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A few weeks ago I received an email: “Dear Alla, I got your name through a neighbor of yours, Monika Lightstone. My name is Sharon, and I am an ex-architect who currently is in charge of an art department at a yeshiva in Los Angeles, Ohr Eliyahu. In the summer, I run a 3-week design camp for creative & religious girl teens.”

Sharon explained how her design camp is structured. Each day the teens examine a new aspect of the design world. Once a design topic ignites everyone’s imagination, they pile into a 15-seater van to “meet a real person who is a professional in that field.”

Sharon asked me to spend an hour or so with her small group. She wrote: “Would you be available to inspire them with your decisions and your designs?”

What an honor! Obviously, I agreed. The creative teens showed up last week. A couple of the girls lingered, taking pictures outside. Finally all ten of them shuffled in. I was amazed that everyone was able to find a perch in our smallish living/dining area for the introductions.

I did not prepare any remarks ahead of time and was a bit nervous. How can I inspire them? What is it that I can tell them? I let it unfold.

A good place to start was to ask these creative teens about their interests and why they’ve enrolled in a design camp.

One by one, they introduced themselves. A few were visiting from New York, there was even someone from Israel. They were interested in fashion, photography, creative writing, and graphic design. I can’t remember if anyone claimed to be an architecture buff.

When it was my turn, I decided to share something very personal and discuss the aspect of architecture as a profession that allows one to design his or her own life. In my particular case, it was a springboard for building a family. I figured if I talk about applying architecture in the process of nurturing my kids’ creativity, they would be inspired.

Thus, I showed them a few books that feature our old house and products I’ve designed for our family. Actually, when my daughters were young, I ran a design camp as well… We have a lot in common with Sharon. I love how she always has a succinct resume for the girls to take away, how she is able to sum things up for them with a poignant comment. Sharon is a wonderful teacher!

Then, we took a tour of the apartment, the garden, and the garden room. While pointing out various details, I felt that the teens were beginning to warm up to me. I hope it was a good design camp experience — they were snapping pictures left and right. I felt inspired by them and their curiosity.


  • Mia S Kazovsky
    August 19, 2017

    How cool! I love that you got to participate, and I have no doubt that you really inspired these girls. I wanted to share this video about two NY based, religious female designers that use the laws of Judaism to inspire their cool, hip modest line:

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