Connecting Members of the Tikvah Community Year-Round

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). Fellows work in partnership with the Lookstein Center at Bar Ilan University in Israel. We are learning technologies that will help us develop online communities of practice. So far, I have attended seminars in Los Angeles and Israel and will soon continue my training in Fort Lauderdale.

My fellowship projects center around connecting members of the Tikvah community. We have already launched a “Shabbos Is Calling” Program with Tikvah staff members and campers. Thanks to Elisheva Laymen and Avi Finder for kicking off the program, and to Ariella Rosen, our returning Amitzim Rosh Edah, for continuing the weekly calls where campers sing – including the favorite “Shabbos is Coming” — and discuss the parsha and shmooze.

I also have been working with Rabbi Mitch Cohen, the director of the National Ramah Commission, and Leora Kimmel Greene, CRNE Assistant Program Director and part-time NRC staffer, on a project to connect staff members from Tikvah programs across the country. Our plan is to have regular online meetings to offer support and training and share best practices.

We also held our first ever Voc Ed and Post Voc Ed Reunion Shabbaton in the Washington, DC area. Twenty members of our community spent Shabbat with friends of Tikvah from Congregation Ohr Kodesh. We enjoyed Tikvah davening, tasty meals, an oneg, a walk to a local park (including a visit to the home of Rabbi Marc Israel!) and a motzaei Shabbat West Wing Tour at the White House. We discussed ways to stay connected year round; our community is already using Facebook and Skype to stay in touch.

This summer, we also will be connecting the Tikvah community on July 11, when we invite former Tikvah campers, families and staff members – to join us in Palmer for our Tikvah at 40 Reunion. To learn about this and other year round Tikvah activities, check out CRNE Tikvah Staff and Alumni, CRNE blog and Davar Acher, a new JJFF blog.

I have been hearing from so many in the Jewish world who are interested in learning more about special needs camping, inclusion, etc. I look forward to continued growth in this area!

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