Our Mishlachat – A Rainbow of Judaism
Each summer, a large delegation – “mishlachat” – comes from Israel to work at camp. This year, at 45 members, our mishlachat is bigger than ever and represents almost 20% of our staff. Our shlichim (emissaries from Israel) work throughout camp: in our ropes/adventure and teva (nature) programs; in our agam (waterfront), sports and omanut (arts) programs; teaching Hebrew; working as counselors; and in many other capacities.
Our Israeli staff members come to Camp Ramah to bring Israel alive and to connect our chanichim (campers) to the people of Israel, the land of Israel and the State of Israel. As Rotem Ad-Epsztein, Rosh Agam and Rosh Mishlachat explains, the shlichim bring to Camp Ramah a “rainbow of Judaism” as it is lived in Israel. With a wide variety of religious and cultural backgrounds, the shlichim – especially the many who live in bunks – “connect the chanichim to Israel by virtue of their personalities and their personal stories – it is these individuals and their personal stories that the chanichim remember.”
Beyond their roles as specialists and bunk counselors, the mishlachat organizes programs that have significant impact on individual edot and on the camp as a whole. This year, the mishlachat ran Café Dilemma for Nivonim, our oldest campers. With tablecloths, candles, tea and food, Nivonim’s large meeting tent was turned into a café where important ideas were shared. In small groups, the shlichim shared facts about several specific dilemmas affecting Israel – for example, whether the media attention given to the continued captivity of Gilad Shalit is helping or hindering the efforts to free him. The Nivonimers were deeply engaged in discussing this and the other dilemmas presented. We look forward to expanding this program to other B-side edot next year.
Beyond the impact of the mishlachat on the chanichim in the tzrifim (bunks) and in the edot through programs like Café Dilemma, the impact of the mishlachat is felt camp-wide. Hebrew and the culture and history of Israel are woven into many programs and activities at camp. As one example, the shlichim use morning tefilot at the Andarta – Camp Ramah’s memorial to Israel’s fallen soldiers – as important opportunities to talk about their military experiences and share reflections and Hebrew songs with our campers in an age-appropriate way.