Please don’t tell anyone, but my favorite part of last weekend’s LimmudFest at Ramah Darom was not the amazing speakers, insightful panels or incredible music.
My favorite part of the weekend was the half hour I spent on Saturday afternoon reading PJ Library books to the Gan (nursery). As I sat around a picnic table with a dozen-or-so adorable kids, laughing together while reading “Shabbat Hiccups,” I instantly felt re-energized and renewed. The challenges of the last 18 months faded away. Here we were, back together in the North Georgia mountains, doing what we love to do: sharing a moment of joyful Judaism. Life at Ramah Darom felt like it was back to normal. It was a true moment of renewal.
For months we’ve collectively anticipated our post-pandemic renewal, the moment when things become familiar and normal again, when we pick up where we left off in spring 2020. That sense of a return to the familiar is how Rosh Hashana always feels to me. Every year, I look forward to the ritual of cutting apples and seeding pomegranates as we prepare our dinner table to host our extended family. I love the special moment when the entire family is dressed-up and together in the front hallway before heading to shul (and waiting for that one slow-poke!). I am always struck by the familiar feeling in shul when together we recite “al chet” and pound on our hearts. And of course, there’s no greater sense of familiarity than hearing the shofar for the first time each year. Rosh Hashana always feels like a return to the familiar. A restart. A renewal.
For those of us fortunate to work at Ramah Darom, we’ve been part of our own RAMAHrkable renewal since March.
This spring, over 200 people came together again on our Clayton campus for our annual Passover retreat. It marked the return of a meaningful and special tradition – particularly because the Passover retreat was one of the first interrupted gatherings in the very early days of Covid.
In June and July, children and staff filled our campus and renewed their love for Ramah Darom – and each other – during an outstanding eight weeks of summer camp (and with our highest early re-enrollment numbers in recent history, clearly, they’re ready for another renewal in summer 2022).
Last weekend’s LimmudFest was also a renewal: the start of a new season of Ramah Darom Retreats and a renewal of our mission to serve people of all ages with exceptional, immersive Jewish experiences year-round.
And as you may know, as Ramah Darom celebrates its 25th year, we recently shared plans for an exciting renewal of our Clayton campus over the next decade.
In this season of renewal, I feel very fortunate to lead an organization with a renewed commitment to inspiring a lifelong love of Jewish values, tradition and community.
Wishing you, your family and our entire community a new year filled with good health, happiness and an abundance of joyful Judaism.
Shana Tova U’Metuka.
The art above was created by our Gan (nursery) campers at LimmudFest 2021.