2015 Annual Report
A walk down a quiet path. Meditation by the lake. Kabbalat Shabbat in the Amphitheater. Havdallah around a campfire. Jewelry making with a group of friends. Torah study at twilight. Family game night. These are just a few of the treasured moments that take place at Ramah Darom throughout the year. Bonding. Sharing. Building character. Forging identity. Creating community. These moments happen in our sacred spaces, amid the beauty of the North Georgia mountains.
This summer will mark 20 years of exceptional Jewish experiences at Ramah Darom. The oldest of our original “Ramahniks” – the pioneers who bravely began their first summer at Camp Ramah Darom in 1997 – are now turning 30 and having children of their own. These children will soon begin their own camp journeys at Ramah Darom, creating their own memories and lifelong friendships. We are incredibly proud of our growth over the past year. Our new Henry and Annette Gibson Tikvah program, serving children with disabilities, has been touted as a model for inclusive camps. For the third consecutive year, we will graduate more than 80 campers from our eight-week Gesher Leadership Institute for entering 11th graders, where they gain the critical skills to become pillars of, and change agents in, their own communities. Our catalog of year-round programs, including Camp Yofi, Jewish Women’s Getaway, Book It To Shabbat, Summer and Winter Family Camps, Passover Retreat, and our partnership with Limmud Southeast, is expanding with each event fostering its own thriving community. Our Kaplan-Mitchell Retreat and Conference Center at Ramah Darom has developed into a premier venue for people of all ages to participate in meaningful immersive experiences. The increased use of our facilities by youth groups, synagogues, and national and local organizations continues to widen our reach. We are poised to accelerate our growth by adding new programs and staff. Our VISION 2020 Capital Campaign will enable us to expand our programming and build new spaces to welcome more visitors to engage in innovative and compelling Jewish communal experiences. In this annual report we invite you to tour some of Ramah Darom’s most cherished sacred spaces and programs to give you a glimpse of the magic that permeates everything we do. Countless numbers of individuals, young and old, have journeyed through our sacred spaces and bear witness to Ramah Darom’s collective impact. The community we are building at Ramah Darom gives us hope and optimism and inspires us to continue investing in a strong Jewish future.
Sanford H. Herman, MD President
Frederick R. Levick Chief Executive Officer
Geoffrey B. Menkowitz Director, Camp Ramah Darom
There are only two ways to live your life. thing is a miracle. o n h g u o h t s One is a h everything is a miracle. g u o h t s a s i The other Albert Einstein
Join us on a tour of Ramah Darom’s Sacred Spaces…
At Camp Yofi, my daughter discovered new confidence in doing activities. My son gets exposed to new activities each summer and seems to finds a new one that he falls in love with. – Eric Lakind, Yofi and Tikvah parent Palm Beach Gardens, FL
Our journey begins with a family looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of their daily world. From the carpools and the work deadlines. From soccer practice and violin lessons. From phones and electronics. This family comes to celebrate nature and relish their time together, spending quiet moments on hikes, enjoying meals with new friends and experiencing Shabbat in a way they may never have experienced it before. It all happens at Family Camp and at Camp Yofi, a special camp for families of children with autism spectrum disorder. The bonding that takes place here happens organically, as families unplug and focus on what’s truly important. It is also here where parents may decide to send their children to Camp Ramah Darom; a decision many families say is the best one they have ever made. Ramah Darom’s Family Camp brings all generations together for meaningful Jewish experiences, family bonding, and unforgettable vacation memories. As one mother who attended Camp Yofi said, “The best present my family receives each year is being able to attend Camp Yofi.”
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RAMAH DAROM ANNUAL REPORT 2015
Mapal (Waterfall) The hike to Ramah Darom’s magical 100-foot waterfall always arouses wonder, offering a unique experience to all who make this journey. The discovery of wild flowers and frogs along the way delights our littlest guests who come for a story-filled weekend at PJ Library: Book It To Shabbat, or our first-time campers who come for Taste of Ramah, our two-week mini sessions offered throughout the summer. Friends, new and old, looking for much needed R&R at The Jewish Women’s Getaway, find peace and meditation as they walk to this most tranquil spot, while a group of professionals on a corporate retreat chooses to visit the mapal between strategy sessions to re-energize and keep their creative juices flowing. Thousands of people have taken this path over the past I was at the Kaplan Mitchell 20 years, always coming away with Retreat and Conference Center a sense of awe for Camp NerdFitness and the and inspiration.
campus was so beautiful, it was overwhelming. Thank you so much for allowing our group to spend time there. - NerdFitness participant
Our family has gone to Ramah Darom for Passover for the past four years. We love staying in a bunk with our family, the food is incredible, and the kids love the activities. We look forward to spending Pesach at Ramah Darom every year.
We continue along our journey to Ramah Darom’s central Amphitheater, nestled in the mountainside, where our camp community has gathered together during the summer for more than 300 Kabbalat Shabbat and Havdallah services, and shared in scores of concerts and theater productions. This is the place where families come together, during Limmud and during Ramah Darom’s legendary Passover Vacation, for storytime and sing-alongs, creating lasting Jewish memories. When the Amphitheater is filled and in use, the stones literally vibrate with the joyous energy of Jewish celebration, and there is a palpable and profound sense of community and connection.
- Jessica and Joey Wilson Atlanta, GA RAMAH DAROM ANNUAL REPORT 2015
Tikvah Last summer, Ramah Darom launched the Henry and Annette Gibson Tikvah program, welcoming children between the ages of 12 and 17 with developmental disabilities and communication disorders into a fully inclusive Jewish camping environment. Our first Tikvah campers blended seamlessly into the Camp Ramah program, participating in archery and volleyball, swimming and boating in the lake – some for the first time – overcoming fears, making new friends, and truly feeling part of their Jewish community. Smaller living spaces and thoughtful design of our Tikvah cabin allow for spontaneous play, specifically designed group activities, and communal programming. Over the next several years the Tikvah program will I have worked with grow to serve up to kids with disabilities in the 64 campers each past – both in schools and in summer.
summer camp – but never fully understood what supporting someone meant until I was invited to staff the Tikvah inclusion program at Camp Ramah Darom.
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Beit Knesset Prayer is the lynchpin of a sacred community, and while there are countless spiritual spaces at Ramah Darom, the Beit Knesset is our primary sanctuary. The beauty of Ramah Darom’s Beit Knesset makes communal prayer even more special for those groups that gather here during the summer and year-round. The extraordinary handcrafted mahogany Aron Kodesh, built in 1910 and rehabilitated and restored from its original home at Ahavas Chesed Synagogue in Mobile, AL, reminds us of the unbroken chain we share with those who came before us. When we pray together in this space, our voices are joined by the voices of generations past.
RAMAH DAROM ANNUAL REPORT 2015
- Ali Katz Tikvah Counselor
Mar’gam (Lake Pavilion) A special connection between the natural world and the spiritual world is made when sacred events are held in Ramah Darom’s Mar’gam. Here, we have celebrated B’nai Mitzvot at Camp Yofi, holding Tallit over the heads of our children and reciting the Shehecheyanu together with their families. Here, we have taught Yoga as the serenity of the water helps us with our breathing and meditation. And here, our youngest campers pray on Shabbat mornings, rejoicing in song and learning the values of communal prayer that they can cherish for a lifetime.
Omanut opens our eyes to the powerful sense of wonder and meaning that is evoked by our heritage of beautiful Judaica. We create magnificent objects that express our faith and the enduring nature of our community. From pottery and woodworking to knitting, jewelry-making, and hand crafting pieces like Yads and Mezzuzot, campers and year-round program participants engage in a host of creative projects that teach about sacred customs, traditions, and our rich cultural heritage.
Ramah Darom encouraged me to find my personal connection to Judaism. I feel so fortunate to be able to pay it forward and help bring that experience to the next generation through my work.
Our proudest moment is seeing our rising 11th graders enter their Gesher year, their eighth, most coveted, and final summer as campers. The Gesher year is - Hannah Gutterman the culmination of their journey Senior Development Officer, from curious (and sometimes Jewish Federation of apprehensive) first-time campers Greater Atlanta to confident, mature and capable young people, ready to cross the bridge from camper to the world of adulthood. During this Gesher year, they engage in team-building exercises – including a variety of outdoor adventure challenges – travel to visit college campuses, and serve as CounselorsIn-Training. It is in this transitional year where they become leaders of the camp community and role models for younger campers. Our Gesher campers leave Ramah Darom equipped with the skills, values and passion for Judaism that shapes their future personal and professional lives, guiding their choices along the way.
RAMAH DAROM ANNUAL REPORT 2015
VISION 2020 Capital Campaign As stewards of our sacred space, Ramah Darom’s Board of Directors is responsible for preserving and enhancing this extraordinary treasure for the use and enjoyment of future generations. VISION 2020, the first phase of our long-term master plan, is a $5 million campaign guided by volunteers under the leadership of chairperson Alison Lebovitz from Chattanooga, TN. We are pleased to share that as of the end of our FY15 we have raised $2.4 million towards our goal. Funds raised through our VISION 2020 Capital Campaign have already created new sacred spaces. • Tikvah Cabin • Lake House • Gan Cottage • Mountainside Pavilion • Purchase of adjoining 17 acres Our VISION 2020 campaign will also support an additional housing village with 20 cottages, creating the infrastructure needed to accommodate more visitors and groups during the summer and throughout the year.
Paving the Way to the Future As we strive to meet the needs of new generations of campers and families, we invite you to join with us. There are numerous ways to help pave the way to our future. You may support our work by donating an Engraved Paver, purchasing a handcrafted Mezzuzah, or helping us build one of the new cottages that will soon grace our campus. Every gift, no matter the size, makes a difference.
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RAMAH DAROM ANNUAL REPORT 2015
Thank You to our Donors! Your Generosity Produces Success… You contributed $406,439 to our 2015 Annual Fund, which ensured financial support and innovative programming for our campers, and helped maintain the beauty of our campus. You helped 788 campers have a life-altering summer at camp! Last summer, ALL of our campers pursued their passions, achieving self-awareness and independence: 650 campers paddle boarded; 400 went mountain biking in the Blue Ridge Mountains; 400 of our youngest campers had breakfast with the goats and made goat cheese; 80 campers participated in our inter-camp sports competition day; 100 visited the Washington, D.C. Zoo and 750 joined us in a 5K Color Run. Thanks to the $61,193 you contributed to the Camp Yofi Fund, 28 25 families were able to attend Camp Yofi.
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This year, 63 women participated in the Jewish Women’s Getaway, 36 families joined us for Book it to Shabbat, our PJ Library Family Retreat and 53 families joined us for our Family Camp programs. These are some of the many year-round programs than enable specific communities of people to come together. The Andrew Silvershein Memorial Scholarship Fund enabled many Gesher campers to join us for a meaningful summer as a result of more than $96,129 in contributions. Thanks to the 61 people who joined our Mapal Legacy Society. By including Ramah Darom in their estate plans, we are positioned for a strong fiscal future for generations to come. Your support is greatly appreciated and goes a long way toward ensuring Ramah Darom’s future. Some of the ways you can contribute include: • Andrew Silvershein Memorial Scholarship Fund • Annual Fund • VISION 2020 Capital Campaign • Endowment • Honors and Memorials • Mapal Legacy Society
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RAMAH DAROM ANNUAL REPORT 2015
Board of Directors Officers
Board of Directors
President Sanford H. Herman Franklin, TN
Martha Berlin Atlanta, GA
Executive Vice President Howard Zandman Atlanta, GA Vice Presidents Benjamin Meisler Daphne, AL
Barbara Goldberg Fort Lauderdale, FL Bruce Horovitz Jacksonville, FL
Honorary Board Members Julian Brook Birmingham, AL Murray Friedman Atlanta, GA Leonard Kaplan (z”l)
Michelle Kravtin Gary New York, NY
Lori Kirschner Dunwoody, GA
Barry Ripps Pensacola, FL
James Krell Birmingham, AL
David Krueger Germantown, TN
Treasurer Steven Silva Sarasota, FL
Bradley Laye Dallas, TX
J.B. Mazer Birmingham, AL
Elise Lipoff Mayer Miami Beach, FL
Abraham Mitchell Mobile, AL
Ben Miller Atlanta, GA
Mayer Mitchell (z”l)
Secretary Flora Oynick Sarasota, FL Immediate Past President Debra S. Michaud Boca Raton, FL
Arlene Mitchell Mobile, AL Jason Ossey Atlanta, GA Asher Schlusselberg New York, NY Elissa Vessal Boynton Beach, FL
Eugene Sacks Brentwood, TN Eric Singer Atlanta, GA Ephraim Spielman Atlanta, GA Alan Sussman Charlotte, NC
Karen Weil Nashville, TN Paul Wolpe Decatur, GA Sanford Zimmerman Jacksonville, FL
RAMAH DAROM ANNUAL REPORT 2015
The journey continues with youâ€Ś
6400 Powers Ferry Road, Suite 215 Atlanta, GA 30339 404.531.0801 www.ramahdarom.org