What’s Happening at Ramah
Letter to Ramah Programs in Israel
by Rabbi Steven Wernick
Rabbi Steven Wernick of Temple Adath Israel in Merion Station, PA, recently returned from a synagogue trip coordinated by the Ramah Israel Institute, which custom-builds one to three-week programs in Israel for schools, synagogues and other community organizations. Upon his return, Rabbi Wernick sent the following letter to Dr. Joe Freedman, Director of Ramah Programs in Israel.
For more information on the Ramah Israel Institute, please visit http://www.ramah.org.il/programs/riiindex.html)
28 Tevet 5764 22 January 2004
Dr. Joe Freedman
Director, Ramah Programs in Israel
PO Box 31709
What a wonderful experience! Thank you for all you did to help us put together our terrific two-week Adath Israel Experience. Joe, you, Gail, Claire and Adina were such a thrill to work with from itinerary building to logistics, to marketing (I lucked out with two visits to Philadelphia with you!) to innovative and creative “shtick” to enhance the meaning of our time in Israel. And you were correct; Claire is the best guide in Israel! Looking back, it’s exactly as one of our participants said, “It’s hard to believe that we’ve seen so much in two weeks! If I traveled any state in the United States I wouldn’t see nearly as much nor would it have been nearly as meaningful!
I came to Ramah originally eight years ago with my Confirmation Class from Temple Beth Sholom because I knew that Ramah understood informal education. I came back with families for exactly the same reason and was not disappointed one bit. Here are some responses of our participants:
“We were able to see the land of Israel as more than being a country, but being the focal point of the Jewish people. It’s a symbol that gives us renewed strength as to our priorities and attempts to help us find a way to look for inner peace and satisfaction in our lives.” –S. Mandel
“Based on our experiences in Israel, my sense of the important elements of Jewish life to ensure a Jewish future are basically community. … We all have layers of community our good friends and family, expanded more to our casual friends and more distant family members, expanded to communities of membership: synagogue, schools, workplaces, etc. What we were able to experience in Israel was a larger, almost anonymous community that supports Judaism: menorahs in the streets, kashrut in the restaurants, a slowed-down pace on Shabbat. For a Jewish future, Jews need to live in Jewish communities.” – T. Hartman
Joe, we hit a “home run.” Plans are in the works already for next year, December 18 -January 2, 2005. L’Shanah ha’baah Birushalayim! See you then!
Rabbi Steven Wernick