Reflections from a Ramah Maslul Fellow in Berlin!

Maslul is a new Ramah Leadership Fellowship for veteran Ramah counselors.  This group, which consists of a cohort of spectacular madrichim (counselors) from across the Ramah camps, recently returned from a week in Berlin.

They spent every morning volunteering at the new Masorti elementary school, where kids speak German, Hebrew, English, French and Russian.  On Friday, our Maslul Fellows ran the school’s oneg shabbat, including rikud and skits they planned with the kids.  Afternoons were spent learning about Berlin’s history.  The group spent time in Parliament, exploring the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp, visiting Shoah memorials (and discussing how we memorialize and create space for memorials), studying text with peers at Base Berlin, and getting to know Marom leaders. Their shabbat community at Rabbi Gesa Ederberg’s Oranienburger Strasse Synagogue included students from the Frankel Seminary, Geiger Seminary, Conservative Yeshiva, JTS and the new Budapest Seminary.  Our group met with Jewish students from Kiev, Budapest, Siberia, Moscow and Saint Petersburg.  Rabbi Mauricio Balter, Executive Director of Masorti Olami, was also in Berlin and spent time getting to know our group.  In between experiences, the group processed, shared programs, and discussed the leadership opportunities available at Ramah.

Here is a reflection on the experience from Sarah Rosenfeld, who will be returning to Ramah New England this summer for her third year as a madricha (counselor):

Being a part of the Berlin Cohort of the Maslul Fellowship was absolutely one of the highlights of my time with Ramah.

On top of spending time with my peers from other Ramah camps and learning about their traditions and differences, spending time with the Masorti community of Berlin really opened my eyes to the realities of European Jewry today.  How this community has recreated itself in a city of such historical significance is truly inspiring and motivational.  Even with necessary security measures and modesty, this community is thriving once again as seen in their emphasis on education amongst all ages.

Working with the elementary school students not only helped me practice my Hebrew but gave me valuable insight to how other Jewish communities raise their children, what they teach, and its impact on the future of the Jewish people.  I would love to bring the Masorti Elementary School’s emphasis on education, acceptance, and kindness to Ramah Palmer and share with our community the difficulties they face and how they remain so strong and faithful in times of such hardship.

Often times as North American Jews, we forget that there are still communities around the world who are not able to practice as freely as we are able to at home and at camp.  After this experience, I hope to instill a feeling of pride and openness in our campers and open their eyes to Global Jewry and what it means to be Jewish around the world.