The Value of Face to Face

As a staff team, we are always asking: what is the “Ramah Difference?” In other words, how are our camps elevated above and distinct from other Jewish camps? One top response to this question is our excellent experiential Jewish and Israel education. Our mishlachat (Israeli staff) are deeply entwined with our commitment to these meaningful and strong educational experiences.

Two weeks ago I travelled with Michelle Sugarman, Co-Director of our overnight camp, Camp Ramah New England, to Israel for our kayitz 2023 mishlachat interviews. Historically, I have done the interviews over Zoom and not in person. I only had six Israelis on my interview list so I asked myself why I was going making this international trip for only six 30-minute conversations. The answer is that this is the “Ramah difference.” It is possible to successfully hire great shlichim via Zoom. What I also found to be true was that sitting face to face, in Israel, created an even stronger bond for the start of our relationship. First, conversations were much more organic and free from technology fails. Second, this trip across the ocean sent a message to the shlichim that we are invested in their success. Finally, for the first time, I was able to have Ziv, a returning shaliach, sit next to me in the interviews. This final piece was invaluable as it allowed the interviewees to hear firsthand from a peer and to see that, if they do well in camp, they can be sitting in his seat next year. So far, Ramah Day Camp Greater DC has hired seven shlichim: six who are new to camp and one who is returning.

Through the recent interview process, Camp Ramah New England and Ramah Day Camp Greater Boston have also hired many of the shlichim that will be part of our staff teams this summer. Camp Ramah New England hired 25 shlichim through the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI) during the recent trip to Israel. Many thanks to Nani Segal, parent and summer staff member, and Rotem Ad-Epsztein, our long-standing Rosh Agam (Head of Waterfront) and Rosh Mishlachat, who participated in the interviews alongside Michelle. (CRNE has hired an additional 5 shlichim through Jewish Camps USA.) Ramah Day Camp Greater Boston has hired two shlichim and hopes for that number to grow.

There are so many reasons to be excited for kayitz 2023. Our combined mishlachat is just one way we will increase joy for our campers and staff. Their energy and desire to make sure every camper has a friend in Israel adds a tremendous amount to our collective communities.

If you live in the Greater DC or Greater Boston areas and want to provide home hospitality for one of our shlichim, please email Rabbi Jill (DC) or Rabbi Silverman (Boston) for more information.