2022 Annual Report
TABLE OF CONTENTS
A message from Joel Seltzer, Former Executive Director
To my Kehillah Kedusha (holy community),
For eleven summers as m’nahel of Camp Ramah in the Poconos, I had the honor of delivering a D’var Torah every Friday night, the vast majority of which took place in the Beit K’nesset overlooking the lake. But I wasn’t the only one responsible for creating the content of each lesson; no, I had a lot of help with that, primarily from two sources.
The first is Rashi. Rabbi Shlomo ben Yitzhak, who despite having been gone from this world for over 900 years, continues to offer me, and countless others, insight into our Torah and our lives. The second are his descendants; that is, ‘My little Rashi’im’, the chanichim (campers), who would answer my questions. I would ask a sheilah, and they would offer their T’shuvah, and quite often, their personal insight would create a moment of inspiration and deep teaching for our entire camp community.
And so, in this, my final Annual Report as Executive Director, I thought it would be appropriate to quote from Rashi, one of my favorite thought partners over the years.
This year’s theme is ‘From Strength to Strength’ מחיל אל–חיל, and it reflects how we are feeling as an organization: grateful for a wonderful chapter, and incredibly excited about continuing our positive momentum at Ramah Day Camp and Camp Ramah in the Poconos, continuing to deepen our impact upon the Jewish lives of our campers, staff, and their families.
This famous Jewish phrase comes from a verse in Psalm 84, reading: “They go from strength to strength, appearing before God in Zion.” Rashi, quoting a midrash found in the Talmud, explains that this verse offers us a blessing that we may go from strength to strength, by leaving the beit k’nesset, the house of prayer, and entering the beit midrash to engage in studying Torah, and if we do – we will merit seeing God’s face. As usual, Rashi understands exactly how I feel. Transitions are all about going from one thing to another. The blessing is being able to go from one thing that helps the Jewish people to another. And it’s a joy to complete this transition with someone who will undoubtedly be a strength to this organization, Miryam Seid.
With thanks to our lay leadership, my colleagues, and the entire Camp Ramah in the Poconos and Ramah Day Camp community, I wish us all the blessing of going from strength to strength, from the Beit K’nesset to the Beit Midrash, from one good thing for the Jewish community to the next with love and gratitude.
Rabbi Joel Seltzer
Former Executive Director
A message from Debbie Albert, Board President
Always inspired by Rabbi Joel’s words of Torah, I want to acknowledge his remarkable contributions to Camp Ramah in the Poconos and thank him for motivating and exciting so many of us about camp, about Judaism, and about being the best human beings we can be.
His decade-plus tenure at camp has put us on solid footing with enrollment, development, and an eye to the next chapter in this organization’s history. As Miryam Seid takes on the role of Executive Director, I couldn’t be more optimistic about the future of “camp.” Yes, we shall go from strength to strength, with the right people leading us. Thank you to our beloved community for all you do to support us every day of every year.
2022 was a busy year filled with many improvements made to facilities, bunks, and programmatic areas. Every season we work hard to actively invest in our grounds and improving our facilities so that they may strengthen from year to year.
In the off-season, our beloved Chadar Ochel was expanded to accommodate our growing community. This impact was felt three times each day as we joined together for meals. Additionally, many porches have been replaced with new Trex-style decking, and we continue to update bunks with this hardy design. Many campers and staff arrived at camp and found new, safer flooring, too.
The Gesher porch was renovated in memory of Missy Stein z”l, and Gesher campers spent many hours learning, singing, and reminiscing from the comfort of its new design.
We also expanded to a 4K CCTV security system, secured stronger and more widespread WiFi for staff, installed a replacement holding tank for well water, painted many bunks, and replaced all lighting with LED bulbs.
Theodore Roosevelt summarized one’s duty in life by stating, “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”
For the first time since Camp Ramah in the Poconos’s inception in 1950, we made the inevitable decision not to have in-person camp in 2020. We held community virtual town halls to explain our decision process and show our financial predicament, facing a $2.6 million loss.
And you – our community – found the strength and took the steps to support our organization by donating almost a half a million dollars and rolling over almost one million dollars in tuition to Summer 2021. With two PPP loans, totaling $1.2 million, from the federal government, and $650,000 of a Jewish Community Response and Impact Fund (JCRIF) interest-free loan, we managed to survive a year without tuition dollars. We did what we could with what we had, reopening our in-person programs in 2021 in COVID-sensitive environments, due to capital expenditures allowing this to occur. And, while our federal PPP loans were forgiven, we do still need to pay back the JCRIF loan in full by the third quarter of 2024.
Going from strength to strength is our marching music and reflects the value of acknowledging where we are, and where we wish to go!
Summer 2022 Highlights
Ramah Day Camp
Moments of Leadership
Last summer, Ramah Day Camp had 20 Mem.I.T.s (Madrichim in Training). Some of these spectacular 8th and 9th graders have been campers since they were 4 years old, and for others this was their first summer. They built a strong community for themselves and truly contributed to creating a life-changing summer for their chanichim (campers). They spent their mornings together as an edah, deep in leadership development, and of course, swimming. In the afternoons, they experienced what life on tzevet (staff) will be like! They spent time in tzrifim, on tzevet sport, in Omanut (art), and in the Gan (garden).
The close relationships they created with campers were unparalleled, and 90% of those eligible Mem.I.T.s have applied to be on tzevet for Kayitz 2023. Truly - מחיל אל–חיל - from strength to strength.
Being a Mem.I.T. was an amazing experience. It gave me a chance to be a leader and take on great responsibilities. Last summer I worked with young kids and while sometimes it tested my patience, I really grew from the experience, and I now know how to handle stressful situations better. Also, the relationships you build with your campers and the friends you make with Mem.I.T’s are so special, you’ll just want to keep coming back!
- Elliot Loo, Mem.I.T. Kayitz 2022
From Israel to Philly
Ramah Day Camp's mishlachat (emissaries) were an incredible group of 16 committed, empathetic, and fun Israelis! They were the core tzevet members of Sha'ar, our Hebrew immersion program, and leaders at the breicha (pool), drama, and ropes course. We are rapidly growing: In 2021 we had 7 mishlachat, and in 2022 we were lucky to have 16. We strategically place our mishlachat to ensure that Hebrew permeates every area of camp.
A highlight of the kayitz was a beautifully planned, impactful Yom Yisrael - complete with a Shuk full of treats representing Israel's varieties in food and culture, a rocket-building activity, rakevet (train) rides, and a recreation of the Dead Sea.
Summer 2022 Highlights
Each kayitz, we strive to improve our programming for chanichim and tzevet. In 2022 we were thrilled to invite two special guests from Israel to spice up our Culinary Arts program: award-winning cookbook author Adeena Sussman, and a beloved former mishlachat member, Tomer Perets. Our Mitbachon (programming kitchen space) was transformed by delicacies of the Middle East and Asia as Adeena and Tomer each took a week to run hands-on workshops in their area of expertise. Adeena brought us the flavors of Israel and Tomer the art of sushi making.
We could not be happier with the experience our kid had this summer. She came back a changed child for the better - much better. She is far more mature, responsible, self confident, and overall just a pleasure to be around. I cannot thank everyone there enough!!!
- CRP Parent 2022
At Ramah, my child really could be himself. He loved what he made in ceramics and sewing. He loved the moments when the camp was loud (example: banging elbows on the table for birkat hamazon) when he typically gets stressed in loud noises. He loved hearing Hebrew around him. And he can’t stop talking about how everyday his bunk opened up to a view of the lake.
- CRP Parent 2022
We take pride in our value of 'taking care of other people’s children.' As part of our approach to training, we invited Lindsay Fram, a sexual health consultant, and Pam Schuller, an inclusion advocate, comedian, and educator, to camp for two days. In her workshops with campers, Lindsay led important conversations on creating inclusive spaces. She worked separately with our tzevet (staff) on their important role in establishing a safe and healthy environment for each of our campers. Lindsay’s time with us was an invaluable layer in our ongoing commitment to ensuring a safe environment for everyone at camp.
Pam's staff week keynote presentation and small group sessions gave our staff an opportunity to connect and commit to making camp an increasingly inclusive environment. The biggest takeaway from their time with her was the idea that inclusion isn’t important because it's a “good deed.” Rather, we are inclusive because we're better for it; engaging people with disabilities and differences is how we build a true community.
Summer 2022 Highlights
Tikvah & Inclusion
2022 was Tochnit Avodah’s second summer, and the program continues to evolve and expand. Participants worked in areas around camp such as the Mitbachon (cooking), the Tzorchaniya (mailroom), Omanut (art), the Chadar Ochel (dining hall), and in Shira/Rikkud (music & dance). They spent their mornings in a range of specialty areas as their worksite, and afternoons in activities that focused on recreation and independent daily living skills.
"Ramah was a truly rewarding experience filled with many laughs, dancing, sharing stories, and creating lifelong memories. Singing around the campfire, movie nights, celebrating Shabbat together, watching camp musicals, and swimming in the lake were just some of the experiences that made this experience so special. The Jewish environment at Ramah was so inviting and memorable, and friendships we created with other counselors will be lifelong. We can’t express how thankful we are for meeting the staff at camp, who welcomed us into their amazing community with open arms. Everyone at Ramah was filled with excitement and vibrancy which energized the atmosphere of camp, and made everyday an unforgettable experience that we will forever be grateful for.”
- Teegan and Liad, Yedidim Madrichim 2022
Flying Fox Partnership
Flying Fox is an organization in Melbourne, Australia with a mission to build connections between people with disabilities and the community - all through the power of fun! This past summer, we were lucky to have four volunteers join us at camp in our Tikvah programs. These four young adults brought with them new perspectives, fresh programming, and insightful knowledge from their Jewish communities back home, and added a new value to our Tikvah program and overall community. Flying Fox runs multiple weeklong camps each year, as well as various Shabbatons. We plan to continue this successful partnership and bring a few volunteers over each year.
* Variance Explanation for other:
2021 includes $510,215 of fully forgiven 1st round of PPP loan
2022 includes $714,304 of fully forgiven 2nd round of PPP loan
Gain / Loss snapshot unrealized market valuation
2021 includes a $93,392 increase in investment value
2022 includes a $339,967 decrease in investment value
Tuition and Fees
Programs and Operations
Ramah Day Camp
Net Increase in Assets
A special thank you to our 2021 Chai Society members. The 2021 Chai campaign supported scholarships, programming, operations and capital improvements for Summer 2022.
$18,000+ (G’milut Hasadim)
Heather Bogdanoff Baker and Felix Baker
Rachel Gross* and H.P. Baker***
Vivian and Andrew* Barnett
Dr. Nancy Rothbard* and Dr. Brian Bushee
Debbie Albert** and Glen Feinberg
Drs. Arthur* and Ella Feldman and the Sitchin Foundation
Dr. Amy J. Goldberg
Terri Hartman* and Bruce Goldberg
Laura Sklar and Daniel Goldstein
David and Pearl Graub Goldstein and Family
Harold Grinspoon Foundation
Donna Goldblum Haas and David I. Haas
Dr. Charles and Rachel Korman
Mary and Nathan Relles
Lauren and Matt* Tanzer
Judith & David Wachs Family Foundation, Inc.
Diane and Michael** Wachs and Family
Dr. Rachel and Avi Abel
Dr. Beth Etra and Jonathan Adler*
Rabbi Gary and Laya Charlestein
Drs. Sherri* and Daniel Cohen
Marlene and Jonathon Graub
Melissa and Steven Friedman, Debra Lacks, Jeremy and Dana Lacks
Joyce and Frank Podietz
Hila Reichman and Josh Podietz*
Dina and Dan Relles
Jamie and Jesse Richman
Jill* and Brian Rosen
Ali and Lee* Sussman and Family
Elanah and Stewart* Uretsky
Rabbi Rachel M. Kobrin and Dr. Jeffrey Ward
Karen and Darryl Caplan
Susan Styler DeLong and Rob DeLong
Debra and Harris Devor
Julie and Daniel Fein
Abbey and David Gancz
Micaela and Rick* Gold
The Garten Family
Judith, Roger, Jonathan, and Joshua Hess
Amy and David Kritz
Emily and Michael Landsburg
Sharon and Jonathan Levin
The Lewis Lyons Foundation
Dr. Rachel and Stephen Miller
Gail and Elliot Norry
Eve Coulson and Nelson Obus
Rabbi Joel and Eliana Seltzer
Jack Aaron and Rabbi Stephanie Aaron
Seyna and Larry Abel
Ursina Teitelbaum and Ben Abella
Rachael and Joshua Abrams
The Adar Family
Dr. Beth Etra and Jonathan Adler
Suzanne and James Aisenberg
Dr. Arnold and Susan Baskies
Risa and Michael Baskies
Kathryn and Martin Birn
Drs. Carole and Bruce Bogdanoff
The Bramson Family*
Dr. Harvey and Joan Bucholtz
Judy and Jerry Caplan
Drs. Mindy and Jesse Civan
Sarah Waxman and Jacob Cohen
Hannah S. and Samuel A. Cohn Memorial Foundation
Dr. Barry and Nancy Concool
Judy Groner and Ronald Eisenberg
Bruce and Jo Ann Chalal Engleman
Dr. Mark and Dana* Fallick
Anne and Steven Fassler
Harriet and Philip Freidenreich
Dr. Sidney and Ellen Friedman
Dr. Leonard and Judy Galler
Beth Gansky and Family
Ilene and Jonathan Gershen
Judy and David Gilberg
Michal* Wachs and Daniel Gold
Peggy and Louis Gold
Rachel and Jeremy Goldberg
Sandra and Michael Goldberg
Drs. Heidi and Jeff Gordon
Rabbi Josh and Elissa* Gruenberg
Marci and Robert Hackel
Staci and Richard Julie
Marge and Boaz Kalfon
Rabbi Michael and Fran Katz
Santina Zanelli and Dr. David Kaufman
Rebecca and Ben Kirshner
Heather and Mark Kramer
Elise Gispan and Brad Johnson
Sarah-Kay and Matthew* Lacks
Robin Sue and Bill Landsburg
Dr. Keren and Aryeh Lebeau
Dr. Lawrence and Eva Levitt
Drs. Julie and Michael Lippmann
Rabbi Alan and Edy Lucas
Ivy and David Mermelstein
Roe and Don Miller
Rachel Zivic and Rabbi Micah Peltz
Debbie* and Richard Perlman
Monica and Marty Pollak
Sara and Etan Reisner
Amy and Ben Relles
Tina and Michael Rettig
Dr. Reuben and Diane Romirowsky
Michal and Adam Scheer
Ilana Glazier and Dr. Lowell Schmeltz
Suzanne and Jared Sclove
Miryam and Adam Seid
Stacy and Matthew Seltzer
Susie and Ken Shear
The Skier Foundation
Susan and Richard Stone
Susan Ganz and Howard Sugarman
Sarah and Jeff Vogel
Jenifer and Martin Wachs
Juliet I. Spitzer and Philip Wachs
Rabbi Lisa Malik and Dr. Abraham Wyner
Rabbi Eric and Dava Yanoff
Robin and Greg Zappin
*Member, Board of Directors
**Current or Immediate Past President, Board of Directors
*** Chairs, 2021 Annual Chai Campaign
Our Chai Society is a critical group of philanthropic leaders who are instrumental in supporting the vision and missions of camp. Chai Society members donated a minimum of $1,800 in fiscal year 2022.
The Board of Directors
The Moreshet Ramah Legacy Society recognizes the members who ensure the future of Camp Ramah in the Poconos, Ramah Day Camp, and our Tikvah programs by making a commitment in their estate plan to contribute to Camp Ramah’s permanent endowment. After your lifetime, your bequest or end-of-life gift will become a part of Camp Ramah in the Poconos’s unrestricted endowment fund and forever identify you as a devoted supporter of our mission to create life-long Jewish connections, one happy camper at a time.See our Legacy Society Members here
The Year-Round Team
Interim Director, Ramah Poconos
Interim Assistant Director, Ramah Poconos
Staff Recruitment & Experience Coordinator
Development & Alumni Associate
Director of Operations & Retreats
Tikvah Director, Ramah Poconos
Director of Finance & Administration
Database and HR Coordinator
Interim Director, Ramah Day Camp
Program Director, Ramah Poconos
Health Center Director / Nurse Administrator