One of the core components of Ramah’s magic is the way we empower our campers, and they empower themselves. They grow up before our eyes. Setting a table? Folding their laundry? Sweeping the floor? Taking out the trash? It happens at camp. From the earliest summer, campers take leadership roles in their own Jewish rituals, including morning services and blessings before and after meals. By the time they become Bar and Bat Mitzvah, they and their friends are running their own services. And as our campers move into high school and then return on staff we empower them to think about the pressing questions of the days as Jews and as people. We proudly produce alumni shaped by this approach who propagate a Jewish approach to living in the world that has been around for millennia: feeling empathically towards other human beings, using our minds to engage with texts and ideas critically, and acting boldly and morally on those feelings and ideas.
The most pressing issue of the day is clearly the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and I’m proud to share how members of our Ramah Wisconsin family are stepping up to help. Ariel Keren (Nivo ’98) is in Moldova providing relief to refugees as part of The Dream Doctors Project, a non-profit organization that integrates professional medical clowns into Israeli hospitals. (Ariel is wearing the blue hat!) Dr. David Shapiro (Nivo ’69 and current camper grandparent) is at the Polish border providing medical support to refugees through NATAN International Humanitarian Aid. Jeff Kaminsky (Nivo ’87 and current camper parent) is currently in Berlin volunteering with refugee resettlement.
Ariel Keren with refugees in Moldova.
Jeff Kaminsky with Rabbi Gesa Ederberg
As many of you know, for over a decade Camp Ramah in Wisconsin has been strongly connected to the Masorti (Conservative Movement) synagogue in Berlin led by Rabbi Gesa Ederberg. Our community has been enriched by the many campers and staff members who have joined us from Berlin. Rabbi Ederberg and her community are now opening their homes to refugees and are providing food and shelter with the help of the Masorti Olami Ukraine Emergency Campaign. Funds raised by Masorti Olami are helping provide services for and resettle members of the Masorti communities in Ukraine, some of whom benefited from a Ramah summer experience at a camp in Ukraine.
Kol HaKavod to all who are contributing their talents and resources at this time of need. We know that so many members of our community are sending generous support through a multitude of organizations providing relief. If you’re considering an additional donation, we encourage you to donate to any of the organizations mentioned above or to The Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) or The Jewish United Fund (JUF).
If you have additional stories of the heroes among us, please send them my way.
As we step away from Purim, may the promise of the story of Esther and Mordechai – v’nahafoch hu – upturning the status quo – manifest itself in Ukraine, and throughout the world, in the coming weeks.
Jacob Cytryn, Executive Director