A message from Dan Ravitch
Lehitraot. A formal goodbye in Hebrew that translates to “until we see each other again.” Three summers later, and Shirlee and I can hardly believe where the time has gone. I struggled these past weeks to see the bigger picture of the impact we may have had while here, dwelling only on the ideas we had yet to implement in the community. Looking back, with the help of our friends and family at the Federation, a lot has been done to grow and engage our Jewish community since we began over two years ago.
From Camp to Lunch N’ Learns, I am filled with the images of warm smiles, delicious food, and shared Jewish experiences. My first program as Programming Director was apple picking and Shi’Shuk for Rosh Hashanah. The number of campers and families that joined was heartwarming, let alone the honey cakes shared with the community at the end. I still remember teaching campers about the Rosh Hashanah Seder held by many in Israel and around the world, and the faces kids made when we shared the appearance of a fish head on the table. Learning about our Jewish Identity through the understanding of other’s has always been central to what I tried to accomplish with my time. Our final program will be a homage to this one with apple picking and a Rosh Hashanah Shi’Shuk on September 10th.
Without a doubt, I am most proud of what Camp Ideal has become these past three summers. A place where kids from such diverse backgrounds can come together to learn from one another, compete amongst each other, and grow as individuals. Camp Ideal is a place that Shirlee, Abbee, and I poured our hearts and souls into. Helping it grow and thrive, giving it a name in the greater community, and creating a place that nearly a hundred children wait all year to attend. My dream is to return to Camp Ideal and see it not only growing physically in attendance, but see the traditions continue to thrive, the passion for camp to grow, and shining smiles on the faces of campers.
So, what is next in the journey of Shirlee and Dan? While I believe that we will be moving back to Israel at some point in the future, my hope is to cultivate more experience and education while I’m capable here in the States. I intend to continue working in the field of informal youth education and summer camp experiences. Where exactly we will end up is yet to be decided, but many offers have been made and a decision will be forthcoming. I am certain to visit over holiday breaks as my family still lives nearby, and perhaps could even find a way to make an appearance at a Camp event again soon.
The Federation has always held a place in my heart, from my first program with a Shaliach in Benton Harbor in 2005, traveling to Israel for the first time with Debby Grant in 2008, to making Aliyah with the help of Yael Farber in 2011, and returning in 2015 to share my story of being a lone soldier in the IDF. The time I have had to work in the community has been a blessing, and I will grow from what I have learned here for years to come. Shanah Tova and let us all be blessed with new beginnings in the coming year.