“Reflect and Revisit”, a painting by the author. “Each time I look at the painting, I revisit Tizmoret Shoshana and reflect spiritually on all that I gained there.” Ora Friedman
I am painting the tranquil turquoise lake and the breathtaking views of the Berkshire Mountains. I try to capture the sapphire blue sky. I use heavy brushstrokes to depict the shape and texture of the bushes. I paint the iridescent reflection of the trees in the lake by blending the emerald green of the trees with the sea blue of the waves.
As I sit outside the art studio, I hear the most angelic singing coming from the voice studio. I see the creative writing majors siting outside, describing the scenery. In the theater, the drama students act out monologues and rehearse for the final performance. The dancers learn new moves and practice gracefully. The exquisite sounds produced by the flute, violin, piano and cello are in harmony with the rest of Tizmoret.
I had the remarkable privilege of attending Tizmoret Shoshana, a two-week sleepaway camp for girls. The arts camp, founded 16 years ago, is located on the grounds of the Berkshire Hills Eisenberg Camp in Copake, N.Y. Tizmoret Shoshana gives every girl the ability to use her God-given talents to achieve spiritual heights. Music and the arts are the means to expressing the soul. It allows me to let out feelings and express what words cannot convey. Since love for Hashem is indescribable, the arts allow me to express this love.
Each camper focuses on two areas; I majored in vocal music and minored in art. At home I took voice lessons for a short period of time. I always loved singing and used to be in choirs in elementary school. As I got older, it was much harder to find performance opportunities where I could perform for women only since I adhere to kol isha — a form of modesty that prohibits women from performing in front of men. As soon as I found Tizmoret Shoshana, I knew that it was the perfect place for me — I could take voice lessons and perform in a comfortable environment.
Liba Hersh, the vocal coach, taught us a variety of exercises, music theory and how to read musical notes. Campers bonded over our love for music; we found the uniqueness in each other’s voices and recognized the incredible talents of our peers. During the final performance, we each performed a solo piece and together we sang “Lo Amus” which is part of the Hallel prayer. For my solo I sang “Meheira,” made famous by Yaakov Shwekey. I performed this song in a choir in fourth grade. It is about the joy that should soon be heard and felt in the cities of Judah and it is sung at weddings and sheva brachot. I always loved the melody and singing the song makes me happy.
Chana Singer, the art teacher and one of the camp directors, taught us techniques in molding and designing clay, painting, using pastels and making prints. (Singer and her husband Mark are the founders of the camp.) Painting landscapes gives me the opportunity to appreciate nature in a different way when I focus on lines, colors and details. I use a variety of colors to express the beauty. Nature allows me to meditate when I reflect on the true beauty of the outdoors. It puts me in awe of Hashem’s creations, which is really awe and appreciation for Hashem Himself. Painting allows me to focus on small details that I may not have noticed and allows me to realize and appreciate all of the small gifts that Hashem gives us.
On Shabbos, we infused the day with holiness by coming together in song. Ms. Hersh taught us that music is how the angels communicate and music is from the world above. That is why when we sing, we feel so inspired and so much closer to Hashem. The music we listen to impacts our souls. When a group of people sings, we express our feelings as one. This achdus (unity) enhances the Shabbos. On Shabbos, I gave a dvar Torah about how the arts and spirituality are entwined. I spoke about how prayer and song is the vehicle to initiating our relationship with Hashem.
Summer is a time to reflect on who we are and what makes us unique. Tizmoret Shoshana gave me the unique ability to pour out my soul in song. Music, art and writing make me complete. Each camper was able to express the yearnings of her soul and unite in a love of the arts.
After camp, one of the participants designed a blog where campers and staff members can share their art, writing and videos of performances. The blog is a great way to stay connected with camp friends and to make sure that our summer experience remains with us. I recently composed my first song and wrote a few poems for the blog. It was so inspiring to be among talented girls who have the same interests and love for music and the arts as I do. I hope to continue using the gifts that Hashem gave me to help those around me and inspire others.