My name is Edan Tamler. I am 22 years old and currently live in New York City teaching music at Ramaz (a Jewish Day School in Manhattan). I say currently because even though I spent the first 15 years of my life here, Israel is my home. When I was 15 my parents decided to make Aliyah and relocated our family to a small settlement in the Southern Galilee in an area called Misgav. As one can imagine moving from New York City to a small town on a mountain in Israel, was quite the lifestyle change. However different, this change was an exciting and meaningful one, that I am so happy my parents made. My home in Eshchar, a mixed Yeshuv if religious and secular Jews, sits at the highest point of the mountain. Almost every night, we can enjoy incredible views of the Mediterranean Sea as the sun goes down (views rivaled only by those you see at Ramah Galim!)
This past spring I completed my mandatory IDF service where I served as the soloist for the IDF Orchestra. This was an incredible experience where I learned so much about myself, my country, and the power of music. Close to the end of my service a good friend of mine, Ilana Sandberg, asked if I would be interested in working at Ramah Galim in the summer (who wouldn’t want a summer in California right by the ocean?!). Obviously I said yes, and this past summer was my first as Rosh Shira at camp.
As Rosh Shira, I have the opportunity of inspiring the chanichim with music in many different ways. This includes camp wide song sessions, evening kumzitz (singing around a bonfire), and leading the musical aspect of Al Habama (Performing arts speciality track) in the form of a music composition intensive.
Some of the songs we sing at camp are Israeli classics, such as Oseh Shalom and Geshet tzar meod. But we also incorporate lots of Jewish music from modern Ramah legends Rabbi Menachem Creditor and Josh Warshawsky. One of the songs I was told I HAD to learn before coming to camp was a Warshawsky tune called “Mah Rabu.” This is a wonderful song that incorporates a fun call and response with lyrics from the morning t’fillah, and as you can imagine it’s very catchy.
Transitioning back to Ramaz, as a music teacher it’s my job to prepare the students for their musical celebrations throughout the year. These include siddur and Chumash celebrations, zimriah, and weekly pre-Shabbat onegs.
While deliberating over which new songs I should introduce to the Ramaz community this year (to give a new flavor to 2nd grade Chumash celebrations), I was reminded of my time in camp. There is something about the energy in a camp-wide Shira session that is contagious — you can’t help but feel uplifted and connected to the people around you- that’s what I wanted to bring to my 2nd graders. Because at its core, music isn’t about hitting the highest note or playing the most impressive solo, it’s about feeling something, and connecting to the music you are hearing and singing.
I decided to insert the songs “Mah Rabu” (Warshawsky) and Acheinu (Abie Rotenberg) into the line up, some of our go-to songs for Shira. These songs worked wonderfully as the kids loved the “call and response” in Mah Rabu (MAH RABU!!), and the audience loved the nostalgic feel of Acheinu’s legendary niggun.
This made me feel so thankful about my time at Ramah Galim and the privilege I have to inspire children with music. I’m also so thankful that there are places like Ramah Galim and other Jewish camps whose intention is to inspire fellow Jews to love Judaism in so many different ways. I am very excited about the opportunity of coming back to camp and to continue inspiring young Jewish souls for a long time to come.