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Taking Nothing For Granted

All my life, I’ve been blessed with many opportunities to explore my Jewish identity, such as attending Camp Ramah in Canada, being a Sha’ar counselor at Ramah Day Camp in Nyack,  participating in Noam (the Conservative youth movement in Israel), learning at the TALI and Meitarim schools in Israel,  and going to shul with my family on Shabbat and holidays. At all of these places I was exposed to great Jewish education.  I learned t’fillot, Jewish songs and dances, and Jewish values.

For most of the kids here at camp Ramah Yachad, these 10 days are their only opportunity to take in all of those exceptional Jewish educational experiences. This is the only place where they are able to learn t’fillot, fun dances to Israeli songs, Hebrew, Jewish traditions and more. This is also their only connection to Israel. Sometimes, at our camps in North America we take the things we do for granted. We complain about having to dance on the migrash (field) when it’s really hot, don’t feel like getting up early for t’fillah or get bored if we sit for too long in a peula (activity). Here, I’ve noticed that after every activity we lead, the campers come up to us afterward, give us a hug and say thank you. They wait for this experience all year and they’re so grateful for it.

In all my years at camp, this has by far been the most meaningful. At any camp we can make an impact on someone, but because this is such a rare opportunity for these kids to be exposed to Jewish education, any small thing we do feels like so much more.

From having this experience, I hope that I can better appreciate everything I have and never take any of it for granted.

Eliana Schwartz, 17 is from Ra’anana, Israel. She was a camper at Camp Ramah in Canada and worked as a counselor for one summer at Ramah Nyack. A recent high school graduate, she will participate next year in a pre-Israeli army  program at Midreshet Ein Prat.

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