ENROLL BEFORE SEPTEMBER 1ST TO RECEIVE A FREE LIMITED EDITION SPORTS BAG!*
First Session: Tuesday, June 20 – Monday, July 1 Second Session: Thursday, July 20 – Wednesday, August 16 Gesher Alef: Tuesday, June 20 – Monday, July 3 Gesher Bet: Tuesday, July 4 – Monday July 17 Gesher Gimmel: Thursday, July 20 – Wednesday, August 2 Gesher Dalet: Thursday, August 3 – Wednesday, August 16
“These are the words that Moshe addressed to all Israel . . .” (Deuteronomy 1:1)
The opening line of Sefer Devarim (the Book of Deuteronomy) begins a book that is comprised almost entirely of Moshe’s speeches to “all Israel” at the end of his decades of leadership, and at the end of his life. Moshe’s legacy for “all Israel” is their arrival at the Land of Israel, and these “words” – the Torah.
As Israel continues on its journey in the Land of Israel, and through history, these words will shape our lives in many ways. As Rabbi Ismar Schorsch, the former Chancellor of the Jewish Theological Seminary, points out, for centuries these devarim (words) that Moshe brought to us, were crystalized, made real in this world as the Devir – the Holy of Holies, the sacred innermost chamber of the Beit HaMikdash (the Holy Temple in Jerusalem). Schorsch teaches that these two words, formed from the same letters, have different etymologies – the former from Ancient Hebrew and the latter from Arabic.
Schorsch brilliantly highlights how the word play of these homophones marks the great revolution of the Jewish people from Temple to Torah study – from Devir to Devarim.
For the past nineteen-and-a-half-centuries, this has been exactly the Jewish enterprise – crystallizing the most sacred of spaces (Devir) through the study and living of Torah (Devarim). Just as Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel writes that Shabbat is the experience of holiness in time rather than space, studying and living the words (devarim) or Torah is the experience of the holiest of places, a place which is no longer in this world, in our immediate locale. When I study or live a word of Torah the ground on which I stand becomes holy, and it is as if I am standing in the Holy of Holies in the Beit HaMikdash (Devir).
At Camp Ramah, we create exactly this holy community, living on holy ground, by studying and learning Torah every day – (early) morning, afternoon and (late) night. Moshe is told to take off his shoes because he walks on holy ground. At camp, we more often than not need to wear shoes, but we make ourselves vulnerable, to allow us to learn and grow, as individuals and communities – in a metaphoric state of “barefoot.”
Spending a month, or two weeks for Gesher campers, creating a lived Devir will empower all of us, campers and staff, to commit ourselves to continuing this holy work when we come home next week.
Our time at Ramah is so much more than fun, educational and social. Our time at Ramah is transformational. We come home from camp physically exhausted, but emotionally, intellectually and spiritually energized to continue creating the Devir in our lives and this world through Devarim – studying and learning Torah every day.
Rabbi Scott Meltzer
Ohr Shalom Synagogue
San Diego, California
Midah L’Edah MACHON: YOZMAH AND MANHIGUT (INITIATIVE AND LEADERSHIP)
Tza'adah! This week Machon has been on their feet, on the move! The oldest campers physically left camp, while still being part of camp! Their days hiking and camping up north have allowed them to travel in the wilderness and continue their Camp Ramah experience.
During these days of trek, they have encountered obstacles -- physical, emotional and social. They have shared this sacred passage in their Ramah journeys with each other, and they have grown!
Each summer at camp, as the campers grow from Edah to Edah, they are presented with many opportunities to develop their capacities for Yozmah and Manhigut -- Initiative and Leadership. Every year they have accepted more responsibility and faced greater challenges, and this past week they celebrated and struggled through the great camp culmination of that growth and each Machon-nik has shown their capacity for Yozmah and Manhigut in the wilderness together.
Machon, welcome back to camp for Shabbat and thank you for bringing your Yozmah and Manhigut, all your leadership skills, back to camp to benefit us all.
Camp Ramah in California is affiliated with the National Ramah Commission and is under the educational auspices of the Zeigler School of Rabbinic Studies at American Jewish University, and works in partnership with institutions of the Conservative movement in the Western United States.