The Ohio Jewish Chronicle
- Serving Columbus and Central Ohio
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A day of fun and learning in the woods
By Ina Horwitz
A tradition continues as fifth
through twelfth graders attend the 30th annual Torah
Day sponsored by Beth Jacob
Congregation Aug. 22 at
Blacklick Woods. The program was originally con-
ceived.by Rabbi David Stavsky as an opportunity for
youngsters to spend a day in
the park, while having fun and
learning "living Judaism",
away from classrooms and
"By bringing in' teenagers
from other communities (such
as Detroit, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Dayton and Louisville),"
said Rabbi Stavsky, "we reinforce the peer pressure group
as a reference group for Jewish identity in a Torah value
system and environment."
He added that because of
the frail situation in which the
Jewish family finds itself today, this year's program will
emphasize the strengthening
, of the family unit and the importance of the inner strength
between parent and child.
Beth Jacob congregant Nancy Yovitch, 35, remembered.
that when ste attended Torah
Day in her early teens, it was
a "wonderful, unifying factor"
for the Columbus Jewish community. At that time, there
were not as many Jewish
events in the community as
there are today, she said.
Rabbi Stavsky recalled that
in the 1970s, Torah Day had a,s
many as 200 participants. In
recent years, the event has attracted a group of 60-100 students.
This year's program, held
in conjunction with the Central East N.C.S.Y. Region, is
action packed — a day of
Torah learning mixed with
sports activities, music and
ruach. Beginning at 8:30 a.m.
in Beth Jacob's chapel with
talis and tephilin services, the
day includes breakfast and a
keynote address on Jewish
family life and ethical principles by Rabbi Stavsky, before
the teens leave in vans for the
In addition to lunch and a'
dinner cookout prepared by
parents and members of the
youth commission of Beth
Jacob, the program includes
volleyball, baseball and intramural games, mitzvah workshops, guest speakers, discussion groups, as well as Mincha
and Maariv services.
The staff consists mainly of
rabbis in the region, all identified with youth activities. The
program has received national recognition and numerous
awards for its innovative concept of reaching out to teen
Two of last year's participants, Sharon Frank, 16, and
Ben Almasanu, 17, remembered the fun of combining a
natural environment with Judaic learning. Almasanu, a '91
'Bexley High School.graduate,
who has attended Torah Day
the last five years, said he always enjoyed meeting youths
from other communities.
Frank, who goes to Columbus Alternative High School,
recalled how much the kids
liked being exposed to so
Alumni also had strong
recollections. Michael Weisz,
34, an attorney with Abroms,
Weisz, Everson and Zacks,
said that as a teenager, he
would attend with a group
from Cleveland, where he
"It was always a wonderful
see TORAH DAY pg. 4
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