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National Ramah Commission, Inc. of The Jewish Theological Seminary 
October 23, 2013
18 Heshvan 5774
Reflections on Al Pi Darko:
National Ramah Symposium on Special Needs Programs
October 13, 2013  


Jay Ruderman
Jay Ruderman at Ramah symposium
watch video 
"Our hope as a foundation is that Ramah's dedication to inclusion will spread throughout the Jewish camping world...Ramah has really established themselves as a leader on this issue."  
- Jay Ruderman, Ruderman Family Foundation
Videos from our opening presentation and panelists 
by Rabbi Amy Bolton, National Ramah Community Outreach Coordinator & Conference Coordinator  
We have all heard these sentiments expressed before: "Camp was my child's best Jewish experience," "Camp changed our lives," "I love Camp Ramah!" What was special about hearing these words last week was that they came from Ramah camper alumni with disabilities and parents of campers with disabilities. These families never dreamed that they could have a Jewish camp experience.

On October 13 at The Jewish Theological Seminary, more than 120 Ramah camp directors, camper alumni, staff, staff alumni, parents, funders, and lay leaders came together for Al Pi Darko, Ramah's first national symposium on special needs programs. With New York weather feeling like a July day at camp, we gathered for presentations and discussions on best practices and future goals for our programs, and for the field of special needs camping in general. 

During the conference, Rabbi Mitchell Cohen, National Ramah Director, presented the results of a study that demonstrated the impact of Ramah programs for children, teens, and young adults with disabilities. Among the study's key findings were that Ramah has a stellar reputation and is regarded as a pioneer by professionals in the field of special education; that parents believe their children gain meaningful exposure to Jewish community at camp; and that the impact of camp extends to special needs program staff and to typically developing campers who interact with campers with disabilities, influencing the choices they make in life. The inspiring discussions that took place throughout the day were evidence of these findings. (Links: article in eJewishPhilanthropyStudy Summary; Full Report


Continue reading on the Kolot Ramah blog


Read more about Ramah's residential, vocational education, family camp, and day camp programs for children, teens, and young adults with disabilities.  

Al Pi Darko on Facebook
Participants at Al Pi Darko
Susan Tecktiel (center), Director, Camp Yofi
(Ramah Darom) and friends at Al Pi Darko
Poconos Ramahniks at Al Pi Darko
More photos on Facebook!
Reflections on Al Pi Darko
Ralph Schwartz, Ramah Wisconsin,
Director of Special Needs Programs 
Ralph Schwartz and Nava Kantor
Ralph Schwartz and Nava Kantor, Ramah Wisconsin
This past Sunday, I attended, together with 135 others, "
Al Pi Darko," the National Ramah Symposium on Special Needs Programs. The name of the conference comes from the Book of Proverbs, "Educate a child according to his way, even when he grows old, he will not depart from it."  If we want to educate all Jewish children, then we must modify our programs to meet their individual needs. This is what we do at Camp Ramah in Wisconsin through our inclusion programs such as Tikvah and Atzmayim. Read Ralph's entire blog post 
Ramah is the camping arm of Conservative Judaism. Together, our programs provide Ramah experiences for 10,000 children, teens, and young adults annually.

With the establishment of the Tikvah Program in 1970, Ramah became the first Jewish camp to extend camping opportunities to children with disabilities. Tikvah, Breira B'Ramah, and Camp Yofi now comprise Ramah's network of 14 programs for campers with disabilities.

The National Ramah Commission of The Jewish Theological Seminary provides oversight, educational planning, and coordination on behalf of the network of Ramah camps throughout North America and Ramah Programs in Israel.