When Gal Atia (Head of our Israeli staff delegation and staff advisor) and Adi Rosenberg (Head of our education department) first met at a Ramah Shabbaton in Israel in 2010, Adi noticed Gal but that was about it.
A few months later, they sat together at Ben Gurion Airport, waiting to board their flight to America, and eventually to camp, talking and getting to know each other. Adi still wasn’t sure: Gal wasn’t wearing a kippah and she worried about them having such different backgrounds. Her own mom was secular and her dad was religious when they met and got married, and she didn’t want that same confusion for her own children. Gal didn’t seem like someone she could date, but maybe they would just be friends.
The first time they held hands was on their first day off during staff week, and from then, they were together all summer. When the summer ended, Gal went to work with a cousin in New Jersey and Adi spent some of the year travelling around South America. On her way back to Israel, she made sure she had a layover in New York so that she could see Gal—that was when she realized how much she had missed him. In May 2010, eleven months after they started dating, Gal and Adi were engaged. A few months later, after they staffed Ramah Israel Seminar together, Gal and Adi were married in a beautiful ceremony.
If they hadn’t both been at camp, Gal doesn’t think they would have ever met each other—because they were from such different backgrounds and places. They both agree that Camp Ramah holds a special place in their hearts because they can do what they love without the stress of their lives in Israel. Their daughter Amit, born in May 2013, now joins them at camp, and Gal and Adi know they can do the work that they love while Amit is being watched by wonderful staff members. When they’re not working or when they have a few minutes to spare, they can show Amit how much this environment means to them.
At home, Amit was afraid of strangers, but this summer she’s adjusted amazingly and goes up to everyone; Adi says, “I’m not sure it was just her age, it really is the atmosphere here.”
To Gal, camp is “like family.” It’s this place that he believes every Israeli should experience for so many reasons, one of which is to get to experience Judaism. Israelis experience Judaism by just being in Israel, but by coming to camp, Gal believes, you experience and appreciate Judaism by living it day to day. That’s something he’s loved sharing with Amit this summer, as young as she may be.
This may be one of the first summers that Gal and Adi can’t say for certain that they’ll be back again next summer, and that’s a hard thing. This place means so much to them and they’re so happy to have been able to spend the summer together as a family at Machaneh Ramah: Gal, Adi, and Amit.