Monthly Archives: August 2017

Shorashim 2017–Week 7

Shabbat Shalom from Shorahsim 2017!

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Machon 2017–Week 7

Shabbat Shalom from Machon 2017!

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Cochavim 2017–Week 7

It’s hard to believe that we are wrapping up our last full week and that in a few short days we will be saying l’hitraot (until we see you again) to all of our chanichim (campers).

This past Sunday, we all came together as one campe for Rikkudiyah (dance festival). Cochavim had the opportunity to dance in front of the rest of the camp and at the end of the night we all came together for a big dance party!

All day Thursday we had a blast participating in Yom Sport! Each of our chanichim was placed on either K’vutzat Cachol (the Blue Team) or K’vutzat Katom (the Orange Team) and participated in a wide variety of peulot sport (sports activities) in addition to cheering on their teams throughout the day.

Last Shabbat, we read parshat Va’etchanan and one of the highlights of the day was reading the section of the portion that contains the Shema and V’ahavta. This Shabbat, we will be celebrating Shabbat Derech Ramah (the Way of Ramah) with all sorts of activities to show our chanichim how far they have come in just one kayitz (summer) here at Ramah.

It has been such a pleasure having all of your banim uvanot (boys and girls) this kayitz and I look forward to these last days together.

Have a wonderful Shabbat everyone!

Jake Greenberg, Rosh Cochavim

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Gesher 2017–Week 7

Gesher had a wonderful last full shavua of camp! On Sunday night, Gesher joined all of camp in the annual rikkudiah. Gesher had 2 dances – a group dance and a couples dance. We then danced the night away! On Monday, those who have been focusing on Al Hagova all summer, departed for their overnight, where they hiked and learned how to rock climb. On Thursday, Gesher participated and lead the camp in Yom Sport. The day was filled with a lot of ruach, fun, and friendly competition. On Friday, Gesher led a Machene Bet Sport tournament to raise money for tzedakah. With bittersweet tenderness, we are looking forward to our last Shabbat together where we will reflect on our many summers at camp and start to focus on our future connection to Camp.

Shabbat Shalom

Deb Pollack, Rosh Gesher

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Bogrim 2017–Week 7

This week Bogrim is finishing off the summer strong with their edah play, Mary Poppins, Yom Sport, and a whole bunch of amazing bunk activities that range from tie dying to biking around Camp, to late night s’mores, and early morning hikes. Our Shabbat theme this week is Shabbat High school where we will be preparing our chanichim to transition back into the real world as first year high school students. We will focus on maintaining a Jewish identity in high school and discuss a few  academic and social pressures that might surface. Our upcoming week is equally packed with a fun-filled murder mystery day and an awesome last night of

Camp Amazing Race peulah, retracing our steps throughout the summer and reviewing  all of our highlights!

It has been a wonderful kayitz for Bogrim!

 Shabbat Shalom

Na’ama Malomet, Rosh Bogrim

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Solelim 2017–Week 7

The final full week for Solelim was truly an incredible one. We started the week by performing an awesome dance at the annual Rikkudiah. All of the chanichim really enjoyed our special Solelim dance and the big dance party that followed the formal program. During the week, we also participated in fun peulot like Night of 1000 Stars: Apples-to-Apples Edition and a lip sync-dance off battle royale. We were fortunate to watch and perform in the Solelim-Bogrim hatzagah, Mary Poppins on Monday night. All of our chanichim that participated in the hatzagah were stellar. This week’s Yom Hav was split between Yom Sport, the Gesher Tzedakah Tournament, and a few peulot revolving around one of our madrichot, Rachel Kroll. This Shabbat, in Shabbat ShaBye, we will focus on  leaving Camp and of reflect upon the kayitz as a whole.

Shabbat Shalom

Noam Kornsgold, Rosh Solelim

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Tzeirim 2017–Week 7

Wow – we cannot believe this is already our last 2017 Shabbat in Camp! The time has flown by! Sunday night we danced and danced some more at the rikudiah! It was such a blast! On Tuesday, we ventured to Camp Ramah in the Poconos for sports competitions such in basketball, volleyball, tennis, soccer and ultimate frisbee.  We were welcomed warmly and  made so many new friends! Thursday’s YOM SPORT was filled with such incredible enthusiasm and ruach from our whole edah led by captains Leo Gold, Joshua Scheingold, Grace Ain, and Ellie Black! Today, all of us splashed down on our amazing trip of the kayitz to Zoom Flume!  Though we are sad to leave Camp, we can’t wait to celebrate our last Shabbat together as a kehillah!

Shabbat Shalom

Hannah Lorman, Rosh Tzeirim

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Nitzanim 2017–Week 7

Nitzanim’s last full week of camp was a blast! On Sunday, we danced all night at the rikkudiah! Yesterday’s Yom Sport was spectacular with the orange and blue teams competing in basketball, gaga, kickball, trivia, and more. Our final Shabbat together will certainly be bittersweet, but we’re excited to take this opportunity to soak up every last wonderful bit of kayitz 2017!  See you next summer.

Shabbat Shalom

Sarah Davis, Rosh Shorashim

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From the Bamat: Parashat Eikev

As the people approach the end of the their journey through the wilderness, Moses prepares them for the final crossing into the land of Canaan.  Though they have been in striking distance of the land for some time now, only a precious few have actually laid eyes on the land God has promised them.  Of those, only Joshua and Caleb are still alive, the others have died along with the rest of the Exodus generation.  In our parasha, Moses seems intent on trying to conjure a picture of the land of Israel for the people as they are about to finally enter. “The Lord your God is bringing you into a good land,” Moses tells them, perhaps remembering the disappointment of the incident with the spies, “A land with streams and spring and fountains issuing from plain and hill.”  He goes on, engaging in a bit of salesman’s hyperbole, “A land where you may eat food without stint, where you will lack nothing.”  The message is clear and direct: the promised land is perfect.  The land will sustain them; the land will keep them fed.

But the agricultural bounty of the land is not the only attraction. As the real estate folks might say, it’s all about location, location, location.  And it turns out that from God’s perspective, the land of Israel is perfect for entirely different reason. Later in the parasha, Moses again describes the land, and this time the fitness of the place is conceived of in quite different terms. “The land you are about to enter and possess is not like Egypt,” Moses tells the people, “There the grain you sowed had to be watered by your own labors.”  Egyptian agriculture is fed by the Nile, and thus irrigation is the norm.  Not so Israel. “The land you are about to cross into and possess, a land of hills and valleys, soaks up its water from the rains of heaven.”  As anyone who has ever been in Israel knows, the land needs rain.  There is no mighty river to bring water on demand.  There is only the rain to make the flowers (and everything else) grow.  And this, it turns out, is what makes Israel the perfect land from God’s perspective, “It is land which the Lord your God looks after, on which the Lord always keeps his eyes.”

At first glance Moses seems to be explaining that the land of Israel is a place where God can keep a Divine watch on the people of Israel.  But that cannot be, since we know from the book of Exodus that God’s eye can be cast onto whatever land God wishes.  Instead, it becomes clear that what Moses means here is that Israel is a place that will require the people to rely on God’s grace in the form of rain.  The condition of the land of Israel thus gives the people the fateful choice Moses outlines in the next few verses: follow God’s commands and the rain will come, or fail to do so and die of famine when the sky refuses its bounty.  The Promised Land is a land of plenty, a land of abundance, and it is also a land whose very climate will require the people to be mindful of the laws God is giving to them.

Unfortunately for everyone involved, this plan never really works.  The people are a rebellious lot before they enter the land, and the they are pretty rebellious once they cross over as well. As the later books of the Bible will all attest in some form or another, the people of Israel never seem to be able to live within the rules God has given them. In the Bible’s later narratives, it is usually not famine that punishes the people’s sinfulness—that lot falls to war and plague—but it is clear that the constant threat of drought as described by Moses in our parasha does little to keep the people in check.  In the end, when the sins become so great, exile—as promised elsewhere in the Torah—falls upon the people of the land.  A place, lovely and fecund as it might be, cannot alter the destiny of the people of Israel.

As a Camp Director, I believe in the power of a place.  I think people are different at Camp.  I think prayer can be a little deeper, music a little more powerful and the bonds of friendship just that much stronger in this particular corner of the world.  For a little over eight weeks each summer, this place in Wingdale, New York is transformed into its own version of the land of Canaan: a patch of ground that somehow means more after we arrive than before.  We strive to live up to the generations who have come before us in this place, and we try to protect it so that we can pass it along to those who will follow us.

And yet what we do at Camp—what we try to do—must ultimately transcend the place itself.  A popular camp saying is “ten for two” meaning we wait ten months of the year to get to the two months we get to spend at Camp Ramah.  I love that campers and staff care so deeply about this place, feel so connected to what we do here, that they live their lives in anticipation of our relatively brief time together.  But I would hope that the essence of Camp can cross the threshold of our property and proceed out into the world.  Because I believe that the Jewish world, and the world at large, could use a bit of what we do, of what we are.  I would hope that our campers and staff come back to the world with a little more courage, a little more compassion and lot more passion for Judaism and the Jewish people.  And I hope they will find a way to share what they have found in this place and spread it to the many, many places they reside. Location matters, and for a short time we have had the privilege of living in our own personal Promised Land.  But now the time has come to leave, and as we do, I hope we remember that what we became in this place is not tied to any bunk or building.  Camp is nearly over for the season, but I hope that, wherever we go from here, a little bit of Ramah always and everywhere goes with us.  The place matters, but the people matter most of all.

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“Dear Evan Hansen”–Summer 2017@CRB


Summer 2017 is the summer of “Dear Evan Hansen” at Camp Ramah in the Berkshires.  Starring a Tony Award-winning Ramah alum, many of our New York-based campers have been buzzing about this particular Broadway show. I can often hear the songs blasting from bunks or being sung around camp.  As the Director of Breira (the program for campers with special needs at CRB), the plot, songs, and message of “Dear Evan Hansen” ring even deeper.  The image of the kid, “on the outside always looking in” isn’t fictional; these are real children that I work with, with names faces, likes, and dislikes.  Children who desperately want to be included.

Here at Camp Ramah in the Berkshires, we have long strived to include and welcome all campers in the Ramah experience.  For 15 years, we have been working to include the campers who might be like Evan: a lonely camper, “waving through the window,” struggling to connect with others. Over the course of Kayitz 2017, staff throughout Camp Ramah in the Berkshires will support over 20 campers with various disabilities.

This kind of support takes many forms.  Sometimes counselors take on the role of social engineer, looking at bunk/edah dynamics and helping form groups or partners to enable a Breira camper’s success.  Or they may serve as a friendly ear, listening to the trials and tribulations of the day as the camper gets ready for bed.  Sometimes our counselors are cheerleaders, celebrating when a Breira camper tries something new and then being a photographer to capture the moment of their success.  Breira counselors are not just limited to human roles: they are alarm clocks, tissues, chairs, water-bottle holders, and sounding-boards.  Breira counselors wear many hats in a given day, each dependent on the individual need of the camper they are supporting and the dynamics of the other campers in the bunk.

The question we constantly ask is: how can we become a more inclusive and welcoming community?  We measure the success of the Breira program not only by the success of the Breira campers, but also the other campers in the bunk and the edah.  I have seen friendships form between Breira campers and non-Breira campers.  Sometimes these friendships are driven by the more typical campers.  But sometimes a Breira camper has a special interest or focus, and another camper in the bunk shares that interest.  Campers who have been on the fringe socially, have found their camp friendship because we as a CRB community have been able to support a camper with a disability.  Dear Evan Hansen has resonated so strongly because we all know what it feels like to be left out.  The Breira program is working to build empathy and kindness throughout the camp community.  This way, we all feel included and supported.

Here at Camp Ramah in the Berkshires, all sorts of relationships are formed and cultivated no matter who you are or what sort of supports you might need to be successful.  We try to live by the lesson that Dear Evan Hansen teaches us: “Today is going to be a good day. Because today, today at least you’re you and – that’s enough.”

Elizabeth Chipkin, Director of Breira B’Ramah, Camp Ramah in the Berkshires


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