Camp Ramah Northern California |

Ramah Galim – Northern California Summer Camp

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!

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Astray By Deanna Neil

Two goats

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

ears perked

They listen for the approaching footsteps

The violence to come

One cuts, drips back to the divine

an offering

the other

noble

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

an escape

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Tazria: From Seed to Thrive, By Rabbi Sarah

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.

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Bringing Israel to Camp, By Alana Tilman

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.  

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Ari’s Blog: Kerem Goes to Israel and Italy

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.

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Machaneh and Mishkan: Creating the Sacred, Together by Avram Ellner

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.

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D’var Torah: Parshat Mishpatim by Howard Blas, Director-National Ramah Tikvah Network

Parshat Mishpatim
By Howard Blas, Director-National Ramah Tikvah Network
On the first day of camp each summer, counselors and division heads sometimes give their campers the task of coming up with room and edah (division) rules which all will agree to follow. Many start with the obvious—like no fighting, and no touching or taking others’ possessions without permission. These “basics” are easily observable and measurable. Campers doing this exercise quickly realize that it is impossible to list every single rule and behavioral expectation, and that there are often gray areas and need for interpretation and good judgement. They ultimately arrive at basic principles like “be nice,” “be kind” and “show respect to all.”
Our Jewish tradition offers some useful general principles and reminders on how to behave. The Torah teaches “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Lev 9:17), and Rabbi Hillel reminds us (Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 31a), “That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it.”
Sometimes, we need specific “dos and don’ts.” In my 25 years working with National Ramah’s Tikvah inclusion programs for people with disabilities, I have learned that most people with autism, and perhaps most people in general, rely on rules and routines to keep their environment predictable and to feel safe. Rules keep the community running smoothly and they attempt to eliminate doubt as to what is permitted and what is forbidden.

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