Kavanna BaShanah! Come Join our New On-line Learning Community!

Calling all Ramahniks!  Campers, parents, staff-members, and alumni!  Come join our new on-line learning initiative, Kavanna BaShanah!

Kavanna BaShanah is a new educational initiative at Camp Ramah in New England that seeks to engage members of the camp community in valuable, relevant, and accessible Jewish learning throughout the year. The goal of Kavanna BaShanah is to create a community of Jewish learners who support each other in their quest for enriched engagement in Jewish conversations.

The concept for this online learning initiative grew out of a one of the most poignant images and unique educational spaces at Camp Ramah in New England: Kavanna. Kavanna, from the Hebrew word for “intention,” takes place between dinner and havdalah on Saturday night, and exemplifies the values inherent in the type of education we do at camp: learning that is relevant, accessible, and (most importantly) social. Campers gather in circles, by bunk, to discuss within a guest staff member topics of Jewish values, themes, or texts that overlap with their lives either at camp or outside of camp.

The structure of Kavannah BaShanah has three core components:

1.     A closed-forum blog discussion in which participants respond to Jewish texts and questions on their own schedule. Prompts may consist of videos, texts, songs, or images, and comments can be posted in just as many forms.

2.     Regular video conferences for the group to interact and discuss in real time ideas that have surfaced on the blog over the course of the last two weeks of posts.

3.     Summaries of main ideas explored in our closed-group to be posted on the larger CRNE blog for “continued conversations” in the larger camp community, and to engage our whole community in discussion-based learning.

In our inaugural season of this program, we will be exploring topics in our summer theme of Etz Hayim, “Trees of Life.” Our first session explores the biblical verse (and later Shalom Hanoch song: “Ki Ha’Adam Etz HaSadeh”) and ask how it is that people may be “like trees of the field.” After using this text as a way to get to know each other, our group will dive into the verse itself and explore medieval commentaries to ascertain how it is our teachers have understood this metaphor throughout the years.

From there, we intend to look more closely at the words and music of the Shalom Hanoch song and pull the conversation together by exploring how a singular text can hold vastly different meanings in different contexts, and yet still be personally relevant to our own identities.

Further units to be explored in this group include:

  • Etz Hayim as an exploration of our generational relationships
  • Etz Hayim as a metaphor for Torah itself
  • Taking a close look at the Biblical Tree of Life in the creation story
  • Looking at agriculture in Israel and the relationship between the Israeli people and the trees in the Land
  • and more…

Most of all, we hope this experimental project will help create more meaningful inter-edah relationships at camp this summer, and an invigorated community of learners in years to come. 

To join Kavanna BaShanah, please e-mail Rami Schwartzer, Director of Programming, at Ramis@campramahne.org.

Categories: Assistant Director