We’d like to thank
- Rabbi Alexander Davis from Beth El Synagogue in St. Louis Park, MN
- Rachael Gray-Raff from the Solomon Schechter Day School of Metropolitan Chicago
- Rabbi Ben and Lori Kramer and their family from Moriah Congregation in Deerfield, IL
- Rabbi Deborah Newman-Kamin from Congregation Am Yisrael in Northfield, IL
- Dana Prottas from Yachad in Minneapolis
- Kara Rosenwald from the Talmud Torah of Minneapolis
- Dean Shuly Rubin Schwartz of the Jewish Theological Seminary
for joining us for a visit this week!
This is a week of welcomings. As we said goodbye to the amazing and successful programs of Garinim and Taste of Tikvah, we welcomed new Taste of Tikvah, Kochavim A and Halutzim and, on Sunday morning, hundreds of visitors to camp for our full-season Visitors Days. Our week of transitions and anticipation has been filled with great excitement: an amazing Solelim performance of The Wizard of Oz with brief cameos by great songs from Hercules and Wicked; rocking boys and girls parallel basketball games against Camp Interlaken JCC with a mix of Shoafim and Bogrim campers; the Nivonim boys canoe trip and Nivonim girls “y’mei banot,” three special days of creative and fun programming that many alumni describe as the most exciting time of all their camper summers. The Tikvah Arts Festival and Nivonim English play both premiered on Sunday afternoon and were filled with great performances and novel takes on Jewish themes. Island swims and boat races around the island, ongoing lifeguard training for Machon, a new set of Jewish Studies electives for Bogrim and Machon, and preparing for Visitors Days activities in outdoor education are all additional highlights.
The traditional Jewish greeting when someone arrives at a location is ברוך הבא/ברוכים הבאים / baruch haba/b’ruchim haba’im / blessed is the arriver/those who arrive. The appropriate response is, appropriately, baruch hanimtza – blessed is the one already present. As we welcome so many new arrivals this week, from our Kochavim campers to proud Ramah grandparents, we have and will continue to say b’ruchaim haba’im to our guests.
For those of you who are coming to camp this weekend, we will share with you our formal b’ruchim haba’im and hope that our individual staff of all types will be welcoming as well. With luck, the weather will cooperate and we will all be able to experience the magnificence of an outstanding Visitors Days, where the human beauty of Camp Ramah in Wisconsin is on display, enhanced by our program and the physical magnificence of our site.
As you join us on Sunday and Monday, I hope you will take the time and intention to respond to our staff with a heartfelt b’ruchim hanimtza’im. Our staff are blessed to be here, blessed to care for and inspire your child(ren). They work hour upon hour to maintain the physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being of our campers while simultaneously challenging these same campers to be the best versions of themselves, to become leaders in their camp communities and elsewhere. We know that there are countless ways of taking the core values and experiences provided at camp and using them as fuel for a life of Jewish engagement, menschlichkeit, and excellence. And, speaking as a parent of three young boys, I can personally recognize dozens of staff members at camp this summer of whom I would be immeasurably proud if my sons modeled themselves.
And so, I offer a word of thanks to our phenomenal tzevet (staff), working in so many different areas of the camp. For the hugs and the handshakes; the card games and playing catch. For helping with Torah readings and learning how to put on tefillin; for being role models on their journeys for religious and spiritual answers that do not readily present themselves. For playful fun, and support during the fun of our plays; for cheers and costumes and knowing exactly what their campers need. For helping remind them to brush their teeth, change their sheets, and take out the laundry; for teaching them to sweep, fold their clothing, and plunge a toilet. For the moments that can only happen at camp, and the moments that are a rehearsal for the rest of their lives. For the weeks that feel like days and, most certainly, the days that feel like weeks. For learning the educational power of love over days, weeks, or two months, and for loving the educational potential of immersion in an intentional community for a finite period of time. For recreating the best moments of their own childhood, and for learning from the mistakes they made when they were campers. For the walks, and the late-night chats, the early mornings, and the moments we never could have imagined would stay with them for the rest of their lives. For always taking us seriously, no matter what, and for learning how to parent, all at once, eight or ten or twelve kids just a few years younger than they are.
To our amazing staff, who work in the kitchen and the maintenance shop and housekeeping, thank you. To the staff who live in our cabins and care for children night-and-day, who supervise our aidot and program areas, who provide professional level support and instruction – all of whom make camp happen – thank you.
And to all the camper parents, camper relatives, former staff members, and friends of Ramah in so many different guises: to you too, todah rabbah.
Shabbat Shalom, Jacob