Reflections from The Ramah Ukraine Leadership Experience
Guest blogger: Dahlia Lehman, Camp Ramah in New England
Yesterday afternoon, after months of anticipation, and three days of training in Budapest and western Ukraine, we arrived at Camp Ramah Yachad. Despite the strong connections that our American group had established internally throughout the week, I was personally very worried about the language barrier between the members of our group and the other staff at Ramah Yachad, many of whom speak only Russian.
When the bus finally arrived at the camp after a long trip through the pouring rain, something amazing happened; it stopped raining, the sun came out, and the entire staff ran outside to greet us. I immediately forgot about the language barrier as I eagerly ran off the bus to the rest of the staff, which welcomed us with open arms, smiles, and an incredibly inviting atmosphere. To me, it almost felt like the rain washed away all of the worries that the language barrier may have posed. We were all there together for a common purpose — to celebrate our Judaism and provide an exciting and fun summer experience for the chanichim (campers). It was that common purpose and hope, which Camp Ramah in New England has instilled in me since I started my journey as a camper in 2007, that allowed our group from halfway across the world to feel immediately at home. Just as my new Ramahnik friends and I noticed that a rainbow had appeared in the sky, I realized that despite the differences between our American group and the Ukrainian staff members, we all know the language of Ramah.
As our group continues this journey for the ten days following the campers’ arrival on Monday, there will inevitably be challenges and setbacks. But at the end of the day, the language of Ramah will hopefully guide all of us — Ukrainian staff and American teens alike.
Dahlia Lehman, 17 years old, was born and raised in Potomac, Maryland. Dahlia started as a camper at Camp Ramah in New England in 2007. She even admits to begging her mom to send her to Camp Ramah the moment she entered Kindergarten.
A fantastic group of high school students from Ramah camps across North America are exploring Hungary and Ukraine through the Ramah Ukraine Leadership Experience. They will be serving as counselors at Camp Ramah Yachad, run by The Schechter Institute.