Seminar Blog

August 2

 

Amalya Sykes 
Ramah Wisconsin
Shalom from Eretz Yisrael!
This past week has been one of the best weeks so far. We went down south and started at the Salad Trail where we ate organic tomatoes and cucumbers, we also did a night hike that was really cool and pushed our boundaries.
On Friday we visited Ben Gurion’s home and grave and spent Shabbat at Kibbutz Mashabei Sadeh. My highlight of this week was doing a sunrise hike in Eilat and then snorkeling in the Red Sea. At Kibbutz Ketura we learned about the values of a kibbutz and what it means to be a part of a community. We also visited Kibbutz Yotvata where they are famous for their chocolate milk!
As we enter our last Shabbat on seminar we reflect on the summer and the bonds we made with new and old friends. This past summer was one of the best summers of my life. Ramah Seminar has really pushed me to try out new things and make new friends. It has encouraged me to be a leader and face new challenges.
So Nivonim 2019, get excited for seminar because it really will be an amazing experience you won’t want to miss out on.
Shabbat Shalom!

Suzy Neumark
Ramah Canada
This week was filled with fun and educating activities down south! Starting off in Kibbutz Ketura near Eilat, onwards to Kibbutz Mashebei Sade. In Ketura we participated in many early morning activities including a morning hike and snorkelling in the Red Sea, sunrise bike ride, and jumping in the sand dunes! Since the weather is extremely hot in the south every group woke up very early in order to participate in our outdoor activities before the sun came up. After breakfast we would have time to relax indoors, until night time where we would have various activities including going to the Ice mall in Eilat.
After four days in Kibbutz Ketura we moved to Kibbutz Mashebei Sade. On our first day we went to a salad trail farm where we tasted many different types of vegetables. That night we went for a beautiful night hike in the Negev. The next day we went to a Bedouin village and heard a woman named Amal talk about her heroism as a woman in the Bedouin community. Afterwards we drove to the Sodastream factory, we learned about the diversity and unity of their employees and we got a tour of their factories.
The next day we had a mini hike in Ein Avdat followed by visiting Ben Gurion’s original cabin in Sde Boker. Later that day, all of seminar was reunited at the Bedouin tents, participating in camel rides and an authentic Bedouin dinner. We all slept in tents and woke up early to hike Masada. The sunrise was beautiful and definitely worth the sleep deprivation! Following our Masada experience we travelled to the Dead Sea where we all got messy in the mud and had fun floating in the water!
This past week was definitely a great way to end the summer. As we lead into our last Shabbat, everyone is taking advantage of the time we have left with our seminar family.
Shabbat Shalom!

Dayna Jacobs
Ramah Canada
Seminar has been one of the most amazing, unique and memorable experiences I’ve ever had. The past six weeks have been packed with adventure, learning and so many new people. Discovering this country, from the north to the south, has been incredible. Six weeks seemed like a long time when we first landed in Israel, but looking back on it, it went by in the blink of an eye.
This trip has been filled with both old and new. We all brought our own camp traditions into this summer but also learned so much about the other camps and their traditions. The different camps got to bond over similar traditions, but also got to create new memories and traditions, together. Shabbat is when all the camps came together and contributed their own traditions, which everyone so willingly and excitedly accepted and participated in. At the same time we created new traditions together as seminar, rather than our individual camps. We have formed a kehila, a community, these past six weeks and we have made memories to last a lifetime.
Our love not only for Ramah but for Israel brought us all together. We are all ramahniks, whether our camp is in the south of America or all the way in Canada. Being a ramahnik adds something so special to you, and makes you like no one else. Meeting other ramahnik’s made it so easy to make friends because we all have that thing about us. Seminar gave us the chance to be leaders and take on a new role. The lessons we have all learned and the friendships we have made will last a lifetime.
Thank you seminar!
Shabbat Shalom

Amy Posel and Lauren Shoub (Asiyah)
Ramah Canada

We began the summer up north, with all of the other seminar participants. There, we got to meet all new people from the different Ramahs. After a few days, all of the Asiyah participants headed down to Jerusalem where we completed our 60 hour MDA (Magen David Adom) training course. Before we knew it, we had graduated and were beginning our first day of volunteering on the ambulance. All of us, in pairs, were placed at 5 different stations; Beer Sheva, Netivot, Yerucham, Dimona, and Ofakim. Our days were filled with all sorts of calls from fainting and back pain to missing limbs and heart attacks.

As well, it would not be the full Ramah experience had we not gotten to spend each Shabbat in a special way along side our seminar peers. We have spent Shabbat back on the chava, with our host families, on a kibbutz, and more.

These six weeks have flown by very fast, and we will truly miss all of our new friends. We are all excited to put our newly gained knowledge to everyday use. We have each gained new life experiences and been given a great opportunity to immerse ourselves in Israeli culture. There truly is no opportunity compared to this one.

We can’t wait to tell all of our friends and family about our amazing experiences!
Shabbat Shalom


Abby Stern 
Ramah Berkshires
Shalom from the South of Israel!

Before the five buses split up to go to the south, I began to feel the subtle nudge of reality that seminar was ending, but it really hit me on one of our last days in the south, while on a night hike in the desert.  As I lay on the ground looking up at the stars with all of my friends, it washed over me just how much I was going to miss everyone and how thankful I am to have had this summer in Israel.

I have been looking back at my summer and trying to wrap my head around where I started and how I got to where I am now, six and a half weeks later. I started my seminar experience in Poland, where I began to truly understand the Holocaust for the first time.  It was an intensely bonding experience, and once we arrived in Israel, I remember standing at Hodayot, where we stayed for the first week, with my newly-made friends from the Poland trip, watching as bus after bus brought strangers into our midst.  That first day of Seminar was incredibly intimidating for many of us. New faces passed by me in a blur and names went in one ear and out the other. I went to bed that night feeling suddenly anxious for the summer ahead of me. Little did I know that by the end of the week, I would not only know the names of everyone on my bus, but I would have made friendships that would last for the rest of the summer.

For many of us on seminar, making new camp friends is something that we have not had to do for years, and we had to relearn how to just walk up to someone and try to make a connection.  Throughout our first week in the North and at Hodayot, we all learned how to step out of our comfort zones and meet new people as we explored some of the most beautiful places in the world. We watched the sunrise over Mt. Arbel, we swam in the Kinneret, we kayaked on the Jordan River, and we explored the mystical cities of Tiberias and Tzfat.  By the time we left the north to head to Jerusalem, seminar 2019 was already a kehila (community), ready to continue making memories in the Holy Land.

We started off our time in Jerusalem with a series of day trips, such as visiting archaeological digs, Tel Aviv, Mt. Herzl, the shuk, Gush Etzion, and the City of David. Exploring all these places that I had read about and heard about was surreal, and it was incredibly meaningful to explore all these places with my best friends in the world from Berkshires and my amazing new friends, who I started to love more and more every day.  We formed friendships while walking through the Old City of Jerusalem, climbing mountains, and touring holy places all around the country.

After our first week together in Jerusalem, we all separated to go on our individual Etgar tracks. We split up to survive in the desert, hike from sea to sea, learn Hebrew in Jerusalem, and join the Israeli army for four days. We had amazing experiences challenging ourselves, but when we were reunited in Jerusalem it was pure euphoria. We were all just so happy to be together again as all of Seminar! It’s crazy that I genuinely missed people who I had only met three weeks ago, but the laws of time are different on Seminar. Every day feels like a week, and every week feels like a month, so the friendships we make over the course of a few weeks have the strength of friendships made over the course of a few months.

We had a few days and a Shabbat back together in Jerusalem before the buses split up to go to the South, and that brings me back to my under-the-stars gratitude moment in the desert.  I am different, and better, from my time in Israel.  Seminar has taught me how to be a more thoughtful person, a more committed Jew, a more responsible young adult, a better friend, and how to make the most of every moment. When I look back on this summer, I won’t even remember how anxious I was that first week or how hard it was to get comfortable at first. I’m going to remember making the most amazing memories with the most amazing people. I am so lucky to have had this once-in-a-lifetime summer, and I know I will never forget my experiences and my friendships from Ramah Israel Seminar.


Maya Rabinowitz
Ramah Berkshires

Shalom from the Negev of Israel!

On Sunday, we spent our last day at Kibbutz Ketura participating in various activities. We went on a beautiful sunrise bike ride where we learned about how the kibbutz economy functions. As we continued on the bike ride, we stopped at a lookout on a sand dune and saw the border between Israel and Jordan. Afterwards, we drove to Mitzpe Ramon, a crater with breathtaking views of Israel’s desert. We learned about Ilan Ramon z”l and why the crater was dedicated to him and his son, Asaf Ramon, z”l.

On Monday we started our morning with tefilah at Hab’sor. Then we made our way down to the Salad Trail where we learned about how Israeli agriculture has adapted to its climate in order to grow fruit and vegetables. Everyone got to taste the fresh food, and some brave campers even tried some very spicy peppers! At the very end of our tour of the Salad Trail, we released carrier pigeons into the air as a sign of peace. That night, we had a night hike through the desert, and we stargazed with our kvutzot. The view blew everyone away. The sky was so clear we were able to see the Milky Way! It was the perfect way to conclude the day.

On Tuesday all buses began the day hearing from Amar, a Bedouin woman who has helped her culture shift into a more modern world. She explained to us that her struggles have allowed women to now participate in society much more. After the lecture we took a tour of the Bedouin city and made delicious pita with chocolate spread in order to taste the Bedouin culture. Later in the day we took a tour of Sodastream and got to see the inclusive work environment they have created.

On Wednesday we started our day by visiting Ben Gurion’s grave and learning about him as a leader. Then we went on a beautiful hike at Ein Avdat. Afterwards we took a tour of Ben Gurion’s house and discussed role models in our lives beyond political figures. Then we went went to the Bedouin tents and heard from another Bedouin woman who has helped change Bedouin culture. Then we went camel riding followed by a delicious traditional Bedouin dinner.

Early Thursday morning we hiked up Masada and prayed while the sun was rising. We then drove down to the Dead Sea and had fun floating around and relaxing!

We are now driving back to Jerusalem for our final days on seminar.
Shabbat Shalom!

Zack Rubin
Ramah Berkshires
 
This summer has been like a shooting star for me.On the last night of Desert Survival we left our camp site, walked into the wilderness and meditated in silence. Looking at the sky l saw a shooting star and it occurred to me that these stars are so beautiful and majestic—one of my favorite things but they go by so fast. I really want to appreciate every second with a shooting star, and the same goes for this summer.

It’s been so amazing and moving and has also gone by so fast. I want to take in every moment and appreciate every day and each one still flies by. This summer especially has taught me to grasp and appreciate the moment I’m in, the people I’m with, and the places we are as I don’t know if or when I’ll ever be with these wonderful people again.

July 26

 

Zach Helfand
Ramah California
Good shabbas! This week has been thrilling to say the least. We began the week divided into a few different “Israel unwrapped” programs: social justice, politics, eco-Israel, and culture. I personally participated in the social justice track and really enjoyed it. We connected with communities that foster individuals with various disabilities, whether physical or mental. We got a glimpse into an amazing center for them to work and volunteered alongside them. We also got to speak and dine with Ethiopian Jews and learn about their heritage, history, food, customs, and culture. This was really eye opening, and showed me an entirely different type of Jewish identity. Finally, we visited the Israeli Supreme Court and Knesset, and learned a bit about the Israeli government. I had a great time, and heard only wonderful things from my peers on the other tracks.
After this was through, we packed up and headed to the Negev! The last few days we’ve experienced the south of Israel, including a Bedouin village. Overall, this week was just as fun as it has been exhausting… I look forward to the next week and wish you all a Shabbat shalom!

Eitan Weinstein
Ramah Wisconsin

Shabbat Shalom Ramah!!!

It’s been another unbelievable week on Seminar full of some crazy stories and memories all around Israel. We started off getting back from our various Etgar tracks, like Desert Survival and Sea to Sea, towards the end of last week. From there, we got a beach day in Tel Aviv, which was so much fun, even though there were tons of jellyfish everywhere. Almost everyone got stung, but it was still a great time.

On Sunday, for the 17th of Tammuz, we went to Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust museum, and it was a truly powerful and moving experience, particularly for me and the other people who started off the Seminar experience in Poland. The next two days were a fantastic opportunity to immerse ourselves in different aspects of Israeli society, with tracks ranging in ecology to politics to culture. Those were probably two of the most interesting days so far of the whole summer because we got to chose what we wanted to learn about.
Now we are kicking off our week in the Negev, which is so nice because both of the buses with Wisconsin people are all together for our last full week in Israel. We still have so many exciting adventures ahead of us from climbing Masada to swimming in Eilat. I’m sure you’ll be hearing all of these awesome stories from me and my friends in the coming weeks and next summer. I hope the last stretch of camp is wonderful, exhilarating, and fun. Take advantage of the time left and Nivo 2018 is all overjoyed to be back with you next summer!!
Shabbat Shalom, Eitan Weinstein

Bella Saunders
Ramah Poconos
Hi everyone! My name is Bella Saunders and I am from Camp Ramah in the Poconos. This past week, we were given various opportunities to interact with people from other kvutzot (groups). On Sunday, we started off the week going to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Museum in Israel. Those of us who went on the Poland Seminar, including myself, joined back up with our Poland bus. I was curious as to how my experience in the museum would be after experiencing over a week in Poland. However, I was reminded that there is always more to learn about the Holocaust and there is no correct way to share that information. Our tour at Yad Vashem provided me with the ability to see the Holocaust from a wider, more global lens. Our beloved Poland guide also stopped by for a quick visit and she was soon surrounded in a thirty person group hug.
On Monday and Tuesday, Seminar was divided into four “Israel Unwrapped” groups to allow us to get a more in depth look at a certain piece of Israel that we were interested in. I participated in Tzedek Hevrati, social justice. The first day we visited an adapted factory for people with disabilities that allows the employees to work at their own pace yet still contribute to a larger goal. Having a purpose and making an impact are feelings that we all search for and it was really special to see that opportunity provided to people whose abilities are often overlooked. Later that day, we visited a Jewish Ethiopian village and we had the opportunity to hear a presentation about Jewish Ethiopian culture and were welcomed into a woman’s house to enjoy traditional Ethiopian coffee and snacks. It was very interesting for me to hear about the patriarchal culture that was so prevalent for Jewish Ethiopians and how that was virtually turned upside down upon them immigrating to Israel in the 1980s and 90s. The following day we learned about a program run by the Masorti movement that gives special needs teenagers the opportunity to have a Bar or Bat Mitzvah and we were able to take part in tying the tzitzit on the tallitot that will be gifted to the students on their special day. We also visited the Supreme Court and the Knesset. Social justice can be exhibited in a variety of ways and I really enjoyed the wide scope of activities we took part in.
On Wednesday, we drove down South! Despite much imagining and convincing from my friends that I had, I (being from the East Coast) could not picture mountains with no trees! However, I am in the desert now surrounded by plenty of tree-less mountains and it’s such a surreal sight! Yesterday, we were welcomed into Kibbutz Ketura with a yummy lunch, a Jeopardy game, and a tour. I really enjoyed hearing about life on the Kibbutz, what services are provided, how the kibbutz makes money, and what practices have been maintained and changed over the years.
This morning we woke up bright and early and went on a beautiful hike! From the view at the end, we were able to see four countries: Israel, Egypt, Saudia Arabia, and Jordan. Afterwards, we went snorkeling in the Red Sea. It was a very liberating feeling to be able to look out into the water and observe all the sea life.
Thanks for reading and Shabbat Shalom!

Alana Mandel
Ramah Canada

Shalom from the holy land!

This week kicked off with all of seminar participating in Israel unwrapped. We were able to choose from a variety of different tracks depending on our interests. I participated in the Tarbut – Culture track where we took a deeper look into Israeli culture. We explored Jerusalem and Tel Aviv where we looked into the art and history that helps shape Israeli culture. Other tracks included: Eco Israel, Government and Politics, and Social Activism. These two days also gave seminar the chance to mix with chanichim from different buses.

After spending two days in Israel Unwrapped, seminar has moved down south. We have been split into two groups with two buses going to one kibbutz and three going to the other. We will be reunited next week in the bedouin tents.

On Wednesday after driving down south we went to the salad trail. At the trail we picked fresh herbs and vegetables. We also got to hold pigeons which was a lot of fun. After the salad trail we met with a talented artist who takes the remains of rockets fired into Israel and turns them into art and jewelry.

On Thursday we met with a Bedouin woman who taught us how to make our own pita. She also told us her inspiring story of advocating for herself and getting an education to become a nurse. We then headed back to the kibbutz for some free time to spend at the pool. At night we went on a hike in the dark and looked at the stars.

We are all excited to bring in Shabbat tomorrow in the south!

Shabbat Shalom!


Ben Kane
Ramah New England

After a jam-packed beginning of the week in Jerusalem, Ramah Seminar is off to the South! Shabbat services on Friday evening were at Yemin Moshe, overlooking the Old City, and Saturday morning services were at a multitude of different synagogues in the area, with kids being able to select which one they davened at. Sunday was spent at Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem. The museum  was incredibly meaningful to all of us as we learned about the history of our people and the horrific events of the Holocaust. It also allowed us who went on Poland Seminar to deepen our comprehension and understanding of the places we visited.

Monday started the two days of Israel Unwrapped, where we were divided into groups and dove deeply into an aspect of Israeli society for two days. Options for IU were Eco-Israel, Government and Politics, Culture, and Social Justice. Throughout these two days, groups visited different sites such as the Knesset, the Supreme Court, water purification factories, locations along the border of Israel, and Ben Yehuda. Each group also learned a lot about their specific track by hearing from experts in the respective fields and truly experiencing Israeli society.

After those two days Seminar headed down South. This week will be spent hiking and exploring the southern region of Israel.

Shabbat shalom!

Ben Kane

July 18

 

Adam Schwartz
Ramah Berkshires

Desert summary

We spent this past week doing our selected etgars. I did what the vast majority of Berkshires kids do: desert survival. It was a sandy four days hiking in the desert and sleeping under the stars. My friends and I agreed that the hiking wasn’t physically exhausting, it was just the strain of always being sweaty and never showering. This week taught me a lot about teamwork as we were paired with kids from various Ramahs, some of whom I had been meeting for the first time, and depended upon each other to carry parts of our meal and camping equipment. I had heard a lot about desert survival as a Berkshires camper but no story can truly encapsulate the feeling of wandering in the desert. I’d highly recommend all of those going on seminar to sign up for desert survival.

Shabbat Shalom!

Kobi Recht
Ramah California

Shalom from the holy land of Jerusalem!

It’s incredible to believe that almost a month has passed since we’ve arrived in Israel. Time truly flies when you’re having fun! As Rabbi Heschel praises to be radically amazed at the wonders around us, we strive to do the same.

Everyone on Seminar this week participated in Etgar; which includes the options of traveling from the Sea of Galilee to the Mediterranean, Gadna IDF training, Desert Survival in the Negev, and Hebrew Bootcamp. These were all incredible opportunities to push ourselves to leave our comfort zones and grow as people. Also, during the few days before Etgar, we went to the Kotel for Kabbalat Shabbat, heard meaningful  stories at Mount Hertzl, and experienced the booming culture of the shuk, which allowed us to take in the greatness of Jerusalem. It’s important to understand that we are living in this sliver of time when the Jewish people have a place to call home. With this lens, it allows us to connect to our Judaism in an even deeper level and helps us continue to grow our immense love for this country.

With this love and appreciation in mind, Shabbat Shalom!


Ilana Greenstein and Marisa Gilbert Goffman
Ramah Wisconsin

Shabbat Shalom Machaneh Ramah B’Wisconsin!!

This week has been an eventful one! I heard that visitors day was insanely hot this year! There was a heat wave in Israel this week too! We started off Sunday with a small Yom-Sport where each bus competed against each other. We were white and got second, but we heard adom won Yom Sport b’wisconsin (Gilbert was stoked the legacy continues). Congrats!!

Monday began our etgar choices. We each had to choose one of four etgars, or challenges to complete over four days (Monday through Thursday). People could choose either: Gadna, which is IDF training, Hebrew Boot-Camp where people learned Hebrew and then applied their knowledge on the streets of Jerusalem, Sea to Sea (or yam le yam) which was a hike from the Kinneret up north to the Mediterranean Sea, and Desert Survival which was hiking, surviving, and thriving in the desert! 13 wisconsinites went on Desert survival because of all the stories we heard during yishuns, and the trip definitely lived up to our expectations! We drove to the Negev Monday afternoon and began hiking! Everyone on desert survival was split into 3 groups for hiking and cooking. We were put with many people from our eidah at camp, but also made so many new friends too! It was super hot but the views of the desert were totally worth it.
On the second day, we cooked our own lunches, then hiked up a mountain! Our legs were sore but the view of the Negev is one I will never forget. We hiked down the mountain, cooked our own lunches, and then slept. We were not allowed to hike between 11 am and 4 pm because it was too hot outside so we had time to nap. We always woke up before the sun to hike when it was still a manageable coldness. At our campsite we saw a rock structure that looked like Pride Rock from the Lion King! (Shout out to the shoafim play :)) Next morning we woke up at 4:45 am because we were being hit with the heat wave! We hiked up some big hills to an amazing view, then walked to a kibbutz where we could rest in the shade. Then, because it was so hot outside-in fact it reached 115 degrees!-we went to a swimming pool! Even though most desert survivals don’t go swimming, we stayed there for hours until it cooled off outside. After the hottest hours, we got popsicles and went to lunch, then our bus drove us to 1 kilometer away from our camp site to make up for the hiking we weren’t able to do that day. We got to the site, had dinner, then each group went off in the night and sat watching the sky. The moon was so bright (the night before was a full moon and a lunar eclipse too!) and I saw many shooting stars.

The next morning on our last day we hiked up a mountain where we could see the entire distance we had traveled thus far and proceeded to hike down and back to our starting point where we were met with falafel. In the end we walked a total of 21 miles in 4 days! Impressive right?! And now we’re all back in Jerusalem and are reunited with the rest of seminar! All of my friends who went on different tracks have been telling me stories about how much fun they had army crawling or biking or going to the Israeli food truck festival. I’m so glad I had the opportunity to hike in the desert because it provided me with memories to last a lifetime and an incredible experience that I will always remember! I hope the second half of camp is amazing and that each and every one of you are also making memories that you will never forget!

Shabbat Shalom!
Lots of love,
Ilana Greenstein and Marisa Gilbert Goffman


Danielle Garten 
Ramah Poconos

Hi friends and family, my name is Danielle Garten and I’m from Camp Ramah in the Poconos. I’m so excited to be reporting from Yam L’Yam (Sea to Sea) on Etgar!

What a great four days! Our group left Jerusalem on two buses to our first destination – a water hike in the Kinneret. There, we got to know our group and filled up a bottle with water from the Kinneret to carry as our “good luck charm” throughout our adventure. When we got to the campsite for the night, we were treated to a delicious dinner, and then had some time to solo hike, reflect on our day, and look at the beautiful sights around us. We finished off the night learning about human survival instincts and sleeping under the stars.

Day two was our biggest hike yet. Over our 10 kilometer journey, we learned how to read topographical maps, know what time it is from the sun, and the best ways to cook our lunches. Splitting up into smaller groups, we had walkie talkies and had to use the knowledge our guide shared with us to get to our final destination. We were able to feel so independent trekking in the woods and cooking our own food, and then we came together again and hiked to our campsite for night. Dinner and roasted marshmallows ended off our night with happy campers and full stomachs!

Day three was considered the hottest day of the summer so far in Israel, so unfortunately we were unable to continue with our normal plan for the day. Instead, we went to a pool for the morning and cooked food in the kibbutz. We took a cable car up and down Rosh HaNikra to look at the sea and watched a video on the history of the site. We were so close to the Lebanon border! Our next look out was the Monfort castle, then we had a chance to stargaze through the moving clouds and had a group discussion about the constellations.

Finally, we ended our tiyul hiking in the early morning where we were ahead of schedule and played a group icebreaker called Pim Pam Pom. We walked across a river to the bike drop off spot and began the last leg of our journey. This was the real etgar (challenge) on Etgar for me! As a novice bike rider, I was able to ride my bike through banana farms and rocky paths, at last spotting the Mediterranean Sea and realizing that we had completed our journey. We had an amazing lunch near the beach and received our certificates showing our accomplishments. We were all so proud of our hiking, biking, outdoor cooking, and friend making over the course of the last four days! Thanks for reading!:)

 


Bayley Temes
Ramah Canada
I have been on seminar for about three weeks now and this trip has exceeded my expectations. From making new friends, touring Israel and trying new things, I could not be happier here. This past week wasn’t just another week in Jerusalem. We started our week with a colour war between each kvutzah.
On Monday we separated from our kvutzot and went on an etgar trip of your choice. The four options were Hebrew boot camp, gadna, desert survival and sea to sea. I went on sea to sea which is a trip from the Kinneret to the Mediterranean Sea. Me and fifty other campers started our journey at the Kinneret with a water hike. Then we went to our camp site and had our peulat erev. For peulat erev our guide took us all down a dark path and dropped us all off separately to do what we wanted. I really enjoyed this time because it was a time where I could reflect about my experience on seminar so far.
The next morning we woke up and started our first hike. During the hike we stopped for breakfast and lunch. Every breakfast and lunch on sea to sea we got split into units and cooked our own meals with the ingredients that we were given. This was so much fun and we got to experiment with the ingredients and make delicious foods like caramelized apples and grilled salami.
The next day it was very hot and unsafe to hike so we spent our morning at a kibbutz pool near by which was relaxing and so much fun. Later that day we went to Rosh HaNikra which is a tourist site on the border of Israel and Lebanon. At Rosh HaNikra we went on the steepest cable car in the world and saw beautiful grottos. Then that night for puelat erev we learned about stars and the different constellations and went star gazing.
 On our last day we woke up very early and started our hike. After our hike we biked the rest of the way to the Mediterranean Sea, which was definitely a highlight of my trip. This trip really took me out of my comfort zone and I had such a good time being in nature, hiking and making new friends. On Friday we ended our week all together with a Tel Aviv beach day.

Overall, this week and my experience on seminar so far has been indescribable and I can’t wait for Israel Unwrapped and time in the south next week!

Shabbat Shalom!


Alyssa Leventhal 
Ramah New England

This past weekend was Host Shabbat. All of us left the base in Jerusalem and spent Shabbat with a family in Israel. We had a relaxing Shabbat with time to catch up with family and friends. Saturday night, we returned to Jerusalem and reunited with our seminar friends.

Sunday morning, we had amazing limmud sessions where we learned about Judaism, meditation, leadership skills, how to share our personal stories, and so much more. I personally attended the session called “The Bigger Story”. Here we heard from a guest speaker, and we learned how to share our personal experiences and speak in front of large groups of people. This session taught me how to suppress my nerves and push through when telling an engaging story. Sunday afternoon, we had a mini color war. Each bus was given a different color and participated in a series of team building activities. Everyone was engaged and had a great time!

Monday morning we left for etgar! Along with about 90 other seminar participants, I went on desert survival. We spent 4 days hiking, cooking meals, and we even went swimming due to the intense heat. Although the hikes were super challenging and it was very hot, the experience was extremely meaningful overall. I met a lot of new people that I hadn’t had the chance to meet before, and I feel very accomplished. One special moment on etgar was seeing the stars the first night. We spent a lot of time hiking that day, and we were exhausted when we arrived at the camp site. Before we went to bed, we laid down and stargazed, and I felt so happy and lucky to be surrounded by my best friends.

Tonight (Thursday night), we returned to the base in Jerusalem and reunited with the rest of seminar. We had some free time to hang out, share funny etgar stories with each other, and prepare for our beach day tomorrow in Tel Aviv.

Shabbat Shalom!

 

July 4

 

Leah Fruchtman
Ramah Berkshires
Everybody landed in Israel on Wednesday, June 26th, joining everyone who had come from Poland the day before. It was extremely exciting to be reunited with my friends from Berkshires, while also meeting new friends from other Ramah camps. We did some Israeli dancing, and I enjoyed seeing which dancing were shared between the camps and which were Berkshires specific.
We went on our first hike on Thursday. On the mountain, we played games and got to know one another. It was fun to bond with new friends in nature. On Friday, we woke up at 3:45 to drive to Mount Arbel, where we watched the sun rise and prayed shacharit. It was a hard hike, but it was empowering and an extremely proud moment when I made it to the bottom.
It was the first Shabbat in Israel. We got dressed up, like in camp, but not everyone was wearing white, a Berkshires tradition that I miss. I knew most of the tunes for Kabbalat Shabbat, but also learned many new ones. Throughout dinner, people from different camps stood up and led us in their traditions, making the dinner a learning experience for everyone. Berkshires led Shira, teaching everyone the traditions that are so central to the Ramah Berkshires culture. Leading Shira again, it was almost like being back at camp, leading all of Berkshires in Shira in the Chadar. Saturday was very much like a camp Shabbat. We had services in the morning, free time in the afternoon, mincha, dinner, slow Shira, and Havdallah. Right after free time, my bus played games in order to bond us into a tighter community. I did not know all the songs sung during slow Shira, but it was beautiful to sit back and listen to the singing surrounding me. During Havdallah, I realized how many people I have met and friends that I have made. We ended the night with a pool party full of Israeli dancing and fun.
On Sunday, we learned about Kibbutzim and the original Jewish pioneers that came to Palestine, acting on Zionist beliefs in a time where it was unclear if a Jewish state in Palestine would ever be realized. We visited the cemetery which contained many of the namesakes of buses on seminar, such as Naomi Shemer, the songwriter famous for Yerushalayim Shel Zahav. We went to a natural hot spring and swam around to cool off. On Monday we learned about minority communities up north. We went to an Arab village, where we learned about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and met Arab-Israeli teens our age. It was very interesting to meet people who grew up very differently than me. Afterward, we went to a Druze village and learned about the Druze religion. We went to an active synagogue within the Druze community. Then we went to Tiberias, where, along with another Seminar bus, we went on a cruise of the Galilee. We listened to Israeli music and did a lot of Israeli dancing. We ended the night at Hodayot with free time and friends.
Overall, this has been an amazing first week full of friends, traditions, learning, and fun. I would not trade this summer in Israel with people from different Ramah camps for anything!

Zach Helfand
Ramah California
Greetings from Israel! We’re about a week and a half in, and it’s a blast. It’s been an incredible opportunity for me to meet people from the various Ramah camps and get to know them. The sharing of the unique yet similar camp cultures that span across the camps has been really exciting and I’ve loved this new expanded Kehilla. This week has been quite the adventure. Waking up to watch the sunrise atop a mountain, swimming in the Kinneret, seeing Tzfat in all its mystical glory, learning about the rich history of this land and eating a lot of schnitzel. Shabbat in Hodayot (up north) was terrific as well. I’ve loved spending time with friends – old and new. It’s been a crazy realization that all of the camp journeys we experience happen simultaneously at a number of other camps, and there are so many other great people around the country that we don’t get to meet until seminar.
Shabbat shalom from the holy land!

Eitan Wiederhorn
Ramah Wisconsin
Shabbat Shalom Ramah!!!

This week on Seminar, we were in the North of Israel for the first half of the week. On Friday night, we brought in Shabbat with all 200 Ramahniks here in Hodayot, which was an amazing experience that was really reminiscent of sitting on the lower kikar with the whole camp. It’s crazy how fast people who don’t know each other at all can form a community so quickly built on our shared love of camp and our Jewish connections that we build there.On Sunday, we learned about Kibbutz life and pioneering. We went to an incredible kibbutz where they use bees to try to find sustainable farming techniques while being economically sound. It was fascinating learning about that lifestyle. Afterwards, we got to go swimming in a natural spring right near the Jordanian border.

Yesterday, we toured the city of Tzfat, one of the four Holy cities in Israel. We learned about Kabbalah and saw some beautiful artwork. It was really one of the most amazing cities that I’ve ever seen and it had such a genuine aura of mysticism.

Later this week, we’ll be going up to Jerusalem before Shabbat. But before that, we have our Zimriya, so we’ll make sure go bring our Wisconsin ruach to the rest of Seminar!

So far, this trip really has been very beautiful and powerful, particularly being able to go from the intensity of Poland to the excitement of Israel and I cannot recommend it enough.

Shabbat Shalom


Sabrina Bramson
Ramah Poconos

Last Thursday we had our first day of orientation and our first hike. The hike was pretty hard since I’m not much of a hiker, but having the whole group together made it easier and more fun to do. We told each other a little bit about where we’re from and what we like about our respective camps. It was really cool to hear about the differences between the different Ramah camps.

On Friday we woke up at 3:45am to see the sunrise on Mount Arbel. It was so beautiful! We took a bunch of pictures and even did shacharit there. We did a relatively short hike on the mountain, most of which was downhill, and sang as we walked. By the end, we were counting all of the cows we saw on Mount Arbel. Afterwards we went to the Kinneret with every group and swam in a small area. Even though the rocks hurt our feet through our shoes, we had so much fun. There was a dj playing Israeli music and we were all singing and dancing to the songs. Then we headed back to the base and got ready for Shabbat. Kabbalat Shabbat was interesting because someone from a different camp was the shaliach tzibur so I didn’t know all of the tunes, but it was fun to see how other camps hold their services.

Shabbat Shalom!

Shira Chazen
Ramah Canada
There is something special about arriving in israel, meeting up with your old camp friends and then meeting over a hundred teenagers your age. At first it seems overwhelming, but after just a few days, when everything comes together, it seems quite incredible. Realizing that all these other Jewish kids have been brought up in the same camp in nine different locations is amazing and when everyone comes together, we realize how similar we are.
These past weeks has been remarkable. We have travelled all over the north and I’ve toured places I never would have if it wasn’t for Seminar and our amazing tzevet. Thanks to my educator and madrichim, I have connected to Israel in such a special way. Experiencing Shabbat on seminar was something I truly loved and very eye opening for me. I loved how each camp could bring their own tradition while simultaneously realizing our common passion for Judaism and camp. Each day just keeps getting better and better and I cannot wait to see what the rest of the summer brings. I’m so excited to travel to Jerusalem later in the week.
Shabbat Shalom!

Ayelet Weiderhorn
Ramah New England
On the days leading up to Seminar, I was a little nervous because there would be so many new people in one place. However, before our flight even took off, I had made a bunch of new friends.  I made the decision to go on the Poland trip in addition to Israel, and it was extremely powerful and meaningful. I learned so much about my history and Jewish identity, and became very close with everyone on my Poland bus.  I feel that this trip to Poland really prepared me for the next part of my summer in Israel.
Having visited Israel many times before, I was worried that the trip would feel repetitive. However, I could not have been more wrong. We are one week into Seminar, and it feels like I am in Israel for the first time. Being here with so many old and new friends is amazing and I feel more connected with both the land and the people here with me. This week we did many things I have done before like kayaking down the Jordan river, or shopping in Tzfat. We also did many things I have never done before like going on a boat ride on the Kinneret or waking up at 3:45 to see the sunrise. Whether I had already gone to these places or not, the experiences felt new and exciting, and I could not be happier here.
Shabbat Shalom!