Tomorrow’s the early bird deadline for everyone’s favorite auction: the Oorah auction. Early birders join the $5,000 bonus raffle! Browse prizes while downloading the Zemiros now!
It’s the height of the summer. After a week of excitement, including activities like ziplining, horseback riding, and ATVing, TheZone campers, now in their Shabbos clothing, are heading to the dining room for the Shabbos seudah. Even with all the fun that they experience during the weekdays, it’s the seudah that’s the highlight of the week. And it’s all because of the zemiros.
As you all know, TheZone is a kiruv camp; it’s one of Oorah’s many successful programs that has lit up the souls of thousands of teenagers. The kids really have a great time while bonding with mentors all week long. But once Shabbos arrived, how could TheZone staff and counselors show their campers the beauty of the day, while keeping them entertained? It’s especially hard in today’s age when teenagers are so attached to their phones and media.
Sure, there’s games and other entertainment during the Shabbos meals. But it’s the songs that are at the heart of TheZone Shabbos experience. The campers, though, don’t know the classic Shabbos zemiros that you might. Years ago, they sang English Jewish songs that they knew. But they weren’t zemiros.
“How about if we take a zemer and translate it so that they’re accessible? We’ll keep the same tune and same message, and make it a fun song to sing.”
They tried a couple of songs to see how it would go over. The lyrics were written so they’d be fun, easy to remember and convey the concept of each zemer. The songs were recorded and played over the loudspeakers during the week so that they would become familiar. With each summer, TheZone staff wrote and recorded more and more English versions of zemiros. And then they realized…
“Hey! This isn’t only great for kiruv. This is great for the world! Everyone sings zemiros at the Shabbos table, but how many people don’t even know what they’re saying? It was amazing for us to learn the messages and concepts of these songs…everyone should enjoy them!”
Now Oorah has shared their popular zemiros with the world! All 15 songs were recorded professionally (all by volunteers! There’s a lot of talent among TheZone staff) and the Zemiros CD was included with all auction booklets this year.
Why is Oorah sharing this for free? At TheZone, Jewish youth are introduced to Yiddishkeit in a beautiful way that’s easy to enjoy. And these zemiros show you how. It’s just one example of what Oorah and TheZone accomplish. They capture TheZone flavor and help connect you, the Oorah donors, to the mission.
Now, Oorah can help enhance your Shabbos table too! $100 donors receive a free illustrated bencher set with Zemiros lyrics…so the whole family can sing together and enjoy an enhanced Shabbos table experience.
Did you listen yet? Have you noticed that there’s only one song on the Zemiros CD that is not in English? That’s “Retzei.”
“Rabbi Chaim Mintz, the founder of Oorah, was bothered that when we’d bentch on Shabbos, the whole benching had a tune except for Retzei. When we reached Retzei, the words would get swallowed up. So we put the Retzei words to a catchy tune so it’s fun to sing. Now, instead of swallowing Retzei, everyone perks up and joins in,” says Rivky Gross, the producer for Oorah’s multimedia department.
“Another one of my favorites is Eishes Chayil. Everyone is blown away by it. It’s mostly a literal translation but the words flowed so nicely. It’s one of the songs I’ve received the most feedback on. Everyone learns Eishes Chayil but no one realizes how beautiful the words are.”
There may be 50 awesome prizes in the Oorah auction (and that $5,000 raffle for early birders like you), but we all win when we join Oorah in their mission to connect more Jews to their heritage.