It was great to see so many readers of HaMirpeset Shelanu at our 70th Anniversary Celebration! It was truly awesome to see 450 people – spanning all seven decades of camp history – singing the camp song, linked arm in arm. The words of “Himnon Ramah,” לבבנו מלא רחשי הודיה – our hearts are filled with gratitude – echoed throughout the room and across the generations.
During the program, Nadia Goldberg (Nivo 2015) and Ethan Less (Nivo 2017) represented the current decade of Ramahniks. Older alumni were very touched by their reflections on the impact of the Ramah experience. We share their beautiful words below.
Ethan: “Erev tov. It’s hard to believe this summer I’m going to be in Nivonim. Not only that, but the first Nivonim in the brand new Nivo campus on the Givah.
“I first came to Ramah simply because it was what my brothers, my parents, and other relatives did. Quickly though the experience became my own. I learned that Ramah is a place where in one moment I was playing an intense game of cards with cabin mates and in the next moment I was exploring the meaning of the Book of Job with those same friends in an equally intense debate. Ramah is a place where in one moment I was racing down the court with a basketball in hand trying to score one more bucket and the next moment I was sprinting even faster into the Beit Am so I could make it in time for the chorus number ‘Lech Barechov’ or ‘Ease On Down the Road’ from our Machon musical ‘The Wiz.’ All in Hebrew.”
Nadia: “I honestly could not imagine my life without Camp Ramah. There are so many ways in which camp shaped me and my love for Judaism. Before camp, I never really enjoyed Shabbat services. I would come to synagogue with my parents, but I never fully participated in the service and I didn’t understand what made Shabbat special. But, after my first year at Ramah, I learned to appreciate these times of prayer and reflection. I also used to be a really nervous Torah reader. But my first summer at Ramah, my counselors encouraged me to read Torah and provided me with constant support. I also learned how to become a confident service leader – there is a special feeling you get while standing in the place you love in front of all of your friends that gives you the motivation and confidence to lead a group in prayer. Although camp helped me to build my Jewish identity, the best thing about camp is actually the people. I entered camp without knowing anyone, and after four summers, I left with best friends. I formed incredibly strong friendships and I know many of them will continue to be my closest friends as I move into college and beyond. I am excited to come back to camp as a junior counselor this summer because I want to help give young campers the same amazing experience that I had that has forever changed me. I know I am not alone in calling camp Ramah my ‘happy place.’”
Ethan: “A message that I’ve learned from my Ramah counselors is very simple … just buy in. Make the most of those short and sweet summers at Camp Ramah. I’m pretty competitive, so naturally, I didn’t care if it was the NBA finals or an inter-aidah softball game; I wanted to win. But I came to realize that winning doesn’t mean having the most points, but instead winning means making lasting memories in a Jewish community surrounded by your best friends.
“My friends and I couldn’t be more excited to be the Nivonim aidah that gets to open the cabins that will last at least another 70 years, knowing that someday (don’t worry, Mom and Dad, a long way away) I’ll have children that will sleep in these new bunks, and they’ll have children that will do the same. From generation to generation, Ramah has been a gift in our family that we will always pass down. Thank you to everyone here tonight for supporting Ramah and making it a possibility for any kid to attend. I couldn’t imagine a summer with any of campers missing from the aidah. Thank you.”