Ramah Camps and Israel Programs
The Ramah Camping Movement began in 1947 with the establishment of the first Ramah camp in Conover, Wisconsin. That camp and additional Ramah camps have been maintained as a partnership among the Conservative community in a given geographic area, the National Ramah Commission, and The Jewish Theological Seminary.
Ramah operates eight residential camps and three day camps throughout North America, including an outdoor adventure specialty camp in Colorado, as well as extensive Israel programs. Offering programming conducted in Hebrew and English, the camps are a natural extension of a child's year-round Jewish education. A four-week (younger children) or eight-week (grades 7 to 11) session supplements what the child is learning in an afternoon school, day school, or Hebrew high school.
The Ramah camps also offer opportunities for JTS students to serve as teachers in formal classroom settings, as arts and sports specialists, and as division heads and counselors with cabin groups. The camp program includes regular instruction in Jewish classical texts, Hebrew language, religious life, and contemporary Jewish issues; in some cases, experimental texts are created especially for this purpose.
Ramah also offers an intensive experience in religious life, focusing on daily worship, Sabbath observance, and ethical conduct. As a natural complement to these objectives, emphasis is placed on the creative use of the outdoors and on the development of personality, skills, and interests. A full program of crafts, athletics, the arts, and outdoor adventure is offered. To be eligible for admission, applicants are required to have a Hebrew education appropriate to their chronological age.
Through Ramah's special needs programs (Tikvah, Breira B'Ramah, and Camp Yofi), many of our camps provide a summer experience for children, teens, and young adults with learning challenges, emotional disorders, and other developmental disabilities. The National Ramah Special Needs Network provides year-round staff development, training, and mentoring for current Tikvah, Breira, and Yofi staff members, as well as for staff alumni.
Most of our camps run four- to six-day family camps in which the entire family—children of all ages, plus parents and grandparents—enjoy an intensive week of family camping, Jewish learning, and family building. Though brief, these experiences have an inordinately powerful impact on the development of Jewish family life.
The impact of Camp Ramah remains with campers, staff, and families throughout the year, as they seeek to stay involved and energize Jewish life in their communities.
- Reshet Ramah is a new global initiative to link thousands of Ramah alumni and other members of the Jewish community in year-round Jewish experiences. Funded with a generous grant from the AVI CHAI Foundation and the Maimonides Fund, Reshet Ramah will create networks and programs to keep Ramah campers and staff connected and active in Jewish leadership.
- The Ramah Service Corps is a network of selected college- and graduate school–age staff alumni working in synagogues and other community institutions who are provided with training, mentoring, and educational support to bring camp-style experiential programming into their communities. Founded in 2009 with a Covenant Foundation Ignition Grant and a multiyear grant from the Foundation for Jewish Camp, the Ramah Service Corps is now receiving significant funding from additional sources to greatly expand the program.
Ramah offers extensive leadership development opportunities year-round:
- The Bert B. Weinstein National Ramah Staff Training Institute meets annually for an extended period in between camp seasons. Under the educational direction of the National Ramah Commission, the institute provides an intensive experience of Jewish studies and group leadership workshops to a limited number of college students of exceptional ability. Candidates accepted into this program are expected to serve on the staff of Ramah camps during the following season.
- The Louis & Shoshanah Winer Institute for Rosh Edah Training is held each May, and brings together the division heads and senior staff of all of the Ramah camps for cross-camp training and enrichment.
- The Daber Fellowship Seminar provides training for staff members for the Daber Hebrew Language Initiative, funded by the AVI CHAI Foundation and designed to strengthen Hebrew language usage at Ramah camps in North America.
- Kivun Training for Camp Specialists is a joint program of Ramah and the Union for Reform Judaism. The Kivun program strives to enhance the skills of summer specialists at Ramah and URJ camps within their specialty areas, and as Jewish educators able to integrate Jewish content and knowledge as an essential part of their specialty instruction.
- The Alexander M. Shapiro Fellowships, established by the Zinbarg family of Congregation Oheb Shalom in South Orange, New Jersey, supplement the summer income of JTS rabbinical, cantorial, education, and social work students who spend the summer at Ramah. The fellows also participate in an educational seminar during the academic year.
- Morton M. and Miriam Steinberg Fellows, college seniors and graduate students who are senior members of the Ramah educational staffs, participate in leadership initiatives related to the Ramah Camping Movement’s global outreach efforts. In recent years, delegations of NRC Steinberg Fellows traveled to Argentina, Germany, and Ukraine to establish relationships with their counterparts in local Ramah and Ramah-style camps.
Ramah Programs in Israel serve a wide range of children and adults:
- The Ramah Israel Seminar is a summer program in Israel that couples studies related to Israel with carefully planned visits to interesting sites and an introduction to Israeli society. The seminar, with an optional trip to Poland, is intended for older high school students as a culmination of the Ramah summer-camp experience, serving as a bridge between one’s years as a camper and one’s return to camp as a staff member.
- Tichon Ramah Yerushalayim and USY High are high school semester programs conducted in Jerusalem for high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors. Participants take part in a fully accredited academic program of Judaic and general studies, along with other intensive educational experiences related to the development of Zionism and the State of Israel.
- The Ramah Israel Institute offers synagogue, day school, and community groups a new approach to experiencing Israel. It combines a tour with formal and informal educational activities focused on a theme of the groups' choosing. Family groups are assigned a family educator who creates a program for the children, as well as intergenerational activities for children and parents during the trip.
- The Ramah Jerusalem Day Camp is a summer experience for children entering grades K through 9.
To contact the National Ramah Commission directly, please call (212) 678-8881 or send an email. For more information about Ramah, and for links to all Ramah camps, visit the Ramah Camping Movement online. Those interested in summer jobs at a Ramah camp can visit the Ramah jobs website or call the National Ramah Commission.