I was sixteen when I first attended a Ramah camp. It was an eye-opening experience for me. It was the beginning of more than twenty summers in which I thrived at four Ramah camps, not to mention an occasional Shabbat at Nyack as a Jewish Theological Seminary ( JTS) student.
I started my twenty-five years at Ramah in the summer of 1951 as a junior counselor at Ramah in the Poconos. My senior counselor was Yochanan Muffs, z”l. On the other side of the bunk, the senior counselor was Samuel Schafler, z”l, later to become president of Hebrew College.
As Ramah celebrates sixty years, I am celebrating my twentieth working summer at Camp Ramah in the Poconos. I feel a debt of gratitude to Ramah because my association with Ramah led me from a negative past to a positive present, living a committed Conservative Jewish lifestyle.
I spent most of my summers during that wonderful decade, the 1960s, at Camp Ramah — or better, Camps Ramah: the Poconos, Nyack, Israel Seminar, back to Poconos for Mador, and then three summers at Ramah in the Berkshires, where I ended my Ramah career as segan rosh machon.
My initial contact with Camp Ramah in 1963 was by virtue of the fact that both of my parents, my father Menachem Lehrer, z”l, and my mother Rachel, were members of the teaching staff. Their love of Judaism and Israel brought them to Ramah.
In the spring of 1949, our religious school principal, Harry Malin, z”l, announced that two scholarships to Camp Ramah would be awarded to the two students who received the highest grades in a test to be given. I was one of the winners! Alan Lovins was the other.
Camp Ramah, the summer camp of the Conservative Movement, had such profound significance for me. Raised in a marginal Jewish family, indifferent to the content of my Hebrew school experience, it was at Ramah that I was introduced to the rhythm of the Jewish week and the beauty and glory of Shabbat, participatory prayer, and […]
The day after I graduated from Temple University in May 1978, I got on an El Al airplane and made aliyah to Israel. There were four major influences on my decision to move “home” to Israel.
Two of us were widowed and remarried. Two of us are rabbinic spouses. We had fifteen children, and we have nineteen grandchildren thus far. Most of our grandchildren attend Jewish camps, and one of our grandchildren is a fourth-generation Ramah camper.
Camp is a series of snapshots: in the Poconos on the lake, in California on the mountains, at Palmer on the vast green. As a camper I enjoyed Ramah; as a staff member I loved it.