Anne Schiffman Bonowitz’s Reflection

Camp Ramah in the Poconos, 1950: I was twelve and had received a scholar- ship from my synagogue so I could attend camp that summer. I think I was the only girl in my bunk who was not the daughter of a rabbi, a cantor, or some other Jewish professional. I certainly was sure that I knew less Hebrew than anyone else. It wasn’t until sometime in the fifth week that I even understood the most basic announcements in the dining room. At a time when each camper received an ayin if she spoke enough ivrit for one day, I received three for the entire summer.

Camp Ramah in the Poconos, 1954: I was a camper-waiter in Machon, thanks to a scholarship arranged by my teacher, Levi Soshuk, z”l. We were having an edah meeting. I stood before the entire Machon and chastised them for not setting a good example for the younger campers because we were not speaking enough Hebrew.

Autumn, 1954: I entered the Seminary College of The Jewish Theo- logical Seminary (JTS) in the Aleph class while completing my senior year in high school. I was active in Leaders Training Fellowship (LTF) and tutored Hebrew school students to earn some money. I did all this because of the won- derful experiences I had at Ramah.

During my college years, I worked at the Ramah camps in Connecticut, Wisconsin, and California. After my last summer at camp in 1960, having graduated from Brooklyn College and JTS, I moved to Columbus, Ohio, to be one of the first teachers in the Melton pilot school where I met my husband.

When our oldest son, Alan, went to Ramah Wisconsin in 1974, we went to visit him. For me, it was like coming home. The best part was when Burt Cohen, the camp director, asked if we would be on staff the following year. That began my second career at Ramah. I served as teacher and head teacher from 1975 to 1982. My husband Marv served as camp nurse and also as the musical accompanist for all the musical shows. (I really think Burt needed Marv more than he needed me on staff.)

Ramah has played a part in every phase of my life from childhood to middle-age, and even now, as I approach seventy, I often find myself thinking back to those wonderful experiences and friendships.

Anne Schiffman Bonowitz is a Jewish educator in Columbus, Ohio.

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