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Event Date: 
Sunday, November 28, 2010 (All day)


 by Jacob Betz
            Each year, my school, Solomon Schechter Academy in New London, sends their sixth grade to TEVA. Because I am the only child in my grade, going alone to TEVA was scary for me.  The car ride seemed like a never-ending journey to a far away place I did not know. But, once I started to warm up to the kids, I had fun learning, laughing and making new friends.
           Located in northwestern Connecticut, at Camp Isabella Freedman, TEVA is an environmental program that is based on the Jewish laws of nature. “TEVA connects Bal Tahchit with the environment,” Rabbi Astor explained. Bal Tahchit means do not destroy. “When we apply Bal Tahchit to the environment, we are Shomrei Adamah, protectors of the land.”  
          While at TEVA, I stayed in a heated cabin for four days and three nights. I enjoyed great meals and even learned a new owl call. It sounds like, “Whooo Coooks Fooor Yooou.”
          I asked my principal, Karen Rosenberg, “Why do you send your Schechter kids to TEVA?” She said, “To me, TEVA encompasses all the aspects necessary for a good Jewish day school education. Through TEVA, our students have learned to appreciate their world, both academically and spiritually. They recognize the environment both as a gift from G-d and as a responsibility.”                    
          As part of the four day program, students earn four out of a total of five beads for completing projects based on the themes of Awareness, Interconnectedness, Respect and Community. The red Awareness Bead is awarded to a student who is open to nature and aware of his surroundings. The blue Interconnectedness Bead is given to a student who is joined with friends for a nature-related cause. The yellow Respect Bead is given when one takes the responsibility to take care of the Earth. This green Community bead is given when one joins with the community on helping nature.
          The fifth and final bead is the Earth bead. To get this last bead, one must pledge to help nature by committing to a project, like starting a compost pile or, for me, to further develop the recycling program at my school.
          My favorite part of TEVA was when my principal and I went on the night hike to the top of a mountain. In the distance, we could see the lights of Hartford. I had a great time hanging out with kids and our school’s emissary, Asaf. I learned so many new things like how to build a fort using just natural materials and which plants you can eat. I will never forget all the things I learned about helping our Earth. I hope to someday, through both words and actions, teach them to others. 

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