Monthly Archives: June 2012

Chanichim say Shechechyanu in Ulam

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Kayitz 2012 – Gesher Update #1

What an exciting start to Gesher 2012! On Tuesday we welcomed our 58 chanichim with songs, cheers and weird costumes and the fun hasn’t stopped since. The first day was filled with introductions from the tzevet (Staff) and re-introductions for our edah back to Wingdale. Our inauguralpeulat erev (night activity) was a Gesher initiation filled with drums, tribal chants and head pieces and it culminated in the creation of our Gesher flag.

On Wednesday, we enjoyed tfillot at Gan Gesher overlooking beautiful Lake Ellis. Post-davening, we partook in a Gesher tradition that is easily Camp’s best-kept secret- the “Do It Yourself Bishul“. The way this activity works is to provide the edah with the tools for making abishul (cook-out)- food, pans, wood, etc, but for the tzevetto not say anything, so that the chanichim figure out to take the initiative and make the meal for themselves

Today, our Shabbat theme is Leadership and Legacy, where we will be discussing the chanichim‘s outlook for the summer and the different ways they will shine in their new roles. Everyone is looking forward to leading shirah tonight in front of the whole camp- truly, the signature Geshertradition.

Hope you have a restful and meaningful Shabbat!

Shabbat Shalom,

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Kayitz 2012 – Machon Update #1

Machon 2012 started with a bang once our chanichimarrived on Tuesday. Our tzevet worked all of shavua hachana(staff week) preparing for the arrival of  all 81 Machon chanichim– one of the biggest Machon Edot in a long time! After a long day of unpacking, ice- breakers, and a scrumptuous grilled cheese lunch, we initiated all of theMachon chanichim into the edah. Each tzrif (bunk) went on a trust walk from the new Gym to the Stadium Courts where we taught them a Machon chant and welcomed them into what will be an incredible kayitz. On Wednesday we started an exciting new Machon peulah called “Machon Madregot” (steps). This program gives thechanichim an inside look at how Ramah runs. For our first activity we discussed the camp budget and the chanichim guessed and discussed the funds allocation.

Machon is looking forward to our first Shabbat together. The theme of the day will be “Shabbat B’tzelem Elokim” (Shabbat in God’s Image). We will discuss how we can be our best selves and be there for others as well. The tzevet is looking forward to these interesting and engaging discussions.

Shabbat Shalom!

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Kayitz 2012 – Bogrim Update #1

The beginning of Kayitz 2012 has been amazing for edat habogrim! As campers arrived on Tuesday morning our excited tzevet waited eagerly at the softball field. After a week of preparation the madrichim could not wait another second for their hanichim to arrive welcoming them with cheers and huge smiles. After unpacking and settling into our tzrifim we had our first peulat erev, which was an initiation into Bogrim 2012! There was a wonderful bonfire and certificates to welcome each camper individually into theBogrim family.

On Wednesday we jumped right into our regular schedule for the summer. From fascinating yehadut classes such as exploring modern day topics within Judaism and Jewish philanthropy to omaniyot like zumba, outdoor cooking, and boating. Our first full day could not have been more fun. We even had a chance to dance, sing, and play drums in shirah!

After a week full of high energy and excitement we are ready for our first Shabbat in camp! The theme of this Shabbat will be communication, tikshoret. Both Shabbat and Camp allow us to separate ourselves from the technological world around us. In a time when we are constantly checking our Facebook pages, updating our twitter accounts and texting while walking, it’s important to take some time to look into ourselves, engage in face to face dialogue, and make new friendships without a friend request. Through meditation, communication exercises, and analysis of Jewish texts, the goal of this Shabbat is to explore the pros and cons of technology today and  step out of  the cyber world and into Camp!

Shabbat Shalom,

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Kayitz 2012 – Solelim Update #1

Solelim 2012 is off to an exciting start! Eighteen Solelim tzevetmembers cheered and screamed as the cars and buses pulled into camp on Tuesday morning to welcome our 97 chanichim! The ruachis at an amazing level! After getting settled into our tzrifim, Solelim ended the night with several getting-to-know-you-games on the Bside migrash. We had our first full day on Wednesday and thechanichim experienced what it means to be a B side chanich! Their day included various activities ranging from boating and mitbachonto ivrit and yehadut. They also experienced their first practice on JV chug!! We announced our play for this summer, which is “Seussical!” The chanichim are really looking forward to it!Shabbat Shalom, we hope you are having as much fun as we are!

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Kayitz 2012 – Tzeirim Update #1

Tzeirim 2012 is off to an amazing start! After a fun-filled day of unpacking and games, we’re already headed full speed into a fantastickayitz!
Wednesday night, we had a riveting set of word and physical challenges as part of the Tzeirim Olympics–it was quite a sight with all of theTzeirim chanichim acting out different animals and Hebrew words!
We’re already in the process of preparing for our firstShabbat. Last night we made challah and learned a great Shabbat niggun (tune) that well be using as an edah throughout the rest of thekayitz! And we’re super excited for our first Kabbalat Shabbat asTzeirim 2012!!!
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Kayitz 2012 – Shorashim Update #1

What a fabulous first week we had in Shorashim 2012! Thechanichim (campers) arrived on Tuesday, thrilled to be atMachane Ramah B’Berkshires. We greeted them with cheers and smiles as they got off of buses and out of cars, excited to begin an amazing kayitz (summer). After meeting their dynamic madrichim (counselors), the chanichim unpacked and settled into their tsrifim (bunks), making new friends and spending time with the old.

After a delicious dinner, we ended off the evening playing relay races followed by tsrif bonding activities before bed. Wednesday was our first full day of Camp, replete with swimming, sports, art, mitbachon, archery, shira (singing), many otherpeulot (activities) and our first bishul (cookout) of the kayitz.

During our peulat erev (evening activity) we initiated ourchanichim into the wonderful world of Shorashim by teaching them the edah song and playing icebreakers to get to know each other within the edah. As we approachShabbat, we can look forward to a relaxing and meaningful day of rest, with chanichim developing their love of Ramah and the camp kehilah during Shabbat Shalom Bayit. We will be learning about the importance of creating a safe community while using our creativity and having fun.

Until next week, Shabbat Shalom!!

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Kayitz 2012 – Nitzanim Update #1

The first few days of Camp have been very exciting!  We unpacked and settled in, played lots of games with ourtzrif (bunk), and finished our first night in camp by getting to know all of the madrichim (counselors) and chanichim (campers) in the edah with a “Human Bingo” peulat erev and a game of “chashmal,” (literally — electricity).

Wednesday was the first “normal” day in Camp, and thechanichim experienced a fun-filled day following the Ramahshigra (routine).  We started the day with invigoratingt’fillot,  morning stretches with Rabbi Resnick, and then we continued our day with a slew of awesome activities including zumba, archery, radio, ultimate frisbee, basketball, omanut (art), hip hop, and swimming!  At peulat erev, (evening activity)  we learned our edah song (and sang it VERY loudly) and played ga-ga while dressed in our very brightest neon clothing.

We’re looking forward to Shabbat Sha-Berkshires, during which we’ll sing, play games, rest a little bit, and learn about all of the Shabbat traditions that make Camp Ramah in the Berkshires so special.  We’re so excited for week #2, and are wishing you a Shabbat Shalom from all of Nitzanim!

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Kayitz 2012 – Cochavim Update #1

The first few days of Camp have been exciting and very busy!  On the first day, each tzrif (bunk) unpacked and decorated with posters, drawings, and signs.  We finished the day with an “Icebreaker Mesiba (party)” peulat erev(evening activity).  After a lot of unpacking, all of the tzrifim (bunks) look like home!

Wednesday was the first normal day in Camp, and the chanichim were able to truly experience a Ramah shigra (routine).  We started off witht’filot (prayers) in Beit Cochavim, our special place in camp, and learned a new song to use all summer.

Naturally, Cochavim campers went swimming in the agam, played basketball, soccer, and volleyball, and expressed their creativity in omanut and mitbachon. At peulat erev we got to know each other with a game of Cochavim Human Bingo.

We still have a lot going on in Cochavim, and this week is sure to be even more jam-packed and exciting!

Shabbat Shalom from Cochavim! 

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Dvar Torah – Parashat Hukkat

written by Rabbi Jeremy Kalmanofsky

We read Parashat Hukkat this Shabbat, we say farewell to a great generation. The lives of both Miriam and Aaron come to an end in this week’s Torah reading, and we – the children of Israel – are compelled to go on without these national and spiritual parents.

I’m thinking of this ancient generational passage because of a major passing in the Ramah family just more than a week ago. Sylvia Ettenberg, a long-time dean at the Jewish Theological Seminary, passed away at 95 years old, just before last Shabbat.

Mrs. Ettenberg was instrumental in many of our Conservative movement’s most important educational initiatives, especially our Ramah system. She was one of the motive forces behind the founding of the original Camp Ramah in Wisconsin in 1947. The stories of her creativity and toughness are legion: stories of her long and difficult train journeys from New York to the mid-west to oversee the birth and early operations of the camp, of her striding across the camp’skikkar in elegant clothes and high heels, and of her inspiration of the staff, who – more than a little intimidated – worked frantically to please her.  Her Zionist commitment and love of Hebrew were major features of her life: during the siege of Jerusalem during the War of Independence, she rode through the city, pregnant, lying on the floor of buses as bullets whizzed by.

I sat at Sylvia Ettenberg’s funeral last Sunday thinking that at this very moment, at Ramah camps all over the country and in our own CRB, staffers young and old were preparing for another summer of joyful, intense Jewish learning and living.  We and our kids are all the beneficiaries of Sylvia’s tremendous legacy.  Even as we mourned a person who passed, we were also doing the work that enables her to live on.

Think of the words of Kohelet [Ecclesiastes 1.4]: dor holekh v’dor ba, a generation goes away, and a new one takes its place. As we say farewell to another among the generation of Conservative movement giants, the founders, builders, sustainers of our most important institutions, we should think about who takes their place and who moves their work forward.

Let us return to the parasha, and the moving scene of Aaron’s death. Moses leads the aged High Priest and his son and successor up Mt. Hor. With all the myriads of Israel watching below, Moses removes the High Priest’s special vestments from Aaron and lays them upon Elazar. Aaron will do his sacred work  no longer. But the work is not done: his child and then generations of descendants must rise to the occasion and take their places in turn.

Dor holekh v’dor ba, a generation goes away, and a new one takes its place.

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