Ramah Camping Movement
National Ramah Commission, Inc. of The Jewish Theological Seminary

July 31, 2014 / 4 Av 5774
Dear Friends of Ramah,
The ongoing war, misery, and anxiety in Israel and Gaza stand in sharp contrast to the incredible joy appropriately taking place at all of our camps.

Berkshires at Israel Rally
Ramah Berkshires campers and staff
showed their support at a NYC rally this week
Sandwiched between both these worlds are our 250 shlichim and our 250 participants on Ramah Seminar in Israel. Our shlichim are doing an incredible job continuing to plan programs, teach, and share their love for Israel with our campers, even as they closely monitor their families' safety under missile fire and the lists of the dead and wounded IDF soldiers who may be their friends, comrades, or relatives.

One mishlachat member told me on Sunday in Palmer, "I am trying so hard not to cry in front of the campers but it is so hard when I am so worried about home." All our camps have made an effort to show extra appreciation and sensitivity to our shlichim, reiterating that instilling a love for Israel within our communities is crucial for our future as a people.

Our Seminar participants recognize that enjoying Israel and the new friends they are making from other Ramah camps is the best response to the current events. It is strange for them; while they are aware of the fear and suffering nearby, they do not feel it where they are located, and have been able to follow almost the entire itinerary with just minor changes. Not a single Seminar participant has chosen to go home, and the overwhelming majority of parents have been extremely supportive. Laura Landress, parent of a Seminar participant, wrote, "I am so proud that Ramah kept our children in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Israel. I am so proud of Ramah staff for managing all the parents' and kids' anxieties and altering the daily plans on a moment's notice to maximize the experience under such conditions. I am just so proud."

For our older teen campers and staff, there has been ample opportunity for discussion and debate. As the civilian death toll continues to rise in Gaza, there is tremendous sadness and some are questioning whether Israel can do more to minimize these casualties without jeopardizing its own security. A very tough question, which brings a wide range of strong reactions.

Ramah alumni now serving in the IDF are prominent in our thoughts and prayers. A recent video sending warm wishes to Canada alumni Seth Frieberg and Aaron Goss included footage from five different Ramah camps - we are all interconnected and therefore we are all so vulnerable.

Ramah Canada
Pizzas sent from Ramah Canada
being delivered in Israel
Overall, our camps are uniting behind their support for Israel and peace in new and innovative ways. Sending pizza to soldiers, adding prayers in daily tefillah, reading Seminar updates to the older campers, and having shlichim run more staff programs, are just a few of many activities. We are also disturbed by the events in Europe, ranging from the anti-Semitic protests in Paris to the violence in Ukraine. We are proud that our movement partner, Machon Schechter, sponsors a Ramah camp near Kiev, Ukraine. I visited there a number of years ago and was inspired by the ruach and by the similarity with our North American camps. Their camp program for teens has just begun, and additional funds were raised to provide the necessary extra security.

There is also a very large Jewish summer camp in Szarvas, Hungary, which hosts 1,500 Jewish teens from 25 different countries. Ramah is considering a new partnership with Szarvas to encourage some of these teen campers and young adult staff members to spend a summer at a Ramah camp in North America. On my way back from spending the final Shabbat in Jerusalem with Seminar this month, I will travel to the camp in Hungary, where several Ramah teens are spending time on the Szarvas Fellowship. We look forward to having more Ramahniks attend in the future. I also look forward to visiting our new Masorti center in Budapest, hosted by members of the Masorti kehillah there.

Ramah New England
A new sign at Ramah New England
offers blessings and prayers for chayalim
As we pray for the safety of our soldiers, and for peace and security for all throughout the region, we continue to experience the contrast between our anxiety over world events and the joy we feel at camp.

We hope that the joyfulness in our summer camps can extend beyond our camps' borders, and that the work being done at Ramah will continue to inspire all our youth to have a stronger Jewish identity and to become more sensitive and educated human beings.

B'tikvat shalom,

Mitch Cohen
Rabbi Mitchell Cohen, Director
National Ramah Commission, Inc. of The Jewish Theological Seminary

northamericaRamah camps in North America
Ramah Wisconsin
Ramah Wisconsin campers and staff are proud to show their support for Israel
Ramah Darom
Tzevet Ivrit at Ramah Darom work with campers to write letters to soldiers
Ramah Poconos
Artwork created by Ramah Poconos campers in memory of Eyal, Gilad, and Naftali (z"l)
Showing support for Israel on Yom Wild Wild West at Ramah Outdoor Adventure
Ramah Philadelphia
Mishlachat at Ramah Day Camp in Phildadelphia read prayers for peace
Ramah Day Camp - Chicago area
Campers enjoy Yom Yisrael at the
Chicago-area Ramah Day Camp
Ramah California
Letter from a Ramah California
camper to soldiers in the IDF
Ramah Nyack's
Showing support for Israel
at the Ramah Nyack Zimriyah 
israelukraineRamah in Jerusalem and Ukraine
Ramah Jerusalem Day Camp
Campers enjoy a day at the
Ramah Jerusalem Day Camp
Camp Ramah-Ukraine
Read Camp Ramah-Ukraine:Relief for Children Living in Uncertain Times
silverExcerpt from a letter from a Ramah Seminar parent
by Danny Silver, Camp Ramah in California, 1977-1985 and 2014 Board Member
Seminar participant Noah Silver
This article describes my son Noah's experiences in Israel during the present conflict.  I, too, spent my Israel Pilgrimage in 1982, following Israel's invasion of Lebanon.  I will never forget the contrast of the experience standing by the beautiful grottoes at Rosh Hanikra, listening to the stories of an IDF soldier describe battles that occurred just across the border only a month earlier.  I also remember the marvel at visiting a park that showcased tanks and weapons seized from the war that were mostly Soviet issue (yes, I'm that old!).

The article mentioned my son's visit to a moshav for Ramah Seminar Host Shabbat.  What wasn't printed from my wife's interview was how Noah was hosted by my best friend from Camp Ramah, Marshall (Mashe) Grant, who made aliyah after high school and is now a retired IDF Lt. Colonel, and whose 18 year old daughter Hadar is about to begin her service as well.

prayersPrayers for safety for Ramahniks serving in the IDF
PARTIAL LIST ONLY. Please forward the names and emails of other Ramahniks serving in the IDF.
Elon Amit, California
Adam Berman, Wisconsin
Sharin Berman, TRY
Abigail Blas, New England
Uri Chotzkin, TRY
Sarah Drill, Nyack
Eytan Ellis, TRY
Lisa (Danit) Felber, California
Jake Freedman, Poconos
Caridad French, TRY
Seth Frieberg, Canada
Jake Gering, Poconos
Jaclyn Glaser, California
Noam Goldberg, Poconos
Akiva Goldstein, Poconos
Aaron Goss, Canada
Shachar Goss, Canada
Harrison Grass, New England
Oz Isseroff, Poconos
Tamar Kane, Berkshires
Jacqui Lowy, California
Avi Lurie, TRY
Stephanie Nelson, TRY
Joey Portnoe, Wisconsin
Rebecca Richman, Poconos
Julian Robins, TRY
Jillian Rosales, TRY
Eric Schorr, Poconos
Sagiv Sheelo, California
Daniel Shemesh, New England
Matan Showstack, New England
Gahl Shuster, ROA
Amit Silverstein, California
Matthew Silverman, Wisconsin
Ezra Steinberg, California
Jeff Villano, Wisconsin
Miriam Walinsky, Poconos
Gabe Willis, New England
Tali Zuckerman, Wisconsin

Ramah is the camping arm of Conservative Judaism. Together, our programs provide Ramah experiences for 10,000 children, teens, and young adults annually. The National Ramah Commission of The Jewish Theological Seminary provides oversight and educational planning on behalf of the network of Ramah camps throughout North America and Israel.

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