The following is an excerpt of an email sent last month from Rabbi Mitch Cohen, National Ramah Director.
Brandeis University researcher Dr. Amy L. Sales' new study reinforces the idea that these lasting Jewish friendships at our camps are one of the most significant predictors of lifelong Jewish commitment. In "Make Yourself a Friend at Jewish Summer Camp," Sales writes,
Ramah camps, I would suggest, are a model for the kind of institutions we want for our children and for ourselves. Our schools, synagogues, and other organizations could learn much from Ramah. They could learn to shift the lens from content to process, from the quality of the educational material to the quality of the relationships, from the importance of knowing 'stuff' to the importance of feeling a part of something.
Certainly the development of new and lasting friendships is a critical element of a Ramah summer, and we are pleased that more and more research confirms the power of the Ramah experience. However, we also believe that a distinguishing factor at Ramah is content – and that the intensive Jewish content at our camps, communicated to our campers through fun programming and young, accessible role models, makes the Ramah experience unique among Jewish summer camps. (Click here to read Dr. Sales' complete article, which appeared in the Fall 2010 issue of CJ: Voices of Conservative/Masorti Judaism.)