Jewish Camps Offer Refuge After Tragedies

Robyn Diamond3.25.18

This article was originally posted in the Atlanta Jewish Times on March 12, 2018

Jewish summer camps in Georgia have experienced a painful offseason.

The 17 people slain at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14 included Camp Coleman alumna Alyssa Alhadeff and four other Jewish students, and many students at the heavily Jewish public school had ties to Coleman, Camp Ramah Darom or Camp Barney Medintz in the North Georgia mountains.

The Ramah Darom family already was reeling from a plane crash in Costa Rica that killed campers Hannah and Ari Weiss in late December.

Atlanta families have felt connected to the disasters through the camps, whose directors — Camp Coleman’s Bobby Harris, Camp Ramah Darom’s Geoff Menkowitz and Camp Barney Medintz’s Jim Mittenthal — spoke about the lingering impact as they plan for the summer.

“The effects of the massacre at Stoneman Douglas have rippled through the Camp Ramah Darom family,” Menkowitz said. Counselors have reached out to families whose children attend the school and will monitor them at camp over the summer.

“Each kid will move through grief (and) understanding and process the tragedy in different ways, but it’s our responsibility to effectively communicate with families and make sure we are prepared for the kids when they return under our care,” he said.

“It has been “inspiring to see all the people connected to our camp community supporting each other”

-Geoff Menkowitz, Camp Ramah Darom Director

Ramah Darom has established the Weiss Family Scholarship Fund to honor Floridians Leslie, 50, and Mitchell Weiss, 52, and their children, Hannah, 19, and Ari, 16, who were among nine people killed in the December plane crash. Donations can be made here.

“It’s been difficult to watch all the members of the community walk through this hard time but inspiring to see all the people connected to our camp community supporting each other and taking action to advocate for change,” Menkowitz said.

Read the full article in the Atlanta Jewish Times.