What’s Happening at Ramah
New Ramah Service Corps Initiative Brings Ramah to Local Communities
by Julie Berger, January 2011
“There is no other experience that can compare to a summer at a Ramah camp.”
– Sara Geboff, Ramah Darom staff member and new RSC intern
This is a feeling held by almost everyone who has been touched by a Ramah summer experience. With the launch of the Ramah Service Corps Initiative, the National Ramah Commission is aiming to create year-round experiences that bring the magic and spirit of Ramah to communities across North America.
Ramah Service Corps Intern
This initiative of the National Ramah Commission was made possible by a generous grant from the Foundation for Jewish Camp. Eighteen interns from across North America, who are working in synagogues, Jewish day schools, religious schools, or youth groups, have been selected to infuse their settings with Ramah spirit and encourage more families to send their children to Ramah and other Jewish camps. This first cohort of interns, selected with input from the leadership of Ramah's overnight camps, represents camp staff members whose work has been extraordinary.
Interns will organize at least two Ramah-style Jewish learning programs in their communities; reach out to prospective camper families, encouraging them to explore Ramah and other Jewish camps; and maintain relationships with current Ramah families. The interns are thrilled to bring “the magic” of Ramah into their work during the year. As he prepares for his new role, Berkshires staff member Joey Resnick, a student at Brown University, observes, “I think that, looking to the future, infusing a Ramah-based spirit into various elements of my position as Junior USY advisor at Temple Emanu-El in Providence will help strengthen and reinvigorate the Jewish identities of the kids who attend.”
Josh Smith, Ramah Service Corps Intern
Josh Smith, another intern from Ramah Berkshires who works at the East Brunswick Jewish Center in New Jersey, comments, “Ramah’s summer programs have a unique ability to help kids, teens, and adults create and foster lifelong relationships within a Jewish context. It is my hope and dream to share Ramah’s communal values and ruach (spirit) with the East Brunswick Jewish Center community."
Another primary goal of this program is to mentor and nurture future Jewish leaders. The National Ramah Commission wants to give these young adults the tools and training needed to become impactful Jewish educators. In partnership with the Davidson School of Jewish Education of The Jewish Theological Seminary, interns participate in monthly webinars where they share ideas and discuss the principles of experiential Jewish education with prominent Jewish educators. Most of the intern cohort plans to pursue work in the rabbinate, as Jewish educators, or in other professional opportunities within the Jewish world; participation in the Ramah Service Corps Initiative will be a stepping-stone on their Jewish professional journey. This aspect of the program has been a major draw for the interns. Ramah Canada staff member Lauren Cohn, a program director at Beth Emeth Bais Yehuda Synagogue in Toronto, said, “As a young professional just beginning my career in the Jewish communal world, mentorship and developing new skills that will help me succeed in my line of work are very important to me.”
Andy Markowitz, a Temple University student who is currently applying to rabbinical school, further explained, “This provides me with the opportunity to bridge the gap between my summer experiences and, hopefully, my professional career.”
The interns, who represent a full cross-section of camp staff positions—including madrich (counselor), music staff, sports staff, teacher, arts staff, and rosh edah (age unit supervisor)—are uniquely positioned to create innovative programs in Jewish educational settings, utilizing music, dance, and Ramah-style tefillot (prayer). Their Jewish knowledge, combined with their creativity and energy for working with Jewish youth, will truly raise the bar of school-year Jewish programming.
Intern Penina Grossberg, Coordinator for the Partnership between Temple Israel Center in White Plains, NY and Camp Ramah, summed up this feeling: “These programs have the potential to transform the landscape of Jewish education. They provide new models for Jewish learning and they bridge the great institutions of our movement—Ramah, JTS, and synagogue schools.”*
Click here to read biographical profiles of this year's cohort of Ramah Service Corps Interns.
*Click here or on the photo above to view a video of a joint program of Ramah and Temple Israel Center, White Plains, NY
“These Ramah Service Corps programs have the potential to transform the landscape of Jewish education. They provide new models for Jewish learning and they bridge the great institutions of our movement—Ramah, JTS, and synagogue schools.”
Ramah Service Corps Intern