What’s Happening at Ramah
National Ramah Commission Sponsors Trip to Argentina's Jewish Community and "Ramah Camps"
by Rabbi Mitchell Cohen, National Ramah Director, January 2006
From December 26, 2005 through January 4, 2006, the National Ramah Commission sent 16 senior Ramah staff members (mostly division heads) to visit Argentina to connect with the Conservative Jewish community in Buenos Aires, and in particular to spend time with the leadership of the Masorti youth programs and the summer camps which over the years, at times, has been called Camp Ramah. Each of the participants returned from South America with a new appreciation of our Jewish sisters and brothers in Argentina, a better sense of the strength of the Conservative Movement in other parts of the world, and a renewed appreciation for the importance of Jewish camping in strengthening a youth community. Our hope is that the ties among young leaders created during this trip will lead to other opportunities for partnering, and will provide each of our delegates with fascinating programmatic opportunities at Ramah during this coming summer.
I was privileged to be able to join this group for three days, including Shabbat in Buenos Aires. I was very impressed with the Seminario Rabbinico Latinamericano, the "JTS" of Argentina, where many students train to be rabbis, cantors and Jewish educators. We saw the terrible economic struggle of many Jews and many synagogues, after the financial devastation in Argentina earlier this decade. We sang and danced during Kabbalat Shabbat services and over Shabbat dinner, at Congregation Pardes, with Rabbi Baruch Plavnik and a number of youth leaders about to depart for their summer camp experience. We also enjoyed an uplifting Shabbat morning service at a much larger congregation, Amichai, as Rabbi Dario Feiguin gave us a tour of this beautiful facility, and explained to us many of the unique aspects of Argentinean Jewry.
Just being with this group of North American youth leaders was inspiring. Many hours were spent sharing programs and stories from camp to camp, and discussing the impact of this trip on all of us as individuals, and upon each Ramah camp. Rabbi Paul Resnick, Director of Camp Ramah in the Berkshires, participated in this experience, and commented that "it is wonderful to see our youth leaders expand their minds as educators and gain so much insight from visiting a foreign community with a strong Conservative Jewish presence.