Monthly Archives: July 2013

An Amazing Shabbat in Camp

IMG_6499Yesterday was an amazing Shabbat in camp. Of course with just seven Shabbatot each Shabbat is special but yesterday certainly stands out.

I participated in three smachot in camp. We celebrated a Bar Mitzvah of a camper, a 19 year old staff member read Torah for the first time since his Bar Mitzvah and a member of our Mishlachat had a Bat Mitzvah for the first time at age 20!

When I was told that Adi Sharabi wanted to have a Bat Mitzvah in camp, I was thrilled to hear that after just six plus weeks of being here she was so moved by seeing and hearing women read Torah that she wanted to do the same. Adi is a member of our Mishlachat.  She never saw a woman read Torah. She never saw a woman wearing a tallit. In honor of Adi’s Bat Mitzvah  we purchased her first tallit. It was an emotional moment when I gave it to her before tefillot. She was overwhelmed that “camp” would do this.

During tefillot with Shorashim – the edah that she lives with – she was called up for the second aliyah and chanted the verses in beautiful teimani trope.  She learned the trope – for the very first time – on-line!  It was a great experience to share  this rite of passage with her. We sang, danced and threw candies. When she was done Adi delivered an amazing Dvar Torah to which every camper listened attentively. Adi recalled that her grandfather died just before her camp interview with me and at that time  I reassured her that camp would allow her to say Kaddish even if she were not obligated to do so.

I then shared with Adi and the edah that 40+ years ago I, as a Long Island boy, went to Israel for my Bar Mitzvah. The threads of Jewish life and the Jewish people are intertwined in interesting ways she said. I agreed that those threads are certainly intertwined in amazing ways – I went to Israel and she came to Wingdale. We are an interesting people and camp brings us together.

Rabbi Paul Resnick

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Three Stories

IMG_6499I want to share a presentation of what first appears as three distinct stories which actually weave a beautiful snap shot of camp life from the perspective of a director. It is great to have been a part of each and every one of these experiences…

Two nights ago I participated in the peulat erev for our youngest campers, Cochavim.  The campers had just arrived the day before. They seemed happy as they played a scavenger hunt which included eating a cookie with Rabbi Resnick. Afterwards as I was walking down the road in camp I approached a Cochavim camper and started up a conversation. She told me that she had just seen two baby raccoons. I asked how she knew they were babies. She responded by showing with her hands how small they were. I agreed that they must have been babies indeed. She then said, I love raccoons and I want to have one as a pet. I am thinking that I never had such a conversation in all my years here. A camper wants a pet raccoon. Hmm… I said to her but raccoons can smell and that could be scary. She said in a somewhat defiant tone for an eight year-old, that pet raccoons can have their glands removed that make them shoot off that smell. She then told me she really wants to kiss one. I listened. I smiled. I said to myself, just another encounter at Ramah!

Yesterday, our Moreshet group arrived. This is a group of 15 Israelis who come to us through the FIDF. They are Israeli children who are part of families who have been affected by terrorist attacks, war or army accidents. They come to us for one week. This summer for the first time there are two Bedouin children in the group. One of them does not speak Hebrew. We did not know that. And so when the group arrived it was difficult to communicate with him. Fortunately, our Rosh Mishlachat, Adar Bar-El, knows Arabic and was called into help.

Last night was Machon’s production of The Prince of Egypt.  It was indeed more than a play and more than a musical. It was a production. The staff of Machon worked hard on it. There is tremendous talent in camp…we heard some spectacular voices. And there is a wonderful theater department under the leadership of Miriam Hertzson. With a staff of music, theater arts and staging talents we witnessed an amazing production. As I told Miriam last night it has been a long time since a play has sent shivers up my spine. It was amazing. It was professional. It was Hebrew. It was majestic in its art work. It was awe inspiring in terms of its artwork. It was a proud moment for our camp.

How do these three events connect to each other? How are they really one whole? Camp is an intricate and complicated mosaic of different pieces integrating varied experiences for different children and teens in camp. The mosaic’s strength is in its diversity. It is NOT the same for each edah or for each camper. Programs are geared to the best of our abilities to be age appropriate. The whole mosaic is governed by our mission statement of providing a vibrant summer camp community where campers learn and grow.

There was a lot of learning and a lot of growing in very different ways that went on this week.

Rabbi Paul Resnick

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Shabbat Shalom from Wingdale – Week 5

IMG_6499As the cool air swept through Dutchess County a surge of energy emerged in camp. Beginning with Visiting Day campers and parents alike enjoyed the physical beauty of our machaneh and discovered camp’s diverse scope of  activities including  sports, dance, art, drama, swimming, boating, hiking , caving, baking, farming, and much more.   Bike trips pedaled out of camp, Judy Mathews began bread making with Machon, and David Moss infused Solelim with a creative thinking process that inspired both campers and staff with a vast array of art forms. Campers can be found video taping, broadcasting, taking photos, and participating in yoga classes.  With great enthusiasm  our kehilah once again witnessed Machon‘s talent, under the direction of Miriam Hertson, in a spectacular stage production of The Prince of Egypt.

Our Friends of the IDF teens joined Solelim on Thursday for a one week experience at CRB.  Soon to follow, our youngest one week campers, Ta’am, will arrive in camp on Sunday, July 28th.

As the 128 second session campers prepare for their first Shabbat in camp this summer we know that Kayitz 2013 will continue to be terrific!

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Paul Resnick

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D’var Torah – Eikev

Aaron Brusso

On a recent Slate podcast an audience of university students was asked to cheer if their most memorable childhood experiences involved their parents. Crickets.  When asked to cheer if their most memorable experiences did not involve their parents I almost had to remove my headphones.  As a father this was difficult to hear, as a former Ramah camper I knew the answer before they even asked the question.

Personal growth often happens when we are put in unfamiliar situations and forced to rely upon ourselves to work things through. In those moments we learn things about our capabilities, we make mistakes, we rise, we fall, we grow. For kids, these moments tend to happen when their parents are the furthest thing from their mind. This reality is mismatched with the fact that a parent’s mindfulness of their child is never distant and always upon the heart.

The 20th century rabbi and philosopher Joseph Soleveitchik described the connection a parent has with a child as ‘latent awareness’, an awareness that is present even when that person is engaged in other matters. He associates this concept of ‘latent awareness’ with the distinction the talmudic commentators Tosefot make between the blessing we say before we study Torah and the blessing we say before we dwell in the sukkah. We are commanded to recite a blessing each and every time we dwell in the sukkah, even if it is multiple times in the same day. In contrast, one blessing for Torah study a day is sufficient, even if we engage in multiple learnings during that day.

So what’s the difference between dwelling in a sukkah and studying Torah? Tosefot teach that the experience of dwelling in a sukkah is as temporary as the structure itself. It leaves us when we exit. Torah, however is something that is not a discrete experience to be compartmentalized from a conversation we have with a co-worker, a question we ask of the store clerk or an interaction with a family member. It is always in in the back of our minds ready to come to the for and help us be the best version of ourselves.

Rabbi Soloveitchik explains that Torah is similar to our children:      Even when the mother works at a job or is distracted by some other activity, there  is a natural, latent awareness of her child’s existence….when a mother leaves   her child and says “I’ll be back”, she does not say this merely to encourage the  child. She expresses a basic truth. A mother leaves only to return; otherwise she  would never leave.

Torah and our children are ever present for us as adults and parents.

But for our children, we are more like the sukkah. We provide temporary shelter for them (depending of course on how the economy is post-college). We share precious time with them during a limited number of years knowing that if they are to grow it will not be with us but fundamentally away from us.  If we are successful, they will become adults through a series of experiences of which we are not a part and to which we will not have full access.

Which is why places like Ramah are so special. If we can’t be there when they grow, at least people who represent our values can be; encouraging them, teaching them and comforting them.

Listening to those students cheer in recalling their parentless moments I thought about my own kids. It is hard to understand how something so important to me does not really belong to me. But I don’t have to understand it, I just have to accept that I do not get my children in return for the love I give them. I do not get their experiences or even full reports of them. But if I learn to love and let go, I might just earn their love in return.

I am so appreciative that they have such growth promoting experiences at camp. If only there was a way I could see pictures of them from time to time…

Rabbi Aaron Brusso

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Cochavim Update 2013 – Week 5

A new month and a new beginning. It is wonderful to greet 36 chanichim as they brave the challenge of second session at CRB. Our daily shigra (routine) invites chanichim to swim, play basketball, cook, and sing .

Cochavim BoysForming a community, an intentional process, is our goal. Elizabeth throws a ball of yarn to Max and she says, “I go to public school”. Max shouts, “Me too”. When this ball of yarn is tossed among 36 chanichim and seven madrichim, a big web of yarn remains that connects each chanich to another. Chanichim are not only linked by strings of yarn, but also by their common interests and backgrounds.

Cochavim Girls1

Following the pe’ulah, we ask Micah to share what he learned about Nava. A handful of chanichim share the new names and facts that they learned  about those individuals. After an exciting photo scavenger hunt, the chanichim will never forget  that Rabbi Resnick is that guy who gave us cookies; the bridge that connects Machaneh Alef and Machaneh Bet is where we played leap frog; the mister is where we danced the hora; and the b-side softball field is where ran the bases while singing Hatikva.

Shabbat will create for us even more associations. The amphitheatre will keep memories of Kabbalat Shabbat and Beit Breira will hold memories of meeting our new Bogrim  buddies that will last for summers to come.

Shabbat Shalom,

Sam  Alexander

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Nitzanim Update 2013 – Week 5

Nitzanim Boy
had an amazing shavua #5 of camp!  We said lehitra’ot to 35 chanichim on Sunday, and then watched the Nyack vs. CRB  basketball game.  On Monday, as part of Yom Awesome, we went on a giant waterslide, played paint tag, baked in mitbachon, and made a welcome video for the second month campers.

Nitzanim Girls

On Tuesday, as second session began we  greeted  35 new chanichim!  Later in the week, we began our regular activities and enjoyed Machon‘s performance of The Prince of Egypt.  We’re excited about celebrating the first Shabbat of second session and wishing you a Shabbat Shalom from Wingdale

Paula Sass

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Shorashim Update 2013 – Week 5

Shorashim Boys Second Session is underway and we are rockin’!  On Sunday we said l’hitraot to our first session only chanichim.  For those of you who were here at camp on Sunday, it was so nice to meet you and to see you with your child(ren) and families!  It was an exciting Visiting Day and we are so glad that you joined us!

Sunday afternoon-Tuesday morning, our brief intercession, consisted of  an exciting super-hero themed Yom Daled.  We created our own super-heroes, wrote our own comic strips, learned about the Golem, had a super-hero fashion show, had marvel sports competitions, and watched the movie The Incredibles.

Shorashim Girls

Twenty-seven new chanichim arrived in Shorashim. Our new friends jumped right into our groups, classes, and activities allowing bunks  to become bonded very quickly.  The new chanichim have already added so much to our edah and we are so glad they are here!

Packed with activities, we introduced awesome classes and activities including sports, swim, yahadut classes, ivrit classes, shira, rikkud, omaniyot (dance, cooking, video, radio, rocketry, rock wall, boating, art, and more!).  We also enjoyed many peulot tzrif, some fun waterslides, some great peulot erev, lots of group bonding and ice breakers culminating in an AWESOME huge game of capture the flag.

Experiential tefilot  added to our daily Shacharit  as we incorporated  Shavua Yarok ( Green Initiative Week) last week into our  tefillah b’teva, as we also designed environmental projects to make our camp more green.  This week we explored  reciting the entire amida aloud, in unison as an edah, and we also participated in a project where we discovered our own neshama (soul) and discussed the prayers modeh ani and elohai neshama.

As we begin to welcome Shabbat, we are exited to spend some relaxing time together with our new and old friends. Wishing  you and your families a peaceful and restful Shabbat and a wonderful week!

Shabbat Shalom,

Bryan Wexler

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Tzeirim Update 2013 – Week 5

Tzeirim Boys It was fantastic meeting so many of you on Yom Orchim!  Witnessing heartwarming embraces gave me a brief  glimpse into the lives of our  chanichim  outside of camp

Tuesday morning first session chanichim waited eagerly for their old and new friends to join them! The morning was filled with hugs, welcoming introductions and exchanging  stories from the year. Not a second was wasted as everyone jumped right into the daily shigra!

Tzeirim Girls

Chanichim attended new Yehadut classes including Jewish farming, Great Jewish Debates and You Be the Judge! Following Yehadut, the chanichim headed to their new omaniyot: boating, mitbachon, radio, model airplanes, omanut, rock-wall and more! Throughout the day chanichim enjoyed sports, shira, rikud, Ivrit and swimming in the agam.

Second session peulot erev and peulot tsrif  are off to a great start with B-side Capture the Counselor, a rousing game of Deal  and a terrific Machon  performance of Prince of Egypt..

As Tzeirim second session 2013 wraps into a circle each night singing rad hayom, there is an overwhelming sense of love and excitement that will surely flow into the next few weeks.

Shabbat Shalom!

Hannah Grossman

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Solelim Update 2013 – Week 5

Solelim Mix1It’s the end of the first week of our second month, and we are having a blast!

On Monday, we started our week with an unusual day, all of our miktzoim (specialists) were on their day off and so we filled the day with mini-games of silly competition and excitement. As a special treat, two awesome water slides were set up in Machaneh Aleph for all of  us to enjoy.

On Tuesday, after welcoming 13 new chanichim into our edah, we immediately transitioned into a new month, with new omaniyot and yahadut classes. Solelim has had the privilege, this week, to work with  David Moss, a visiting artist and extraordinary creator who ignited our chanichim’s creativity promising to produce a project that will be presented on Sunday first to the edah then camp wide.

On Thursady morning, Moreshet, a group of Israeli teens, sponsored by Friends of The IDF (FIDF) began their week long stay with us.  Their program  allows a group of Israeli teens, who have been affected by an act of terrorism or war, to spend a week traveling in America and experiencing  camp.   We are thrilled to have them join our edah and will spend Shabbat integrating them into the full Ramah Experience.

Shabbat Shalom,

Eli Jacober

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Bogrim Update 2013 – Week 5

Bogrim Girls Bogrim had an incredible week. Last week ended with learning about the power of words through interesting discussions during Shabbat Shabbable. We read different stories about gossiping, talked about the way in which our words can hurt or empower others, and before Shabbat we watched a clip from the movie Mean Girls. The Shabbat really brought our edah closer together.  Excitedly greeting our friends and family on Visiting Day, we enjoyed “showing off” our beautiful camp. We ended the day watching and competing in a basketball game against Ramah Nyack staff.

Bogrim Mix

Finally, we loved our yom daled,Yom Board Games which included an intense paint fight, a game of LIFE relay races, and watched the movie Jumanji.  Bogrim is getting very excited about the upcoming etgar and Sababa! Shabbat Shalom. 

Gaby Mervis

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