You are here: Published Articles > Camp Ramah New England Blog

Camp Ramah New England Blog

The Amazing Tikvah, Ramah, Israel, Mishlachat Relationship
December 24, 2009 by Howard Blas
CIMG8240
I just arrived in Jerusalem where I will spend Shabbat with the 13 other Fellows and three teachers of the Jim Joseph Foundation Fellowship Program of the Lookstein Center. We have been learning together and traveling together since our arrival in Israel this past Monday. The truth is, more than half of us made it to Kfar Maccabia in Ramat Gan on time; the rest were very delayed due to snow in the US. I was lucky enough to arrive on time and have been enjoying every minute of our ten day program entitled "Community and Leadership: Exploring the Past, Understanding the Present, Imagineering the Future." Beyond the learning about web platforms and communities of practice, lectures by such luminaries as Israeli conductor, Itay Talgam, Steve Israel of JAFI and Professor Jeffrey Woolf of Bar Ilan, and tiyulim (field trips) to such places as Churbat Etri, the Bar Kochba Caves, and Caesaria, I have been able to connect with various members of the Ramah New England community. And I have had a chance to reflect on the centrality of Israel to Ramah and Tikvah.

No more than two hours after landing, I was sitting in our first fellowship session, held in a private room of the Kfar Maccabia dining room. I looked up and saw Mark Ross, a former Amitzim counselor, here from England for a wedding. Later that night, I connected by phone and email with various friends from the Ramah community - Rotem and Uri, Leah Collier, Max Davidson, the Bensteins, Yediah and Uri Tzivoni, and Tikvah founders and long time directors, Herb and Barbara Greenberg.

Last night, I was honored to attend the bat mitzvah of one of Herb and Barbara's granddaughters. When our day of learning and tiyulim ended, I cabbed it to Pitaya, a beautiful catering hall in Kfar Saba. I arrived a bit late and was delighted when I saw Uri and Yedida, long time friends of Herb and Barbara's. The Greenbergs, who came on aliyah approximately ten years ago, speak often of how much the Ramah experience impacted on their love for Israel. They have maintained friendships for years with shlichim and other Israelis who worked at Ramah New England. Imagine my delight when I was greeted by a table of Israelis (including the Reems and the Hanochis) who worked at camp twenty or so years ago. And several of them worked in Tikvah! Israel and the shlichim are so central to camp, and the Tikvah experience has really made an impact on generations of shlichim.

I feel honored to continue the strong relationship between Tikvah, Ramah, Israel and our mishlachat/Israeli delegation. Last year at this time, I was in Israel with fifteen campers and staff members (we had a blast, despite the Gaza War, which caused us to change our itinerary a bit). It was my fourth Tikvah Israel trip; it was a pleasure to restart the Israel trip, started so many years ago by the Greenbergs who brought approximately ten groups Tikvah groups to Israel. Each summer, Tikvah has a particularly strong relationship with the mischlachat, who teach us Hebrew, swimming, sports, omanut, etc. I can't wait to visit my Ramah Israeli friends in Israel, and to welcome many back to camp this summer.

Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem. (I received a lot of comments yesterday about my Kayitz 2009 Ramah shirt! Several told me to remember to take off my name tag!)