Blog | Camp Ramah Northern California - Part 9




Ari’s Trip to Israel and Berlin

I am sitting at the Hartman Institute in Jerusalem, holding a text that brings me back to my summers on the beach of Monterey Bay. I am surrounded on both sides by Ramahniks from several camps who interpret the text based on their unique life experiences. The energy in the room is palpable. Our group is eager to absorb as much as possible to bring back to our respective camps. Over the next 10 days I will have the chance to explore the complexities of Israel and Germany through the lens of Camp Ramah.

I have been given the opportunity to travel with Ramahniks to Israel and Germany as part of the Kerem young professionals program generously funded by the Jim Joseph Foundation. Israel, the homeland of the Jewish people, and Germany, which changed the Jewish world forever, contain traditions that continue to profoundly shape the ways in which Jews engage with their communities. As I move from one community to the next, seeing the similarities and differences between Jews who live in different cities, I become more and more aware of how this experience shapes my Jewish identity.


Engagement through Prayer: More Miriam! An Interview with Jenna Turow, 2018 Rosh Hinuch

How does Miriam’s model of leadership in this week’s Torah portion, Parshat Beshallah, resonate with your experience at camp?
Working at camp gives people a unique opportunity to lead by example, enjoy themselves, and encourage others to join in. Miriam with her timbrel is employing multiple kinds of leadership at the same time. She is leading in the quintessential camp way, by singing a song and leading a newly forming group of people in unifying ritual. She is also leading by inspiring; as she celebrates, her emotions spread to the rest of the Israelites and they are all joyous. This is how we lead through personal experience and inspiration at camp.
Where or with whom do you hope to inspire “more Miriam” at camp this summer?
I hope to inspire “more Miriam,” truly, to everyone at camp. I want staff to feel empowered to lead services and activities loudly and proudly, and I want our campers to feel comfortable joining in and trying on their own leadership. Building a unique culture of engagement at camp is both who we are as a community and a particular interest of mine, and this summer I look forward to continuing to foster that culture at Ramah Galim. Tzevet (staff) and hanichim(campers) alike should feel inspired, literally and figuratively, to burst into song and lead a dance.


The Transformative Power of “Not Mine” by Rabbi Sarah

At camp and other educational institutions, we have become accustomed to relying on a rhetoric of empowerment: we strive to help our students, campers, and staff “take ownership,” “be empowered,” and “feel at home.” While I’m certainly all for teaching a person to learn to fish, as we say, and empowering the next generation of leaders with inspiring ideas and relevant skills, I think we may at times overemphasize the language of ownership to the detriment of the equally important counter-rhetoric of “it’s not mine.”

The Torah and Rabbinic texts teach us that the earth does not in fact belong to us humans, and in doing so, presents a strong countercultural message about the power of being a guest in another’s world.


Growing Jewish Leaders by Alana Tilman

The not so secret ingredient to a magical summer at Camp Ramah is the incredible tzevet, staff, who work tirelessly over the course of the kayitz to craft an amazing summer for all campers. Ramah Galim is proud and privileged that already at this point in the year, so many of our staff members are already committed to returning to camp in 2018. We’re grateful that these emerging Jewish leaders and educators share in our vision of creating a kehillah kedoshah , a holy community at Ramah Galim and are excited to spend their summers as live-in role models for our camp community.

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.


Building Heartfelt Community – One Year to The Next: New Year Aspirations by Rabbi Sarah


אָנֹכִ֛י אֲכַלְכֵּ֥ל אֶתְכֶ֖ם וְאֶֽת־טַפְּכֶ֑ם
“I will sustain you and your children.”
Genesis 50:21

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.


It’s About Family Connections, Taking Responsibility and Living in a Real World: Camp Commentary on Parshat Vayigash by Rabbi Shalom Bochner

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…


The Root of Hanukkah: Some Torah for Your Latkes by Rabbi Sarah

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.



Picking A Name : A Reflection on Parashat Vayishlach by Rabbi Corey Helfand

Read reflections on the weekly Torah portion by Peninsula Sinai Congregation’s Rabbi Corey Helfand


200 Days Until Kayitz 2018!

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!