December 2023/Tevet 5784
We are proud to present the Ramah Nyack 2023 Impact Report, which pays tribute to the importance of connection and relationship. As we reflect on this past year, we continue to hold Israel, and our Ramah Nyack community living in Israel, in our hearts. We continue to pray for staff alumnus Omer Neutra, who remains in captivity in Gaza. #BringThemHome #BringOmerHome
Every summer, hundreds of chanichim (campers) and tzevet (staff) leave their indelible stamp on the neshama (soul) of Ramah Nyack. They arrive at camp excited to make new friends, reunite with their camp mishpacha (family), swim, sing, dance, play, try new things, strengthen their connection to Judaism and fall in love with Israel. Through the development of meaningful relationships, our chanichim and tzevet find the support, and in turn, the confidence they need to compel them to strive for excellence, and gain a better understanding of both who they are as individuals, and what it means to be a part of a kehillah kedosha (sacred community). Ramah Nyack provides a strong Jewish foundation and inspires our kehillah to become actively involved as leaders in the broader Jewish world.
We have the privilege of witnessing incredible social and emotional growth throughout the summer, which fills us with great pride and hope for the future of our people. We are grateful to our donors, and the many families and individuals who recognize the importance of camp and help us continue to reach new heights. As this year comes to a close, we hope you will please consider Ramah Nyack among your charitable giving. We rely on contributions to our Scholarship Fund to ensure more children have the opportunity to experience the magic of Ramah Nyack, and develop meaningful, lifelong relationships that will provide the foundation for success in camp, and beyond. Todah Rabah!
IMPACT REPORT HIGHLIGHTS
Ein Milim. There are no words to truly express the profound grief, sadness and devastation we have felt over the past few months because of the horrific terror attacks and unfolding events in Israel. Ahavat Yisrael (love of Israel) is a core value at Ramah Nyack. We teach and learn, sing and dance, play and daven (pray) together everyday at camp while Israel is central in our hearts and minds. The depth of our connection to the land, culture and her people is derived in large part through meaningful relationships developed with the Israelis who call Ramah Nyack home each summer.
Since October 7, we have supported Israel and our Ramah Nyack community living there in many ways, and we remain committed to doing everything we can – Ki Kulanu Mishpacha – because we are family.
- We have remained in touch regularly with our hundreds of former shlichim, American Olim, and gap-year students.
- We have supported many of our shlichim who have been mobilized to serve on the front lines – through donations of funds and specific items that they need.
- Ramah Nyack Director, Rabbi Ami Hersh traveled to Israel in November to volunteer and visit with many Ramah Nyack alumni on the ground.
- Hundreds of Ramah Nyack campers, staff, families and alumni traveled to Washington, D.C. in November for the March for Israel to demonstrate their solidarity with Israel.
- 100% of the proceeds from our Chanukah Swag Pop-Up Shop were donated to Ramah Israel’s Relief and Support Fund.
- We have continued to pray and keep Ramah Nyack tzevet alumni Omer Neutra on our minds as he remains in captivity. #BringOmerHome #BringThemHome
As we prepare for Kayitz (summer) 2024, we are already in the midst of hiring our mishlachat. We plan to have additional support in place to ensure their seamless adjustment, and we are thinking through and working on how we will keep Israel on our minds all summer long.
If you are moved to jump in and volunteer, please join the Ramah Nyack/Ramah Berkshires volunteer mission to Israel from January 15-18, 2024. This mission is intended for adults (post-college). We will have the opportunity to hear from Ramah alumni and shlichim, and provide them with our love and support. Details regarding the itinerary, which includes working in the fields, supporting soldiers, repairing homes and playgrounds, and more, can be viewed here.
עם ישראל חי
More than 3,000 Ramahniks joined us for Zimriyah and it was… liga (liga, meaning “top-notch,” was our word of the summer)! Our chanichim and tzevet sang their hearts out. This year, we surprised our chanichim by inviting our guests to sing along with us and, voila! A new tradition was born! We are always impressed with how quickly our chanichim learn the Hebrew songs and choreography, and we are inspired by our madrichim (counselors) who model how to be a part of the performance and participate with them on the risers. Please enjoy and relive Zimriyah by watching performance highlights here: (Zimriyah Aleph: Nevatim, Kochavim, Shorashim, Nitzanim; Zimriyah Bet: Solelim, Tzeirim, Nevonim, Chalutzim/Bogrim). Save the date, Zimriyah 2024: July 10!
Reaching New Depths at Swim
We are very proud of our swim program. Our tzevet mayim (swim staff) is made up of American and Israeli lifeguards (39 strong this summer!) who are all American Red Cross certified and receive ongoing training throughout the summer. Each day our chanichim have both instructional and free swim. Chanichim are divided into small instructional skills-based swim groups and work towards getting to the next level throughout the summer. In addition to learning various swim strokes, our tzevet mayim (swim staff) engage chanichim in different water activities, and it’s because of their trusted relationships that they learn to be comfortable in the water and really enjoy the life skill of swimming.
Hebrew Language at Ramah Nyack
Ramah Nyack is a Hebrew-rich learning environment and our entire camp engages in Hebrew language every single day. Madrichim (counselors) thoughtfully and intentionally weave Hebrew language into their speech in an organic way, which facilitates vocabulary expansion, even among our youngest campers. From morning migrash dancing to contemporary Hebrew music, to learning songs for Zimriyah and dances for Festivale (our end of summer campwide event performed by chanichim, for chanichim), accessing Hebrew language is a very important part of our collective experience at camp. At our Annual Dinner & Fundraiser in July, we proudly celebrated the 10 year milestone of our Sha’ar Hebrew Immersion program!
Left to right: Harris Mevorah and Dalia Gatoff, Elijah Rockman and Samara Gottesman, Noah Pearlstein and Julia Kolodny, Sion Aronoff and Maxine Tannenbaum, and Jon Wingens
Sion Aronoff, Harris Mevorah, Noah Pearlstein, Elijah Rockman and Jon Wingens grew up together. They first met as classmates at Golda Och Academy, a Jewish day school in New Jersey. Coincidentally, they each decided to work at Ramah Nyack when they were teenagers.
These chaverim (group of friends) have a ton in common. They all loved dancing with their chanichim (campers) on the migrash, playing SPUMR (softball) on Shabbat, bishul (cooking) and ceramica (ceramics), and being a part of the Ramah Nyack mishpacha (family). However, the most transformative camp experience for Sion, Harris, Noah and Elijah, is that they each met their life partner while they were tzevet (staff) at Ramah Nyack. While Jon didn’t meet his fiance at camp, the chaverim look forward to welcoming Shira Levie to their Ramah Nyack mishpacha!
We asked if they would share their thoughts on the impact that Ramah Nyack has had on their lives. It’s clear that being a part of Ramah Nyack’s nurturing, engaging and supportive community during such an important time in their lives afforded them the opportunity to grow, and to meet people who would change the trajectory of their lives. They all remain very close, and continue to get together for Shabbat, ski trips, New Years celebrations, they’ve shared many smachot (celebrations) together, and they still chat all of the time. We are grateful that they’ve taken time out of their busy schedules to share what Ramah Nyack means to them.
Please meet Sion & Maxine, Harris & Dalia, Noah & Julia, and Elijah & Samara.
Sion & Maxine: We had been friendly our first summer at Nyack, however in the summer of 2015, when we both realized we’d be attending the University of Michigan together in the fall (Go Blue!), we became closer. Once in college, we would attend Shabbat and holiday dinners together at Hillel, and the rest is history!
Harris & Dalia: We were friends our CIT summer (2014) but didn’t stay in touch aside from the typical birthday text. The following summer (2015) we became very close friends – we would talk about our days at camp, while walking along the walkway, comparing our chanichim stories. It was clear there was a connection but were going to be in colleges pretty far apart. We remained close friends and would talk often, even trying long distance dating for a bit. We then reconnected in January 2021 and our friendship was as strong as ever. We started dating shortly thereafter.
Noah & Julia: We met in the summer of 2015. We would frequently hangout on the steps outside of our buildings (the upper BK and Tzion), and were introduced by a mutual friend, Alexis Mergruen, who was Julia’s friend from childhood and worked in Shorashim with Noah. Migrash dancing stands out as a favorite camp activity, because Noah used to dance with the Shorashim campers on his shoulders. I remember watching him from across the migrash and thinking it was the sweetest.
Elijah & Samara: We met in 2015 as counselors (New Dorm/Tzion Summer) through Elijah’s Golda Och Academy friends and we’ve been together since the summer of 2016. We dated for 5 years long-distance (from Toronto to NJ/NY) before getting engaged (at camp!) in the summer of 2021, and we were married in Toronto in August 2022.
Sion & Maxine: Our time at camp reinforced the values we had learned through our families and Jewish Day School education. We have shared experiences and traditions from Nyack that we continue to talk about daily.
Harris & Dalia: Our ties, appreciation and love for camp is something we both share. We became friends very quickly because our values aligned.
Noah & Julia: Working together at camp provided a shared platform for us to bond over common values and interests. The supportive and informal atmosphere of camp life allowed us to authentically engage with one another, fostering a meaningful connection that started as friendship and led to deeper relationships. Plus, the “camp moms” always gave great relationship advice!
Elijah & Samara: Being at camp is a space where all of the outside noise is taken away so you can have important conversations to really get to know each other. Being at camp also highlighted how our Jewish values were similarly central to who we are, and how we wanted to continue living our lives.
Sion & Maxine: Sion currently works as an Engineer at Stryker Orthopedics. His time at Nyack, working alongside other tzevet, has prepared him for this position where he collaborates with people from different backgrounds. Maxine currently works as an Occupational Therapist in a Skilled Nursing Facility. Her experiences at Nyack have prepared her for this role as she works with diverse populations and utilizes the values she has learned to create collaborative and meaningful treatment sessions.
Harris & Dalia: Dalia works in People Operations and Harris works in consulting. While these roles are a bit different from camp, we both learned the value of collaboration and how to have fun doing even the smallest of tasks, from our time at Ramah Nyack.
Noah & Julia: Julia is currently pursuing her doctoral degree in School Psychology. Ramah Nyack was her first experience working with children and served as a catalyst for the direction of her career. While working at Nyack, Julia learned how to create an inclusive environment that promotes positive interpersonal relationships and individual growth for campers. This is something she continued to do on a daily basis in her current role. Noah works in foreign exchange at US Bank. Working at Ramah Nyack fostered adaptability, resourcefulness, and planning abilities – qualities that have proven invaluable in his career in finance where dynamic environments and challenges are common.
Elijah & Samara: Samara teaches first grade, and Elijah is a Project Accountant at a Real Estate Development Firm. At camp, Samara learned a great deal about how to care for children, create programming, and hone her communication and collaborative skills. Elijah’s experiences at Nyack helped him prepare to help organize teams, collaborate, have patience and listen to the needs of others.
Sion & Maxine: Our time at Nyack has emphasized the value and importance of having supportive Jewish communities around us. Now living in Hoboken, NJ, we have found a local Jewish community which provides us the opportunity to enhance our Shabbat and holiday experiences, and give back to our community.
Harris & Dalia: One of the values that has connected us is our strong sense of Jewish identity and passion for Judaism. It was especially meaningful to be able to share our passion with the next generation.
Noah & Julia: In our time before working at Ramah Nyack, we were students in the Jewish community. Whether we were learning at school, our respective synagogues, or in our homes, we were constantly in the role of the learner. Ramah Nyack put us in the role of the teacher for our campers. It became our job to teach Jewish values, traditions, and serve as role models in the Jewish community. This has prepared us for our future as we hope to one day teach the next generation of Jewish children.
Elijah & Samara: We had the opportunity to dive into Jewish learning experiences each summer at Nyack. In many ways, it is our Jewish home and touch point.
Sion & Maxine: Having the opportunity to work with Israeli staff members helped strengthen our connection to Israel by hearing about their upbringings and personal experiences. Our first summer at Nyack (2014), coincided with the kidnapping of the three boys and Operation Protective Edge. Being at Nyack during this tumultuous time was very comforting and empowering. Nyack taught us the importance of Israel advocacy by taking time out of staff week to attend a rally in NYC and put on numerous learning sessions with Israeli tzevet to better understand what was going on in Israel.
Harris & Dalia: We both have a deep love for Israel and being a part of the Ramah Nyack community deepened our ties. Our first summer at camp was 2014, and feeling the closeness of the community then and now will leave an imprint on us forever.
Noah & Julia: Ramah Nyack significantly strengthened our connection to Israel by creating an environment that closely resembled the cultural and communal atmosphere of Israel, despite the geographical distance. Whether bonding with the mishlachat or conversing in Hebrew in the chadar ohel (cafeteria), the camp experience provided a tangible sense of the close-knit community often felt when in Israel.
Elijah & Samara: Over the years, we’ve created relationships with wonderful mishlachat members and learned about their experiences of Israel. This continues to deepen and personalize our connection.
Sion & Maxine: We included the Ramah Nyack Logo in our Ketubah (signed, of course, by Jon Wingens [Golda Och Academy and Ramah Nyack alumni] and Harris Mevorah).
Harris & Dalia: We had more than 20 Ramah Nyack alum at our wedding, there was Nyack “shtick,” and a migrash flash mob!
Noah & Julia: Ramah played an integral part in our wedding as we had many of our Nyack friends in our wedding party as bridesmaids and groomsmen.
Elijah & Samara: We were married by Ami! Many of our groomsmen, bridesmaids and guests were our friends from Nyack. Of course, we did migrash dancing at our wedding.
On Monday, July 17, we gathered to celebrate the Ramah Nyack Staff Experience and the 10 year milestone of our Sha’ar Hebrew Immersion program. We are grateful to event co-chairs Naamah & Koby Imir and Hillary & Joshua Wasserman, along with the Ramah Nyack staff, who worked tirelessly to create a wonderful event for our community. It was a great success!
For more than six decades, Ramah Nyack has provided young adults with a meaningful, enriching, and fun leadership training experience. As the only summer in-residence model of its kind in North America, once our chanichim depart for the day, our madrichim participate in an immersive Jewish experience designed specifically for them. The bonds that our American and Israeli tzevet form, coupled with our unique residential program, creates the ideal environment for our tzevet to grow and deepen their Jewish identities, enabling them to become the next generation of Jewish leaders. We were fortunate to be joined by many alumni staff members at the Annual Dinner (a couple of whom were on staff during our first year, in 1961!) to celebrate the exceptional program, and who credit their strong connections to Judaism and professional success to the summers they spent on staff at Ramah Nyack.
Sha’ar @ 10
What started as a pilot program 10 summers ago with 17 chanichim in Kochavim (entering Kindergarten) has now grown to include over 150 chanichim in six edot (divisions). We are incredibly proud of this program, which now serves as the model for Hebrew immersion programs at several day camps throughout the U.S.
Once again, this past summer we had the largest mishlachat (Israeli delegation) in North America. Our mishlachat infuses camp with their culture, love for Israel and Hebrew language. They are constantly thinking about creative ways to engage the chanichim with Hebrew – through singing songs, creating dances, making up cheers while walking from one activity to the next – which not only increases capacity for language acquisition, but facilitates deep connections between the mishlachat and chanichim as well. It’s through these trusted relationships that chanichim develop a personal and enduring connection to Israel, as well as become more comfortable with Hebrew.
Ramah Nyack’s financial stability is critical to our mission of bringing joyful, spirited Jewish life and connection to hundreds of children and young adults every year. Thanks to excellent camper enrollment, our generous donors, foundation grants, and prudent financial management, we remain fiscally strong.
Each year we assess camp as a whole and prioritize investments accordingly. We strategically maintain our 100+ year old facility and update, refurbish and replace equipment, furniture and building structures, as needed. In addition to our physical space, we also strive for excellence in staff training and development. To ensure our madrichim (counselors) can be the best role models they can be, we develop enriched programming and provide access to top-notch educators and experts to help them prepare to be actively involved in the broader Jewish community. This summer, our tzevet participated in several impactful training sessions which focused on boundary setting and reporting, and improved communications, to name a few.
Now more than ever, providing children and young adults with a strong foundation to develop their Jewish identities is imperative. Giving back to Ramah Nyack is an investment in the future of our people and the next generation of Jewish leaders. We are proud that our community continues to feel a strong connection to Ramah Nyack, and are inspired to give back so others are able to have a meaningful camp experience.
We are grateful to the many donors whose ongoing and meaningful support sustains our summer home. As 2023 comes to a close, please consider Ramah Nyack among your charitable year-end giving. There are many ways to give and we welcome the opportunity to discuss what works best for you and your family. For assistance with planning a gift which will benefit Ramah Nyack now, or in the future, please contact Rabbi Ami Hersh. We appreciate your consideration and wish you a happy, healthy, and safe year ahead. Todah Rabah! Thank you!
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