D’var Torah for Shavuoth

Loyalty, according to google, means “a strong feeling of support or allegiance.” Many of those who know me well know that loyalty is a central value to me. When you have strong allegiance to people, a community or a cause, loyalty tends to be returned.

On Shavuot we read the Book of Ruth. Ruth, a Moabite who is the daughter-in-law of Naomi, is a classic example of loyalty. Terrible tragedy strikes and Naomi loses her husband, her sons and her wealth. Now poor and facing a famine in Moab, Naomi decides to return to Israel and to her people. Ruth wants to go with her. Naomi tries to dissuade her. Ruth then utters words that stir many of us to this day:

“Entreat me not to leave you, to turn back and not follow you. For wherever you go, I will go; wherever you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. Thus and more may the LORD do to me if anything but death parts me from you.”

After this declaration, Naomi accepts Ruth completely into her family. They help each other survive, and eventually Ruth marries Boaz, a line that leads to King David.

I have spent most of my adult life connected to Ramah. I have enjoyed the benefits and joy of being a part of the summer experience and a connection to Ramahniks for decades. Camp has surely given me more than I can possibly repay. Alumni, parents, staff and campers have told me often of how much the Ramah community means to them and has done for them. That, of course, makes me very happy. When this pandemic forced us to close our camps for the summer, I felt a deep sense of loss for our community and fear that our financial situation would severely cripple or even shut down our Ramah camps permanently.

When we announced we were closing our camps for the summer two things happened. First, I, along with our staff and volunteers, received a tremendous outpouring of love and support. I received many dozens of emails expressing concern and kindness. Second, financial donations began to roll in. We have just about completed our current family campaign; our parents have exceeded our expectations and donated over $800,000 of their tuition payments to Ramah. That, combined with gifts from alumni and friends, has put us about $100,000 short of our goal of raising $1.75M. If we meet this goal, we feel we will be able to survive this threat; every dollar that is donated beyond the goal will allow us to take on less debt and provide additional programming and support for our community.

If you can help ensure a strong finish to our campaign, please click here to donate.

Thank you for your loyalty. As you gather for this Shavuot holiday, I hope you will go around the table and ask everyone to share one meaningful memory they have from camp. In sharing, it may help you to visualize where you were at camp when it happened. Hold those memories for now, and we all look to the day when we return to camp to make memories anew. Chag sameach.