Friday, July 20, 2012

An Important Statement from the National Ramah Commission

Our moral and religious compass supports inclusion of all members of our community, regardless of their personal challenges or exceptionalities. Ramah has always prioritized the value of inclusion, and continues to be a pioneer in this area with new programs and initiatives. It is our belief that all Jewish institutions including schools, synagogues and summer camps need to emphasize this value within our communities.

However, each individual's situation is unique and unfortunately, there are times when the importance of inclusion conflicts with the circumstances of a particular camper, staff member, or the rest of the camp community. Decisions in such cases are taken very seriously and discussed directly only with those involved. We at Ramah cannot comment publicly on this or any other individual case due to concerns of privacy.

We understand the sadness and pain these conflicts can create. However, we find it unfortunate that one perspective, however well-intended, has created the false impression of injustice or anything other than caring staff and leaders charged with supporting many people safely.

We appreciate the notes of concern and support we have received from those who have read about the recent situation at Camp Ramah in Canada. To those who have reacted to one blog post with harsh conclusions, without firsthand knowledge of the situation, we would hope that you can understand that sensitive matters like this one are often more complex than presented. Public reactions by those with limited knowledge can be dangerous and hurtful, particularly to those dedicated staff members who work so hard to care for our children.

Camp Ramah in Canada and Ramah camps throughout North America have an outstanding record of inclusion. We have been accommodating children with special needs, educating the entire camp community (and beyond) about the boundless gifts of difference, and have been raising needed funding to extend our program to children with exceptionalities for decades.

The Ramah Camping Movement will continue to nurture inclusive Jewish communities that embrace the value of difference.

Shabbat Shalom.

Rabbi Mitchell Cohen, Director
Sheldon L. Disenhouse, President

National Ramah Commission of The Jewish Theological Seminary

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