Cochavim 2017– Week 6

We had another jam-packed week of fun and excitement here at Machane Ramah b’Berkshires (Camp Ramah in the Berkshires)!

This past Tuesday, we came together to observe Tisha b’Av (the Ninth of Av) by hosting peulot with the theme “What role does food play in our lives?” We had the chanichim (campers) decorate “seder plates” with foods that were most significant to them and create Shabbat placemats (we will be laminating them and sending them home with our chanichim).

On Thursday morning, we had lots of ruach (spirit) in our tefillah (services). We studied the b’racha (blessing) in the weekday Amidah (a central prayer in Jewish liturgy) entitled V’lirushalayim which is all about praying for Jerusalem. Each of the chanichim then wrote prayers, thoughts, and prayers in the form of notes to be placed in the Kotel (the Western Wall) by some of our Israeli chanichim (we have three!).

Later that day, we hosted Yom Meluchlach (Messy Day) where we made oobleck, shaved balloons (with straws!), and played drip, drip, drop! We closed the day off with a massive paint fight! It was certainly a messy day for the books!

On Friday we had our Cochavim tiyul (trip) and we went bowling at DolrBill’s, played around at the Children’s Movement Center, and topped the day off with ice cream at Carvel!

We are all excited for another beautiful Shabbat together! This week’s theme in Cochavim is Shabbat Giborim (Heroes)!

Shabbat Shalom,

Jake Greenberg, Rosh Cochavim, Kayitz 2017

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Bogrim 2017 — Week 6

This shavua began on a somber note with Tisha B’av.  We studied Jewish communities and the loss we have felt throughout history. After enjoying the Machon play, on Thursday night, Bogrim continued Yom Meyuchad (Yom Board games) on Friday and played human battleship, human guess who, human angry birds, just to name a few. Our theme for this Shabbat is Shabbat Bonding and we’ve planned lots of activities to bring us closer together as a kehillah (community), edah  and tzrif ( bunk).

Shabbat Shalom

Naama Malomet, Rosh Bogrim

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Gesher 2017 — Week 6

Gesher had a wonderful shavua! On Sunday night, Gesher cheered on their friends and madrichim at the annual Berkshires/Nyack Basketball game. For Tisha B’av on Monday night, Gesher joined the rest of camp for the reading of Eichah. On Tuesday, we had peulot discussing power, powerlessness, and bullying with  meaningful and insightful conversations. On Thursday,  Yom Meyuchad,  our Yom #ThrowbackThursday  was terrific. Gesher chanichim relived their time in the other edot in camp. The day included playing Gaga on the A-side kikar, having tours of B-side, and recreating Cooking Sababa by making Shakshuka! We are looking forward to a restful Shabbat  where we will sing, eat, and learn together!

Shabbat Shalom!! 

Deb Pollack, Rosh Gesher

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Shorashim 2017 –Week 6

This past week was incredible in the mighty mighty Shorashim! We had a wonderful time at the Machon Hatzagah (Finding Nemo) and making cinema magic at the Yom Movies that followed it. We’re looking forward to an amazing Shabbat focused on our parasha and the Ten Commandments! We can’t wait for next week’s rekudiah and Arts Clinic.

Shabbat Shalom,

Didi Kalmanofsky, Rosh Shorashim

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Nitzanim 2017 — Week 6

On Sunday night, Nitzanim chanichim cheered for their madrichim playing in an exciting basketball game against Ramah Nyack. This week, we also celebrated the birthdays of two chanichim! On Thursday night, we enjoyed the Machon hatzagah, Finding Nemo. Our week concluded with a fun-filled tiyul to Quassy Amusement Park! Wishing you a restful and meaningful Shabbat from Nitzanim.

Shabbat Shalom,

Sarah Davis, Rosh Nitzanim

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Solelim 2017 —Week 6

Solelim had a jam-packed week filled with fun and meaningful peulot. We started off the week by cheering on Berkshires as our staff basketball team faced off against Ramah Nyack. Other fun highlights included dressing up our madrichim at one peulot erev and playing Deal or No Deal with Camp prizes. On Monday night and Tuesday, we turned inwards as we commemorated Tisha B’Av. The entire day consisted of various peulot revolving around the notion of sinat chinam, senseless hatred. The pinnacle of the week occurred on Friday when we went on a trip to Lake Compounce, an amusement-water park that has been a traditional highlight of the Solelim experience. This Shabbat, Solelim will participate in Shabbat Etgar, where we will discuss a wide range of  challenges and disabilities and begin to become a more accepting community.

Shabbat Shalom 

Noam Kornsgold, Rosh Solelim

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Machon 2017– Week 6


Machon had an incredible week. After returning from our second trip, we spent Shabbat relaxing and learning about personal responsibility. We played human battleship, watched the Nyack basketball game and dressed as our counselors. On Tisha B’av we discussed privilege and watched the movie Brooklyn. Thursday night was an awesome night as we preformed our fabulous edah play, Finding Nemo. Machon’s talent and energy is palpable. We’re now looking forward to another great Shabbat!

Shabbbat Shalom

Emily Rebenstock, Rosh Machon

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Tzeirim 2017– Week 6

We cannot believe that the sixth week of Camp is already coming to a close! On Sunday night, we had the incredible opportunity to use high-powered telescopes to look at the clear night sky – we saw the moon, mars and even saturn! It was so cool! This week we also commemorated Tisha B’Av. We learned what the day means and  how to commemorate it.  We also pondered our observance and how it might differ once we become b’nei mitzvah. This week, our Yom Meuchad was “Yom Hag” where we competed in  a Fourth of July Volleyball Tournament, created dreidels out of recycled material, had a Purim themed scavenger hunt, and a 10 Plagues paint powder fight! We are ready for a magnificent Shabbat followed by a wonderful Rikkudiyah on Sunday!!

Shabbat Shalom

Hannah Lorman, Rosh Tzeirim

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From the Bamat: Parashat Va-etchanan

Pity poor Moses.  All he ever did was leave his happy life as a good flock-tending son-in-law to return to the charnel house of Egypt in an ultimately successful effort to help free the enslaved people of Israel.  As if that were not enough, he endures the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune while wandering around the wilderness with a group of people who seem totally unwilling to be grateful for their liberation.  The Israelites complain about everything: the food, the water, the enemies around them, the plan God has for them and the land God eventually wants to bequeath to them.  The newly freed slaves were even known to remark constantly about how much better things were back in bondage.  And still Moses leads them, helping them along the way, correcting them when they stray, pushing them forward to the Promised Land.

But there is to be no ticker tape parade for Moses.  No happy retirement sitting on a sun-dappled patio somewhere in Canaan chatting with all his old friends about the bad old days.  He doesn’t get a gold watch, and he doesn’t get to write his memoirs.  Instead, Moses gets to die on a mountaintop just outside the land that has been his destination since the darkest days in Egypt.  In this week’s parasha, we are reminded of bitterly disappointing Moses finds this final lot of his to be.

“The Lord was wrathful with me on your account,” Moses tells the people this week, conveniently omitting the fact that it was his own abuse of the poor water-giving rock that led to God’s harsh decree excluding Moses from the Land.  Though Moses reports that he pleaded to be allowed over the Jordan, God was, in this case at least, the Unmoved Mover.  The punishment would stand; Moses would die without setting foot in the promised land.

And yet perhaps God was not entirely unyielding in the face of Moses’ entreaties.  Although Moses is informed in no uncertain terms that he will not enter the Promised Land, he is given instructions to climb to the top of Mount Pisgah and gaze out over the land which would never be his home.  At first blush, this could be viewed as an additional cruelty: forcing Moses to see the place he would never be allowed to live.  But RASHI, quoting form an ancient midrashic collection called the Sifrei, views God’s instruction as a softening of the decree. “You asked me to show you the good Land,” the midrash has God saying to Moses, “But I am going to let you see the all the land.”  In this telling, Moses will be granted one last miracle: a chance to view every inch of the land to which he finally led his people.  Though Moses himself would never live in Canaan, he would at least be given the satisfaction of seeing it in its fullness.

As a Jewish educator, I am drawn to the midrashic understanding of Moses’ final moments.  I imagine him on the mountain, looking over into Canaan, and perhaps even watching as the people he led for so long worked their way over the Jordan and into the Promised Land.  I think working with kids is not entirely dissimilar from this: we do our best, we work hard, but in the end, we rarely know exactly how our work plays out in the lives of those whom we have taught.  We may catch a glimpse of the future, we may be favored with a hint of the impact we have had, of the good we have done (or the bad!) but for the most part, we labor largely without knowledge of how our labors have succeeded.  Moses is given the gift of knowing his success, he is granted a vision of the fruits of his labors.  (One hopes God spared him the pain of knowing how much difficulty the future would hold for the people.)

Camp has such moments as well, moments when we are given a glimpse of the Jewish future we hope to create.  Moments of spirited prayer, of passionate song, of deep and intense debate.  We live for these moments, and we cherish them.  When we see our campers and staff living out the values we are trying to imbue in them, we are, for a moment, like Moses, standing on the mountaintop, looking out over the land and the people.  We see the future, if only for a moment.

And the future we see is bright.

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Cochavim 2017 — Week 5

On Tuesday, we welcomed 37 stellar Cochavim chanichim (campers) for our second session! As always, the excitement of camp began on day 1!

For our first peulat erev (evening activity) we had Leil Icebreakers” and all the kids played all sorts of fun ice breaker games to get to know each other and to encourage everyone to step out  of their comfort zones. Then on Wednesday,  “Tag Night” took over our evening featuring various types of tag, with special name tags crafted by the Cochavim chanichim .

From Thursday night thru Friday morning, we participated in “Boker Tzrif” where the madrichim (counselors) plan an entire day based on a certain theme. Cochavim‘s madrichim truly went above and beyond by planning and leading engaging peulot tzrif (bunk activities) on Thursday night and tefillot (services) on Friday morning in the spirit of their themes!

We are looking forward to our first Shabbat together this weekend. Friday night tefillot will be held in the amphitheater, overlooking the agam (lake) where we will come together as an entire machane (camp).  Cochavim’s Shabbat programming will focus on  Shabbat B’ruchim Haba’im (Welcome Shabbat)!

Shabbat Shalom!

Jake Greenberg, Rosh Cochavim, Kayitz 2017

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