First week of Voc Ed from a new staff member

Although not new to Ramah (I grew up at Berkshires and worked at New England nearly thirty years ago), I was new to the Tikvah program, at least for my main job at camp.  Howard Blas and I were acquainted from the world of Jewish special education and so when he heard I planned to come back to Ramah this summer, he asked whether I might want to try something a bit different from my normal jobs.  I suppose I need to step back to tell you a bit about what I normally do.  I wear a lot of professional kippot.  I am a board certified pediatric neuropsychologist (specializing in cognitive and psychoeducational evaluations of children and adolescents, although I work with adults as well).  I am also a cantor (Temple Beth Sholom in Framingham) and recently completed my rabbinic ordination.  My main position is at Hebrew College in Newton, where I began both the cantorial programs and the special education program, and served as the first Dean of the School of Jewish Music and later the first Korman Professor of Jewish Special Education.  Currently, I teach in the rabbinical, cantorial and Jewish education programs, and serve as the Associate Dean for Academic Support.

Although I’ve been involved in Jewish Special Education for a long time, I haven’t done much hands-on work lately (aside from b’nei mitzvah lessons for kids with special needs).  That sure changed on Tuesday, June 26 when the Voc Eders arrived!  They are a fantastic group of young adults, each unique and each very much part of our summer family.  My fellow advisors, Anna and Paz, are terrific, and have helped me to acclimate to the daily life of the Voc Ed building.  I love tefillot, family meetings and have really enjoyed seeing the vocational part of this program in full swing.  The Voc Eders are amazingly dedicated to their jobs and to putting their best feet forward.  Some of the highlights of the first week included:

  • Mock job interviews, in which we modeled and critiqued each other’s professionalism and interpersonal skills.
  • Cooking all sorts of goodies in preparation for our first Oneg Shabbat, and then the Oneg itself, which was heimish and freilich.
  • A shofar-blowing workshop that I ran.  Our Voc Eders have some great pipes!
  • Our first field trip to the lush Garden in the Woods and then to Tangereini’s Spring Street Farm for blueberry picking.

I’m attaching a few pictures from shofar blowing and from the field trip that I hope you’ll enjoy seeing.

Happy Fourth of July!

— Scott Sokol

Categories: Tikvah