What’s Happening at Ramah
Weinstein Institute for Counselor Training Held at
Camp Ramah in California, January 3-6, 2011
By Amy Skopp Cooper, National Assistant Director
Participating in the Weinstein Institute was a tremendously valuable opportunity. It was awesome to be able to collaborate with and learn from so many madrichim from the different Ramah camps and to realize that we are all partners in sustaining our beautiful camp traditions.
Not only did Weinstein get me excited for camp this summer, but it gave me a greater commitment to the mission of Camp Ramah. This program changed the way I look at the opportunity I have as a staff member to help campers be a part of the full breadth of the Ramah experience.
These are comments from participants in this January’s Bert B. Weinstein Institute for Counselor Training, a four-day professional development seminar sponsored annually by the National Ramah Commission and designed specifically for returning counselors, primarily college freshmen.
The Weinstein Institute took place at Camp Ramah in Ojai, California, where 56 staff members, representing Ramah's overnight camps and the Nyack day camp, joined together for an enriching experience. This year, three senior counselors from Camp Solomon Schechter (Olympia, Washington) participated in the institute as well. Highlights of the program included the following:
- keynote addresses by Rabbi Joe Menashe, the executive director of Camp Ramah California; and Rabbi Aaron Alexander, the associate dean of the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies of American Jewish University;
- Daber Hebrew immersive training with Hebrew consultant Yael Seidemann;
- “From Good to Great: Empowering Madrichim to Reach Their Full Potential as Jewish Educators and Role Models,” a presentation by Dr. Zach Lasker, the camp director of Ramah California, based on his doctoral work;
- hadracha (leadership development) workshops, text learning, and program development.
Each year, Weinstein brings together the finest madrichim from across the Ramah Camping Movement. During the course of their four days together, they create a dynamic, spirited and meaningful learning community. In the process, they energize and inspire one another to remain engaged and committed to their Ramah work. As one madrich said:
During this past first semester of college, I began to forget why camp was such an important facet of my life. The Weinstein Institute reminded me that camp was the place where as a camper I learned the most about myself, and now that I am a counselor, it is the place where I have the privilege of helping others learn about themselves.
Participants delivered divrei tefillah, led tefillot, planned their own peulot erev (evening activities), and danced to their favorite Israeli music. The program concluded with a powerful charge from Rabbi Mitch Cohen, National Ramah Director, reminding staff that as emerging Jewish leaders they can have tremendous impact on their campuses and broader Jewish communities. Many participants expressed the desire to have more Ramah gatherings, leadership development seminars, and learning opportunities throughout the year.
As always, Weinstein was staffed by a dynamic team of senior Ramah professionals. This year, Rabbi Mitch Cohen, National Ramah Director, and I were joined by Rabbi Ed Gelb (Director, Ramah New England); Dr. Zach Lasker (Camp Director, Ramah California); Rabbi Marshall Lesack (Assistant Director, Ramah Darom); Rabbi Joe Menashe (Executive Director, Ramah California); Rabbi Paul Resnick (Director, Ramah Berkshires); Rabbi Loren Sykes (Director, Ramah Wisconsin); Michael Wolf (Director, Ramah Canada); Rabbi Todd Zeff (Director, Ramah Poconos); Rami Schwartzer (National Ramah Special Projects Coordinator); and Yael Seidemann (Daber Hebrew Consultant).
This program changed the way I look at the opportunity I have as a staff member to help campers be a part of the full breadth of the Ramah experience.
- Weinstein Institute participant