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Matt Levitt, our Assistant Director, will be leaving Ramah in the Rockies in June. In his next adventure he will be pursuing graduate school as he and his wife, Sara, move to Tulsa. Thank you, Matt, for all you have done for Ramah in the Rockies!

Eliav headshotI still remember in the Fall of 2009 receiving an email from one Matthew Levitt, then a junior at Indiana University, asking me how he could apply to work as a counselor at our yet-to-open Ramah Camp in Colorado.  As a counselor during our inaugural summer, Matt showed innate leadership qualities that I knew could help us grow our camp.  We offered for him to help us with logistics during the off season following camp and were eventually able to bring him on board full time in 2012 as Program Director.
It is hard to understate Matt’s impact on nearly every aspect of our organization.  From recruiting to hiring and from program design to organizational infrastructure, he has accepted every challenge that has come his way and has constantly sought to improve our camp program.  He has an incredible organizational mind and always finds creative solutions to complex problems.  When we found ourselves in 2014 without a head chef and campers due to arrive in 24 hours, Matt stepped in and took over running the kitchen, often working 18 hour days since he still had his assistant director job to do, too.  Although not a world-renown chef, he did organize, empower, and motivate others to help us through a tough summer in the kitchen.
Matt informed us last summer that he would be transitioning out with the intent of pursuing an MBA. He has spent the better part of this year working closely with our incoming Program Director, Julia Snyder. Over the years, Matt has become a good friend and mentor.  I have relied on him for a listening ear, honest conversations, and good laughs.  While I wish him and Sara only success in the next chapter of their lives together, I will miss working with him daily and know that his impact on Ramah in the Rockies will be felt for years to come.
Below is a note that Matt wrote about his impending transition.
-Rabbi Eliav Bock
MLSLDear Ramah Community,
With gratitude my journey at Ramah in the Rockies will come to end on June 30th of this year as my wife Sara, Watford, and I begin the next chapter of our lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Sara has accepted a new position as the Director of Jewish Life and Learning at Congregation B’nai Emunah, a long time Ramah-supporting synagogue. Given the upcoming move and opportunity, I plan to return to graduate school for a degree in business in Tulsa. My passion and interest for business and operations was developed right here at Ramah in the Rockies and it is something I would like to pursue further.
Words cannot describe how appreciative we are for the tremendous opportunity Rabbi Eliav Bock, Douglas Wolf, Don Skupsky, and the entire Ramah community have given me over the last 5+ years. I could not be prouder of our growth over the past six summers. From my first days in 2010 as a rock climbing instructor for 120 campers to this season where we will welcome close to 500 campers, the power of this kehillah kedosha (holy community) truly shows.
It has been an incredible journey for Sara and me. The generous support, both personally and professionally, has left a special place for Ramah in our hearts. We feel confident in saying that Ramah will be in our future but for now this chapter will come to a close in June.
Please feel free to email me at matthew.levitt@gmail.com if you find yourself in Tulsa or would like to keep in touch.
Thank you again!

-Matt Levitt


This is the second installment in a series of blogs from our camp staff. Each of the staff were asked how their area of camp (rock climbing, archery, horseback riding, etc) and Judaism was linked for them, and how they have brought the two together in their lives.

Matt Levitt

matt atop mtn w sunGazing out of my college dorm window towards the yellow and orange leaves blanketing the beautiful Indiana University campus each fall, a few ideas swirling around in my head, I decided this would be my last “available” summer.  A double major in Political Science and Arabic, soon I would need a summer internship with the state department, if my dream to work in Middle Eastern policy was to be realized post-graduation.  

After some online digging, I found a new camp, a Ramah specialty camp, was scheduled to open in the heart of the Rocky Mountain during the summer of 2010. Intrigued by this idea, I contacted Rabbi Eliav to see if any positions remained. Luckily, he had several available positions and I found myself on the inaugural Tzevet [staff] in the summer of 2010 as a rock climbing instructor and madrich [counselor].

While much of the ground work for the educational program was put in place by Rabbi Eliav, Sarah Shulman (Former Ramah in the Rockies Assistant Director and now the Director of the new Camp Ramah in Northern California), and several others before our arrival, it was clear that my entrepreneurial spirit would thrive here. During our first summer I developed a rock climbing curriculum asking the essential question, how can the ancient texts of the Jews relate to the modern day rock climber?

Part of the program at Ramah Outdoor Adventure includes a five day backcountry excursion for our oldest chaluztim [campers]. One such trip culminated with a 5 a.m. climb up one of the most beautiful rock faces in the Lost Creek Wilderness.  We woke up to the campers’ groans of an early morning, but soon after a little oatmeal and some hot tea, our group was ready to depart for our last day of climbing before heading back to camp for Shabbat. Several hours later, our group reached the top of our climb and sat atop a beautiful vista overlooking the entire Lost Creek Wilderness.

Atop that beautiful vista, we decided to engage our chalutzim [campers] in a discussion about Moses’ journey as a biblical climber. By the end of our discussion, our chalutzim [campers] had come to the conclusion that Moses acted as the “belayer” or safety, Joshua played the role of the “climber”, the explorer of new land, and God secured us as the “rope” and “gear”, linking the two through rope and safety.

It was in that moment, sitting atop that breathtaking cliff, I realized the true beauty of experiential Jewish education and the mission of Ramah Outdoor Adventure. Seeing the campers engage in Judaism that way, relating our past traditions to today, changed my life.

When I returned back to Indiana University, I changed my major to Jewish Studies and Education. Now I work for Ramah Outdoor Adventure at Ramah in the Rockies year round, continuing to follow my passion of experiential Jewish education, a passion developed here in the heart of the Rocky Mountains during our very first summer.