THE VOICE OF CAMP RAMAH IN THE BERKSHIRES
Rabbi Paul Resnick:
Camp Ramah of outdoor activities. Rabbi Resnick has also left his mark on Camp’s physical structure: the amphitheater; soccer and Frisbee fields; the Welcome Center and the Ulam were all built under his watch, and together represent $3.5 million in support from donors. The Arts Center is scheduled for completion next summer. In his new role, he hopes to raise funds to further enhance Camp’s physical plant; to increase affordability for a greater number of people; to reach more potential campers, and to find even
veryone knows it as Rabbi Resnick’s house. Down a short pathway near the Agam, the brown cottage with the porch is his home when he is at Camp. But, in fact, for the twenty-seven years that he has been director, all of CRB has been Rabbi Resnick’s house, one that he has tended with a caring and welcoming heart. This summer is Rabbi Resnick’s last as director. Starting in October, his new title will be Senior Engagement and Planning Director, a role in which he will strengthen bonds with alumni, friends, supporters and parents in order to engage more people in the CRB enterprise. “I want to make Camp even better,” he says simply. He has taken some time to reflect on his accomplishments of the past three decades. “We have tried to serve the Conservative movement and the
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n e e b s a h s i h T . g n i ish r u ” o . fl y l p i e e m k a f to t i y l t l n a a e w r I d s ’ n t a I . up b p o m j a C a n a I built h t e r o m much broader Jewish community. We are a camp for people who share similar values,” he notes. “We try to accommodate families from different economic backgrounds as well as campers who are emotionally or socially challenged and might not have been served properly in the past,” he says, noting the establishment of the Breira program twelve years ago. Reaching campers at a younger age also advanced Camp’s mission. An eighth edah, Cochavim, was created for emerging fourth graders; the week-long Ta’am Ramah introduces children entering third grade to a “taste” of Camp. These innovative programs are among the myriad changes that Rabbi Resnick initiated; they are now part of the fabric of Camp. As a prime example of Camp’s robust programming, he notes that in less than a decade, Al Hagova has grown from one Israeli making pita over an open fire to thirty-five specialists engaging campers in a comprehensive range
more talented and skilled staff members. “Because our product is so dynamic and transformative—and it works—it should be available to all,” he says. For now, the day-to-day running of Camp is still front and center and he has goals yet to fulfill. “This is my victory lap,” he says. Most mornings at 6:30 a.m. he walks for 45 minutes with different groups of campers or staff members. Later, he holds meetings and troubleshoots any problems that arise. Extending Camp’s inclusive approach to the LGBTQ community has become a priority for him. Keshet, a Boston-based national organization devoted to full LGBTQ equality and inclusion in Jewish life, provided training for staff on sensitivity to language and gender assumptions. “We know we have all kinds of campers and staff. It pains me to hear some are not comfortable and can’t fully express themselves here,” Rabbi Resnick says. “This is the first year LGBTQ inclusion has been elevated to a real issue. I want this to be part of my legacy.” He is experimenting with other new continued on page 2
Solelim Intensive: A New Initiative
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Camp Ramah in the Berkshires 25 Rockwood Place Englewood, NJ 07631
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What do you do when most of Camp is away on trips? If you are in Solelim, you make the most of it. From July 11-13, when Solelim campers had Machaneh Bet all to themselves, specialty staff created an initiative just for them. Instead of the usual 45-minute p’rakim, campers had the chance to immerse themselves in longer intensives of four hours per day on the farm, on Ramah Mountain, in Omanut and on the sports fields. “The kids got a tremendous amount out of it,” says Rosh Solelim Noam Kornsgold. “They learned the decisions they make really matter.” Miriam Reitano chose Wilderness Survival. Her group of eight learned how to make fire using a bow drill that creates a spark with sticks. The second night, they crafted an insulated debris shelter from dead branches and leaves and slept in it on Ramah Mountain. “We made the fire ourselves instead of using a match or lighter,” says Miriam. “We took whatever nature was done continued on page 4
FIRST CLASS PRESORT U.S. POSTAGE PAID PERMIT NO. 451
An Abba for All: Q & A with the Resnick Family Q: What was it like growing up at Camp with your dad as director? Rena: Not many children get to go to work with their father fifty-six days a year for over twenty years. That’s how many summers each of us spent at Camp. On top of which we talked about Abba’s job year-round at home, whether it was with Abba, with one another, or with our friends. This dynamic felt like Ramah was a family business. Growing up in the Resnick household, we learned many things: how to drive a golf cart; the Hebrew words for nikayon jobs; the importance of labeling all your socks, and that it is normal to have a full wardrobe of Ramah gear. Joey: The last Shabbat in Camp is often “Bring Ramah Home with You,” where campers (including us) discuss the lessons, activities and songs we learned in Camp that we could bring back home. For us, though, Wingdale was always around. Q: What kind of role model was your dad? Joey: For Abba, being Camp director has never been just what he has done, it has always been who he is. He showed us that if we are to impact the world meaningfully, we should seek a career that is core to who we are, core to our view of the world, and core to our values. When we find this job, as he did at 27, we will wake up every morning and take one step closer to making the world a better place. Dori: We have learned the values of Jewish education, community, joy, leadership and friendship. Abba, along with Mommy, not only taught us how important it is for us to receive a Jewish education and be immersed in the warmth of a Jewish community, but also how to work every day to ensure that other children receive the best formal and informal Jewish education. With their deep connections to Ramah, Schechter and their membership in Congregation Beth Sholom in Teaneck, they quite literally created a home that could serve as a poster child for the Conservative movement.
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Annual Fund Dinner HONORING RABBI PAUL RESNICK DECEMBER 10TH Shelter Rock Jewish Center Summer 2016 Page 2
Rabbi Paul Resnick continued from page 1 approaches. Wifi accessibility and screen devices are now limited at Camp. “We create our entire world in Camp with our chevre,” he says. Though Gesher campers are allowed to use their phones for an hour each night, a Gesher camper commented, “Rabbi, why use it? All my friends are here.” His own friends have been at CRB since he arrived as a JC in 1977, an 18-year-old graduate of the Brandeis Day School from Woodmere, NY. He had already been a camper at Palmer and Canada for a year each. After serving as Rosh Edah from 1981-’84 and Head Counselor from 1985-’86, he became the first Assistant Director of CRB upon his graduation from rabbinical school (1987-’88), followed by one year as Associate Director. He assumed the chief’s role in 1990. “I built Camp up and I want it to keep flourishing,” he says. “This has been so much more than a job. It’s really family.” Outside of Camp, he enjoys attending Ramah life cycle events and connecting with alumni in places as far away as California’s Muir Woods. “People have very positive memories of Camp and I feel blessed that this was a chapter of my life and that of my family for three decades,” he says. Rabbi Resnick met his wife Martha, at CRB in 1982 when she was a JC. Theirs was the first shidduch plaque in the Chadar Ochel. They will be celebrating their thirtieth anniversary in December. “Martha is a big part of my success. I couldn’t have done it without her love and support.” Their children—Rena, 28; Joey, 25,
Meet Our Incoming Director: In the weeks before he assumes the position of CRB director, Rabbi Ethan Linden is listening carefully. “It’s important to hear what people think the core of Camp is,” he explains. “I have been asking parents, campers, staff, alumni, board members and funders what they love about Camp and what they want out of it.” The constant, he’s found, is the sense that “over time people at Camp become family— sometimes literally, because they get married—or in an expanded definition. To me, that means that Camp is doing something profoundly right.” He adds that the opportunity to be part of a program “as robust as this flagship community is really exciting.” “Ethan is dynamic, passionate and thoughtful, says Atara Jacobson, who headed the search committee for a new director. She praises Ethan’s “strong collaborative nature” and his leadership style, which includes being “a great listener, strategic thinker, and decision-maker combined with an attentive and caring management style and partnership orientation.” Ironically, Ethan was never an overnight camper himself. But he knows Ramah camping. A native of Pittsburgh with a degree in international relations and ethics from Cornell University, he began his Ramah experience in Canada in 1999, when he was a teacher, and spent a summer at Ramah New England in 2002, when he was Rosh Beit Midrash, yoetz, and Rosh Tzad Bet. After he was ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary, he returned to New England and served as assistant director for three summers (2007‘09). He also has a non-camping perspective, having served for seven years as rabbi of Shir Chadash Conservative Congregation in New Orleans, where he helped rebuild a vibrant community devastated by Hurricane Katrina. While working at Ramah in New England, Ethan also taught at the South Area Solomon Schechter School and was rabbinic advisor to the Harvard Hillel Conservative Minyan. “I’m an insider/outsider,” he says. “My learning curve is less steep than someone who doesn’t know Ramah at all, but even with that knowledge I’m new to CRB. I bring fresh eyes.
and Dori, 22, grew up at Camp and at home in Teaneck, NJ [see sidebar]. “There’s nobody more loyal to the mission of Camp,” says Board President Hugh Pollack. “He’s literally given his entire life to it. He makes every decision based on what he thinks is best for Camp Ramah in the Berkshires. He puts that above all else.” He has forged strong bonds with campers and staff, and nurtured the development of the Alumni Association, which is unique in the Ramah and general camping world, says Hugh. As a testament to Camp’s continued faith in his vision Rabbi Resnick will be sole honoree at this year’s dinner dance. Meanwhile, he is counting down the number of Shabbatot in Camp this summer differently than in years past. He likes to look at the framed quote above his desk from Marc Gary, JTS executive vice president and chief operations officer. After a Shabbat at Camp, he wrote: “I can well understand why the Camp is consistently at capacity. Who would ever want to leave?” Even though Rabbi Resnick won’t be a daily presence at Camp in The Ketchup Connection: summers to come, his Rabbi Resnick’s catch-up imprint is bound into with staff and campers at Wednesdays’ bishul (BBQ). the spirit of Camp.
Ethan Linden I understand Ramah but I can also ask provocative questions.” To broaden his research, Ethan is criss-crossing the country, traveling to Ramah and non-Ramah, Jewish and non-Jewish camps. His greatest challenge, he says, is to keep what is great about the programming and legacy, yet also keep Camp moving forward so that it is never static. The main question, he says, is ‘Who do we want to be?’” He acknowledges that he doesn’t yet know the answer to that question, and that it’s actually not up to him to decide. “Working out the vision for our future has to be an organic process that includes all the smaller communities that make up our Ramah family.” Ethan is a good match for CRB’s strengths, says Atara, because he understands how to translate Jewish values into day-to day practices and has put great programming and staff management efforts into place in his previous positions. He will definitely face some challenges: “CRB is a unique place because in addition to being an overnight camp for our children, many of our parents and supporters have a personal connection to Camp, and remain connected through our ongoing alumni and community activities,” she says. “We are a camp with a long, proud history. Practices that made sense in the past may be in need of review, renovation, or replacement.” Ethan is looking forward to the challenges, inspired by the work Rabbi Resnick has done. “To follow in his footsteps is exciting. I hope he will be a part of the conversation.” His family, he says, is “ready and willing.”Ethan’s wife, Liba Kornfeld, is a teacher at Schechter Westchester; Adin, 10, has already had an “amazing experience” in Nitzanim this summer, while Yona, 7, and Liav, 5, are “annoyed they are not old enough yet to be in a bunk.” Ethan enjoys reading, watching baseball and playing racquetball. One surprising thing about him is that he has lived in two countries that no longer exist (Yugoslavia and West Germany). Next summer, he will call Wingdale home. “Everyone who has met me wants to communicate to me how much they love Camp, even when bundled with suggestions for growth and change,” Ethan says. “That’s the strength of this camp.”
Four flags fly over the corners of the dock this summer, declaring the Agam international waters. The flags represent the diverse nationalities of the Swim staff, whose members hail from the UK, Argentina, Israel and the US. With ten of the thirty-six international staff members at the Agam, the waterfront serves as a microcosm of Camp’s global flavor. The global staff, mostly specialists who live in bunks from Cochavim to Gesher, include ten from Argentina, twenty-three from the UK (including one from Scotland and one from Wales); three from Australia and one from Zimbabwe. Add those numbers to the fortytwo members of the Mishlachat, and a third of this year’s staff comes from outside the US. But, says Scott Michaels, Rosh Benleumi, who oversees the international staff, “everyone is here for the same purpose.” “The kids can see that being Jewish isn’t just American or Israeli,” Scott adds. “Having staff from other countries adds a new dimension to what Judaism is, both for campers and counselors.” The global staff shares experiences of what’s unique to their country. Planned cultural activities have ranged from Boker Brit with British food and James Bond-themed games at the Agam to music bingo with songs both in Spanish and English. Boker Yisrael Benleumi focused on the theme that Israel unites all Jews, no matter where
A Natural for
“Having staff from other countries adds a new dimension to what Judaism is, both for campers and counselors.” we live. Just simple conversation in the tzrif can open doors to new countries and environments. Scott, 20, a Machon counselor last year, was previously a youth director for TRIBE, the Jewish youth movement in the UK that reaches 4,000 children and teenagers. “It took a lot to pry me away from Tribe. But I fell in love with Camp. Being in a place where there is a bubble of Judaism is amazing. In the UK you can’t walk around with a kippah because of anti-Semitism,” says Scott, who grew up in traditional Jewish home in London, attended a day school, and has traveled to Israel and Poland. He works for Apple in sales and is a business management major at the University of Durham. He praises CRB’s welcoming environment and beautiful grounds. “People can make incredible friends. There’s no pollution, you can see shooting stars and wildlife and greenery.” Natalia Cataife, 18, a photography specialist, JV soccer and field hockey coach from Buenos Aires, Argentina, says campers ask her about her
accent, how she knows English, how she found out about CRB. The staff usually comes through agencies: the British through CampAmerica; the Argentinians from My Camp Abroad. Though the language and culture is different at CRB, Natalia feels at home: she attended Ramah in Argentina, founded by Rabbi Marshall Meyer. Cameron Reid, 20, a lifeguard from Scotland, works for his family’s construction company and studies business and finance at Glasgow Caledonian University. “The campers mock me 24/7,” he laughs. “They’re brilliant. They love the accent. Best decision I ever made to come to Camp.”
Simcha Butchart often wears round wooden earrings with a map of Africa to remind herself of home. She is a long way from Zimbabwe, where she was born and grew up. But she has brought her environmental and outdoor skills 8,000 miles across the globe to be one of two Rashei Teva at CRB. Some of Simcha’s specialties are basic skills she learned as a child. Due to numerous power outages in the capital city of Harare, where she lives, making fire with tinder, kindling and sticks to heat water is a basic necessity of daily life. Outdoor cooking on fire is also common because many residents cannot afford generators. “My mom found it amusing that I was teaching campers something like making a fire. We take it for granted but it’s valuable to others.” Simcha is also passionate about environmental causes like recycling, decreasing pollution and going green. “There’s not much awareness in Zimbabwe,” she says. She has been vegan for five years, after researching nutritional
“I didn’t know there were Jews in Zimbabwe!” changes and natural remedies to battle some personal health issues successfully. Simcha honed her outdoor skills in a fellowship in Jewish experiential nature education at Brandeis-Bardin Institute in California, where she learned how to lead nature hikes, as well as to do archery, woodworking and other sustainable projects. She was already in the United States attending the Brandeis Collegiate Institute; later, she applied for the Amir Farming Fellowship that connected her to CRB. “At home it’s very lonely,” she says. “Here there are so many young Jewish people in one place!” The first comment she receives from campers and counselors is usually, “I didn’t know there were Jews in Zimbabwe!” She explains that the once-sizeable community of 7,500 Jews of Ashkenazic and Sephardic origin has now dwindled to 250. In addition, many members of the 50,000-strong Lemba tribe that believes it is of Israelite descent also practice Judaism. Though there is no kosher food or rabbinic leadership, there is one Orthodox minyan and two Lemba synagogues in Zimbabwe. Simcha, 26, was raised Christian (her given name is Natasha), but
joined a Seventh-Day Adventist church in high school. She began questioning her religion, observing the Sabbath, reading the Bible, taking biblical Hebrew classes and attending services both at the Ashkenazic and Sephardic synagogue and then at the Lemba synagogue. She converted to Judaism a year ago with the guidance of the Kulanu organization, which supports isolated and emerging Jewish communities around the world. From CRB, Simcha is “excited and nervous” to be heading for ten months to the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem. She hopes to fulfill the blessing of her Hebrew name—Simcha Chaya—happiness and life. “That’s what I want to have,” she says. Summer 2016 Page 3
Working the Musical Tefillah Muscle
to Open Doors
The huge sign near the office holds the spot for the new CRB Arts Center. “Art Opens Doors,” it announces. By next summer, the sign will be replaced with a brand-new, state-of-the-art Omanut facility. The new home for all fine and studio arts programming at Camp will double the amount of space of the current Omanut building. It will feature two floors with a wraparound deck; staging areas for outdoor projects; a gallery; increased space for clay sculptures and pottery wheels, fine arts, graphic arts, mixed-media arts, and nagarut (woodworking). New purchases will include a glass kiln and more sewing machines. The building has been designed with an open, airy camp feel and will be surrounded by trees. “Arts programming serves as a doorway to personal growth, creativity, expression of Jewish identity, hands-on learning and self-actualization,” explains Rabbi Paul Resnick. “It is an integral part of providing a vibrant, fun, life-enhancing summer experience.” He anticipates that the new facility will increase camper participation,
instruction and options in the arts as well as attract Jewish art educators and artists who will serve as artists-in-residence. “Omanut is a space where campers can combine their three loves—art, Camp and creativity—and where they can infuse Jewish tradition into everyday crafts,” says Rosh Omanut Ricki Gorman. “What seem to be little things are really big things when it comes to the space campers work in. The new space will give us more outlets, more sinks, more work space, and more areas to display both completed work and work in progress.” She adds that the building will
occupy a central location, so that campers from both Machanot Aleph and Bet can access it easily. “Campers are excited and really looking forward to the new arts space,” she says. The new center is part of a $1.8-million facility improvement campaign that has included the Welcome Center/office and an upgraded theater facility. “Visual and performing arts are an important on-ramp to loving and living Judaism, to self-expression, to leadership and confidence building,” says Adina Avery-Grossman, a Board of Trustees Vice President and Development Chair. “We want to be able to deliver great programming in great spaces.”
It’s early morning at Beit Gesher, a beautiful spot overlooking the Agam. Though the davening has begun, many of the campers are talking, as kids do, when Rosh Tefillah Na’ama Aplbaum introduces a rhythmic niggun. Pum pum padum pum, hayo, hayo,” she sings, encouraging them to join in. They do. Sarah Cehelyk (Gesher) is captivated. “Having the whole edah singing at same time and engaged in the same mindset is meaningful,” she says later. “There are very few times during the day when we all stop to focus on the same things. Our days are hectic and tefillah gives us that one opportunity to have a quiet mindset. Naama helped us to get to that mindset.” “Tefillah is a challenge in any educational setting in any denomination,” Na’ama says candidly. “We want these great spiritual highs but we won’t have them unless we have everyday lows. Tefillah is like a muscle; once you work it on a regular, sometimes boring basis, you can create opportunities for uplifting moments.” To that end, she has created a foundational curriculum with tools for fluency in tefillah, complete with benchmarks for each edah to achieve. Music often serves as the conduit for spiritual highs, so Na’ama has introduced a weekly musical tefillah for each edah led by music staff. She herself makes the rounds of all the prayer spaces to teach campers a “niggun of the week” from her repertoire. By Kabbalat Shabbat, the whole camp
Solelim Intensive: A New Initiative continued from page 1 with and used it for a new purpose for ourselves, without cutting down anything growing. I know how to scavenge and use things from nature now.” The group used primitive outdoor cooking techniques to cook stew for dinner and ash cakes for breakfast. Following a similar model, “Kibbutz Ramah” enticed campers who love the farm. “I always do farming. It’s fun and peaceful,” says Eli Weiss. Eli and his friends dug and planted a new section of the farm and cared for the goats and chickens that are a new addition this year. They slept under the stars (no tents) on the second night and enjoyed a farm-to-table bishul erev and bishul boker. “When I see the farm addition now, I say, ‘I did it!’” says Eli, who lives in Riverdale and thinks one day he might have a farm of his own. Omanut drew talented campers with six unusual electives that Camp doesn’t usually offer. Hannah Margolis decided to specialize in jewelry-
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making with silver clay, copper and enameling. A fan of Wicked, she chose a picture of a witch on a broomstick, traced it onto a copper plate and cut it out with a saw. “It was hard but fun,” says Hannah. “I hand-made something instead of using machines.” She also learned how to use silver clay—clay with bits of metal which turns into pure silver. Later, it is scrubbed clean, then fired in the kiln and covered with enameling. Hannah made a flower and butterfly pendant for her mother and one with a star and moon for herself. “I always thought art was so easy, that through a few brushstrokes you could create masterpiece,” she says. “I realized it takes time and you have to keep working to get it right. I had to reshape and recalculate. It was stressful at times because I wanted it to be perfect.” Sarah Horvath focused on sewing: she made a pillow with a pocket that said “Dream,” and another Emoji pillow with heart-eyes, as well as
a book cover and a bookmark. “We had so much time to make as many things as we could,” she says. Lola Lichtenstein designed a mosaic challah cutting board. “It took a lot of steps but I liked being challenged,” she says. “My family will use it on Shabbat.” Edan Waldorf thought really big. He made a folding ping-pong table in nagarut. Other choices included videography and making polymer-clay mezuzot and chanukkiot. The Intensive taught campers how to test and rely on themselves through the specialties they chose and beyond. “As Solelim it’s our first year on B-Side,” says Hannah. “Though we missed the people who usually help us—our older siblings and other friends—during the Intensive we focused on our tasks and forgot we were alone.”
sings it together in a joyful, unified voice. During the year, Na’ama lives in Jerusalem with her husband Ari, twin seven-year-old sons Yuval and Roni, and Nadav, ten months. She grew up nourished by music and tefillah: Her grandfather and father are both cantors; her father is also an Orthodox rabbi. Their 30-member family choir meets twice a month and performs at old age homes. Though she comes from an Orthodox orientation, Na’ama traces her open-minded perspective to Camp Ramah in Wisconsin, where she served as a shlichah fourteen years ago. “I was put in charge of tefillah,” she recalls. “For the first time I was on the other side of the mechitzah.” It was an eye-opening and educational experience, she says. “Like many shlichim, I was exposed to a different kind of Yahadut, one that is more inclusive and empowering, especially for women. It showed me not everything is black and white. I went back to Israel asking, `Now what? What kind of community can I belong to?’” She experimented with different minyanim and currently serves on the leadership team of Sod Siach, a post-denominational, halachic, egalitarian minyan in Jerusalem. “Sod Siach is a phrase in the kedushah; it means a secret conversation with God,” she explains. She has led High Holiday services in Hawaii and is also director of Israel Programs for Golda Och Academy, a Conservative day school in West Orange, NJ. She attended the Schechter Institute, the Conservative rabbinical school in Jerusalem, but her longing for more “old school, mentorstudent relationship” led her to Rabbi Danny Landes, who recently ordained her. At CRB, she serves as a role model for campers who want to explore their religious identities. She shares her knowledge and most of all, her passion for
In Sarah’s Words “My dad passed away last year. I was a confused fifteen-year-old girl. I asked why life had done this. I looked for something to believe in and found it in tefillah. I realized I do have a connection to God. It always makes me feel better. Even when I feel my whole world coming down I feel a Higher Power cares. “Tefillah gives me hope that my dad is out there and he can hear me. That’s why I chose to be a Yahadut ozeret. If I give younger campers the hope that Judaism and prayer are enjoyable I will have accomplished something in my summer. When I’m engaged and positive they will most likely react same way. “I’m the only Yahadut ozeret. It doesn’t matter that others are not doing it. I could do an ozeret job where I would be with friends and laugh a lot but since it’s my last summer in Camp it’s important to do something for myself with more meaning.” —Sarah Cehelyk, Gesher 2016
tefillah, which she calls a personal hobby. “For me,” she says, “tefillah is food for the soul.”
Jeff Weisz: A CRB Love Story Jeff Weisz’s relationship with CRB is a love story: not only did he meet his Israeli girlfriend, Talia Garber, here, but he discovered his love of Judaism. Jeff, 23, is a music specialist at Camp. For the past three summers he has been the set designer for Hofa’ah, but his passion has always been music. “Camp changed my relationship to Judaism, to theater and to music, he says. “Now I’m a really proud Jew and a really proud Jewish musician.” His Jewish background, he says, had been “stored in the attic. I always meant to take it out and look at it, but it stayed there. The people I met at Camp showed me that there are many paths through Judaism, that I could break out of the mold and find my spirituality though music and art.” Talia, who was a videographer at Camp, lives in Tel Aviv, and Jeff is even considering the possibility of making aliyah. Originally, Jeff came to Camp at the behest of Miriam Hertzson, Rosh Hofa’ah and his professor at Nassau Community College. A resident of Plainview, Long Island, he studied there before he completed his degree
Jeff plays guitar and sings in the Camp in playwriting and theater arts at SUNY band that performs at events including Purchase. “Miriam is my role model,” Kabbalat Shabbat, the Zimriyah and Jeff says. “She does everything and is all the shows. “I play more music in on the front lines with us. She is a the summer than I do the whole year,” diplomat and negotiator. No matter he says. He also helps lead Shirah, what, she gets everything done. She’s Tarbut and Bechirot, which have included a like the shoemaking elves—you wake up pick-up band; hand drumming, songwriting, and everything is finished.” and a radio drama intensive. Jeff applauds Jeff gives a tour of Beit Am Bet, where the “insanely talented” network of music Solelim and Bogrim are preparing for The professionals at Camp, especially music Little Mermaid. He praises the Hofa’ah team and points out the sound and light “Camp changed my relationship to Judaism, boards that give the shows their to theater and to music. Now I’m a really proud technical professionalism. He Jew and a really proud Jewish musician.” continues to help with the set design: he is director Josh Ehrlich, pianist, arranger and building a set of stairs for the stage and is constructing a boat from corrugated plastic composer, and Cantor Carol Chesler, for her “encyclopedic knowledge.” Every year, he says, that previously served as pillars in Hercules. “The name of the game is versatility,” he “we get better at working together.” says. He helps out beyond his job description, It’s the campers who make his job really satisfying, he says. “It’s amazing to see kids as guiding Machon campers in the Maslul passionate as we are about music and theater. program to build wooden benches with That’s why we do it.” backs for their outdoor prayer space. “Jeff is a wizard,” says Maxim Freedland (Machon). “Now we can do it on our own.”
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SUMMER ALBUM 2016
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A Burst of Spirit
Noam Burstein (Gesher) is dressed in Americanflag PJs. Many of his fellow campers are similarly decked out in red, white and blue. After all, it’s July 4th, a day to dress up, sing, dance and have fun. Choruses of Yom Huledet Sameach and cheers of “USA, USA” fill the Chadar Ochel. Alongside the funky patriotism, a profound sense of gratitude permeates Camp on American Independence Day. “Camp teaches us to appreciate both the American and Jewish sides of ourselves,” says Noam. “It teaches us to be thankful for our freedom.” Nate Savitz (Tzeirim) has chosen an attire of blue and red sweatpants under a blue tutu; red Spiderman suspenders; a flag cape; a medal with a red, white and blue ribbon; a fuzzy blue hat, a red clown nose and a blow horn. “I like to dress up and enjoy the moment,” Nate explains. “It’s important to show your nationality. We are always for Israel on Yom Ha’atzmaut. This is similar. It’s so important that we’re one nation together. It’s a nation that allows us to have a Jewish summer camp and is based on freedom of religion.” “July 4th shows us that Camp is not isolated from the world,” adds Matthew Bloom (Solelim). “We continue to be a part of where we live.” Staff members like Leia Kessler and Corey Mais (Nitzanim)
Red, white and blue favorites around Camp: Red: The sunset, lifeguards White: Kabbalat Shabbat, the Summit, Frisbee discs Blue: The Agam, benches in the Chadar Ochel, the Israeli flag
Letter from together. I’m more of a host. I try to pick music the campers will like,” says Brian, who began his Ramah career as Rosh Musica at Wisconsin at the age of 17 and helped establish its successful music program. The campers respond to the concert with intensity, crowding close to the stage at the Ulam as they sing and dance their hearts out to classics like “American Pie,” “Piano Man,” as well as newer selections like Justin Timberlake’s “Can’t Stop the Feeling” and Israeli favorites that include “Tutim” and “Yoya.” “The concert encapsulates in one event what Camp tries to be about,” says Brian. “It goes seamlessly from Hebrew to Israeli to American songs and the campers enjoy them all. It’s a testament to what Camp tries to accomplish.”
One of my favorite seasons is summer. I used to go to day camp but last year I went to sleepaway camp for the first time. That camp is Camp Ramah—the best sleepaway camp for Jewish kids. After last summer it felt like years until I could come back this summer. At Camp Ramah, kids get to learn about being Jewish and learn Hebrew, while having fun every day! There are super-duper fun activities like rollerblading. We had to wear helmets and elbow pads for safety. Even when we learn we have fun. My Jewish history teacher let us act out stories.
Once we got chocolate in Yahadut. When we swim we use Hebrew numbers for the buddy system. Every day we learn something new at Ramah! Ramah also has nutritious and delicious foods with lots of choices. Breakfast is my favorite because we have hard-boiled eggs. I turn them into deviled eggs. If someone doesn’t like the main choices, there is always a salad bar, soup and oatmeal. There is a big white board that tells us what we are eating and if the food has nuts or wheat in it. Kids with food allergies go to a special table to get alternatives.
Learning with fun + fun activities x great food = Camp Ramah, the best sleepaway camp for Jewish kids! —Charlotte Heilpern, Nitzanim
encourage campers to express themselves. “We’re spirited,” says Leia, who is wearing a red-whiteand-blue headband and face paint. “We intertwine our American and Jewish identities through Jewish learning and American pride. We get our campers excited for all activities whether it’s Yahadut or the July 4th concert. We’re their role models and we talk about our own experiences as campers and how much we loved it.” The day culminates in a concert of Camp songs that has been led by veteran musician Brian Gelfand for over fifteen years. “I don’t look at it so much as a performance as a time to celebrate
A Book for Every Camper Amy Finawitz is not a CRB camper, but you can often see her around the Shorashim bunks. Amy is the protagonist of The Life and Opinions of Amy Finawitz, by Laura Toffler-Corrie, one of two chapter books available to Shorashim campers through the auspices of PJ Our Way Goes to Camp. An offshoot of PJ Library, the program provides free Jewish books for children ages 9-11 who are attending camp (www.pjourway.org). CRB is one of thirty participating camps and chose the three books that are being offered in conjunction with other Ramah camps. Every camper in Cochavim, Nitzanim and Shorashim receives a book and flashlight as a special gift. Amy Finowitz is the story of an historical scavenger hunt around New York City that focuses on Jewish sites and is told in emails between friends. The book inspired CRB staff to organize a parallel scavenger hunt around Camp and to introduce a pen pal program with Ramah Darom. The other option for Shorashim is Beyond Lucky, by Sarah Aronson, the story of a soccer team that welcomes new teammates and emphasizes the values of teamwork and leadership. “The books are about kids like our campers,” says Rosh Machaneh Aleph Alana Tilman. Reading is a great Shabbat activity, so Cochavim and Nitzanim received a Shabbatogram present in the form of Jesse’s Star, by Ellen Schwartz: it’s the story of Jewish immigration to Canada that starts with a class project, a trunk and a Star of David. The book was also the basis of a Tisha B’Av Cochavim program. Just as Jesse traced his family history, campers did so as well, by creating a physical map. They lined up according
to geographic region, shared their family origins and how they came to North America. PJ Goes to Camp is a component of the PJ Our Way, a program for children who have graduated from PJ Library (geared to younger children) and are ready for chapter books that they choose themselves each month. Campers are happy with their new books. “It’s a good idea,” says Samuel Feldman (Shorashim). Sometimes I bring books to Camp and run out quickly.” PJ Library books are a nice addition to a communal A-16 bunk library. “I love reading. It’s one of my big hobbies,” says Jared Levy (Shorashim). “I sit on the porch and read or I read at night during Flashlight Time. It’s also helpful because we have summer reading homework from school. It’s a good way to relax after a tiring day.”
Q: What is something at Camp you love that has both a fun and a serious side? Kayaking: It’s hard but it’s really fun. —Adina Savitz, Cochavim Sports: The fun part is playing but you have to be careful of the ball and you can’t horse around. —Zach Weber and Max Landman, Cochavim Rock-climbing: You have to climb to the top and go on the Zipline. The serious part is that you’re following the rules and it’s safe. —Jamie Dittelman and Clara Rosen, Nitzanim Yom Sport: You get to play sports with your friends and have some competition. —Benjamin Norman, Nitzanim Tarbut: You’re learning while you play games. You learn about Israel b0y doing trivia. —Bailey Kahn, Shorashim
The Summer of a
The side of Bunk B-12 is plastered with words— and they are not graffiti! Chanich (camper); madrich (counselor); tzrif (bunk); tzevet (staff) and chadar ochel (dining room) are just five of the onehundred Hebrew words that have been carefully chosen and printed on canvas squares to reflect the daily life of Camp. “Each camper and counselor should know these words,” says Rosh Ivrit Rahel Shostack. “We teach them in class and make sure they are being used in conversation. They each get a list.” The program, called Me’ah Milim (A Hundred Words), originated at Ramah in the Poconos and has been adapted for CRB by Assistant Director Ari Perten. Aside from the basics, he chose words that can be used in a variety of areas of Camp, like misparayim (scissors) for Omanut and magevet (towel) for the Agam. Kef (fun) is a popular word, and mitnadev (volunteer) is a challenging one. Campers and counselors who use the words in
an exemplary manner are recognized at Kabbalat Shabbat in front of the entire camp. They receive a bright green t-shirt (chultzah) with white lettering that proclaims, “Ani medaber me’ah milim” (I speak a hundred words). By Camp’s end 120 campers and staff members were honored. “Many chanichim and tzevet are making more of an intentional use of Ivrit (Hebrew) in hopes of being honored with the chultzah,” says Ari. “The results have been great.” “I was shocked to be honored,” says Noam Marchuk (Bogrim), who likes the word miklachat (shower). “I got to public school and don’t speak much Hebrew. I learned the words from the side of B-12.” “It felt really good to be honored,” says Galit Chesler (Nitzanim). “I inspired the rest of the girls in my bunk because they all started wanting a shirt. I feel special when I wear it because it’s something I earned.”
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Archery: What’s fun is you see the target, like an apple that you have to shoot. What’s serious is that you have to keep the bow and arrow steady. —Jeremy Cohen, Shorashim The Agam: It’s fun to go swimming when it’s hot but you also have to learn to swim correctly. —Sammy Richter, Tzeirim Farming/Yahadut: It’s Yahadut class and we learn about nature, but we also get to plant seeds, cook on the Farm and play with the animals. —Emily Schall, Tzeirim Birkat Hamazon in the Chadar: The serious side is that you’re thanking God for your meal, but you’re also banging on the table and doing silly stuff. —Matthew Harrison, Solelim Pe’ulat Erev: There are some really fun ones like Capture the Flag and some serious ones like discussions on LGBT rights. —Ita Newman Getzler and Talia Wigder, Solelim Chug: The fun side is we’re all together as a family and everyone is having a good time. The serious side is that everyone is practicing really, really hard and trying to improve themselves. —Madeline Ripper, Bogrim The bunk: When you talk with your friends, when you play games and do bunk activities and talk at night it’s fun. But then sometimes we have serious talks as a bunk.” —Avi Chesler, Bogrim
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ohfhbj campers Summer 2016 Page 8
Ask the Camper
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Prayer: We get very cool tunes and at the same time it’s one of the most important parts of our day. —Lauren Abelow, Machon Shabbat: Shirah and harga’ot and free time are fun, and Pe’ulat Shabbat is the serious side. —Aaron Cooper, Machon The trips: We’re able to visit the Holocaust Museum and also Quincy Market and Fenway Park. There’s a good balance between education and fun, sadness and happiness. —Sara Blau, Machon Chug: It’s a lot of fun to play sports with your friends for two hours a day. It’s something that means a lot to me. It’s not boot camp. You’re supposed to have fun and learn a lot of values from it. However much you put in that’s what you’ll get. —Joey Schluger, Gesher Pe’ulat Shabbat: We have Shabbat activities geared towards educating ourselves, but in the spirit of Shabbat we’re still with our friends. We’re engaged in current events and talking about important issues that need to be spoken about with young adults. —Batya Weiner, Gesher Summer 2016 Page 9
The Bucholtz Family
Yom Bogrei Ramah
Joan Bucholtz’s involvement in Camp Ramah began with her daughter Sara’s trunk. In 1979, when Sara was entering Nitzanim, the private shipping company that Camp recommended was expensive and inefficient, not returning the trunks until days after the campers arrived home. Joan thought she could find a better way—and she did, hiring a local mover that charged less and provided better service. Joan oversaw this project for several summers. Since then, Joan has served as chair of the Parents’ Committee, Senior Vice-President and unofficial development chair. Though she was never a camper herself—she was active in USY, where she met her husband Harvey—she has given her heart and superb fundraising skills to Ramah. She successfully launched a campaign that raised over $1 million to build new facilities at Camp. Harvey, an endocrinologist, shares her commitment to Ramah. Their daughters, Sara (Gesher ’85), Stacey (Gesher ’87) and Jessica (Gesher ’87, Poconos), are alumna and former staff. Joan’s greatest thrill is to watch her grandchildren thrive at Ramah, too. Joan’s trademark is taking initiative when she sees a need. A teacher and a nurse by profession, she made fundraising her special talent at CRB. She co-chaired the very first Annual Dinner in 1989 in honor of Miriam Klein Shapiro (z”l) and Saul Shapiro (z”l). “This was our first attempt at being more proactive in fundraising,” she recalls. “We now have the most successful annual fundraiser, one that has been tweaked and perfected by many people.” In 1998 CRB hired its first professional development director. “That has made a huge change,” says Joan. “I’m in awe of the professional level of our development efforts now.” When Joan started out raising monies to improve Camp’s physical facilities, the amphitheater didn’t even exist; she recalls a faceto-face meeting with a gracious donor at a kosher restaurant in New York City. “I enjoy the feeling of satisfaction that I have helped an institution I really believe in,” she says. The Bucholtz family
In the shade of Beit Am Chadash ten tables are filled–not with current campers but with eighty former campers from 1966-2006. It’s Yom Bogrei Ramah 2016. Merry Firschein and Donna Ezor Stolzer (Gesher ’81) met in 1979, the first day of Bogrim and the first year of Camp for both of them. They went on to become roommates at Brandeis University and remain in touch today. “Wow,” says Merry, looking at Donna. “I’ve known you 37 years!” Merry, a senior writer for an international nonprofit organization in New York City, hasn’t been back to Camp since 1983, but, she says, the three summers she spent at CRB were the highlights of her childhood. “By sending me here my parents gave me the best gift. I learned how to be outdoors. I learned how to be a Jewish person and a mensch. It’s a haimish environment where you can be yourself and Judaism is all around you. That’s what Ramah gave me.” Donna is Rabbi Resnick’s sister-in-law, so she has been back to Camp often. “Camp fosters such a love of being Jewish,” says Donna, who works in media relations and public relations at a community college in New Jersey. “I didn’t go to day school but when I walk into a synagogue today I’m comfortable. That’s mostly because of Ramah.” Merry recalls the feeling of accomplishment when in Gesher she could finally daven the Amidah, which she had been working on for all three summers. Ramah offered “an organic way to learn in a non-threatening and nonhumiliating way,” she says. She now serves as a gabai in her New Jersey synagogue. The plays top Camp memories for many alumni. Debra Schlesinger Weil and Gabriel Feldman (Gesher ’76) played husband and wife in
has also contributed to the upcoming construction of the Arts Center. Joan and Harvey, who live in Maplewood, NJ, sent their children to Golda Och Academy, and continue to be involved in the school. Their daughter Sara, a corporate lawyer, recalls studying for the bar exam at Camp when her husband, Adam Feldman, worked at CRB during rabbinical school. Sara and Adam, who is now rabbi of the Princeton Jewish Center, wanted their children to continue their education at a Conservative day school high school but none existed near them. So Talia, Dena and Ilan Feldman live with their grandparents during the week and go home on weekends. They are Poconos campers. Talia was on Seminar this summer. “It was neat that Talia met the children of some of my Berkshires peers,” says Sara. Stacey, a medical oncologist, lives in Coral Gables, FL, and is married to David Leibowitz, a lawyer. On her medical school application Stacey wrote her essay about the challenge and responsibility of being a counselor on waterfront staff in charge of the canoeing trip. Their son Mac is a Tzeirim camper; Sophie was at CRB but has been at Ramah in the Rockies for the past three summers; Louis, 10, hopes to attend CRB next year. Jessica, director of the LA Jewish Teen Initiative of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, is married to Dave Green, an educational administrator. Their son Oliver, 9, is not yet at camp. Jessica went to CRB through 1984 and then switched to Poconos. “Being at Camp has shown my children
Rachel Mann The Jewish sleepaway summer camp in Rachel Mann’s new book is called “Camp Tova,” but astute readers will recognize the setting as Camp Ramah in the Berkshires. There are morning prayers and color wars, girls’ and boys’ circles, a lovely lake, basketball courts, a dining hall with murals, and even a diner where the staff hangs out. On Blackberry Hill, published July 2016 on Amazon, grew out of Rachel’s ten summers at CRB (She is Gesher ’91). “I was interested in telling the story of a transformative moment in a character’s life,” says Rachel, an award-winner writer who lives in Manhattan, “and I kept coming back to Camp as a place that’s infused with the possibility of change and self-discovery.” Camp was also the perfect setting for a motherdaughter story, says Rachel, because it’s a place to which different generations return. The plot focuses on fourteen-year-old Reena, who goes to camp for the first time, and begins to find clues to her mother Naomi, who died when Reena was a baby. Naomi was a counselor at Camp Tova twenty years earlier and met her husband-to-be (Reena’s father) there. Rachel alternates the narrative between Reena and Naomi. “The story started with the characters and once I got a sense of them and put them in the world of camp it was easy, because I could just Summer 2016 Page 10
describe what I remembered. It’s a place that’s imprinted on my memory,” says Rachel. She hopes that the universal story will impart the importance of family and friendships and being connected to Judaism. Rachel’s family has long been part of the fabric of Camp. Her father Charlie is past president of CRB and of the National Ramah Commission. Her siblings, Benjamin, Jeremy and Yona, are all alumni, and she met her husband, Joshua Rosenblatt, when he was a counselor at Camp in 1994. Their children are now campers themselves: Bella was in Solelim this summer; Ruby in Tzeirim, and Louisa at Nyack. Rachel notes that the children were in preschool when she wrote the book, but now are old enough to read it. In fact, Ruby wrote home after she read it at Camp: “I finished your book last night and it was amazing, as you can tell by the fact that I read it in 24 hours. It was really cool to connect it to the places in camp that I know of…I would definitely read this book regardless of the author.” “Camp Ramah has touched my family across generations, just as it touches the fictional generations in my novel,” Rachel says. “There are few places in the world that hold just that kind of magic.”
and grandchildren that there’s a joy to being an observant and knowledgeable Conservative Jew. Living it 24/7 in a camp setting can’t be replaced in any other environment,” says Joan, commenting that her grandchildren have to “get used to real life again” when they come home at summer’s end. “Much of my children’s Jewish exposure and learning comes at Camp,” says Stacey, noting that she wanted them to experience the connection to Judaism and independence Camp fosters. “Mac happily read Torah several times this summer and was so proud to report this to us when he came home. He loves the Hebrew singing and dancing. Camp is truly a ‘happy place.’” Sophie loves the backcountry expeditions at Rockies. “She challenges herself to do things she never thought she could and the Judaism there is focused on spiritual connections.” “Every summer our grandchildren spend at Camp is another year we know they are being imbued with values that are so important,” says Joan. “We have the responsibility of putting budding adults in the right neighborhood so the seeds we’ve tried to sow at home can be nurtured.”
The ninth annual Ramah Golf Outing, held on July 11 at Salem Golf Club, North Salem, NY, drew 95 golfers and guests. The benefit event for Camp’s Annual Fund, in support of scholarships for campers-in-need, was co-chaired by Josh Hirsch and Ari Saposh (both Gesher ’01).
“I didn’t go to day school but when I walk into a synagogue today I’m comfortable. That’s mostly because of Ramah.” some of the shows but haven’t seen each other in thirty years. “I wrote to him and he came,” says Debra, who volunteered to be the edah coordinator and created a Facebook page to connect alumni. They pore over the pictures and scrapbooks she has brought—including a group shot of Tzeirim and a scene from Carousel, their Machon play. “I’m excited to be here with people I spent so many summers with,” says Debra, a nurse who served on Marp staff for several years. “There are a lot of changes at Camp. But a lot remains the same. Maybe you can go home again!” Gabriel’s Camp years began in 1969 in what was then called Edah Aleph, a two-year equivalent of Cochavim and Nitzanim. His father, Irwin, was a Conservative rabbi but at Camp, he was the head of Nagarut; his mother, Bernie, was a Hebrew teacher and his two brothers, Nathaniel and Samuel, were also campers. “Every one of my counselors became rabbis,” he says. Now semi-retired after a career as a public health physician, Gabriel remembers gathering in Beit Am Aleph to watch man landing on the moon in 1969. Campers also achieved milestones: “Camp meant the first time you led services in public, the first time you read Torah; the first time you played ball. I can tell you about all our raids and all our plays, about playing guitar and singing folksongs in the Igul.” Today, he says, “Camp looks good.” Josh Wohl (Gesher ’06) came to the reunion to see his friends, though they often get together in Manhattan, where he works for a marketing company. “I’m never one to turn down an invitation to come to Camp,” says Josh, who spent twelve summers as a camper and staff member. “I have only good memories here.”
Electricity is in the air at Camp—and it’s not just at Yom Palmer or the Rikudiah. It’s in the actual light fixtures. Over 400 outdated incandescent or fluorescent bulbs have been replaced throughout Camp with energy-efficient LED bulbs that are durable, costeffective and environmentally friendly. Most are in Machaneh Bet bunks (Machaneh Aleph was recently upgraded). According to Adin Meir (Gesher ’96), an energy engineer and member of the facilities committee who has spearheaded the project, the new bulbs will provide better lighting quality and lower maintenance costs; it will also drastically reduce Camp’s carbon footprint by more than 41,000 lbs. per year. A utility incentive program paid for 70 percent of the cost, and the savings are projected at more than $22,000 over the next five years. The project can serve as a springboard to make Camp more sustainable, with future attention on renewable energy and “green” construction.
Besides the financial savings, Adin emphasizes that “ensuring Camp’s mission to teach love of mitzvoth and commitment to tikkun olam also pertains to how we operate our facilities. “This project couldn’t be more aligned with Camp’s mission and Judaism in general In addition,” says Adin, who spoke about it during Staff Week. “It’s important to me to use it as an educational opportunity. “ The staff, in turn, educated the campers, especially Bogrim, who studied sustainability. “Judaism teaches us about our responsibility to the natural world and the importance of taking care of it for the next generation—and this is an easy way to do that,” Adin says. The next generation is not a far-off concept to Adin and his wife, Jordana Klein (Gesher ’99): they have already calculated that their son Raviv, 2, would be part of Gesher 2030.
Phil Levy: A Caring Marp Staff Phil Levy had an important message for each of the sixty parents of Ta’am ’16 campers he called before the summer. The Marp, he told them, provides the best possible care for your children. Phil (Gesher ’95), a neonatologist at Morristown Medical Center in New Jersey, spends most of his days caring for premature infants and communicating with their families. “My patients cannot speak, so I talk to their parents,” he says. “Building a relationship with the family is just as important as providing medical care for their child.” He applies the same skill to his role at CRB: he was the Marp physician during the second of Ta’am’s three one-week sessions and serves in a voluntary capacity on the CRB Medical Committee. Under the leadership and guidance
of CRB’s medical director, Cliff Nerwen, Phil spearheaded the initiative to enhance communication with the Ta’am parents. In his pre-Camp phone calls, he provided a brief introduction to CRB, discussed the role of the Marp and composition of the medical team (one physician, four to six nurses, and one EMT on the premises at all times), and answered any questions parents had about their children’s medical care at Camp– often, all in less than a minute. Parents said they appreciated the outreach that “opened another window into CRB.” It helped them establish a connection with the dedicated medical professionals who might very well be caring for their children until they reach Gesher 2024.
Eighty former campers from 1966-2006 gathered for a reunion in Beit Am Chadash this summer.
Summer 2016 Page 11
TEAM ULTIMATE WON AN EXCITING VICTORY ON YOM PALMER, 15-14
It’s a few days before Yom Palmer, and JV Ultimate is gearing up. Before the players start their drills, they stretch out by kicking and trumpeting like elephants. Next come the lunges, accompanied by a lusty rendition of “Twist and Lunge,” a play on “Twist and Shout,” followed by Ana Bechoach, sung to the same melody. At Pep Rally, the team dresses in goofy costumes. Ultimate’s rituals and traditions are legend in Camp. While the team’s six-year unblemished reputation for victory on Yom Palmer has firmly established its athletic prowess, it’s the wacky
culture that attracts, keeps and bonds the players. “Each chug team has a different culture,” says Shelly Tsirulik, one of the JV coaches (Gesher ’14) who is an entering Harvard freshman. “The silly attitude is a core part of our identity.” But, adds Shelly, “We also focus on team building, personal development and learning Jewish values along the way.” This summer’s teams have attracted about 25 players each. “Ultimate has become popular because it’s so accepting while also maintaining the intensity of an actual athletic team,” says Sam Feder, one of the Varsity coaches (Gesher ’12), who plays on the Yale team during the year. “Ultimate is one of the tightest knit communities in Ramah because we focus on building good relations and having a good time. Everyone has a role and a place on the team.” Ezra Goodman, a JV captain (Bogrim), agrees: “It’s like a family here. We care about each other. On this chug it’s not about being the best player.” Some Ultimate traditions are well-known—for instance, players must carry a disc with them at all times during the week before Yom Palmer—but others are secret. Shelly can recite the names of players from the past decade, including those who
Newspaper Credits Rabbi Paul Resnick Director Rabbi Ethan Linden Incoming Director Rabbi Ari Perten Assistant Director Amy Perle Rosuck Business Director Karen Legman Segal Director of Strategic Initiatives & Communications Jane-Rachel Schonbrun Development Director Adina Rothman Enrollment & Operations Manager Dania Rothenberg Development Assistant & Alumni Relations Coordinator Michelle Moallem Social Media & Communications Coordinator
have had the honor of leading Adir Kevodo during Friday night shirah. He used to watch the Shabbat game with staff even before he made the team. One of the key concepts in Ultimate is “spirit of the game:” there are no referees and players work out calls between them, even in intense competition. (That concept is even being used to unify Israeli and Palestinian youth through a program called Ultimate Peace.) Physically, says Sam, practices can be strenuous because the players can be running sprints and drills for almost two hours. The coaches and players balance that intensity with spur-of-the moment inventiveness. In the real world, Ultimate is an unconventional sport. It has gained a firm place at Camp, largely because of Daniel Braunfeld (Gesher ’97), who helped upgrade it with talent and structure while maintaining its eccentric culture. “Legends rage,” says Shelly, recounting stories about Dan that he has heard from Chug players at harga’ot. “Some tell you he could throw a Frisbee the length of the B-side kikar. Some say he could throw a ‘hammer’ [an overhead throw] from the Golf Course to the Sundeck. Some say he could jump thirteen feet in the air.” [See box] The CRB Ultimate team also remembers Dan by donating to Charley’s Angels, the team-name the Braunfeld family started for the ALS Association’s Walk to Defeat ALS. Dan’s father has been fighting ALS for over six years. The Ultimate team designs and sells Frisbees to staff, camper families and alumni, and has organized benefit games and other projects; any proceeds are donated to tzedakah. “There are players on the Ramah team who have never met me, my dad or my family, but they continue to keep us in mind each year. It means a great deal to my family,” says Dan. Ultimate is now in its “Golden Era” at Camp. Most players play in high school during the year and go on to competitive levels on college teams. They return to camp to coach the teams: Ben Schluger, Rosh Sport, who was one of the coaches this summer, played on the Brandeis team, as does Elan Kane, who has coached in the past. “Every day of practice we learn things that are applicable to our lives past the summer,” says Ben. “We learn how
to work hard, have humility, appreciate, reflect and be happy. That’s why this chug is so successful year after year.”
Will the Real Dan Braunfeld Please Stand Up? The real Dan Braunfeld is amazed at the heroic feats attributed to him—but he prefers not to discuss them. “It’s fun to have legends remain mysteries,” says Dan, who recalls that he learned to play Ultimate at Ramah Nyack when he was ten years old. He later tried out for the CRB team. “I loved it. The game combined sprinting and jumping, and Frisbees are remarkably graceful. But most importantly, the coaches at Camp were my heroes. Many years later I am still friends with them and with players from the team. We learned to play Ultimate by learning to be a community—putting community, Torah study, and self-respect above everything else.” When Dan left Camp after being Rosh Machon in 2003, he became a high school history teacher— partly influenced by his Ramah experience. “History is a subject that allows teenagers to discuss difficult and ethical questions. Ramah showed me that when adults created safe spaces for teens to express their ideas, the outcomes are amazing.” Today he works for Facing History and Ourselves, an international, educational, non-profit organization which heightens students’ understanding of racism, religious intolerance, and prejudice. He lives with his family in New York City.
Agam-Zu L’Tovah Picture yourself standing serenely in the middle of the Agam atop a sleek white paddleboard. That’s what many campers are not just imagining but doing. A fleet of eight white stand-up paddleboards is new to Camp this summer. Unlike traditional surfing, where the rider sits until a wave approaches, paddleboarders remain upright and use long, oar-like paddles to propel themselves through the water. Flat-water paddling is great full-body exercise, says Michele Fisher Gomez, Rosh Agam. “Most things you can do on land you can do on a paddleboard—yoga; Pilates, jumping jacks, racing, playing soccer, and more. All the edot except Cochavim can choose paddleboarding as a bechirah.
Leah Chevan, S’gan Rosh Agam, adds that paddleboarding helps campers develop a love of the lake because many are more willing to ride it than to jump all the way into the lake. “The paddleboard allows you to exert some control over your environment,” she says. “It’s freer,” notes Leslie Horn, Agam staff. “The allure is that paddleboarding is different than kayaking and canoeing and paddleboats. “ Jonah Schanzer (Tzeirim) agrees. “The whole fact that you’re standing up and moving makes it great. You can jump off in the middle of the lake if it’s really hot and just cool off.” According to a 2013 report by the Outdoor Foundation, paddleboarding was the outdoor sport with the most first-time participants of any in the United States that year. The sport, which is thought to have originated in Africa in canoes, even has an Israeli connection: in 20th century Tel Aviv, lifeguards stood on wide boards in order to have a clear view of possible swimmers in distress, then used the paddle to propel through the water quickly if rescue was necessary.
Dr. Hugh Pollack President Rahel Musleah Editor/Writer Sarah Chabon Graphic Design Aviv Bar Ilan Natalia Cataife Ron Rachmani Shulamit Seidler-Feller Photographers Camp Ramah in the Berkshires 25 Rockwood Place Englewood, NJ 07631 Tel 201.871.7262 firstname.lastname@example.org www.ramahberkshires.org
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