even heavenly bliss has to end sometime so we came back to Chispin for lunch and then went to get ready for Shabbat.
In the afternoon, Ima’s cousin who lives in Nov came to visit me. She brought me nosh (goodies) for Shabbat and said that she’s very happy to meet me every year in Chispin. It made me feel good. We made Shabbat early, and after Tefillat Minchah, there was Kabbalat Shabbat (introductory prayers for the Sabbath), followed by Reb Shlomo Carlebach songs. The sing-along made me feel so special- like being part of a giant family. Then Tzvika, a counselor, spoke and told a story. For Kabbalat Shabbat and Maariv, my counselor was the chazzan (leader of prayers) and I felt proud. We davened with song and dance. At the Shabbat meal, there was a lot of singing, and people also said divrei Torah (thoughts on the Torah). I also brought with me a dvar Torah that I had prepared with my friend Shloimie, and somebody read it for me.
The next morning, at Tefillat Shacharit, I was called up to the Torah for the Kohen (priest) aliyah. When my counselor heard that I was a Kohen, he arranged for me to duchen (bless the congregation) at Birkat Kohanim (priestly blessings) of Mussaf (Sabbath prayer). I was very, very excited. It made me feel like a Jew just like any other Jew. The daytime Shabbat meal was also very lively. We sang all the time and again said divrei Torah. After the meal, we davened (prayed)Minchah and then went to rest. Later in the afternoon, we had a shiur (religious lecture) with Tzvika, and then went for a walk in the area.
On the way, we met a woman who asked “Who is Menachem Weiss?” She came over to me and said that she reads my article every week, and that it is very nice. That really gave me a thrill, because I didn’t even know that the newspaper Merkaz Ha’inyanim gets as far as Ramat Hagolan.
We came back to Chispin for Seudah Shlishit (third Sabbath meal), and then, after Maariv and Havdalah, we got organized for a trip to the pool. We went by foot for about a quarter of an hour, but when we got into the water, I had such a good time that I thought to myself the trek was worthwhile. My counselor really was wild with me in the water. He is a terrific counselor!
When we returned from the pool, so that we shouldn’t chas v’shalom (Heaven forbid) go to sleep hungry, they set out cake and fruit and played music at top volume and it was really hopping. At midnight, it felt like it was midday.
On Sunday we got up very early. After the Tefillah (prayers), we set out on a trip. I couldn’t imagine what it could be afte rth efantastic trips we already had . I soon found out. Kayaking! For me it was the first time and I was thrilled. We came back to Chispin for lunch, and then we packed up and set out for the return home. This year, they made the closing banquet of the retreat in Petach Tikvah, at the Morasha School. There was an impressive spread, and after we ate, the music and dancing began. Ahreleh Nachshoni, the son of my newspaper editor, played the keyboard. The singers were Yishai Lapidot, whom I really love, and Yoni Berger, who is my childhood friend – I really like him too.
In the end, in spite of all my fears and apprehension, I had a really great time. A gigantic thank you to all the Club’s directors and counselors and, of course, to my terrific personal counselor, Chaim, and my attendant, Manuel.
Until next time,