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The Chancellor Goes to Camp

Chancellor Arnold Eisen of The Jewish Theological Seminary has said many times that visiting Ramah camps each summer is one of his favorite parts of his job as chancellor, and that Ramah is “one of the finest accomplishments of JTS, of the Conservative Movement, and of American Judaism as a whole.”

Participating in Tefillah Aerobics

This summer, Chancellor Eisen visited Ramah Outdoor Adventure in the Rockies, Camp Ramah in the Berkshires, and Camp Ramah in New England. While at Ramah New England, Chancellor Eisen was such a good sport by participating in “Tefillah Aerobics,” an innovative tefillah for younger campers led by Rabbi Jeremy Ruberg (photo, above). (You can watch the video here—look for Chancellor Eisen on the far left, making all the right moves!) Chancellor Eisen also was recruited to be part of the team of bakers for the camp’s new Café Ramah, combining good food, camper empowerment, and Hebrew education (photo, below).

Helping Out at Cafe Ramah

While at each camp, Chancellor Eisen engaged groups of staff and older campers with discussions ranging from the future of Conservative Judaism, to the important place of JTS in American society, to the relationship between North American Jews and Israel. His unique style of combining deep Torah study with his expertise in modern sociology always fascinates Ramahniks and leads to vibrant and inspiring conversation.

After his visits, Chancellor Eisen summarized his experiences at Ramah this summer:

I continue to be amazed at the vibrancy of our Ramah camps. Thousands of campers and staff living joyously in Jewish time and space is one of the most important experiences we can provide for Jewish strength and survival. My dialogues with teens were nothing less than inspiring. I believe that ongoing support of Ramah and close partnership with Ramah is fundamental to the mission of JTS, not in any way a peripheral concern.

We must re-dedicate our movement’s leadership to building serious Jewish commitment and qualified future leadership, and there is simply no better place than Ramah camps for this to take place.

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