Core Values Revisited
Core Values revisited
In the winter of 2008‑2009, a full eighteen months before we were scheduled to welcome our first chalutzim (campers/pioneers) to Ramah Outdoor Adventure, a group of us spent many weeks articulating a set of Jewish core values that we would use as our guiding principles when creating the camp program. We used Dr. Ismar Schorch’s Sacred Clusters as the basis for our principles, written in 1995 by the then‑Chancellor of the Jewish Theological Seminary in an attempt to articulate the principles of Conservative Judaism. By beginning our planning process around our Jewish values, and not the activities we hoped to offer, we were able to ensure that everything we developed for camp from that point forward would be influenced by these values. Each year, we begin our staff training with a program articulating our Jewish core values. Anyone who enters our Chadar Ohel (dining hall) knows that these values are displayed in large print on the walls of the dining hall, as a constant reminder of why we come together each summer as a Kehillah Kedosha (a holy community).
Last summer, our madrichim (counselors) expressed concern that while they inherently understood the Jewish core values of camp, the current iteration of these values is not easily comprehended by our chalutzim, especially younger campers. They asked that we reword these values to reflect a camper‑centric approach.
Our 2012 program director, Zach Usmani, has completed the first attempt at rewriting our values. I offer them to you below in both the original and revised format. Please feel to comment on these on our webpage or Facebook page or by email to either Zach or Rabbi Eliav before we commit any of these to large print in the chadar ohel this summer.
Value # 1
- Developing a relationship with the Divine: We believe that every Jew should have their own personal understanding of the Divine. While this understanding can/should change over time, one should have a concept God in order to engage in Jewish practice.
- Developing a Relationship with the Divine: Chalutzim will engage in conversations about God with staff and other campers, and campers will be able to intelligently articulate their view of the Divine.
- Jewish learning: We believe that the study of Torah, in both the narrow and extended sense, must be a part of living a Jewish life. Each generation and every community appropriated the Torah afresh through their own interpretive activity, creating a vast dialogue in which differences of opinion were valid and preserved. It is our job to continue this tradition and create our own understandings of these ancient texts.
- Jewish Learning: Chalutzim will engage in Jewish learning on a daily basis, through the study of a range of texts, tefillah, teaching others, and purposeful discussions with staff.
- Jewish identity and community: We believe that all Jews are part of a larger Jewish community and that it is imperative to instill this sense of belonging in campers and staff members.
- Jewish Identity and Community: Chalutzim will feel a sense of belonging to, and be enthusiastic members of, the camp community and the larger Jewish community.
- Jewish observance: We believe that at the core of the Jewish people is their dedication to Jewish observance (Halacha). Commitment to halacha has enabled the Jewish people to survive for over 2,000 years.
- Jewish Observance: Chalutzim will make a greater commitment to Halacha in and out of camp, as Halacha is at the core of our people.
- Hebrew: Hebrew is the irreplaceable language of the Jewish people. It was never merely a vehicle of communication, but part of the fabric and texture of Judaism.
- Hebrew: Chalutzim will increase their knowledge of, and connection to, the Hebrew language through daily use by Chalutzim and Tzevet and Hebrew announcements, signage, and songs.
- Appreciation for the outdoors: We believe that the natural beauty in this world is something to appreciate and to celebrate.
- Appreciation for the Outdoors: Chalutzim will practice leave no trace camping and work to minimize their ecological footprint because we believe that the natural beauty in this world is something to appreciate and to celebrate.
- Our Partnership with God in Repairing the World: We believe that we are partners with God in the on‑going repairing of the world and that our actions impact the larger whole.
- Tikkun Olam: Chalutzim will perform acts of tikkun olam and engage in meaningful conversations about the origins and impact of tikkun olam, repairing of the world.