President of the Board, David Farman’s, speech from the Groundbreaking!
David Farbman, President of the Board of Directions for Camp Ramah in New England, addressed the community yesterday at the ground breaking. Below are his wonderful words.
Remarks at Groundbreaking of Bet Am Gadol
July 24, 2011
Boker tov and welcome. I’m David Farbman and I am the president of the board, but more importantly an alum of Camp Ramah New England and most important a proud parent of two—soon to be three—campers.
We are here today to celebrate the breaking of ground for a new building in camp, the first new building on our campus in almost a decade and our largest ever. The Bet Am Gadol will house a gym with a full basketball court, a well-equipped exercise room, a platform on which our top-notch drama productions will take flight and, perhaps most important, a space where our growing community can gather as a whole, especially during those times when the weather isn’t as quite as beautiful as it is now.
But, you know as well as I, that this building, as stunning as it will be, is not really what we are celebrating today. Rather, we are taking some time today to appreciate the value that Camp Ramah holds in our lives and, in turn, the faith that Camp Ramah will continue to have such value for generations to come. And, frankly, as we watched our kids just now showing us what they have accomplished this summer, singing, dancing and taking great pride in being Jewish, how could we not believe that? Indeed, you see before you today hundreds of future leaders of our broader Jewish community.
There are too many people to thank today for me to recognize each individually, but I do want to offer thanks and gratitude to a few groups of folks who are true dugmaot – examples – of what the Ramah community is and what it should be. First, to my fellow board members and the countless volunteers who have served this camp both past and present, I want to express my sincere appreciation for your hard work, your vision and your insistence that Camp Ramah continue to live up to the high standards it has set for itself. Second, I want to thank the capital campaign steering committee members who have been instrumental in advancing this exciting effort. We owe a debt of gratitude, too, to our longstanding institutional supporters, the Grinspoon Foundation and the Foundation for Jewish Camp.
Next, I want to thank the camp professionals – from the bunk counselors to the specialists to the rashei edot to the year-round staff – who make Ramah possible. Their extraordinary talents as individuals and their commitment to excellence as a group are what take the Ramah ideals and put them into practice, demonstrating daily to our campers what it means to be committed Jews and good old fashioned menschen. To Rabbi Ed Gelb, in particular, we all owe our gratitude for his capacity to believe that every year will be even better, even stronger than the last, and then for turning this conviction into reality.
Finally, I must thank all of you. It is your own faith in Camp Ramah that has brought you here. We are, of course, taking note today of a concrete manifestation of that confidence and to those who have given capital gifts already, the Bet Am Gadol is testament to your commitment to the Ramah mission. For those who have not yet given, don’t worry, we have many other building projects in the pipeline to which you can demonstrate your own commitment to the future of our camp.
Beyond the financial support, though, what we are really grateful for is that for a month or two every year, you send your most precious gift—your children—to this little hamlet nestled in the woods of Palmer, Massachusetts. You send them here because you believe that in this place they’ll get the chance to experience the joy of being Jewish and the sustaining power of living in a compassionate community. This is the place where they will make friends for life and live to their fullest potential. As I think you’ve seen today and, frankly, you will see for days and years to come, this belief is well placed. As we like to say in Red Sox nation, this is “faith rewarded.” Todah rabah and thank you for joining us today to celebrate!
I’m now pleased to be able to turn over the microphone to two of our emerging leaders – representatives of our oldest edah in camp, Nivonim – who will share with you a few thoughts about what this groundbreaking and Camp Ramah mean to them.