I am Inspired

Wally Levitt6.14.20
On a Friday in early August 2018, I took my first trip up I-985 to spend Shabbat at Ramah Darom during Camp Yofi – our program for families with children with autism spectrum disorder. If I’m being completely honest, I worried it might be an incredibly awkward weekend since it was effectively a two-way interview: an opportunity for some Ramah Darom Board and staff members to get to know me as the potential future CEO, and the chance for me to decide whether I was really ready to make a substantial career change to come work for Ramah Darom.

Fortunately, the weekend turned out to be the furthest thing from awkward. I met so many incredible people during those 48 hours and there were countless memorable and beautiful moments.

But one moment in particular will stick with me forever.

On Shabbat morning, the graduating 13-year-old Yofi campers have the chance to be called to the Torah as a Bar or Bat Mitzvah (for many of them, a “traditional” shul Bar or Bat Mitzvah is simply not an option). On that sunny August morning, there were four such campers. One by one, they were called to the bima and – each in their own special way – recited the bracha. After each aliya, there were spontaneous cheers and applause from the teary-eyed crowd. It was absolutely beautiful in every way imaginable.

It was at that moment I was inspired to come work for Ramah Darom.

And since that time, I have been inspired by so many more Ramah Darom experiences.

I am inspired every week by Havdallah during summer camp, watching over 700 campers and staff dancing and singing together, epitomizing the idea of living a life of joyful Judaism.

I am inspired by the energy and enthusiasm of the adorable young children who attend our Book it to Shabbat weekend with PJ Library.

I am inspired by our Tikvah Support Program campers who make our unique inclusion program a model for the entire Jewish camping world.

I am inspired by the beautiful, communal davening during our Passover Retreat.

I am inspired by our amazing summer staff: young Jewish students and seasoned educators and specialists who choose to spend their summers sharing their knowledge, skills and love of Judaism with our young campers. This summer in particular, I am incredibly inspired that almost 100 of them have volunteered their time to ensure our campers have a Ramah Darom experience, albeit virtually.

And over these last few weeks, I have been truly inspired by you, our amazing Ramah Darom community from across the southeast, the US, Canada and around the world. You have been standing by us and supporting us in this challenging time. We are very, very grateful.

Since 1997, Ramah Darom has been inspiring a lifelong love of Jewish values, tradition and community for people of all ages. And although there have been no gatherings on our campus since March, we continue to connect virtually with the hope that we can be back together in Clayton again very soon.

We are now asking for your help to get Ramah Darom through this difficult time and ensure we can continue our work from a position of strength. We’ve just launched the Campaign to Inspire Ramah Darom’s Future with a goal of raising $1 million. I hope you will join our generous last-in matching grant donors to help us reach this bold goal.

With your help, we can all inspire Ramah Darom’s strong and successful future.

Donate Today!