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Outstanding training week at Ramah Darom (Part 2)

As I wrote yesterday, there has been incredible energy and inspiration here at Ramah Darom during this week of multiple National Ramah staff training programs, including our newest program, Kivun, which this year includes about 12 representatives from our colleagues at URJ camps.

Tefilah: As I reported yesterday, Rosh Hodesh davening was amazing, as you can see in this video. This morning’s tefilah was amazing in other ways. We offered three options—a learner’s minyan, a traditional minyan, and a minyan which demonstrated the creative methodologies used at each of our special needs programs during the summer.

Shira: Last night, after dinner, we asked some of the URJ and Ramah staff to lead shira together, and it was one great celebration of Jewish music across our movements. What we anticipated would be a 10-minute song session turned into well over a half hour of singing, dancing, and celebration.

National Ramah Tikvah Network: Under the leadership of Shira Arcus, NRC Tikvah Network Coordinator, representatives from all the Ramah special needs programs last night participated in a powerful video chat with parents of Tikvah campers from Wisconsin, New England, Canada, and California. Many tears were shed, as the parents expressed the depth of their appreciation for the hard work of the madrichim, and the powerful impact of Tikvah on their children and on their families.

Daber Hebrew Language Training: Under the leadership of Devora Greenberg, Yael Seidemann, and Rinat Armon, the cohort of 61 Daber Fellows are now taking a hike in the mountainside woods, speaking and singing Hebrew throughout.

History of Ramah: Yesterday, Rabbi Shelly Dorph, a former National Ramah Director who is helping us this week with rosh edah training, spoke to the group of rashei edah about the history of Ramah, since its founding in 1947. He highlighted the contributions of lay leaders and professionals, in particular, Lou Winer, for whom this Winer Institute was named. One rosh edah commented to me that “hearing about the history of this great camping movement makes my own work at camp so much more meaningful.”

Quotes from Participants:

  • Dafna Robinson, the leader of our fine arts training program for camp specialists, stated this morning that “bringing together all these camp specialists from two movements and over 20 camps was brilliant. I can’t wait to hear about and see all the projects they will do at their camps because of this special time together.”
  • Corey Glazer-Bass, a rosh edah from Poconos, commented that “even though I am here for rosh edah training, I really appreciated the opportunity to learn about Daber since a number of my madrichim will be Daber Fellows, and we hope to bring as much Hebrew as possible into our edah this summer.”
  • Miriam Chilton, Director of Strategy, Finance and Operations for URJ Camps and Israel Programs, emphatically stated that “this week has been a real gift. I have been able to witness both seasoned as well as new camp professionals learning from specialists as well as from each other, and it has certainly been enhanced by our new relationship between URJ and Ramah.”
  • Dr. Ron Polster, incoming Director of Ramah Canada, commented that “having so many of our staff members together at one time, all learning from each other and sharing best practices among the camps is such a positive contribution to their preparedness for camp.” Together with Ron, Ariella Moss (Canada), Michelle Sugarman (Poconos), Rabbi Paul Resnick (Berkshires), Geoff Menkowitz and Rabbi Marshall Lesack (Darom) all were able to spend time with their groups of staff for planning, bonding and training.

Working closely with all the program leaders here, especially NRC program staff members Shira Arcus, Sarah Ossey, and Rami Schwartzer, and of course the leader of the entire program, National Assistant Director Amy Skopp Cooper, has been wonderful.

I am thrilled that the week is progressing as well as it is. By tomorrow afternoon, we will all be on our way home to get some much-needed rest and to enjoy Shabbat and Shavuot. As everyone comes together again at their Ramah or URJ camp in a few weeks for what we hope will be a fantastic summer season, we expect to hear more about the impact of this week of training, and the ways in which this week will contribute to an even better summer at our camps throughout North America.

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