In 2007, my three daughters asked me if they could go to summer camp along with their school friends. For the previous several years, I had always said no. It was far, it was costly. And summer was the only time I had vacation from work, and I wanted to spend that time with my children. I said I would think about it.
How far can you travel in less than an hour? All the way to Capetown, South Africa, and back, if you are talking to Leora Raikin, a third-generation South African Jew who has lived in Los Angeles for the past 15 years.
Rose Bern isn’t afraid to fight for her values. The 17-year-old, who recently graduated from Shalhevet High School and lives in Westwood, has strong convictions when it comes to feminism, justice and fairness.
As a key leader in a number of organizations at Sierra Canyon School in Chatsworth, it’s hard to imagine that Michael Sacks ever felt left out.
With “Faith Unravels: A Rabbi’s Struggle With Grief and God,” Rabbi Daniel Greyber, former executive director of Camp Ramah in California, has written a memoir that explores the unique grieving process of a clergyman.
It really bothered Jonathan Gerber, a 30-year-old financial adviser and resident of Pico-Robertson, that there was no Modern Orthodox sleep-away camp in Los Angeles.
Raising a child with developmental disabilities has often been compared to an “unplanned journey,” taking you to places you never imagined you would go. After our son, Danny, was diagnosed with global developmental delays at the age of 13 months, I found myself learning a whole new vocabulary, meeting with many medical professionals and special-education teachers and aides.
Raised in a small and intimate Jewish community, Gal Herman, 14, has always been active in his local Reform youth group, attending services and participating in events.
Lauren Levine is settling in with a group of friends apartment to watch “American Idol,” when a look of panic comes over her face. She rummages around, finds her keys and darts out.“I left the hair thing on,” she says when she returns, breathless, from her own apartment downstairs. “I was straightening Jasmine’s hair before we came up here, and I forgot to turn it off. Wow. That was close.” Levine has wide blue eyes accentuated with sparkly eye shadow, and her voice is spiced with a sense of interested wonder.
I used to think that between the time of the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 A.D., and the birth of Israel in 1948, there was no such thing as an
exclusively Jewish city. Sure, there were plenty of Jewish ghettos and neighborhoods scattered throughout the globe, but a city with only Jews in it? I never imagined it.
Two years ago, Camp Ramah in California embarked upon a major solar energy project, effectively becoming the first Jewish overnight camp west of the Mississippi to adopt greener energy options. With the installation of a solar energy system atop the dining hall of our 75-acre Ojai campgrounds, Ramah has become a leader in the Jewish community when it comes to reducing environmental pollution and dependence on foreign oil. The system purchased by Ramah is designed to reduce toxic emissions by approximately 4.4 million pounds of carbon dioxide, 11,000 pounds of nitrous oxide and 35,000 pounds of sulfur dioxide over the life of the system.
As a camper, Max Kates was full of energy, soaking up everything Camp Ramah in Ojai offered. He loved sports, singing, his friends and Shabbat. When the summer arrived for him to join the staff, he immediately applied to participate in Ramah's counselor leadership-training program. In his first year as a counselor, Max was placed in a unit I supervised, and I watched with pride as he developed valuable skills in problem solving, public speaking, teamwork, program design and assessment.
Today? We're litigious and safety conscious and have all sorts of rules and techniques so kids don't get hurt emotionally or physically ... and the camp prank still reigns supreme.
My pre-camp seminar with 35 staff members from Israel had just wrapped up, but Avinoam, our 21-year-old Israeli basketball coach for the summer, lingered behind, looking nervous and shaken.
Five brief pieces, on the following: Shalhevet School's recent winning streak, Camp Ramah's new solar panels, a five-day summer workshop that shows teachers how to use studying the holocaust to teach morality, an opportunity to serve abroad as part of the "Jewish Peace Corps," and a recent Prejudice Awareness Summit at the University of Judaism.
After spending the summer at Lishma, an intensive yeshiva-style program for young adults at Camp Ramah in Ojai, sisters Olga and Anna Dramchuk expected to be teaching Torah to fellow university students at Hillel in Novosibirsk, Siberia. Instead, they're back in Los Angeles in search of more Jewish life and learning.
"Lishma was one of the best experiences we ever had as Jews, but it was only the beginning," said Anna Dramchuk, 18.
Norman and Lela Jacoby are talking about Camp Ramah again.
Scenes from Lishma, a joint project of Camp Ramah and the University of Judaism's Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies, in which young adults engage in a six-week program of serious spiritual practice and text study.
Last year, as summer approached, Julie Pelc was moving towards a master's degree in education, with plans to go on to rabbinical school. Andrew Weitz was serving as the northeast field representative of the United Jewish Communities, working with Jewish student leaders on outreach and social action projects. Jonathan Dorff was finishing up his first year of medical school. All three of these young Jewish adults found themselves faced with the luxury of a free summer, what Dorff calls, "my last summer off ever." All chose to take part in Lishma, the six-week egalitarian yeshiva-study program newly inaugurated by Camp Ramah in California.