How To Be The Best At Jewish Geography

Ilana Gorod | Darom

Ilana Gorod is currently bridging the gap between high school and college by spending the year in Israel on Nativ. She graduated from The Weber School in Atlanta, GA and will be attending the University of Maryland, College Park next year. Ilana grew up going to Ramah Darom; she started in 2005 as a staff kid and twelve summers later she just completed her first summer as a counselor. Her love for camp only gets stronger every time she drives up to the beautiful mountains in North Georgia.

For most high school seniors, stress during the first semester stems from the completion of college applications. Like most, I also worried about whether my essay would catch the admission representatives’ attention or if my extracurriculars were interesting enough. However, I also dealt with the stress of knowing I would be spending an entire year after high school and before college in another country, with people I had never met before.

Almost a year later from the stress I experienced that first semester, I am sitting in the capital city of Israel, writing a paper about the history of the city in which I am currently living, Jerusalem, having seen the sights just this afternoon. Almost every day I am challenged with the task of taking the public bus to class and where I should buy my challah on Friday afternoon, issues I only have to deal with in a place as unique as Israel, issues most eighteen year olds don’t have to deal with on their college campuses in America.

I arrived in Israel a week ago, only knowing of a few people about to begin this journey with me. Luckily, some of the people on Ramah Seminar last summer are now spending this year with me. Most of these Ramahniks were not on my bus, so I was not particularly close with them, but our friendships immediately started because of the experiences we have shared. Some of our bus rides are spent telling stories about our campers and talking about the great programs we ran. The Israeli music we hear on the streets reminds us of the camp dances we do on our Kikars or in our Amphitheaters. The material we are learning about in our classes at Hebrew University was covered in our Yahadut or Ivrit classes at camp.

Many Ramahniks are immune to the fact that other Ramah camps exist besides our own. We are biased to the fact that our camp is the best and our traditions make the most sense. Most of us do not even pay attention to the fact that there are thousands of people around North America who also spend their summers making sure campers use soap in the shower and singing “Tov Li B’Machane Ramah.” If being on Nativ for one week has taught me anything besides where to buy the best schwarma on Ben Yehudah, it is that Ramah is a network; it connects us to people everywhere. There are people not just in North America, but also Israel, making connections with their college roommates, someone they sit next to in class, or someone they are spending the year with in Israel on Nativ, and that’s because of Ramah.