The following was posted by Yali Derman, Camp Ramah in Wisconsin alumna, to her blog (shown here with Rabbi Loren Sykes). It is a wonderful story about the impact of an Israeli staff member on a camper and how that impact continues and grows. Thanks for sharing Yali!
I was 11 years old and was at Camp Ramah Wisconsin for what would be my first summer out of 8 affiliated with the camp. It was my first time ever away from home for any extended period of time and it was an amazing experience as well as a difficult one. Today, I am studying at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem about 6200 miles away from home, living on my own, figuring out day to day adventures and trying to balance it all….and still it’s an amazing experience as well as a difficult one. One common denominator between these 2 events is the influence of my friend Lior Baruch and his family. Lior was one of my counselor’s that first year at Camp. He was a staff member who came from Israel and we became friends at the roller-skate outing planned for first years when the rest of the camp had parents’ weekend. I couldn’t get enough of his Shrek impression…partly because I couldn’t understand what he was saying!! “I want my swamp back” sounded like “aahhh wooont maaa schwampback!”(We still laugh about this today!) After that eventful day we discovered that we both had interesting lives and related to each other’s struggles and triumphs. You could say we were both “old souls.” During the year, we became pen pals and kept in touch. My second summer at camp, Lior was not a staff member for my year, but it happened to be (crazy how the world works) that both Lior and my brother Ari were on Tikvah staff together where they were counselors for campers with special needs. They too became friends instantly….and from then on Lior was like a member of the family! He was a huge source of support throughout all my years at camp and beyond. Lior has visited my house in Chicago several times, I stayed with him and his wife Nurit my Senior year, and now studying abroad I got to see his new home, his child and the wonderful life he and Nurit have built together!
This month in the Hebrew calendar is Adar. Adar is the month of Purim (our dress up holiday) where we are supposed to rejoice, and be happy. Purim is the holiday where Jews are saved by Queen Esther, the queen who had to hide her Jewish identity until she appealed to the king that Haman, the king’s chief advisor, was planning to annihilate her people. She is a brave and victorious heroine! Purim is so-called because the villain of the story, Haman, cast the “pur” (the lot) against the Jews yet failed to destroy them!
Related to the idea of a “lot” , Adar is the month where we are supposed to rejoice that we have overcome our demons, to be happy with our “lot” and be thankful to those who make us happy! Lior certainly was a person who helped me overcome my challenge of returning to normal life after a year in isolation due to Illness, and today Lior, Nurit and now their son Eitan are still people that make me happy and that I am certainly thankful for!