Spotlight on our Mishlachat!

We’re delighted to share this blog post, which shines a well-deserved spotlight on our wonderful mishlachat (delegation of Israeli staff).  Here is an excerpt:

Rotem Ad-Epsztein, our Rosh Mishlachat (the head of our delegation of Israeli staff), shared these thoughts:

This is my 15th summer at Camp Ramah in New England. My first summer was right after being released from the army at age 20. Now I come back to Ramah with my husband Uri and our two daughters: Lotem and Tamar.

As a first year shlicha (emissary), I thought it was only a one-direction effect: I am coming from Israel, I will bring Israel to camp by making super peulot (activities) that everyone will remember. I will talk about Israel in the morning, noon and night. After my first summer, though, and throughout my years at camp, I realized that I was wrong. It is not through the peulot (activities) that I bring Israel. It is how the shaliach brings him/herself to the campers: the way he or she behaves, his/her DERECH ERETZ, small talk that happens in the five minutes spent talking to the campers before they fall asleep, it is with talking to another staff-member on the way to Chadar Ochel (Dining Hall), in the way he/she makes personal connections, every moment of every day, with all the other campers and staff-members.

I was wrong about another thing, too. While I knew that I was bringing Israel to camp and striving to positively affect all of the American campers and staff, I didn’t realize how powerfully they would affect me and every shaliach that comes here.

Our delegation from Israel comes from variety of Jewish backgrounds: some secular, some Orthodox. Few come from a Conservative background. Some never went to shul before and some pray with a Mechitza. The first week at camp, when the shlichim first experience t’fillot at camp, some of them find it strange. Some struggle with the Egalitarian environment of men and women davening together.

By the end of the summer, and after the shlichim leave camp, they begin to understand how many things they learned, things that they never would have experienced if not for being at camp. It impacts their thinking about their Jewish identity, Jewish tradition,and the Egalitarian experience, learning new ways to express themselves as a Jew, and learning about living as a Jew outside of Israel.

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