Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Help my campers learn...about God (Part I)

Last week, I invited you to contribute to a conversation I was having with a group of teenagers at Eisner camp about Middot (ethical values). Some of you did, and thank you very much! You enriched the discussion with your ideas and the campers felt appreciated by you. Beginning yesterday I began learning with a new group of campers (entering 8th and 9th grade) with anew topic - God. Here is the description they were given:
God. Really? You are faced with tons of choices every day. Some you make automatically. Others require some serious thought. Where do you look for the values you will apply to make your decisions? Your parents? Your friends? Society all around us? Judaism? We are going to look in all of those places to wrestle with some tough issues. Then we are going to take our conversation online and go viral. We will create a blog using writing and video and send it out to the universe. Then we will see what the universe says and engage in a potentially viral conversation!
So once again, dear readers, colleagues and friends, I invite you to read both the questions I posed them and some of the answers (there are 21 of them, so it takes a long time - check back later for more responses) they wrote in their journals before beginning the conversation. Please post your answers in the comment section below or on my Facebook or via e-mail (I will transfer it back here. If for some reason you prefer to remain anonymous, the comment section here will allow it or ask me to make it so in your message to me. In advance, thank you for participating in this crowdsourcing experience!

1. Describe the God you believe in (or don't believe in):
BR: The God I don't believe in grants miracles and actually hears us when we pray.
JM: God is not real and does nto look or sound like anything. 
LDM: For me, God is an image to go to or think of when you need answers. Some people need an answer to everything, so they turn to God or a holy piece of writing. I do believe in God, because I am one of those people who needs answers.
SC: I'm not sure if I believe in God, but the God I do not believe in is the one that elts war happen, innocent people get hurt and people we love die. The God I do believe in creates miracles and wonders in the everyday world.
SPS: I don't believe that there is a man or a woman or a being that is all-knowing and all-mighty.
KK: I don't believe in a God that is all-knowing and powerful, or one that controls everything that occurs. If God was that powerful, things like the Holocaust wouldn't have happened and God would have protected the Jews.
TS: I don't believe in a God that is in everything or a God that makes things happen on their own without real people acting on it or trying.
JF: What is God to me? Many people have different perceptions of God, but I have my own. God isn;t a life-like creator, he is a listener.Everybody needs someone to look up to or someone who is always there for them. When I'm in pain and I don't want to say anything, I speak out loud when no one else is around.
BM-P:  I'm not sure exactly what I believe in. I haven't quite figured it out yet. I think there isn't NO God, but I don;t think there is an all-powerful God that decides everything.

2. One time when I had a sense that God might be near was...
BR: When I sat at the Kotel and put a message between the stones.
JM: No time at all. 
LDM: Every time I pray I think that God can hear me. I mean, I know that isn't very practical because there are billions of people praying to the same God, but I also felt as if I "sense" God. 
SC: During services at Eisner camp.
SPS: When there are weird coincidences or something that I really want to happen actually happens.
KK: I have never had a sense that God was near. I don't feel a connection to anything, even when I go to temple. I don't sense that God might be near.
TS: When something good happens I thought was not possible to happen becomes true - that is when I sense God.
BM-P: When I was with my great Grandpa after his heart attack and stroke, and I culd see him react and get better right before my eyes.


3. When other people (Jewish or not) talk about God, I think...
BR: ...that it is good that other people think God is real, or that if they don't they still consider discussing the topic.
JM: ..that I know everything about God and these people are makign things up about him.
LDM: ... that God is the same for most religions - our God, Jesus' father and Allah are all the same.
SC: ...that everyone has a slightly different view. Some people have stronger beliefs than others and some people don't believe at all.
SPS: ...I think about how everyone has very different opinions about what God is.
KK: ...about how I don't believe in God and it makes me curious what other people believe in.
TS: ...I don't react because everyone is different so they all believe something else.
BM-P: ...they could be right or they could be wrong. But I always keep an open mind, because one of their answers could become mine.

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