This week, one of Rockland’s best known and much loved Jewish camps, Ramah Day Camp - Nyack, held its Zimriyah, its camp camp wide celebration of song. At this time of the summer, some camps across Jewish denominations are looking to build something very special among their campers.
Pew Research has done a lot of work looking to understand the dynamics of Jewish life in the United States. One of the conclusions they reached (in more than one study) was that behind a comprehensive day school experience, a camp experience and other kinds of informal education were the strongest indicators of continuity among young Jews in the US. The data confirms what many of us have known for a long time. Whether it is camp or synagogue based youth groups, Jewish clubs in public school or Zionist Noar groups (again, across the religious and socio-political spectrum), these are the experiences that shape the identity of our young people.
The idea of a Zimriyah is especially important. For some camps, during the three weeks of the Jewish calendar leading up to Tisha B’Av, music, which is a key educational element, is a bit subdued and altered in recognition of the days leading to exile and diaspora. For all camps, events such as Zimriyah elevate voices over instruments, highlight the crucial concept that everyone has a voice, and demonstrates that those voices, raised together in song, can be beautiful, even breathtaking. We thank Ramah-Nyack for being an exemplar of this.
Among the programs that Federation supports at JCC Rockland are scholarships for those attending summer camp. Important Jewish informal educational experiences happen in many ways in many places, and your Federation has determined to find more ways to support them.
On a different note, we want to congratulate Dr. Alan Pressman, a community leader and congregant at the Orangetown Jewish Center, for his appointment as Regional President of the Federation of Jewish Men's Clubs. We look forward to collaboration and partnership.