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Introducing Mishlachat 2012

By Guest Blogger Amy Skopp Cooper, National Assistant Director

I just returned from an exciting and inspiring trip to Israel with a delegation of Ramah directors and assistant directors. We spent five days at Kibbutz Shefayim, training the 250 shlichim who will be working at Ramah camps in North America this summer. During our time together, we talked about the core values of Ramah, the prominent role of Israel within our camps, and how shlichim can successfully integrate within our communities.

Ramah Mishlachat 2012 at Kibbutz Shefayim, May 2012

This week is always one of the highlights of my annual preparation for the upcoming camp season. Every year, I continue to be amazed by these incredible young Israelis, most of whom have just recently completed their service in the Israel Defense Forces. They come from all over the country and from many different backgrounds; they are scout leaders, musicians, teachers, rock climbers, performing artists, and sports specialists. What they have in common is a love for Israel and a desire to share their craft and idealism with the Ramah camp communities in North America. It was an honor to spend time with such a passionate, creative, and committed group of young people. Our experience together was incredible, full of learning, singing, dancing, sharing, and growth.

It was an amazing sight to see the shlichim join together as group, cheering, singing and bringing their extraordinary energy to the experience. [See video below of mishlachat singing a “moral” (cheer).]

Over the course of the training, the shlichim shared their personal stories with me about what influenced them to come to Ramah. One shlicha, who was not raised in a religious home, spoke about her grandmother who passed away this year. She explained, “My grandmother was a Holocaust survivor. She had been religious and remained so after the Holocaust. In coping with her death, I realized that my own religious identity was lacking. I see my shlichut as an opportunity to grow Jewishly in memory of my grandmother.”

Another shlicha shared the story of her grandmother’s past as a member of the Palmach. Curious about her grandmother’s experiences, she and her grandmother explored boxes of letters and photos that her grandmother had kept from the pre-1948 era. “I was so inspired and even found myself feeling envious of my grandmother, of her passion to represent the State of Israel and give it energy,” she said. “I feel that my shlichut is a way to honor my grandmother. I want to do my part to share my enthusiasm and love for Israel.” The stories were so powerful and inspiring, and they highlighted the process of Jewish growth taking place for many of the shlichim.

After a meaningful Shabbat together, we enjoyed a beautiful havdalah service followed by almost an hour and a half of spirited Israeli dancing and singing! It was an incredibly moving experience for the shlichim, whose strong sense of connectedness from their five days together was apparent, as well as for the Ramah leadership, as we saw first hand the tremendous power and promise of this exceptional group.

The shlichim are eager to begin their work at camp this summer, ready to bring their talent, ruach, and love for Israel to more than 6,500 campers and 2,500 staff members. In turn, the Ramah experience promises to be an influential one for the shlichim, full of learning, Jewish growth and discovery.

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