Monthly Archives: February 2015

Going Green(er)


Last summer, when Camp Ramah and Wolfoods partnered, an opportunity to make important sustainability decisions became realized. Michael Wolf brought with him the experience and direction Camp Ramah needed to make Ramah Berkshires’ kitchen and Hadar (dining hall) one of the most sustainable in the world of camping. Michael’s passion for delicious and nutritious camp cuisine goes hand in hand with his goal in making Wolfoods an environmentally conscious organization, using summer camp meals as a classroom for campers to learn about green initiatives. Michael’s commitment to sustainability dates back to his time spent during college in Ithaca, New York, learning about environmental sustainability. Michael took that education with him along his career. During his tenure at Caesars Palace, two of Michael’s greatest accomplishments as the Chair of the Caesars Green Team was planting a strip side herb and vegetable garden and successfully rolling out a property wide composting program. Hearing Michael speak about environmental initiatives inspired Rabbi Resnick who wholeheartedly embraced Michael’s vision for Camp Ramah’s Hadar going green.

Recycle-sign-FinalDuring the summer of 2014, Camp Ramah made big operational changes in the Hadar. Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner not only offered Wolfoods delicious and nutritious meals, but they also taught campers about sustainability. Initiatives emphasizing waste reduction, recycling, and composting were a theme throughout.  You may have noticed the beautiful and reusable vinyl table covers instead of the disposable white plastic covers. How could you miss the composting program. Each session, campers were taught about the procedure and importance of separating their waste into three areas; Compost, Recycling, and Landfill. The results of these efforts are admirable and astounding!

As a community during the 2014 summer, Camp Ramah reduced its landfill waste by 25 tons! All of our staff and campers deserve an applause for their participation and commitment to Camp Ramah’s Green Initiative. In addition, in the kitchen, all grease waste was saved and picked up by a Dutchess County local who was able to convert the waste into Bio-Diesel fuel for his vehicle. How cool!

sfe_compost_signs_food-WasteCamp Ramah’s continued commitment to making decisions about waste with environmental sustainability in mind has brought many new ideas for Summer 2015. Say goodbye to Styrofoam. Instead, we will be using compostable, biodegradable disposables. Thank you to an anonymous donor for making this possible. Hadar bathrooms will now be equipped with hand blowers for hand drying instead of wasteful paper towels. A proposed purchase of reusable cups and dish racks is being discussed in place of disposables for each meal. Wolfoods has also been pursuing the opportunity to source produce locally from Dutchess County farms in an effort to reduce our biological footprint and support the local community.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Compost, Repurpose…. It feels good to be a part of the Ramah community committed to green initiatives.

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Omanut 2015 :  It’s More than Arts and Crafts

omanut ht adar

Omanut 2015 promises to be filled with  some old-time favorite arts and crafts projects along with some very exciting,new and diverse genres.

Printmaking has always been a fun and  favorite craft among campers of all ages.  In the past campers enjoyed carving linoleum and styrofoam, followed by applying various colors of ink and producing Andy Warhol like prints on t-shirts and wooden boards. Kayitz 2015 will introduce calligraphy, a printing technique that combines materials from teva (nature), mitbachon (cooking) and a potpourri of objects from omanut to create “one of a kind” prints. Mono-printing, new to omanut, will allow campers to  paint on blocks with various types of inks and then transfer the individual prints to paper and fabric.  Printmaking will also include multimedia projects embellishing them with acrylics, scrapbook paper, magazines, paper mache and more.

Ricki Gorman, Rosh Omanut, a specialist in printmaking, ceramics, pottery wheel, and fine silver jewelry, has spent eight summers in omanut unleashing the artistic talents in campers and guiding talented staff. This summer, Ricki’s team will enhance pottery wheel and ceramics classes and incorporate their varied and eclectic skills in a multitude of camp projects.

Campers will continue to experience throwing clay on the pottery wheel, glaze objects, and create chimes, leaf platters, vases,hot plates and rock gardens. Of course, the old-time favorites such as polymer clay hamsas, bead and jewelry making, mosaic challah boards, crayon art, sewing and scrap-booking will be integral to the omanut  program.

Fine arts media, too, will be included and campers are bound to produce projects ranging from pencil to brush;sharpie to ink; and acrylic to pastels. As a continuation of a most successful endeavor, omanut will once again join the CRB “Green” team by offering reuse and recycle projects throughout all edot. Just imagine scrapbooks made from CD’s; mosaics made from bottle tops; bracelets made from soda can tabs; and of course, paper mache made from old newspapers and magazine.

Kayitz 2015  welcomes back veteran staff Sara, Lexi, and Julie.  Gal, Inbal and Asaf will join the omanut  staff this summer, too.  Their collective skill base includes “amigurumi”, mosaics, clay, glass decorations, drawing with pencil and charcoal, soft sculpture,painting, wood burning , wood making, digital painting, jewelry, 3-D digital modeling and much much more.

Peek into the omanut building this summer and discover that omanut is more than arts and crafts!

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Message from Rabbi Paul Resnick – Hodesh Tov, Adar 5775

ResnickIt was thrilling to once again spend time in Israel and I want to share my impressions of my trip with the entire camp community.  What follows are excerpts from a recent letter that I sent to the CRB Board and Advisory Council.

Returning to the USA after an intensive eight day annual directors trip in eretz ha’kodesh always leaves me with a sense of professional rejuvenation and a clearer vision of the Ramah mission. Rabbi Ari Perten and I interviewed over 45 mishlachat  (Israeli staff) candidates and hired 30 for this coming summer; 6 of whom are returning staff from Kayitz 2014.

With the help of former mishlachat members, we were able to clearly convey the CRB culture and describe various positions in camp. What fascinated both of us was the enthusiasm that the former mishlachat projected. Just last year some of them were sitting on the other side of the table in the interview process. Expressing full confidence and pride of feeling part of the CRB mishpacha,they posed questions with precision and depth.

Rabbis Resnick and Perten in Israel Dinner with StaffThe former mishlachat helped us determine whether a candidate would be suitable for camp. With conviction and fervor they marketed camp to each newly hired staff member professing that Camp Ramah in the Berkshires is the place to be.

I heard many saying, ain li milim,… I have no words to describe the influence of Ramah on my life. I found my Judaism in camp. Their sincerity was truly inspiring.

Nyack and CRB formed a unique new relationship with the Hartman Institute. This summer we will be hiring three amazing students, from Hartman’s cutting edge mechina initiative, to work in our camp as madrichim. We are positive that they, too, will bring another important dimension to camp

Israel PaulSpending three hours dining with eight of our Ramahniks studying in Israel was a real thrill. Ari and I laughed, learned and connected with the each of them. It was a wonderful evening.

On Saturday night 18 Ramah directors had the privilege of meeting with US ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro for 90 minutes. Our engaging dialogue covered an array of topics from the threat of ISIS, to Netanyahu’s intended visit to speak to Congress, to the peace talks, to the Iranian talks. Ambassador Shapiro was articulate and presented the US position in an unequivocal manner with genuine re-assurance that everything is on the table with those talks. As an aside, he is sending two of his children to Ramah New England and Rabbi Ed Gelb arranged for him to address all of the Ramah directors in Israel.

nativFor me, the highlight of the trip was the annual Shabbaton. Out of the 150 participants, thirty-eight were part of CRB. Witnessing one of our 2014 female mishlachat members lead Kabbalat Shabbat brought tears to my eyes. It was one of the most spiritually uplifting Kabbalat Shabbat tefillot that I have ever attended.

Shira, an Israeli and the daughter of a hazzan, led tefillot. Before coming to camp, she never knew that a woman could lead tefillot. She led davening in camp during the most critical moments of Israel’s operation last summer and led us again last Shabbat with the same kavanah. Indeed, this was a life changing experience for Shira—all because of CRB. Today, she is a madricha on TRY (Tichon Ramah Yerushalayim).

I have many more stories to tell and look forward to sharing them with you in the future.

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