Greetings from the Northern California Ramah initiative. It is my privilege to be involved in the process of bringing Camp Ramah to Northern California. Along with Gary Ball, Alex Bernstein, Ed Epstein, Mark Lieberman, Loren Shalinsky, and Jay Reisbaum as chair, I serve on the board that was formed to oversee this process. This board met several times in the past year, and had the opportunity to get to know Rabbi Joe Menashe, Camp Ramah in California's new Executive Director, at the meeting in October.
At our most recent meeting, held in mid-January, we discussed the ongoing (and crucial) need to find a camp site that will serve not only as a summer camp, but also as a retreat center for activities throughout the year. Our real estate agents and brokers are actively seeking out properties for us to look at - we haven't found a home yet. However, we are currently doing planning and legal research to determine whether one of the sites seen recently could be improved to meet our needs. The board is also busy forming our Bylaws and an Operating Agreement between the existing Ramah California and the new Ramah NorCal. Our intention is to leverage the expertise of the professionals and lay leaders of the existing camp, sharing back office systems and support, while growing strong local support and lay leadership.
Ellen Bob, our Director of Community Development for Northern California for Camp Ramah for the last 18 months, has accepted the full-time position of Executive Director at Congregation Etz Chayim in Palo Alto. Ellen helped us create our new Board, cultivated potential supporters, recruited volunteers, organized focus groups, partnered with the Federation and raised the awareness of the entire Jewish community about the importance of Jewish camping in general and the power of Camp Ramah in particular. We wish her the best of luck. She will continue to be involved in this initiative as a volunteer.
Following Ellen's departure, Randy Michaels, Director of Finance and Administration of Camp Ramah in California, is staffing the board activities. Prior to taking his current position, Randy was an active member of the Northern California Ramah committee, which ultimately turned into this board of directors. Under Randy's direction, the current board members are becoming more involved in the day-to-day work of bringing Camp Ramah to this region. This will ensure that the process we've started will continue as we identify the skills needed in our next local professional.
If you want to communicate with us about anything related to the Northern California Initiative, then please e-mail NorCal@Ramah.org. I look forward to hearing from you.
Member, Board of Directors, Northern California Camp Ramah