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The Story of Shabbat ShaRaps

“What if we rapped about the Torah portion each week?”

“Can we do that?”

“Sure, it’s just like that skit the Kutz Staff used to do every Saturday morning a few summers ago!”

And so the idea of Shabbat Sha’Raps was born at the URJ Kutz Camp in Warwick, NY in early June 2016. Once the concept was created, we started playing around with the idea. Beat-boxing or just a simple snap? How long should it be? Should it just be the two of us working on it? When would it happen on Saturday morning? What should we call it?

Over the next week we presented the idea to different members of the Kutz Camp staff and started getting some support and excitement around the idea, even without a full rap created yet. While we tinkered with words, rhymes, and reading the Torah portion, one component remained the same: this would be an exciting and fun way to learn about and engage with the Torah portion each week.

And then, on June 11, at the end of Kutz Camp’s Staff Week Shabbat morning services, we went to the front of the Teatron and started what would eventually become one of the cornerstones of the summer. We provided the entire staff some commentary on Parashat Bamidbar, mixing direct translation and our own interpretation. We used a simple snap to keep rhythm and took some inspiration from the musical Hamilton (as would continue for the rest of the summer). With most of the staff shocked at what had just occurred, we celebrated a truly holy moment!

That first performance was just a small first step, but it would lead to a summer of staff and teens looking forward to learning about Torah each week. We continued rapping each and every week of the summer with our Kutz Camp teens, including participants at NFTY Mechina. In fact, several teens were inspired to create their own Shabbat Sha’Raps this summer!

What started as a random and fun idea turned into a true highlight for the entire Kutz Camp community this summer. As we continue making raps throughout the year, check out all of the lyrics and videos from our Shabbat Sha’Raps this summer! While it may seem difficult, try making your own raps for your own youth group, congregation, or NFTY region this year and be sure to tag the URJ Kutz Camp and we’ll share your rap with our community, too!

Thanks for listening to all our raps

Stay tuned for more, we’re putting ourselves on the map

This has been your – Shabbat ShaRaps!

Love and rhymes,

Matt, Evan, and Melissa

You can learn more about the weekly Torah portion by visiting the additional links to the Torah Study section of ReformJudaism.org!

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