Magic in the Martef

by Robin Rubenstein, Parent Liaison

In his first director’s letter of the season, Jacob Cytryn described the awesome plans for this summer.  He concluded by saying, “We often hear that the lasting impact of a summer at Ramah is actually in the unplanned, quieter moments – sitting or walking with a friend; the impromptu water game; watching that breathtaking rainbow or sunset. We look forward to an amazing summer filled with awesome experiences – both planned and unplanned.”

Well, last night we experienced one of those unplanned moments and it really was awesome.  At the end of Shabbat dinner we were notified through our emergency alert system and by the local authorities that a storm was anticipated around 8:15 p.m.  Our staff responded quickly, with everyone moving into our two storm shelters.  Younger campers had the opportunity to stop in their cabins to get books, games, etc. before going to the shelters.

I was directed to the Martef, a large basement room in the Tikvah Vocational building, together with the older campers and their staff.  It was hot, not particularly pleasant smelling, and quite crowded.  It wasn’t a place anyone would really want to be for an extended period of time.

But….our staff – particularly, the Roshei Aidah for our three oldest aidot – made magic happen.  While kids sat close together in tight rows, Maya, Louisa and Aviva began to sing.  First it was the slow, beautiful melodies normally sung in the hadar ohel (dining hall) at the end of Shabbat.  Then, the songs got louder and more upbeat to the rhythm of the rain.  There were some fun tunes from the Pesach seder, there were aidah songs (current and previous years), there were play songs, and there were new songs taught.  It was amazing…and touching to see how the kids came together and allowed themselves to enjoy the experience even though it wasn’t perfect. After two hours the storm had passed and the campers returned to their cabins to get ready for bed.

Sometimes the magic of the Ramah experience can be found in the least expected places.

Last night those three young women made it happen – and what they created in that space was a gift to those kids.

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