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  • Peter Firestein

Yarmulkes on the go

Pictured left: Peter Firestein (center) eating lunch with his friends the JCC Day Camp, Sinai Synagogue, 1954.

Welcome to lunch at the JCC Day Camp at Sinai, probably 1954.

After assuming our places at the table, we would remain standing as the boys donned simulated yarmulkes—our right hands on top of our heads—as we recited the Motzi.

You will notice the customary segregation with a single table of girls running along the upper part of the picture among all the boys.

One day South Bend Mayor John Scott came to visit and gave a gracious speech to the children over lunch.

During afternoons, probably twice a week, we would board buses that would take us swimming. While inviting correction, I believe this was at Lake O’ the Woods near Valparaiso. At any rate, the destination sign on our bus always said, “Charter.” I couldn’t figure out where that was. All I knew was that we never got there.

I assume we received a little religious education at the camp. But its irreplaceable cultural contribution was our immersion in an inimitable Jewish raucousness and commotion. Therein lay immensely useful preparation for our lives.

JCC Day Camp campers eating lunch at Sinai Synagogue, 1954.

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