"Falling Off A Cliff": Vocational Education And Placement Essential For People With Disabilities

When the Tikvah Program for campers with disabilities was started in 1970 at Camp Ramah in New England, no one imagined a day when people with disabilities would be meaningfully included in Jewish camping. Now, 45 years later, every Ramah camp in the United States and Canada serves people with disabilities. The National Ramah Tikvah Network includes overnight camp programs, day camp programs, vocational educational programs, family camps and retreats and Israel programs. At Ramah, inclusion is natural, seamless and expected.

Vocational campers at Ramah New England. Courtesy of Howard Blas

Webinar This Weekend: Inclusive Camping Tips From Ramah

While there is still snow on the ground in parts of the northeast and most people are ready to transition from winter to spring, camp professionals think about summer all year long! We hire staff, recruit campers, host reunions, plan programs and participate in professional development. It is so important to share experiences with other camp professionals and to learn from them.

At Ramah, the camping arm of Conservative Judaism, we are excited to share our experiences in inclusive camping with colleagues from throughout the Jewish camping world.

That's one reason why the National Ramah Tikvah Network is looking forward to hosting an in-person seminar (which will also be presented as a webinar) entitled, “How Inclusive Camping Benefits Typical Campers, Campers with Disabilities, and Camp’s Bottom Line.

Tikvah Family Shabbaton: Not Merely Accommodated, But Accepted and Nurtured

I am filled with the overwhelming feeling of gratifying exhaustion from running Ramah New England’s second Tikvah Family Shabbaton.

Tikvah Family Shabbaton Participants. Courtesy of Tali Cohen

Learning To Be Independent

Editor's Note: We are delighted to share this blog, written by one of the participants in Ramah New England's Vocational Education program about her experiences.

My name is Gabriella Levi. I am 20 years old and this was my first summer in the Vocational Education program at Camp Ramah in New England. I am currently a student at Lesley University in Cambridge, MA. I am studying to work in a preschool.

What I loved about Voc Ed was learning to be independent. I liked that I was treated as an adult more than a camper. For example, at Ramah I had a lot of choices for how to spend my time.

Summer Camp, Life Skills and Confidence

Editor's Note: Thanks to our friends at the Foundation for Jewish Camp for coordinating this series of blogs from camp. More voices to come!

We have all heard that Jewish summer camp is one of the most valuable experiences a parent can give their child to ensure a strong Jewish foundation. If you think of it as a construction project, the earth underneath the foundation is the community and together, this community builds the foundation they share.  As each child grows into an adult, the shared experience of community-building in a Jewish context continues to strengthen his or her Jewish foundation.

The author's son arrives at camp. Courtesy Marcia Cohodes

Environmental Learning: Why A Liberal Rabbi Is Hopeful

Special To The Jewish Week


This is the word I would use to describe my primary Jewish community. Many might wonder how a liberal Conservative Rabbi could use such a positive word given the recent Pew study that many say predict the demise of liberal forms of Judaism (especially the Conservative Movement).

Eliav Bock

Ramah Bikes Across Israel

An enthusiastic group of 72 bike riders and hikers, ages 13-73, arrived in Eilat on April 30 after biking since April 24 all the way from Jerusalem. They made the trip -- the Ramah Israel Challenge -- to support special needs programs at Ramah camps in the United States and Canada.

Howard Blas

Funders Debate Inclusion During Tour Of Camps

Philanthropists get an education in special-needs camping along twisting Pocono roads.
Staff Writer

Usually, eating is the fun part and cleanup is a chore.

That’s not how they do it at Camp Nesher, an Orthodox overnight camp in the Poconos, where on any given day, lunch or dinner will turn the dining hall into a disco.

A raucous gang of campers — some with disabilities — whoops it up after dinner at Camp Nesher. Helen Chernikoff

The Power Of Jewish Camping

Special to the Jewish Week

There was a Bar Mitzvah at a Ramah overnight camp a few weeks ago. That's not unheard of, but it's notable considering current debates on the role, worth and nature of Jewish education.

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