We are a specialty camp that combines the excitement of developing one’s skills and passions in a specialty area with the full experience and magic of a traditional Ramah summer camp. Come help us make waves in Northern California as we create an unforgettable camp experience and community together!
A D’var Torah on Parshat Nasso by Rabbi Sarah
My daughter Lielle was born a few years ago on a Thursday morning. I pressed the doctors to discharge us on Friday so we could return home for Shabbat dinner. Above everything else, I was hungry for a bracha:
יְבָרֶכְךָ֥ יְהוָ֖ה וְיִשְׁמְרֶֽךָ׃
May God bless you and protect you.
יָאֵ֨ר יְהוָ֧ה ׀ פָּנָ֛יו אֵלֶ֖יךָ וִֽיחֻנֶּֽךָּ׃
May God shine God’s light to you and be gracious to you!
יִשָּׂ֨א יְהוָ֤ה ׀ פָּנָיו֙ אֵלֶ֔יךָ וְיָשֵׂ֥ם לְךָ֖ שָׁלֽוֹם׃
May God lift God’s face up to your direction and grant you peace (Numbers 6: 24-26).
not the one bought for two zuzim
but they were sacrificed just the same
They are in the field now
chewing on grass
thinking they have perfect bodies
They listen for the approaching footsteps
The violence to come
One cuts, drips back to the divine
will hold the weight of wrongs done by others
they’ll put their hands on him
don’t lay a hand on me
hush. not to injure
just to transmit
to give away
What a gift it is in life when we can nurture a project, a plant, an idea, or a human being from seed to a state of thriving. In this week’s Torah portion, Parshat Tazria, we read about the instructions for birthing rituals including circumcision. Interestingly, the Torah does not use just one word for the birthing process, but instead two – tazria (to seed) and yalda (to birth). In a text where every addition and repetition is full of meaning, rabbinic commentaries notice the significance of the presence of both these verbs. Their presence reminds us that any birthing process is just that, a process, one that can be full of stages and milestones, setbacks and miracles.
My greatest joy over the last four years has been witnessing all the milestones and miracles in the seeding and development of Ramah in Northern California, and doing so in tandem with the development of young leaders and of my own daughter who was born just a few months before camp opened in 2016. When I first walked along camp’s shores and dreamed of Havdallah on the Beach, I scribbled down the following words:
Years from now when my children ask where we came from-
I will point here to these waves of familiarity
where the nuclei of any summer
are the unexpected leaders we make of each other.
Close your eyes and imagine an auditorium full of 500 people dancing our favorite Ramah Galim Rikud Dances -Lo Normali and Ba Kalil…. Do you feel the energy? The passion? The excitement?
I personally experienced this incredible image first-hand last week at the Jewish Agency for Israel’s Annual Shlichim Training Seminar. This intensive 5 day Seminar at Kibbutz Shefayim is designed for the young Israeli leaders who are dedicating their summer to working at Jewish Summer Camps across North America. Ramah Galim along with all Ramah Camps are privileged to participate in this program. This summer, we can’t wait to welcome 12 incredible Shlichim to our Ramah Galim community through this powerful partnership.
As I stand in the pews of the Great Synagogue of Rome, surrounded by Ramah colleagues and friends, I feel humbled and inspired by the significance of this building. The Great Synagogue of Rome stands in neighborhood where Roman Jews have lived in peace and under oppressive rule for hundreds of years. Throughout this time, the Great Synagogue has continued to be a haven for Jewish practice and tradition that continues to this day. Listening to the prayerful melodies, which are both foreign and familiar, reminds me of just how much Judaism and Ramah have been key pillars in my life.
As a veteran Ramahnik, I cannot wait to join the Ramah Galim community and offer my abilities and skills to camp as Rosh Nachshonim. For seven summers, I was a camper at Camp Ramah in the Poconos, and for four years, I was a counselor and Rosh Edah. One of the highlights of my time as a staff member was as a Gesher counselor, Poconos’ edah equivalent to Nachshonim, and providing my campers with meaningful experiences and leadership opportunities. I know my staff and I will create a Nachshonim program which our campers will remember for years to come. I would not be who I am today without my experiences at camp, and I know that it is in this place that we create something sacred.