One of the things that makes Machaneh Ramah Yomi so special is that sense of belonging that grows throughout the summer.
As Jews living in a 21st century America, the challenge of developing a strong Jewish identity is always present. During the year, our chanichim focus their attention on school, friends, media, peer pressure and other cultural pressures that come their way. For some, Judaism may not be in the forefront of their thoughts or activities.
During the summer, however, Judaism is embedded in all that they do at Machaneh Ramah Yomi. We begin each day with tefillot, morning prayers as a community; We recite blessings before snack; We wear kippot during lunch and recite Birkat Hamazon after we eat; We sing in Hebrew and dance Israeli dances; and every activity includes a Hebrew vocabulary. But, the best part of Machaneh Ramah Yomi is that EVERYONE is doing it…we all belong to the same community with a common set of vocabulary and traditions.
One chanich says “It’s easy to be Jewish at Machaneh Ramah Yomi because we are doing the same thing. It’s cool to be able to do the songs and the prayers. I don’t feel funny because all of my friends are doing it too”.
One madrich shared that he was not afraid to try new things Jewishly because it was as safe place to do so. He wore tefillin for the first time this summer.
Being part of a Jewish community like Machaneh Ramah Yomi helps to build a strong sense of Jewish pride and identity in the chanichim. It gives them a strong basis for that development both through practice and through relationships. As they grow, they can use the basic knowledge they have learned at Machaneh Ramah Yomi to continue to develop into strong members of the Jewish community.
Belonging to the Ramah family enriches our lives in a positive way. It provides our chanichim with the sense of belonging to a larger Jewish community which can nurture their Jewish identity for many years to come.
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