As part of my internship with Bible Raps I had the opportunity to spend a week at Camp Ramah Darom in Clayton GA, where I once was a camper and counselor myself. Although I have worked for Bible Raps before and since, and will be embarking on the second leg of my “camp tour” next week, I think my experience at camp Ramah Darom best represents my internship so far.
I had two main goals when I began this summer: 1) Get hands-on experience with the day to day tasks of a Jewish musician and a nonprofit organization (both of which I hope to be a part of someday), and 2) Run workshops, perform, and write. In other words, I wanted both the clerical and the creative; at camp I did both. I used constant contact to begin putting together a newsletter, edited, formatted and copied lyrics (like this Torah Rap Map to the rap “Jonah:”
and reached out online to the kids we had performed for. I also helped with the workshops themselves, including working with the older kids in camp to write songs for their color war, which was a great throw-back for me. (The songs needed to involve their color, theme, region of the world, and be easy enough for everyone to sing, and incorporate Jewish texts, and if this wasn’t difficult enough, be completely in Hebrew. Yikes!). In the workshops, students learn a Jewish text, as well as the basics of writing a rap. (Videos from past workshops can be found here.) Students then split into groups to either make a beat with Matan or write with Matt and I to help. I loved seeing the campers faces after they laid down their tracks: beaming with pride, not just at what they had accomplished, but what they had learned. And I have learned so much; helping someone write is very difficult. There’s a thin line between giving suggestions and putting words in someone’s mouth, and most of these kids have had very little rapping experience. I worked on walking that line and keeping the ball rolling, while making sure the kids owned their work. Matt’s a pro at it, and is helping me improve as well.
I have a few proud moments from this week, some professional and some personal. When Matt handed over the reins to me to lead a workshop myself, I was a bit nervous but felt confident that I knew the ropes, and I did. I was certainly not perfect, and Matt and I went over what I could have done better. But working directly with the campers and facilitating such a unique experience was very rewarding. Later in the week, one of the older campers who we had worked with for color war said to me, “Don’t tell the other guys but you’re my favorite Bible Rapper.” I smiled and we laughed, but it really meant a lot. This is more than a job, more than an incredible opportunity. For this summer at least, I am a Bible Rapper. I may not be a rapper yet, but I’m part of this amazing team that does so much good and brings so much learning to the world. That’s what I’m the most proud of.
P.S. Here is a video of Matt and Matan performing for some enthusiastic fourth graders!
– Eliana Light ’13