The Ramah Reaches Out Committee has had an amazing year so far and we’re looking forward to what’s coming up next! As many of you know, we are constantly keeping our alumni informed about volunteer opportunities and sending Ramah alumni out to make a difference. For example, our alumni worked late into the night repacking food donations at the City Harvest Repackathon.
We’re also thrilled to be working on a Ramah Alumni Volunteer Database, where you will be able to search for the type of volunteering you’d like to do, and find organizations that can make that happen. We’ll be releasing it soon and can’t wait to use it ourselves!
We also are planning the second annual Yom Give Back after the tremendously successful one last year. We will again be placing alumni of all ages in various volunteer sites throughout the area, from homeless shelters to senior homes. Dates and details to follow soon!
If you would like to get more involved, or want to find out about awesome volunteering opportunities, please let us know by contacting Jenna Statfeld Harris at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This past March, the Alumni Association hosted its 2nd Annual Career Panel and Networking Night – A Technology Panel at the home of Heidi and Robert Silverstone. The event featured five panelists – Mark Mezrich, who moderated the panel, Michael Reifman, Josh Mohrer, Kara Levy, and Rachel Burkhoff, each of whom shared insights and personal experiences from their careers, and offered their own unique experience and perspectives on various aspects of the industry. In addition to the five panelists, about twenty people attended the event, and both the panelists and the audience contributed to a really interesting and engaging discussion, which covered everything from recommendations for thinking about careers in the technology sector to the role technology can and should play in Camp.
The goal of the Alumni Association is to bring alumni together to support and reinforce our appreciation for and connection to Camp. In addition to providing an opportunity to reminisce about old times and make new friends, alumni associations can be a great opportunity for networking and making helpful career and community connections. For those of us who attended the Technology Networking Event, the evening offered an opportunity to learn, talk about an interesting topic, network with other professionals with interesting and successful careers, and at the same time to catch up with old friends we don’t often get the chance to see (or in some cases haven’t seen in many years) and to share some old memories about Camp. It was a great way to bring Berkshires Alumni together to connect about shared interests (both professional and Camp-related).
The Alumni Association also brings alumni together through its annual summer internship program. Each summer, returning staff members, can be placed with alumni for an 4-5 week internship experience. This program helps returning staff members to get some experience in an area of interest to them, and also helps to facilitate connections among Camp alumni from different edot.
As our networking initiatives continue to grow, I hope we will continue to be able to bring together Camp alumni in this way to discuss relevant topics, facilitate networking opportunities, and create opportunities to share our connections to Machane Ramah!
My camp experience started in 1993 when I was 4-years-old and my mother returned to Ramah to take on Rikud. The summers I grew up knowing were those spent in Wingdale, NY. I remember being in the car, not understanding time or distance, feeling like camp was so far away. My mother explained the drive as four different legs so I could understand when we were getting close. Anticipation would grow as each leg passed. The excitement I felt on that drive – excitement I still feel today on my way up to Wingdale – is similar to the feeling a person has when going home.
Ramah is still a part of my life because the values learned and the memories made have shaped me into the person I am today. As a student, I attended an Orthodox Jewish day school; Ramah provided me with a greater perspective of Judaism. Though I was only there for two months a year, the informal education I received at Ramah allowed me to find a Judaism that I wasn’t exposed to during the 10 months of school. It is that perspective that helped solidify my own Jewish identity.
This connection I feel to camp is the reason why I returned on staff for four summers. It is important to me to continue to pass down these values and stay involved in the Ramah community. Through the Ramah Alumni Association, I have been able to stay connected to my past Ramah experience, while also forming relationships with Ramahniks I did not know growing up. The Ramah Minyan has been a particular highlight, allowing me to relive the magic of Friday nights at camp.
It is hard to believe that this year marks the tenth anniversary of my Gesher summer. Many of my favorite childhood memories occurred in camp. The friendships I made are indescribable. On this anniversary, I can honestly say that I feel just as close to the Ramah community as I did 10 years ago as a camper. Ramah will always be a part of my life and I am so grateful for the family it has given me.
Technically, I’m off-Broadway. Still, living as I do at the corner of Ninth Avenue and 39th street, I’m only off by about two blocks.
Each summer, I head about two hours north of the city to music direct the musicals at Camp Ramah in the Berkshires. When I first began in 2009, I was apprehensive as to how good a musical could possibly be when it was being produced with less than a week of rehearsal time in a language that most of the performers don’t understand. Still, over the last six years the Berkshires performing arts staff has grown into a team of over a dozen dedicated, gifted people led by the fearless Miriam Hertzon. It’s not Broadway, but it provides me with a meaningful opportunity to try and raise the artistic bar for fellow stage addicts and Chug-rejects.
About two months ago, I got a call from the most stage-addicted man I know, fellow Ramah staff musician, Lee Michael Epstein. He (as emcee) and I (as accompanist) were invited to share the stage at JTS’s Fineberg Auditorium with Ben Platt and Caissie Levy, two bona fide Broadway stars whose musical careers began in the Batei Am at their respective Ramah camps of Ojai and Canada. In true camp fashion, much of the event came together in the final week: I translated and arranged the finale (When I Grow Up from ‘Matilda’) on Monday, rehearsed it with the talented crew of Ramah alumni (Dylan Landau, Jamie Mittleman, David Offit and Jacob Samuel) at my apartment on Friday, and performed it on Sunday. As we sang wistfully about what we wished to be upon ‘growing up,’ it dawned on me how lucky we all were to have grown up in an environment like Ramah, having been given the chance to dream, sing, and play. The only challenge of course is finding a way to sustain the childlike glee that performance provides as we all become grown-ups. On a personal note, working with the enthusiastic and capable young performers at camp every summer has helped to sustain my own sense of youthful optimism and wonder.
And fortunately for the whole ensemble, we’ve all got at least one gig on the calendar for 2016: Look out for From Ramah to Broadway next season!
On Sunday, March 29th, the Ramah community gathered for final game of the 19th Annual RBA season.
Among the day’s events was a very competitive Legends game, a 3 point contest (won once again by Phil Zaks), and the Eric Steinthal Memorial Award, honoring Jeremy Sokolic, founder of RBA. With over 150 people in attendance, Jeremy and Sarah Sokolic spoke about RBA’s roots, the first seasons of the now flourishing league, and their connection to Eric Steinthal z”l.
Other speakers included RBA Commissioners Ori Foger and Josh Smith, Rabbi Resnick and Bruce and Marilyn Steinthal. The day concluded with pizza and snacks, while the two championship teams battled it out and ultimately Real NY defeated Sherwood Lumber for the 19th annual Jerry Cup.