What’s Happening at Ramah
The Inaugural Season: Kivun Training for Camp Specialists,
The Kivun Fellowship Program, funded by a $144,000 grant from the AVI CHAI Foundation, is the first-ever partnership between the Conservative and Reform camping movements to jointly train camp specialists.
In May and June of 2012, the program brought together 96 staff members of Ramah and URJ camps throughout North America for training in six specialty areas: visual arts, performing arts, waterfront, music/shira, and teva/nature/outdoor adventure. The specialists shared ideas and best practices, and learned new ways of incorporating Jewish values, Hebrew, Israel, and other Jewish content into their specialty instruction.
Kivun in the Press
Reform, Conservative Camp Systems Get Grant to Grow Specialty Staff Training, The Jewish Chronicle (Pittsburgh, PA), April 2012
How Grant Making Creates Partnering Opportunities, eJewishPhilanthropy, May 31, 2012
Quotes from Kivun Participants
This was hands down the best professional development experience I have had. The location was absolutely beautiful, and the Ramah Outdoor Adventure staff was as friendly and accommodating as they could have been. I feel much more prepared for this summer now that I have learned Wilderness First Aid (WFA) skills, discovered new activities to do with campers, and learned texts that I can use to incorporate Judaism into my curriculum. I would strongly recommend this weekend to any and all teva specialists at URJ or Ramah camps.
- Elliot Borg, URJ Camps,
Participant in Teva/Nature Track at Ramah Outdoor Adventure
…The URJ songleaders were moved and inspired by the Ramah songleaders’ leading of tefillah – blending accessible nusach with contemporary mash-ups and secular melodies to prayer texts, as we utilize in URJ camps as well. And the Ramah songleaders were delighted to learn that we knew weekday nusach and could keep up with the davening.
The Ramah songleaders were wonderful teachers; with open-heartedness they taught and were open to feedback and evaluation, a backbone of our program. They each expressed strong commitment to Hebrew learning, to Torah teaching and to enthusiasm and joy in leading shira. As we tell our songleaders that we are Jewish educators first and foremost, the Ramah and URJ songleaders both continued to work on this value for themselves and what this could mean for their camp communities.
While the URJ songleaders were hungry for the repertoire the Ramah songleaders brought, the Ramah group was surprised to learn how much repertoire we have in our camps, how much is Hebrew and Torah based, and how much tefillah we sing. In a delightful moment, one Ramah songleader asked me why it was that so many songs at one URJ camps’ song session were in freygish (Ahavah Rabah mode), which Ramah uses a lot. I explained that our background gathering music from the Chassidic Song festivals exposed us to lots of Israeli, Chassidic, and modal Hebrew singing. He was thrilled. Read more
- Excerpts from “The Voices That Connect Us”
Blog Post by Cantor Rosalie Boxt,
URJ Camps Kivun Liaison, Hava Nashira Songleaders
…[This] experience of interdenominational partnership was unique for all, as participants found ways to maintain institutional identity and commitment to their respective movements while also demonstrating extraordinary openness and curiosity to those around them. Rather than creating an expectation of homogenization, there was complete recognition of and for respect of the similarities and differences not only between movements but also throughout all camps. There were certainly moments of productive discomfort in which participants were challenged to explore alternative ways of living and educating about Judaism. These moments offered rich discussion and broadened perspectives. In addition to the power of the moments of difference, there was also tremendous energy in the points of similarity.
The greatest demonstration of connection came in moments of music. On two different nights, as dinner ended, the chadar ochel (dining hall) erupted in song and dance as representatives of both Ramah and URJ camps led the entire group in shira (singing) of old favorites. In such moments, the strength of our commonalities was undeniable. As the room filled with laughter and palpable energy, it was clear that all those within it shared a belief in the power of camp and community.
- Sarah Ossey, National Ramah Staff Member,
Performing Arts, Visual Arts, and Waterfront Tracks at Ramah Darom
This was hands down the best professional development experience I have had.
-Elliot Borg, Kivun Fellow