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Camp Ramah's Tikvah Program Articles

Aug12017
Ramah’s Truly Inclusive Hike
August 1, 2017

Former Tikvah participant joins Israel hike to benefit the program that supported him in younger years There is an important concept in the disabilities inclusion world known as “Nothing About Us Without Us.” This simply means that decisions or conversations having to do with people with… Read more...

Jun202017
Biking and Hiking with a Mission
June 20, 2017

The power of sharing stories while biking and hiking through Israel to benefit National Ramah Tikvah Network From Wednesday through Friday during the second week of May, bike riders and hikers on the fourth biennial Ramah Israel Bike Ride and Hiking Trip pedaled and hiked through the 108 degree… Read more...

May192017
Kesher Tikvah: Tikvah Connects
May 19, 2017

Welcome to Tikvah Connects, a new publication of the National Ramah Commission, connecting you several times a year with news about members of the Tikvah community and exciting Tikvah events. Nearly every Rosh Hashanah and Passover since 1984, I have received beautiful handwritten cards from… Read more...

Aug112016
Ramah Rockies Pilots Vocational Training for Tikvah Program Graduate
August 11, 2016

Max Newman was a beloved participant in the Tikvah Program for four summers. When Max approached age 18 and it was time to graduate Tikvah, director Rabbi Eliav Bock and Tikvah Program founder and Director, Elyssa Hammerman, decided to think creatively. They created a vocational training program… Read more...

Jul162016
My visit to Ramah Wisconsin
July 16, 2016

One of the most wonderful parts of my work is the chance to visit special needs programs at several of our Ramah camps. Last week I arrived at Rhinelander airport to rain and fog and was greeted by the warm smile of longtime friend and colleague, Ralph Schwartz, the Director of Special Needs… Read more...

Apr92016
Inclusion is a Critical Social Justice Issue: An Interview with Beth Steinberg of Shutaf
April 9, 2016

Social Justice may be understood through the many lenses found in Jewish texts, but perhaps none as foundational as “love thy neighbor as thyself” (Leviticus 19:18). In an interview conducted by Covenant Award Recipient and Director of National Ramah Tikvah Network Howard Blas, Shutaf… Read more...

Feb252016
North Americans with disabilities meet Israelis 'just like them,' and it's profound
February 25, 2016

In the Hebrew school of my youth, we took great pride in bringing a quarter each session to put in the blue and white JNF pushke. As Tu B’Shvat approached, we worked extra hard to raise money to plant trees in Israel. On our Hebrew high school trip to Israel, we took pride in actually planting… Read more...

Feb232016
Inclusion in the Workplace Too
February 23, 2016

Dozens of articles online and in print publications proudly and enthusiastically note that February is Jewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion Month (JDAIM). JDAIM, marked by agencies and organizations throughout the Jewish world, is described as “a unified effort among Jewish organizations… Read more...

Sep242015
Wheelchair Tennis shows opportunity for inclusion in sports
September 24, 2015

For most tennis fans, the highlight of the 2015 U.S. Open was the anticipation and excitement around Serena Williams possibly winning the Grand Slam – all four major titles in a calendar year – for the first time since Stefi Graf accomplished this feat in 1988. For me, the highlight occurred on… Read more...

Sep62015
Friends of Tikvah Teach Baking, Storytelling and Dance!
September 6, 2015

Many people come each summer to see Tikvah in action – prospective parents, funders, educators, former staff members and friends who want to share a talent or skill. This summer, we have been blessed with three visitors who came to teach. Chef Paula Shoyer comes each year to share cooking and… Read more...

Sep62015
"Falling Off A Cliff": Vocational Education And Placement Essential For People With Disabilities
September 6, 2015

When the Tikvah Program for campers with disabilities was started in 1970 at Camp Ramah in New England, no one imagined a day when people with disabilities would be meaningfully included in Jewish camping. Now, 45 years later, every Ramah camp in the United States and Canada serves people with… Read more...

Aug122015
Special Visitors to Tikvah Kayitz 2015: Educators, Disability Professionals & Funders
August 12, 2015

We have been blessed with many visitors to our Tikvah Program at Camp Ramah in New England. Many visitors are educators and professionals in the field of disabilities and inclusion. They came from various communities and represented many denominations. Many came to observe Tikvah in action and to… Read more...

Jul82015
New Online Inclusion Guide Helps Camp Prepare For All Campers
July 8, 2015

As more Jewish camps across the country expand their programs to welcome campers of all abilities, a new online resource has been created in a partnership between the Foundation For Jewish Camp and the Ramah Camping Movement. The “Inclusion Training Guide for Jewish Summer Camps” is a… Read more...

Jun22015
As Inclusion Expands In Jewish Summer Camps, A New Training Guide
June 2, 2015

After three years, the camp director has finally trained the 800 campers to “quiet down” in the chadar ochel (dining room) when he puts his hand in the air. One day, a young man with Down Syndrome grabs the microphone from the director and starts singing a version of “Shalom… Read more...

Jul172014
A Year of Hopeful Trends in the Inclusion World
July 17, 2014

As a teacher of Jewish Studies and b’nai mitzvah training children with a wide range of disabilities, and as a long time director of a disabilities program which is part of an 800+ camper Jewish overnight camp, I am immersed in the Jewish disabilities world and am part of dozens of year… Read more...

Jan112014
Special Needs Israel Experience
January 11, 2014

How do you create a meaningful Israel experience for young adults with special needs? Video blogger Aaron Herman spoke with Covenant Award winner Howard Blas, Director of the Tikvah Program at Camp Ramah in New England, Tali Cohen, Director of Tikvah ocational Services and participants about their… Read more...

Oct132013
David Dalnekoff Turns 40!
October 13, 2013

Most people at camp recognize David Dalnekoff as the hard-working, good-natured man who delivers the mail each day. This past Shabbat, David was honored by his synagogue, the Westville Shul in New Haven, Connecticut, with a Kiddush lunch in his honor, as he celebrated his 40th birthday. I was… Read more...

Aug152013
'I Get The Job Done' At Ramah's Guest House
August 15, 2013

I came to the Tikvah Program at Camp Ramah in New England in 1997 and was a camper in the Amitzim (the brave ones) division of the Tikvah program for campers with disabilities for about five years. Coming to Ramah was mostly my parents’ idea. We were looking for a Jewish camp mostly, and that was… Read more...

Jun172013
Summer Camp - Fun and Sun for EVERYONE!
June 17, 2013

The month leading up to the camp season is action-packed, a bit stressful and most of all—exciting. In less than a month, hundreds of campers with a range of disabilities will arrive at Jewish summer camps across North America. While the off-season is similarly busy with hiring staff… Read more...

May22013
Ramah Celebrates, Raises Money For Its Pioneering Camps By Biking Across Israel
May 2, 2013

An enthusiastic group of 72 bike riders and hikers, ages 13-73, arrived in Eilat on April 30 after biking since April 24 all the way from Jerusalem. They made the trip — the Ramah Israel Challenge — to support special needs programs at Ramah camps in the United States and Canada. Meaningful… Read more...

Mar62013
Jewish camps seeking to bring diverse groups under the same tent
March 6, 2013

NEW YORK (JTA) — Is there a more enthusiastic camper in the world than Ezra Fields-Meyer, a 17-year-old with high-functioning autism and a regular at Camp Ramah in Southern California? Not if you ask his father. Tom Fields-Meyer says his son’s annual visit to the rural retreat in Ojai, 80 miles… Read more...

Feb182013
Fresh Perspectives on Israel
February 18, 2013

Friends, Today I’m happy to share with you a fascinating description of Israel through the eyes of a group of young adults with Asperger Syndrome. Howard Blas, architect of Ramah New England’s highly respected inclusion program, accompanied this group on their Birthright trip and… Read more...

Nov282012
Tikvah Staff Alumni at the Post-GA Disability Inclusion Initiative
November 28, 2012

When Shelley Cohen and Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi returned to their bus after their tour of Camp Ramah in New England, they knew they had to bring the issue of inclusion of people with disabilities to a much larger audience. They had just participated in a three-day bus tour for funders of summer… Read more...

Jul132012
Our Inclusive Community
July 13, 2012

Our Tikvah participants joined the whole camp for a trip to Six Flags. Every year, I wonder if this is the best use of our time. It is a fun day, but it is very taxing. We assess the campers and their needs (Which rides? How much supervision? Water park?) and we assign two or three staff members to… Read more...

Aug302011
"Shabbos Is Calling" to Campers with Disabilities: All Year Long
August 30, 2011

This month, members of Camp Ramah in New England’s Tikvah Program returned to their home communities in New York, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Florida and California. Unlike their neurotypical peers who have year-round opportunities to participate in… Read more...

Feb242011
Shabbos is Calling: Camp Ramah engages Jewish teens with special needs in a year-round Jewish experience
February 24, 2011

In Azeem Kayum’s moving book, Wrestling with the Goddess, his mom writes, “Azeem does not want your sympathy. He wants your friendship. He wants to be accepted for who he is. I want all of you to realize that any one of you can be hit by a car today and become disabled. Would you like… Read more...

Dec242010
Jewish Educational Leadership: Nurturing an Online Community of Practice
December 24, 2010

Camp Ramah has been serving campers with special needs for over forty years. These include Ramah camps in Massachusetts, Canada, Wisconsin, New York, Georgia, California, Pennsylvania and Illinois, which offer programs for campers with a range of special needs. Some offer overnight camping… Read more...

Nov42010
Campers with Developmental Disabilities: The Tikvah Program
November 4, 2010

Disabilities: What the Ancient Rabbis knew At a pre-season retreat, twenty senior staff members of Camp Ramah in New England spent a weekend discussing the educational theme for the upcoming summer—the biblical concept of betzelem elohim —the idea that everyone is created in the… Read more...

Oct142010
Breaking barriers: Walgreens hires West Hartford man with special needs
October 14, 2010

Aaron Rudolph’s drive to work from his home in West Hartford to the Walgreen’s Distribution Center in Windsor is usually uneventful. Having special needs and landing a meaningful job often poses more of a challenge. Rudolph is one of the lucky ones. A story in the Hartford Courant five years ago… Read more...

Oct92010
Blessed with Options: The special Bat Mitzvah
October 9, 2010

Becoming a Bat Mitzvah has the potential to be affirming, celebratory, and a wonderful welcome into the Jewish community as a whole and into the community of Jewish women in particular. Yet, planning a Bat Mitzvah can be confusing and stressful, given the various practices accepted and the options… Read more...

Aug22010
Camp for Everyone: The blessings of Jewish camps for special-needs kids
August 2, 2010

Are you completely sick of me yammering about camp? Well, you’ll be glad to know that this is my last camp-related column of the summer. But while the others have been jokey, this one is anything but. Ezra Kress at camp in 2010. Photo by Jeffrey Kress Meet Ezra, the 12-year-old son of my… Read more...

Jul132010
Ramah Special Needs Program Celebrates 40 Years of Inclusion
July 13, 2010

Campers, families, counselors and others touched by Ramah’s Tikvah program for special needs youth converged Sunday at Camp Ramah New England to mark the groundbreaking initiative and four decades of impact. The Tikvah program, established at Camp Ramah New England in 1970, and now active… Read more...

Jul122010
Camp Ramah Marks 40 Years of Inclusion for Special Needs Campers
July 12, 2010

Avi Friedman Matthew Bander, left, of Brighton, is a former Tikvah camper who attended the 40th anniversary celebrations at Camp Ramah New England on Sunday. He is pictured with Emily Perlmutter, a friend of his and the program. PALMER, MA — Campers, families, counselors and others touched… Read more...

Jun92010
Tour de Shuls... Connecticut style
June 9, 2010

Helping to give special needs kids a fun summer By Cindy Mindell For several years, the New England Region of the Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs has raised money to support the Tikvah Program at Camp Ramah in New England, one of the first summer programs for Jewish campers with special needs…. Read more...

Apr162010
Choosing the Right One: Summer Camps for Children with I/DD
April 16, 2010

Summer camp - both day camps and overnight camps - offer opportunities for children to learn new skills, form friendships, experiment with new interests, and learn new things about themselves. Children with intellectual disabilities are increasingly participating in these programs. But truly… Read more...

Feb262010
Connecting Members of the Tikvah Community Year-Round
February 26, 2010

This has been a very exciting “off season” for the Tikvah Program — with the magic of our community continuing, even if we can’t be at camp. As many of you know, I am one of fourteen Jewish educators from across the country selected to join the first cohort of Jim Joseph Foundation Fellows (JJFF)…. Read more...

Jun112009
Toward an Orthodox Community that is More Responsive to People with Special Needs
June 11, 2009

Howard Blas is a social worker and special educator who primarily teaches students with special needs and circumstances in Jewish Studies and for bar and bat mitzvah. He is Director of the Tikvah Program at Camp Ramah in New England. Howard’s work has appeared in publications such as The Jerusalem… Read more...

Jun52009
Gearing Up for ‘Tour de Shuls’
June 5, 2009

Photo courtesy of Ken Turkewitz, New England Region Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs, Tour-de-Shuls Chair 2009 Riders and supporters from Camp Ramah gather at last years race. NEEDHAM — Over two years ago on a Sunday afternoon, Stephen Baum found himself heading south on his weekly bike… Read more...

Jan72009
A Wonderful Tikvah Trip to Israel
January 7, 2009

It is always difficult to pinpoint the highlight of any visit to Israel. For ten Tikvah Program participants and alumni, who participated with Tikvah Director Howard Blas and two madrichim on a recent ten-day Tikvah Ramah Israel Program, all would likely agree that seeing camp friends ranks near… Read more...

Aug172007
Overnight Camping For Children With Special Needs
August 17, 2007

Thirty-eight years ago, many people worried that having campers with special needs in a normal Jewish summer camp would be a disaster. Would those campers bring down the level of Hebrew and Jewish knowledge? Would the speciality staff know how to work with them? Would the regular campers not return… Read more...

May12007
A Specialized Program for Children with Developmental Disabilities within a "Typical" Overnight Summer Camp: Camp Ramah's Tikvah Program
May 1, 2007

Specialized summer camp programs for disabled children began to emerge in the late 19th century and expanded in the 1930’s and 40’s [1]. Although it is not known when integration of children with developmental disabilities into “regular” camps began, it is likely to have been pioneered in camps… Read more...

Apr252007
A Wonderful Place To Stay
April 25, 2007

The Tikvah Program at Camp Ramah in New England, now celebrating its 37th year, continues to grow and evolve, offering the Ramah experience to people of many ages with a wide range of special needs. Last summer, we initiated a program to hire post-voc eders graduates of our Tikvah Program as… Read more...

Jan72007
Twelve Inspiring Days
January 7, 2007

A dozen members of the Tikvah Program at Camp Ramah in New England and their chaperones visited Israel from December 20, 2006 January 3, 2007. Howard Blas, director of Ramah New England’s Tikvah Program, expressed his feelings about this special experience. The trip was a dream come true. This was… Read more...

Aug82005
Camp Ramah in New England
August 8, 2005

Camp Ramah, the camping branch of the Conservative Movement of Judaism, has provided special needs populations with an exciting camping experience for over 30 years. The Tikvah (meaning hope in Hebrew) Programs are located in Massachusetts, Wisconsin, California and Canada and serve Jewish… Read more...

Aug52005
Yale Developmental Disabilities Clinic Newsletter: Camp Ramah New England
August 5, 2005

Howard was interviewed for Yale’s Developmental Disabilities Clinic Newsletter - Summer 2005 edition, what follows is the excerpt containing Howard’s interview. The original newsletter can be accessed here: http://www.med.yale.edu Camp Ramah, the camping branch of the… Read more...

Feb282003
Ambassadors of Hope
February 28, 2003

Three special needs students came to Israel last week to share a message of hope and support for Israel. Simone Rosenzweig reports: For three extraordinary young men who visited Israel from February 12 through 24, the fact that others were scared to visit now only fueled their desire to come. The… Read more...

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