As I write this message, I’ve just finished watching a Zoom hosted by Shelley Greenspan, the White House liaison to the Jewish community. Shelley is a proud Camp Ramah Darom alum (and is married to another Camp alum) and spoke articulately about the National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism. I will admit that despite the challenging topic covered during the Zoom, I spent much of it shepping naches as I watched a member of the Ramah Darom community playing such a key role in the administration.
These are extraordinarily difficult times. The horrific events of October 7th and the war against Hamas have reminded us that while we live in the diaspora, our hearts are always in the East. And at the same time, the resurgence of antisemitism has been a shocking wake-up call for Jews in the US and around the world.
At Ramah Darom, a deep love of Israel is at the center of everything we do and is evident when you walk around our campus: an Israeli flag flies alongside the stars and stripes outside the Levine Center; Hebrew signs are everywhere; and our climbing wall has the map of Israel as its backdrop.
This love is also ingrained in our summer camp culture: we bring dozens of Shlichim every year to live in bunks with our campers and work alongside our college-age staff, forming deep bonds; Hebrew classes are part of our core educational curriculum; Yom Yisrael is a highlight of both summer sessions; and as anyone who has spent time at Camp knows well, Israeli songs and dances are part of the fabric of the summer experience. Year-round, Ramah Darom retreats feature Israeli speakers, chefs and guests.
For campers, summer staff and retreat attendees at Ramah Darom, the deep connection to Israel and the strong Jewish identity fostered at our programs continue well beyond their time at 70 Darom Lane. On college campuses, you’ll find Ramah Darom counselors and alumni in key leadership roles supporting Israel and fighting antisemitism. Many of our former summer campers and tzevet have chosen to make Aliyah, several of them serving in the IDF as lone soldiers. And if you scour the staff lists of Jewish-focused organizations across the US, you’ll find Ramah Darom alumni everywhere – including at the White House.
The incredible, supportive community that’s been built at Ramah Darom over the last 27 years has never been more evident – or more important – than in the last month. To wit: a WhatsApp group created by an alumna to support our shlichim and community members in Israel surpassed 1,000 participants in just a few hours. The group has become a key source of information and is providing much-needed support for so many in our Ramah Darom community here and in Israel.
It’s critical that organizations like Ramah Darom remain strong during these difficult times. So, even as we are focused on the situation in Israel, we’re asking for your support so we can continue doing our important work here at home. Your contribution to our Annual Fund will ensure Ramah Darom can continue to bring Mishlachat to Camp next summer…ensure our campers and retreat guests are provided with exceptional programming…build the next generation of Jewish leaders to help fight antisemitism…and provide much-needed scholarships to allow young campers (including many from Israeli families) to experience Ramah Darom for themselves.
Over the past few weeks, we’ve witnessed the amazing power and impact of the Ramah Darom community. Why? Because Ramah Darom fosters Jewish identity, develops leaders, and encourages life-long connections to Israel and the Jewish community.
Wally Levitt, CEO