Knowing that the tzevet play such a key role in a camper’s experience, staff training and staff development is one of our top priorities.
אָנֹכִ֛י אֲכַלְכֵּ֥ל אֶתְכֶ֖ם וְאֶֽת־טַפְּכֶ֑ם
“I will sustain you and your children.”
The Torah has a funny way of perpetually being relevant to our lives. Indeed, it is probably no coincidence that as we reflect on the year 2017 and look forward to sustaining some habits and changing others in the year ahead, so do our ancestors Jacob and Joseph undertake this endeavor in this week’s Torah portion.
In this week’s Torah portion, the story of our forefather Joseph and his brothers reaches its dramatic climax. Joseph frames his younger brother and his father’s most beloved son for a crime he didn’t commit, then jails him in an Egyptian prison. Judah desperately pleads for his younger brother Benjamin’s freedom for the sake of their father. He even asks to replace Benjamin in prison! Judah appeals to Joseph’s emotions by describing his father’s suffering, and then he takes personal responsibility, which is one of the clear morals of the Torah’s lengthy story of sibling rivalry. Joseph finally breaks down and calls out: “I am Joseph! Is my father still alive?!” It’s a made-for-film moment in the Torah, and by the end of the portion, the entire family including their father Jacob, is reunited. The scene ends with all of the brothers weeping and hugging.
Camp is a place where such emotional connections are forged…
Last year my daughter Lielle got her first hanukkiah – a homemade one crafted by her grandparents with her favorite animals flanking the candle holders. She studied it for a long time, rather nonchalantly, trying to decipher its purpose. It did not play music or light up; it could not be cuddled or stacked – what exactly did it do? It was not until we lit the first candle of the holiday and sang the blessings together that Lielle (and it) alighted with joy.
I have been thinking amidst this season of intense shopping about how lucky she and all our children are to be surrounded by “things” that not only entertain, communicate, or move, but also that ritualize their lives and educate their hearts and souls.
The very root of the word Hanukkah itself alludes to this multiplicitous gift.
Read reflections on the weekly Torah portion by Peninsula Sinai Congregation’s Rabbi Corey Helfand
Let the countdown begin! Haven’t enrolled yet? Save your spot by December 15th and get a special edition Ramah Galim rash guard to keep you comfortable in your wetsuit this summer and all year round!
One of my favorite Shabbat moments this summer at camp came as a total surprise: during Kabbalat Shabbat my prayers were suddenly interrupted by a group of campers and staff pointing out to the sea and jumping up and down. “Whales, whales!” they squealed with wide-eyed excitement. Following their gaze, I too noticed that out in the Pacific Ocean, just a thousand yards off the camp beach, were several humpback whales breaching in grandiose swoops above the water’s surface. I smiled, knowing that if we hadn’t gathered to pray at that moment we would never have witnessed their wondrous presence.
How grateful I feel to be apart of the Jewish community of Ramah Galim that comes together every Shabbat and every summer for life changing moments like this.
And how might we capture more precious moments of spiritual surprise even in our lives outside of camp?
As a camp counselor my fantasy was year round camp. Instead of ending camp and returning to school and work, we’d just stay at camp all year round. I’d live with my closest friends, we’d always have fun activities, and, thanks to the kitchen staff, we’d never have to cook! What could be better than that?
As I grew older I realized that maybe my year-round-camping idea wasn’t really the best idea after all…
A beautiful, productive, and educational camp vegetable garden. Chanichim eagerly awaiting their boxes of nishnoosh (snack), and munching happily once they arrive. Staff members enjoying cholent as they learn together on a Shabbat afternoon.
These wonderful vignettes came to be at Ramah Galim this past summer thanks to contributions of the two participants of Ramah Galim’s Ezra (vocational training) program, which I had the privilege of managing in its inaugural summer.