Our five-year-old is now a Ramahnik! By Shira and Noah Hichenberg
This past summer, we sent our five-year-old, Jonah, to Camp Ramah. The gravity of that statement still hasn’t fully sunk in for us.
Shira and I spent our childhood at Camp Ramah in New England; an edah apart, we each built our social and Jewish identities yet didn’t find each other in those early years. As counselors we met and started dating in 2003. With one of us at List College and the other at the University of Maryland, our summers together in Palmer, MA, became the bedrock of our relationship. It became one of those things you say: “Some day, in the distant future, we’ll send our children to Camp Ramah.” So for five years, we would take Jonah, and eventually his younger brother Solomon, back to Camp Ramah in New England for Family Camp each May. We were overwhelmed watching our toddlers play in the same spaces that we grew up and got to know each other.
We thought our hearts were full enough. Well, our recent move from New York City to Bethesda, MD, has given us the privilege of experiencing just how full, indeed overflowing, Ramah has made our hearts. We moved in early July and after a turbulent “settling in” period, there was one clear element of our new life that stood out: Camp Ramah’s DC Day Camp, in Germantown, MD! Jonah attended for the second half of the summer, and fell in love – with the Hebrew, the counselors, the sports, the bunk mates, even the bus ride. For us, the Day Camp was an introduction to the DC-area Jewish community; for Jonah, it was a landing space in a moment when it seemed like all of his NYC friends had suddenly disappeared. He came home each day with new stories, new jokes (mostly appropriate), new Hebrew vocabulary, and, most importantly, new friends.
In mid-August, walking through the Bethesda Farmers Market, a young girl enthusiastically called out Jonah’s name. Neither of us recognized her, and having only moved a month ago, we couldn’t fathom who this could be. Jonah turned to us with a big smile and said, “Oh, that’s my camp friend.” And so while the gravity of that statement still hasn’t fully sunk in for us, I can tell you this: he is signed up for seven weeks for summer 2020!