Reuven M. Lerner

1.  What was your last year as a Ramah camper or staff member?

I was at Berkshires 78-79, Palmer 80-85 and 86, and Ramah-NOAM 88-89, and 96-98.

2.  What year did you make aliyah?


3.  Prior to aliyah, did you study in Israel for a semester or longer?

Yes, one semester at the Technion.

4.  Did you have family members living in Israel at the time you made aliyah?

Two cousins of mine had made aliyah, but both were living in the US when I made aliyah. Both of them have since returned to Israel.

5.  Are you currently connected to any Conservative/Masorti institutions?

I was on the Masorti board of directors for several years, and was on the boards of both the Masorti congregation in Haifa (where I lived 95-99) and Modi’in (99-2003). I am now an active member of Achva, an independent, egalitarian minyan that has decided for the time being not to affiliate with the Masorti movement.

6.  What were the key motivating factors in influencing your decision to live in Israel?

First: For 2,000 years, Jews have hoped to live in Israel. Now we have the chance. How can I not?

Second: Israel clearly marks the beginning of a new chapter in Jewish history. I can either watch history take place (from the sidelines), or I can actively play a part. I’ve opted for the latter.

Third: I much prefer the quality of life that I get in Israel to what I can get in the United States. I just got back from four years in Chicago, and while we loved Chicago, it’s clear that we and our children are much, much happier and better off here. If nothing else, our expenses dropped like a stone from the moment we returned, which means that we can have our cake and eat it, too.

7.  To what extent did your Ramah experience contribute to your decision to live in Israel?

Ramah showed me what it meant to live in a completely Jewish environment. That’s one of the many things that I like about life in Israel, that everything — from the calendar, to the people around me — are Jews. (Yes, there is a sizable non-Jewish minority, but you know what I mean.) Ramah definitely showed me the benefits of living in such an environment, and forced me to consider why I wasn’t living in the “real life” version that Israel offers.

8.  To what extent did the friendships you made at Ramah help with your successful absorption into Israeli society?

Not at all, I’d say, although I’ve certainly bumped into a large number of Ramah alumni all over the place.

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