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So What is Gaga?

By Cantor Gabrielle Clissold

So what is Gaga?  Doesn’t mean to be a “little off balance?  To go “Gaga” over seeing a famous person?  Is it about a famous person named “Lady Gaga”?  Is it an Israeli version of dodgeball the permeates jewish camps all over the world?  Gaga is “all the above” and this week as faculty at URJ-Camp Harlam I was asked to oversee the Gaga pit in boys camp.  Anyone who knows me will double over in laughter at this moment because I am literally the WORST at understanding sports.  However, I was EXCITED because a lot of kids at camp are gaga over Gaga!  They love it with a passion and I can see why.

The Gaga stadium looks like multi sided goat corral.  It has a wooden door with places for spectators to stand all around.  The spectators seem to come late to the game…it starts with a herd of screaming kids bursting into the fence.  Some try to climb over, but I was warned to make them enter through the door.  The door has no latch it because supposedly it broke three years ago according to all the boys.  Suddenly, a game begins…the tallest and strongest players begin to knock each other out.  They were mostly from Kinneret, Galil and Arava.  At the same time the smaller Sharonians and Carmelians hide and dart around.  (This is what they call each other)

Then you realize a couple of boys have open toed shoes.  Ooh now this is bad…someone could lose an eye!  I stopped the game to go change their shoes.  The game ensues…down to about five smaller boys and one or two of the older boys.  The spectators had grown in number comprising of all the kids who had been knocked out.  They gave A LOT of advice to the remaining players, “get the kid in the red shirt because he’s a Phillies fan, “get the Sharonians”, “have pity on the small Carmelians”.  It was funny and by thirty minutes three games had already ensued.

There was rarely an argument over who is “out”.  There was a lot of good natured yelling and arguing.  I have come to realize that team sports are amazing, this was a truly great experience to observe and referee.  When my replacement came, I was sad to leave…Gaga is great!

Cantor Gabrielle Clissold serves Monmouth Reform Temple in Tinton Falls, NJ for the past 18 years. She has joyfully served on the faculty of URJ- Camp Harlam for the past 9 years. Coming to camp she learns from the cutting-edge teachers and staff as an important part of her own professional development.


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