Connecting Through Pain and Joy
by Idan Fine

This past week we marked 6 months since October 7th. Sometimes I feel like it was just yesterday, while other times it feels like years have passed since that fateful day. During this period I have found myself nervous, stressed, afraid, worried, and desperate, but mostly sad – but I know that I am not the only one. Everyone has been affected by the war, both in Israel and in Jewish communities abroad. It is powerful to share such strong feelings and experiences with people from all over the world, understanding that being Jewish is not only an individual practice but means being part of a nation that shares feelings of joy and pride, but also shares feelings of deep pain. Sometimes those feelings are the only thing we have in common.

One of the most emotional moments I had during the last few months was watching the live broadcast of the March for Israel solidarity rally in Washington. The power and support that the American community expressed towards Israel was tremendous and it was especially powerful to see people from our Ramah community participate. Similarly, in December I had the opportunity to accompany one of many Ramah volunteer trips. I was so impressed by the willingness and desire of American college students to volunteer, listen, and come together. 

In reflecting back on our people’s history, soon we will celebrate the holiday of Passover, which commemorates the exodus from Egypt and the days when we were slaves. Regardless of your individual background or beliefs, this story is core to our identity as Jews. During these times we should all remember that we are waiting for another 133 men, women, adults, soldiers, a child, and a baby to return to their families and celebrate their freedom, along with every other Jew in the world.

Even in these terrible times, I have found happy moments. One of them was at the 2024 Mishlachat seminar. Last week more than 350 Ramah Shlichim gathered for pre-camp training. About 45 of them are our very own Shlichim who will be coming to Camp Ramah in Wisconsin this summer. We danced, sang, laughed, shared and learned together in anticipation of the upcoming summer. The slogan that guided us throughout our training course was “we will dance again.” I can say with confidence that this group of Israelis each has a different story to tell, each understands the importance of our connections, each wants to learn about other experiences and each is coming to bond with and care for our campers and bring joy to our Ramah community. 

This summer I will think a lot about our togetherness. What does it mean that an entire nation hurts together and celebrates together? I come back to our connection and unity and how we will celebrate the connection between us and our Jewish pride.

We hope that everyone will return home soon.

Shabbat Shalom!

Idan Fine will be joining us for her fourth summer on staff at Camp Ramah in Wisconsin. She is originally from kibbutz Maagan Michael in Israel and currently lives in Jerusalem. After high school, she did a gap year volunteering with special needs individuals, and in the army, she served as a Hebrew teacher for olim hadashim, new immigrants, and Arabic-speaking soldiers. Since she finished the army, she has worked in various educational jobs mostly with diaspora Jews. This summer, Idan will be Rosh Tarbut Yisrael for the second year, a program that she is passionate about in which campers learn and discuss Israel, in the beautiful setting and community that is Ramah Wisconsin.