We Gave It Our All

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                                                                       We Gave It Our All
                                                                           An integral part of life at Mahaneh
                                                                            Ramah is the opportunity to play on a
                                                                             sports team, known in camp as “hug.”
                                                                               The excitement begins the very first
                                                                                day of camp, when B-siders choose the
                                                                                  team they want to play on: boys’ and girls’ basketball
                                                                                   and softball, frisbee, tennis, swim, soccer, Scrabble or
                                                                                    cross-country. Solelim and most Bogrim play on Junior
                                                                                     Varsity teams while Machon and Gesher and some
                                                                                       Bogrimers play on Varsity.
                                                                                           The teams practice all summer, primarily
                                                                                         in preparation for Yom Palmer. The almost
                                                                       two hours daily are spent running, conditioning, drilling,
                                                                       scrimmaging and bonding. Not only is hug important for that
                                                                       one part of the day, but the friendships created both within
                                                                       and outside the edah are strong. Hug is a presence in
                                                 Yom Palmer:
                                                                       the life of a camper.
                                                                            The night before Yom Palmer, the teams get
                                                                       psyched at a pep rally. Everyone chants as one voice, “Make new friends! Make new
                                                                       friends!” Screaming and roaring alternate with calmly singing “Al Ha-dvash V’al
                                                                       Ha-oketz.” Even the clothing brings the team together. Each team wears a different
                                                                       outfit: white t-shirts, striped shirts, purple leis. The most outrageous? The frisbee
                                                                       team wears kilts–short plaid skirts–shirts draped sash-like across their bare chests,
                                                                       half their faces painted various shades of blue. “No matter what happens tomorrow,”
                                                                       says Ari Frankel, one of the frisbee captains, “the only thing that matters is that I love
                                                                       my team and I’ve never been prouder of any group in my life.”
                                                                            Members of every team are called up by name to get their jerseys. The goofy
                                                                       nicknames they’ve been given by their teammates are imprinted on the backs of
                                                                       their jerseys. There’s Chip ‘n Dip and Nutty Professor. Josh Stecker’s shirt reads,
                                                                       “Cleakers.” “Once,” he explains, “I asked if we should wear cleats or sneakers but it
                                                                       came out sneats or cleakers.”
                                                                            The night continues as each team discusses their approaching game. Everyone is
                                                                                 told, “Get a good night’s sleep!” but that is difficult, given that the excitement
                                                                                   for the next day.
                                                                                              An informal pep rally follows in the Hadar Ochel in the morning.
                                                                                            The teams sit together and discuss the significance of the day, how
                                                                                               hard they’ve been practicing and how great it will be. It’s another
                                                                                                   opportunity to pump up the team. After the buses arrive
                                                                                                     from Palmer, the teams with morning games warm up. The
                                                                                                       teams that play afternoon games watch. Then it switches.
                                                                                                        The teams play their hardest but the only victory for
                                                                                                        Berkshires is Hug Tennis. “We gave it all our effort and
                                                                                                        valor,” says Rosh Sport Zach Seiden.
                                                                                                             But maybe the losses are not as crushing as they may
                                                                                                           seem. After losing 15-8, Hug Frisbee runs screaming
                                                                                                              up the hill from the golf course. “Did you win?”
                                                                                                                  a bystander asks. “No,” they answer, and
                                                                                                                    keep running.

                                                                                                                          —Josh Cooper and Joey Resnick

                                                                       Among the choices in the Machon Havayah program was a one-week journalism elective. Campers
                                                                       reported on a variety of areas of camp. You’ll find their stories throughout the newspaper. Enjoy!

Ramah Diary:           Lights, Camera, Action   Fred Elias: Here,      Our Letters to                        More Than Ever,                         Recipes
A Vision To Remember   Page 3                   There and Everywhere   Israeli Soldiers                      Celebrating Israel—                     Page 11
Page 2                                          Page 4                 Page 5                                Ramah Style
                                                                                                             Page 9

The View From Here:                                             It’s A Small World
Mission Possible
                                                                If you are ever in Prague, don’t be surprised if you           tell them, when you turn 18 you’ll come,”Aby says.
Don’t be surprised if your child returns home from              bump into someone wearing a Camp Ramah t-shirt.                “And they do. They all want to come.”
camp this summer asking for humus and pita,                     The chances are he–or she–has worked in our camp                     For Aby, taking care of his staff feels a little like
singing Israeli songs and talking about visiting his or         kitchen or dining room sometime in the past 15 years.          being a “big daddy” to a lot of kids. “They are foreign
her Israeli counselor.                                               Juraj (pronounced Yoo-rye)Nally, 23, has left his         people in a foreign country. They have absolutely no
     Part of our mission                                        village of Bobro, Slovakia, to work at camp for the past       one and you have to take care of them,” he says, while
at camp is to increase                                          four summers. The degree he just earned from Zilina            putting their return airline tickets in order. They have
a love for Israel. We                                           University in transportation economics won’t help him          their own camp program and Aby takes them on trips
instill a pride in Israel                                       much as a cook in the meat kitchen, but he doesn’t             outside camp once a week: movies, bowling, dinner,
through the role models                                         mind. His twin sister Natalia, who runs the dining             ice cream.
who abound around                                               room and has degrees in history and Slovak language,                 The camp kitchen–a world onto itself–doesn’t
camp. Our mishlahat, an                                         has accompanied him for the past three years. “We              daunt them. They prepare sauces and pizza dough in
enthusiastic and vibrant                                        heard about Ramah from a cousin who worked here                the 80-quart kettles and mixers; wash 1,200 dishes,
crew of young Israelis,                                         eight or nine years ago,” says Juraj.                          cutlery and bowls per meal in the industrial-strength
lives side by side with                                              According to Commisary Director Aby Laznik,               dishwasher; bake 2,000 cinnamon rolls, and boil
                                 Rabbi Paul Resnick, Director
our campers, teaching,                                          of the 27 kitchen staff, 80 percent come through an            1296 eggs for Shabbat. And they learn a little about
laughing, singing, dancing; encouraging the use                 exchange program from Eastern Europe. “They want to            Judaism. Ineta Baltramonaityte Kaunasi, a 21-year-old
of Hebrew. Despite the tense and horrific situation              get to know the U.S.,” Aby says. Ranging in age from           textile design student from Lithuania who is spending
in Israel, they did their jobs admirably and came               18-26, they are Czechs, Slovaks, ethnic Hungarians,            her second year at camp, says she never met anyone
together closely as a group.                                    Ukrainians and Lithuanians who are studying or                 Jewish before. “I like them,” she says. From working
     The mishlahat is responsible for creating and              have completed degrees in electrical engineering,              in the pantry, she says she has learned that you are not
implementing the programming for Hashi, a half-
week devoted to Israel unique to CRB. Hashi has
not only become a staple on our calendar: it is also
recognized at the Jewish Agency as an incredibly
successful tool in Israel education. Alongside the
educational goal, our campers look forward to
Hashi as one of the highlights of their summer.
They compare each year’s programming to that of
previous summers. This summer, you couldn’t walk
around camp without hearing the “Hashi song,”
Shalom Aleichem. Campers danced to its motions
     We couldn’t ignore the situation in Israel, nor
did we want to. Machon attended the rally in New
York in support of Israel. They identified themselves
as a group by wearing their Ramah t-shirts. Not
surprisingly, strangers came up to them applauding
their participation. We added a prayer for Israeli
soldiers during Birkat Hamazon. Age-appropriate                 computers, economics and more.                                 allowed to mix meat and dairy: “It’s not hard to get
discussion groups focused on facts, perspectives                    Except for Aby’s two chefs, Roy Bayliss and Victor         used to.” Juraj says he has learned “what is Shabbat.”
and feelings.                                                   Lopez, who are from Belize and Peru respectively,                   “Some people know zip when they get here,” says
     But we also tried to show campers that life in             the other kitchen staff do not have food backgrounds.          Aby. “They’ve never seen a Jew in their life. Sometimes
Israel goes on, that we can celebrate Israel with joy,          But, says Aby, they learn fast. “Their work ethic is           we have discussions about Judaism. They meet
through Israeli songs and dances in ourZimriyah,                unbelievable. They are not your average kitchen staff          people from Israel. It opens a whole different world to
Rikudiah and first-ever Maholiah (an evening of                  workers in this country. It’s nice to work with people         them.” Every year, Aby teaches his staff a song for the
dance for Mahaneh Aleph). From the time they are                who understand your needs. They are very caring and            Zimriyah–including the meaning of the words–and
Cochavim campers, they hear about Ramah Seminar                 take pride in what they do. I wish I could have this staff     a dance for the Rikudiah. “Sometimes when the kids
from their counselors. At the staff level, we held a            everywhere I go,” says Aby, who works in a gourmet             have shirah in the dining room the ones who have been
Friday night panel discussion exploring program                 market in Boca Raton, Florida, when he is not at camp.         here a while can sing with the kids,” Aby says. “They
options in Israel. In fact, fifteen staff members                    The camp works with two recruiting agencies; and           get a kick out of being a big part of camp life and not
are studying in Israel, in programs ranging from                Aby also attends yearly camp director fairs in Europe          just being part of the help.”
the One-Year Program at Hebrew University and                   from time to time to interview candidates himself. In               What song does Juraj remember? “Al shloshah
Yeshivat Maaleh Gilboa to the service corps program             the past few years, however, word of mouth has been            devarim,” he smiles shyly. What has he learned about
sponsored by the Jewish Agency.                                 enough. One friend tells his college roommate; another         America? “It’s a different culture,” he says. “I don’t
     When campers leave in August, they truly feel              sends his cousin. Others remember Aby’s visits from            know, “ he says, pausing, “Everyone here is from
that Israel is part of their lives.                             ten years back, when they were too young to apply. “I          Europe!”

Ramah Diary: A Vision To Remember
An excerpt from Rabbi Eliot Malomet’s “Yoman Ramah,” Ramah Diary, broadcast weekly                Singing together. It’s what camp is all about.
on Ramah radio. Rabbi Malomet, the yoetz for Nitzanim and Shorashim, serves as
spiritual leader of the Highland Park Conservative Temple and Center in New Jersey.

Yoman Ramah Episode Three
Sunday, August 13, 2006
Dear Diary,
It was a wonderful Shabbat. Something about the lake. Just watching the whole
mahaneh assembled at the Ampiteatron doing Kabbalat Shabbat, all dressed in
white. Singing together. It’s what camp is all about. From where I sat, I could see
everything, the changing colors on the horizon, the gentle slope of the forest on
the other side of the lake, the soft breeze, the cool air, and the music. It was quite
beautiful. I sometimes wish that we could record this, but even if we did record it,
a video could never capture the feeling of Shabbat. There is a moment when it all
comes together. You realize that a whole year of planning, a whole year of organizing,         it. It is always changing. Like time. Like experience. Like life itself. There’s only a week
administering, putting together a staff, bringing people, families, together, it is all felt   of camp left. I remember these last weeks of camp from my own experiences. The best
at that moment. I watched Rabbi Resnick turn at one point to face the lake, just for a         things happened during the last week. Plays, banquets, celebrations.
moment with the whole mahaneh behind him, and I was moved.                                            All I know is that after this week, it will be over. All of the things that we love will
     The nights have grown colder...This morning, I saw my breath as I went for a              vanish like mist. There will be the last Thursday of camp, then the last Friday, the last
walk. This morning, I saw the mist rise from the lake. It was a choreography of light          Kabbalat Shabbat, and the last Shabbat. And then Sunday morning it will all be over.
cotton wisps whirling and twirling westerly toward the other shore. There is art to be         All of the people in this place will board their buses and load up their cars and drive
made from this lake. There is what to behold. Mist is a good metaphor. It is what to           away. There will be tears, hugs, embraces, and promises. But the lake, and its mist,
behold, but, let’s face it, mist is precisely what you can’t behold. If you look carefully     and its beauty, and the trees, and the rock, will remain. It will all be here, waiting for us
at the mist of the lake, you realize that you really can’t behold it. You can’t hold onto      to return again next year.

August 2006 Page 2
Lights, Camera, Action!
Until recently, Nitzan Eitan was a commander in the        movie. A Tzeirim group
Israeli Army (IDF). Part of her job was to teach officers   filmed Bubbe in the
how to shoot accurately.                                   Mitbahon making the
     That could also be her job description at Camp        Fourth of July cake. “It
Ramah. Only here she’s shooting with a video camera.       had strawberries and
Nitzan’s video room, to the side of Beit Am Aleph, is      blueberries and really
a popular destination for this summer’s campers. A         good icing,” says Leah
neon yellow poster on the door announces, “Video,”         Chevan, a.k.a. Peanut
in red and blue glittered Hebrew and English letters.      Butter. (Hmmm, were
“Until now video wasn’t such an important activity,”       they filming or tasting?)
says Nitzan, 20. A new editing program—Adobe               “It was fun to edit the
Premiere—promises user-friendly bells and                  tape. We looked through
whistles, in addition to a VCR and DVD player; three       title pages and chose one
camcorders, and tapes. “The kids love using the            that was like a comic book.
camera,” Nitzan says. “They love to explore.”              It said, `Our Hero,’ and we
     Nitzan specialized in communications and cinema       put a picture of Bubbe’s
in high school in Hod Hasharon, and makes bar              face on it.” Leah says she
mitzvah videos in her free time. She prepared for her      learned it takes a long
stay at camp by making two video clips with dazzling       time to make a movie. The
special effects: one introduces the Mishlahat members,     hardest part, she says, was
the other takes campers on a trip through Israel, from     trying to get everyone in
Jerusalem to Mt. Tabor, The Ivrit program is using the     Mitbahon to control their
second video as a fun quiz.                                urges to jump in front of
     The video program is open to all edot except          the camera. Her best friend, Rachel Richman, a.k.a.        If only all of life were like that.
Gesher and Cochavim. Each group comes up with its          Jelly, says she liked the fact that if she did something
own concept and edits a final product. One group of         wrong she could go back and change it in editing.
Nitzanim filmed their own version of a James Bond

Creating New Leaders:                                                                     New In Kayitz ‘06
Counselors Are A Cornerstone At Ramah
There’s a new abbreviation among camp staff that’s all the rage this summer.
It’s JTM, or Jewish Teachable Moment. The staff didn’t coin this one themselves. It’s
one of the concepts six third-year counselors learned at the Cornerstone Fellowship
Program they participated in this past spring.
      The idea, explains Michael Verstandig, a Gesher counselor and Cornerstone
fellow, is that even the smallest thing can be a powerful opportunity to add Judaism
to day-to-day life. Michael and the other Cornerstone fellows–Avi Eisen, Ben
Mernick, Naomi Queen, Josh Smith and Annie Zaks–shared what they learned
with newer Ramah staff and junior counselors at training sessions during Staff
Week. Topics ranged from how to be a more effective counselor to designing a camp
mission statement. The “fellows “ have weekly sessions with their liaison, Fred Elias,
to brainstorm new ideas and discuss how they can continue being leaders at camp.

     The Cornerstone program, made possible with the support of the Avi Chai
Foundation and designed by the non-profit Foundation for Jewish Camping, is a
groundbreaking leadership program for returning third-year counselors. “They
realized it was important to find a niche for people who’ve already been counselors        Machon and Gesher
two years. They need something new and different,” explains Fred, who was one
of the conference facilitators. “Cornerstone turns them into leaders. They become
invested in and excited about Jewish camping. Younger staff can also look to them as      campers learn the
role models. Being a counselor is not just about coming for one summer. It’s about a
lifelong commitment.” By providing an incentive stipend and advanced professional
development training, Jewish camps hope to attract, retain and strengthen their
                                                                                              fun of
                                                                                          skills and
“cornerstones,” their emerging Jewish leaders.
     Josh Smith says he enjoyed the program-sharing among the camp
representatives. “We came home with 30 programs,” he says. “We learned that at
Berkshires, we’re in our own little bubble,” Michael adds. “At each meal during
Cornerstone, a different camp discussed their own camp traditions—for motzi or            on Candlewood Lake
brachot, for example. I realized we’re only one Jewish camp out of many. We’re all
the same in many ways, yet different.”                                                    in Connecticut!
–Rahel Musleah and Fred Elias

                                                                                                                                                  Page 3 August 2006

Ask The Camper:                                           Fred Elias: Here, There And Everywhere
Something Special’s
                                                          Shorashim camper Ari Friedman is in                                      his first taste of Ramah when he worked
Going On Here                                             awe of Fred Elias, Rosh Mahaneh                                              as a counselor at Palmer, from 1996-
                                                          Aleph. “He runs the younger kids,”                                             2000. That’s also where he met
We asked campers at random what memories
                                                          Ari says, trying to describe Fred’s                                              his wife, Michelle. He served as
come to mind when they think about camp during
                                                          job, a new position at camp this                                                   youth director and principal of
the year. The number one answer was “friends.”
                                                          year. “He keeps them calm.                                                          a synagogue in Massachusetts
Here is a sampling of responses.
                                                          Without him, Mahaneh Aleph                                                           until he entered rabbinical
                                                          wouldn’t, like, exist. What he                                                        school at the Jewish Theological
When I am at home during the year and I think
                                                          does is amazing. How does                                                             Seminary in Manhattan; he’s
about Camp Ramah, I think about...
                                                          he do it?” he shakes his head                                                         now in his third year. The
                                                          in wonder. “I don’t know.”                                                           rabbinical school curriculum
..the Hadar Ochel, because I’m always with my
                                                               Fred’s own version is just                                                     requires students to spend a
friends. It’s a great feeling to know your friends are
                                                          a tad different: “I’m responsible                                                  summer at a Ramah camp to see
your family at camp.
                                                          for a fun and safe experience for                                                how it can change people’s lives,
Aviva Weiner, Nitzanim
                                                          Mahaneh Aleph campers and staff,”                                              says Fred, which brought him to
                                                          he says.                                                                    Berkshires. At CRB, he’s been Rosh being like a second home for the summer.
                                                               You’ll see Fred calling to kids playing                            Shorashim and head of Taam Ramah, the
You get to have fun and there are no worries. I
                                                          on the kikar to go to their next peulah; handing                  one-week program for campers entering third and
remember times I’ve laughed a lot.
                                                          out snacks with Rabbi Resnick; giving out clues for        fourth grades. Year-round, he is our program director,
Lydia Dubois, Shorashim
                                                          his trademark hide ‘n seek game—finding a “lost” ET         setting the summer calendar, arranging special
                                                          figurine or Metrocard; playing basketball; reading the      programs and reunions. experiences. I can try things I don’t have the
                                                          haftarah; enjoying his favorite meal, bishul; donning a          There’s no doubt that Ramah has changed Fred’s
opportunity to do at home.
                                                          bunny hat at random, an Uncle Sam costume for the          life. “Besides meeting my lifelong partner, it’s really
Rachel Shuman, Machon
                                                          Fourth of July, or a glittery red top hat to become Mar    allowed me to think creatively and dynamically about
                                                          Milon (Mr. Dictionary) in the Maholiah. The “Good          Judaism,” he says. “Camp teaches a lot about the way
...the Jewish activities and being in Jewish
                                                          Life Hug” he runs offers Mahaneh Aleph campers the         of the world that I couldn’t have learned anywhere else.
surroundings. You don’t feel like an outsider here.
                                                          chance to do everything from eating jello without their    What does it means to be part of a community? What
Brooke Cowen, Shorashim
                                                          hands to raiding the canteen and making frappes.           does it mean to live together as a group? How do you
                                                          Perhaps his biggest draw is when he pushes his 13-         work as a team?” His Ramah experience has prepared Ramah is so individual. The shtiks are so
                                                          month-old daughter Kayla in her stroller or holds her      him for congregational life, he says. “There’s nothing
individual, like Friday night shirah and the pep rally.
                                                          hand as she tries out her new walking skills.              more intimidating than speaking in front of 95 twelve-
You can’t describe it to anyone else.
                                                               Ironically, Fred never experienced the joys of        year-olds, so speaking in front of 200 congregants will
Toby Irving, Bogrim
                                                          camp as a child—he wasn’t ready to leave home. Born        be pretty attainable.”
                                                          in Montreal, he grew up in Alexandria, VA, and got
...the zip line. You hold onto a rope and jump off
from the top of the rock wall and you feel like
you’re flying.
Cecily Dreyfuss, Nitzanim

...the cinnamon buns on Friday mornings. I miss           Creative Tefillah: Not Your Grandfather’s Minyan
the whole atmosphere, especially Friday night when
we’re all one community. During the school year
camp is my goal so when I’m done with my work             It sure didn’t look like a regular minyan. The tennis
and studies I have a place to go and play sports          courts in Mahaneh Aleph were decorated with posters
and have fun.                                             created by Solelim and Bogrim campers in their once-
Josh Rubin, Bogrim                                        a-week “art minyan.” Each poster featured one of the 19
                                                          blessings from the Amidah. Small groups of Cochavim,
...sports. They are a lot of fun and I learn many new     Nitzanim, and Tzeirim stopped at each poster, read
skills.                                                   the brief summary, discussed the drawings, answered
Aytan Goodman, Gesher                                     questions and recited the bracha.
                                                               Avir Waxman, from Nitzanim, laughed when he counselors and Rosh. They are cool, and we           saw the drawing for “God, Giver of Knowledge” (honen
have good moments. I miss Hug. Sometimes I                ha-da’at). A cloud dropped a brain down into a stick
miss Hashi.                                               figure with its head open in half. “Hah, that’s funny. I
Jeff Kaiser, Machon                                       like it,” he said. “Why are you thankful for knowledge?”
                                                          his counselor read from the poster. “I don’t want to be
...little things that have happened. Tiny stories,        dumb. I want to stay safe,” answered Jacob Sherman.
jokes, anything. The movies we watched in the                  A group of Tzeirim campers at Birkat Ha-kedushah
bunk; an argument over soap in the shower. Silly          discussed “What else is holy and set apart from
stuff. I also remember music the counselors               other things?” “Shabbat,” answered Amanda Zucker.
have played.                                              “Holidays,” said L.E. Weinstein, “and food.” “Me,” said
Aaron Paul, Gesher                                        Arielle Gleaner.
                                                               “We thought about the prayers in a different way,” and caring. No one cares how you look. It’s       Avir said, after his group completed their unusual
not materialistic. Everyone is together. It’s like a      davening. “Instead of just saying them and not thinking
bubble, your own world.                                   about their meaning, here we said them and thought
Margalit Carlin, Solelim                                  about it, too.”
                                                               That is, in fact, the goal of the creative tefillah
                                                          program at Ramah. Mahaneh Aleph campers had a
                                                          taste of what they have to look forward to: Once a week,
                                                          Mahaneh Bet campers can choose to attend a creative
                                                          minyan, ranging from the art minyan to yoga at the
                                                          Agam, Learn-to-Lead, and “God Questions.” Including
                                                          a regular full davening, Machon and Gesher have
                                                          five choices; Solelim and Bogrim have eight choices.
                                                          Reciting the Shema and the Amidah are the minimum               In the pagoda by the softball field, Scholar-in-
                                                          requirements. Campers choose one option for each           Residence Rabbi Bob Goldenberg invited campers
                                                          month.                                                     to pose their “God questions:” Why is there evil in
                                                               In “Tefillah through Lyrics,” anything from Bon        the world? If you don’t believe in God, how do you
                                                          Jovi to “High School Musical” connects to tefillah.         approach the Torah? How do you explain all the
                                                          In the “All-English Extravaganza,” some campers            inexplicable things in the Bible, like talking donkeys?
                                                          either realize Hebrew is vital to their davening or find    “It’s nice to see the kids so articulate and thoughtful,”
                                                          meaning in the English poetry, says Rosh Tefillah, Sara     Rabbi Goldenberg said later. “These are questions I
                                                          Stave. The smaller minyanim impart a more intimate         think about but I don’t ever ask out loud,” said Gesher
                                                          flavor, she adds. “We want the kids to have a variety of    camper Adi Stein. “Now they are getting answered.”
                                                          experiences, confront the tefillot and make personal
                                                          meaning out of them.”

August 2006 Page 4
It’s Never Late Too Become A Bat Mitzvah…And More
On August 4th, Lital Shaltiel was called up to the Torah       times, Lital says: “My heart was pounding like I had
at Camp Ramah in the Berkshires as a bat mitzvah.              stage fright. My voice trembled. When I was done, the
No big deal, right? We have plenty of b’nai mitzvah at         candy started flying at me. The entire mishlahat got up
camp! But Lital is not a typical bat mitzvah of 12 or 13.      and danced, siman tov u’mazal tov, and David melech
She’s a returning member of our Israeli mishlahat.             Yisrael, and lifted me up in a chair. It was one of the
     Only a few weeks earlier, Lital decided to start          best days of my life,” she adds, her face glowing.
wearing tallit and tefillin, though last year she thought            Lital, who lives in Herzliyah and wants to be a tour
it “very strange”—even forbidden—for women to do               guide in Israel, grew up in a secular family, though
so. “This year I decided I’d try new things,” says Lital,      her father used to be an assistant hazan. She worries
21. “Camp Ramah is the only place I can do that. When          that her parents might be offended at her new-found
she puts on her tallit, Lital says, she feels as if she is     observance. “I will explain that it makes me feel good.
more committed to the tefillah. “I’m participating—not          Getting up in the morning and praying makes my day
just taking the siddur and reading. Because I am more          go better, purer. When I say Elohai n’tzor l’shoni me-ra
immersed in it I can concentrate better.”                      [My God, guard my tongue from evil], I say it aloud so I
     Lital took the next step—being called up for an           really mean it and then try to put it into practice. Saying
aliyah—and then the next—learning to read Torah.               the bracha, ha-noten la-ya’ef ko’ah [God gives strength to
Other staff members encouraged her: Lawrence                   the weary], gives me energy to continue the day.”
Szenes-Strauss, music specialist and cantorial student,             When she returns to Israel, she hopes to attend
helped her with tallit and tefillin; Rosh Tefillah Sara Stave    services at Conservative congregations near her home.
suggested she read six lines of parashat Ekev during           “This is the age when you discover yourself,” she says.
Shabbat minhah and guided her with the reading.                “I’m still in the process of learning.”
Lital made official invitations and gave them out to the             In case you’re wondering, kadma v’azla is her
35 mishlahat members, as well as other staff and her           favorite trope note.
Tzeirim tzrif. Though she had practiced innumerable

Our Letters To Israeli Soldiers

Letters to Israel Soldiers that were written in Ivrit class.

                                                                                                                             Page 5 August 2006

August 2006 Page 6
August 2006 Page 7
A Show of Hands: Cochavim Sign On For Tefillah

Walk into the Hadar Ochel towards the end of any meal and you will see kids making
crowns above their heads with their hands, crossing their arms in front of their
chests, and placing one fist on top of another. Their leader is Hinda Eisen, a 19-year-
old Cochavim counselor who, with her co-counselor Tamar Birnbaum, created
a distinctive sign language for Birkat Hamazon and other prayers.
     The signs are based on the meaning of the words, Hinda explains. Melech
(king) or a related word gets a crown. Tov (good) or any word with that root gets a
“thumbs-up” sign. For the phrase Me’afelah l’orah, from darkness to light, Hinda and
the kids cover their faces with their hands and then uncover them. Boneh (build) is
represented by the fists, and yagen (will shield) inspired the arms across the chest.
“It makes the words come alive,” Hinda says.
     Hinda, who is studying special education at Boston University, learned hand
motions for the Shema at a children’s minyan in her synagogue when she was in
second grade; later, she helped lead the minyan. She continues to use these signs
during the Shema. “I’m big on different ways to express ourselves. Not everyone
perceives the same thing in the same way,” she says. She was inspired to create the
signs for Birkat Hamazon in a session Rabbi Eliezer Diamond led during staff week,
encouraging new ideas to engage campers during tefillah.
     “It’s a great learning opportunity,” says Rosh Cochavim Eve Eichenholtz. “Our
kids don’t bang on the table because they are busy doing something else with their
hands. It creates more interactivity and that is a strength.”

Intercamp Sports Means                             Competition And Camaraderie
This summer’s sports program was not only about competition but also about
building camaraderie. According to Rosh Sport Zach Seiden, the games CRB played
against Ramah in the Poconos, Joel Ross Tennis Camp and Surprise Lake helped
develop inter-camp connections and team bonding.
     On July 30, for example, Poconos hosted us at their camp. While CRB won a
”significant majority” of the games, Israeli music blasting on the kikar, kids
doing rikud during the games, and a limud session on Jewish values enriched the
atmosphere of the day. In addition to the classic games–basketball, baseball, tennis
and more–campers competed in drama games, cycling and sailing (in Hebrew,
pronounced sha’yeet). “We intermingled both Ramahs and had fun playing,”
Zach says.
     The competition on July 14 with Joel Ross extended beyond tennis to volleyball,
boys’ basketball and soccer. CRB won the basketball and volleyball matches but
lost the soccer, though our team gave it their all. The tennis was very competitive.
     Surprise Lake invited CRB and Camp Monroe to participate in a three-camp
meet on July 18 (CRB lost in boys’ basketball but won volleyball), and again hosted
a four-team soccer tournament on August 10, this time adding Camp Kindering. It
was a hard fight but we lost 3-2, 3-2 and 5-1.
     “I like the fact that there is more than one game to look forward to this
summer,” says Eliana Goodman, who plays on the girls’ varsity basketball team.
“It’s so much more fun.” “The girls on the volleyball team come from three edot,”
says Naomi Queen, a Gesher counselor. “They never would have bonded the way
they did if we didn’t have more games to play.” The girls’ volleyball team won every
game they played, except the one against Palmer.
     “The kids practice 60 hours over the summer. If they don’t win, it doesn’t mean
they failed,” Zach explains. “It also gives us the chance to build closeness as a team
and come back with stories of fun things that happened.”

We intermingled both Ramahs and                                                          had fun playing.
August 2006 Page 8
More Than Ever, Celebrating
Israel—Ramah Style
For a few days in August, the golf cart used on ordinary
days for trucking supplies and people around camp
becomes a traveling Israeli flag, festooned with a string
of blue and white. And all you hear around camp are
                                                                Hashi! Hashi!
cries of Hashi! Hashi!
      Hashi stands for Hatzi Shavua Yisrael, half a week
dedicated to celebrating Israel. But to Camp Ramah in
the Berkshires, it means so much more.
      What stands out is the singing, dancing and
unbelievable enthusiasm of the mishlahat. It begins
right after a camp-wide havdalah service at the
amphitheater, when the mishlahat comes running
through, introducing the song for the week, “Shalom
Aleichem”—not the Friday night standard but a version
by Ehud Manor and Mati Caspi, sung by Boaz Sharabi.
The mishlahat teaches hand movements they’ve created
to accompany the song and soon you can’t stop the
hands from waving in the air. “The mishlahat puts 100
percent into it,” says Bogrim camper Celine Katz.
      Each morning, the mishlahat puts on a short skit
highlighting the theme of this year’s Hashi: Al ta’am
v’al reah ein l’hitvake’ah (Tastes differ: Each according
to his or her own taste). Then “Shalom Aleichem”
starts blasting again, and campers can’t resist waving
their hands, even those formerly engrossed in their
French toast.
      Evening programs integrate the flavors of Israel.
In Shuk B’Ramah, by answering questions or by
paying with artificial “shekalim,” campers “buy” pita
and humus, fruit, rugelach, Bisli snacks, burekas,
“tiras ham” (hot corn), and chocolate balls made from
a concoction of graham crackers, cocoa, sugar and
oil, rolled in sprinkles. At the pastry stand, mishlahat
member Hila Nachman asks a variety of food-related
questions. “What is `Elite?’ A vegetable, candy company
or fast food?” When the camper gives the right answer
(candy company), Hila screams in delight, “Hashi!”
and hands him a pastry. “The market is the best thing
in Israel,” Hila says later. “Everyone is so happy. It’s
bringing a piece of Israel to the States. We want to show
the kids it can still be safe to go to those places.” “It’s
important for the campers to recognize the basic things
about Israel, like culture, which includes learning
Hebrew and enjoying the shuk,” adds Or Cohen.
      After the shuk is over, two boys walk back to their
bunk, discussing the crisis in Israel. “It’s still good to
have joyous things,” says Alec Krosser, from Bogrim.
“We only hear bad things now.” “These are the best
three days of the summer. Everyone is so pumped up
and everyone participates,” says Adam Karp.
      The second night, the mishlahat presents the
“first-ever” Hashi performance, transmitting their
love for the land through song, dance and video. The
centerpiece of the third night, a carnival, features 16
stations, including: Pin the tie on Israeli politicians; get
the hockey puck through the gates of Jerusalem; guess
how many pieces of Bisli are in a bag (62); relax in the
Dead Sea through guided imagery; do the limbo while
singing Adon Olam and Eliyahu Hanavi; a sack race;
and a campfire with nana tea.
      Some campers love Hashi so much they are
lobbying for a full week. But then we’d have to change
the name from Hashi to...Shi? (It just doesn’t have the
same ring to it.) “I tried Israeli food I never tried before,
like falafel and tehina, says Matt Horowitz, Tzeirim. “I
felt closer to Israel.” Avi Greenstein, a Gesher camper
who lives in Jerusalem, says, “Hashi is a nice taste of
home. It’s perfect.”
      Michal Chacham, Rosh Mishlahat, remembers how
Hashi, which is unique to CRB, was born four years
ago. A one-day Yom Yisrael was extended to three days.
“Our goal this year,” she says, “is to show the kids that
with all the battles and war there’s still life in Israel.
We tried to let the kids see Israel in a fun and different
way.” Keeping their own spirits up was tough for the
mishlahat, she admits.“We had to keep working even
though some knew people who were killed. But from
the minute of the Hashi breakout, when everyone kept
shouting, Hashi! Hashi! that’s all everyone talked about.
When the mishlahat saw the love and the song and the gave a lot to the mishlahat, even more
than we gave the kids.”
      “Hey, shalom aleichem...hoi, kulam b’yahad; hoi, v’od
ha-pa’am; hoi, la-ha’im yesh od atid, ken, ken, tagid mah
she-lo tagid! As the song says, there is a future.

—With reporting by Ilana Saltz, Machon

                                                                          August 2006 Page 9
Clowning Around: We Take It Seriously                                                       Lifeguard Training: Home-grown Protection
The Tzeirim girls are in a bad mood, but that                                               Late at night in Bunk B-9 you can find Matthew Murray, a Machon camper, sitting
doesn’t stop them from clowning—literally.                                                  in his bright green camp chair with a flashlight over his textbook. You might not
Naomi Weinblatt and Rachel Richman take the                                                 associate camp with studying hard, but Matthew is preparing to take his LGT, or
“stage:” the grass in front of the big rock in the                                          lifeguard training test, and he has many quizzes and “practicals” to pass.
kikar. Adam Gindea, a Tzeirim counselor and                                                      Although many people think LGT is strictly swimming and saving people,
mitzvah clown who runs a behirah on clowning,                                               it requires a lot of hard work both in and outside the Agam. The classes, which
explains the rules of the first exercise of the                                              meet five times a week, cover CPR, rescue breathing, how to identify and respond
day. “A lot of clowning is the way you present                                              to emergencies, and more. This year, ten Machon campers and one staff member
yourself. Just the way you stand can make people                                            enrolled in LGT; six campers and the staff member passed. “It’s a lot of work and a
laugh. This exercise teaches you how to hold your                                           lot of expectation,” says Rosh Mayim Mark Neustadt. “If kids want to take the exam,
body without really saying anything. The only                                               they understand the work involved,” says Jenna Rubinoff, director of lifeguarding
thing you can say is yes or no.”                                                            certification and first aid. “It’s self-motivated.”
     “Yes, yes, no, no, no, yes,” Rachel and Naomi                                               Matthew says that he took LGT because he hopes to come back on swim staff.
say alternately, adopting different nuances and body language. Adam demonstrates            “It’s a good life skill to have,” he says.
with Rachel, his face chameleon-like—sad, smiling, grimacing—his voice changing
accordingly—soft, pleading, shouting.                                                       —Jeffrey Kaiser and Tyler Martin
     “Being a clown is like being another person,” Adam explains. “You are allowed          Machon
to be crazy. People let down their guard automatically when they see a clown. That’s
how I can go into a nursing home and tell an elderly person, `You’re sitting in my
seat!’” In one of the skits Adam does with the kids, two people walk on opposite sides
of the street. One wants to say hello; the other doesn’t. “The skits start off with one
or two simple concepts and build on mistakes and mess-ups. You can have a planned
routine but you never know what will happen,” Adam says.
     Adam completed a six-month, six-hour-a-week course for high school students in
2005 called Lev Leytzan (Heart of a Clown) near his hometown of Lawrence, N.Y.
Neal Goldberg, a psychologist in the community, was inspired by Patch Adams
to start a Jewish clowning institute that taught the psychology of humor, medical
hygiene and the art of clowning, from magic to juggling. The graduates work in
hospital or nursing home settings. “Laughter helps healing,” says Adam, who hopes
to continue clowning when he enters the JTS/Columbia joint program in the fall.
     The behirah Adam leads at camp focuses on basic skills, training exercises, and
make-up. “He taught us the mind of a clown,” says Maya Haber. “You have to put the
clown makeup all over your face,” says Cara Leiderman. “When you have it on you
can get away with a lot more things.”
     Adam and three campers—Maya, Naomi and Gabby Shames—even put on a
show for the staff children. In one skit, Maya is reading a newspaper and eating
potato chips when Adam walks in behind her, starts eating chips and reading over
her shoulder. In the second skit, Gabby reads instructions from a book for a magic
trick. “Take out a yellow bandana,” she says. Adam takes out a yellow banana instead.
“Swing it around your head and fold it in two,” she reads. That gets very messy. In
the end, however, Adam manages to turn the banana into a red handkerchief, the
ultimate goal of the trick. “I mess everything up but it turns out all right in the end,”
says Adam, acknowledging the life lesson but adding: “The messages are there, but
the kids are just having a good time.”

Camper Profile: New Machon                                                                   Bogrim’s Mystic-al Trip
Camper Shares His Thoughts
                                                                                            The irony of Mystic, CT, is that at home,
You may be familiar with Edat Machon, especially if you attend Friday night shirah:         most of us Bogrimers would consider it
We are sooo loud! But does everyone know the only new Machon camper this year?              either a quaint, historic restoration or
Probably not, since he has meshed so well with an edah that has been together               as the backdrop for Julia Roberts’
since the new millennium. We caught up with Dennis Bize, who was sitting                    breakout film. However, after
cheerfully on his porch.                                                                    being somewhat removed
                                                                                            from the world at large for
Q: Why did you want to come to camp?                                                        five weeks, that “sleepy old
A: All my friends were here, so I thought, “Okay, I’ll come too.” One friend especially     town” felt more like a thriving
got me really excited.                                                                      metropolis, teeming with
                                                                                            history and souvenirs.
Q: What is your favorite part of camp?                                                           Our first stop was Mystic
A: Yahadut and chilling on the porch, like right now.                                       Seaport, where we took in
                                                                                                                                                                                                  o rt

And Al Hagova.                                                                              the sights, shuttle boat rides,
                                                                                                                                                                                             ic S

                                                                                            enjoyed some air conditioning

                                                                                            and savored the “buy-one-get-one-

Q: What did you think of Hashi?

A: I love Hashi! It’s so intense and crazy! I thought                                         free” creamy fudge. We loaded the
                                                                                                                                                                                 rt e

I wouldn’t be ready for it but I loved it. In the Hashi                                         buses with our pockets lighter and                                              co
performance on the second night, the video in which                                              the sun blazing stronger.                                                p

campers were interviewed was so funny!                                                               At “Olde Mystick Village,”
                                                                                                  we explored the streets, tried on silly hats,
Q: What is your favorite food at canteen?                                                           bought some bunk gifts and slowly ate our ice cream to make it last as
A: Probably the sundaes, especially the chocolate one.                                               long as possible. Some of us explored the old-time pharmacies and
And strawberry Frozfruits. I’m an ice cream kind of guy.                                              antique sweet shops.
                                                                                                              Our visit did not include the famous “Mystic Pizza,” but on the
Q: Do you think you’d like to come back as staff?                                                      way home, one of the buses watched the movie that has given the town
If so, what would you be?                                                                                   part of its fame.
A: I like camp, and the best part is probably                                                                            We returned late to the cocoon of our camp with a taste
Al Hagova. I went on every Tismonet trip. I think                                                               of the outside world—as well as a deeper appreciation for
I’d come back on Al Hagova staff.                                                                                Camp Ramah’s seclusion.

—Sydney Appelbaum and Samantha Hitt
Machon                                                                                                            —Shoshana Klayman and Dana Kraushar

August 2006 Page 10
Worth A Shot: Ramah Welcomes                                                                 Bring Home a Taste of Ramah
Top-flight Athletic Coaches
                                                                                             Chicken Soup
“Shake it up, shake it up,” calls basketball coach Brandi Millis. “Set a screen so           From Aby’s Kitchen
you’re open. We’re playing no dribble.” Rebecca Mack, 12, has the ball at half court.
She passes the ball, cuts towards the basket so she’s close enough for a shot, catches       In a pot with cold water mix the following: Chicken bones, carrots, celery, onions,
the ball and shoots it in. “Come on guys, go, go, go,” says Brandi.                          parsnips, leeks, whole garlic cloves, bay leaf and whole pepper. Bring slowly to a boil,
      A professional coach, Brandi visited Berkshires on August 8 to work with               skim the top, simmer 5 hours. Do not disturb the contents. Strain the broth, season
campers of all ages on skill development in passing, dribbling, and defense. “My             with salt and pepper to taste. Cook fine noodles separately, then add fresh dill.
goal is to teach them a little about the game as opposed to just playing games,” says
Brandi, who played for the University of Richmond as well as the first division of            Peanut Butter Sauce for Pasta
Galil Elyon, the Israeli professional league. “The challenge is to motivate the kids to      From Al Hagova
participate and also have a good time.”
      To enhance sports instruction with college-level coaching, CRB hosted three            1/2 cup peanut butter (crunchy is better)
professional coaches this summer: the other two were baseball coach John Szefc and           1/4 tsp. garlic powder
Five Star basketball. “We did drills and learned ways to set screens and get open,”          2 Tbsp. vinegar (optional)
says Rebecca, a budding basketball star. “If you can’t get open you can’t take a shot.       3 Tbsp. dry milk (optional)
If you can’t take a shot, you can’t score and then you can’t win. I like running around      1 cup hot water
and getting a lot of exercise. I like the competition. It’s satisfying when you hear the     1 1/2 Tbsp. soy sauce
ball swish in the hoop.”                                                                     cayenne pepper
      “It takes the boys about three minutes to see that I am really a basketball player,”
says Brandi. “I tell them I was in their place not long ago. For a woman to make a           Heat water, remove from burner, and add other ingredients. If you need to reheat, do
career in athletics is still pretty tough, so it’s nice to be a role model. Through my       so carefully. Peanut butter loves to scorch your pan. Excellent on spaghetti noodles.
years growing up I had so many people influence me as an athlete. If there’s one kid
today practicing some things I showed them to make them better basketball players,
I’ll have accomplished my goal.”

                                                                                             Chinese Whisker Doodles
                                                                                             From Bubbe’s Mitbahon

                                                                                             16-oz. package chocolate chips
                                                                                             5 1/2-oz. can Chinese noodles
                                                                                             Nuts or mini marshmallows, optional

                                                                                             Melt chocolate chips over low heat. Remove from stove. If desired, stir in noodles
                                                                                             and optional ingredients. Drop by teaspoon on cookie sheet lined with waxed paper.
                                                                                             Refrigerate. Makes 3-4 dozen cookies.

Learning About Giving:            We Just Do It!                                             Chocolate Balls
                                                                                             From the Mishlahat

                                                                                             2 packages graham crackers (there are usually
                                                                                             three in a box)
Jacob Goldenberg sits on a stool in the Mitbahon waiting for a batch of chocolate            6 Tbsp. cocoa powder
cupcakes he helped make come out of the oven. The cupcakes are not for him or his            6 Tbsp. sugar
Gesher friends but for a homeless shelter. “We’re in a good camp. We have enough             1/2 cup oil or butter
food to eat and a place to sleep,” Jacob says. “But not everyone has that. And it’s          1/3 cup water or milk
important for us to help. Tzedakah is an integral part of Gesher.”                           sprinkles or coconut, optional
     Jacob helped make one batch before campers from Mahaneh Aleph troop in to
bake some more. The cupcakes are then transported to the tennis courts, where                Crush graham crackers. Add all liquids and powders and mix into one giant ball.
another group frosts and bags the cupcakes.                                                  Separate into smaller balls. Dip in sprinkles or coconut. Refrigerate for an hour and
     The cupcake-baking is part of a special Yom Tzedakah that Gesher is                     serve. Makes about 20 balls.
coordinating for Mahaneh Aleph, with hands-on projects whose ultimate goal is
hesed. “Everything you make today you’re donating,” explains Naomi Queen, the
Gesher counselor supervising Yom Tzedakah, to the campers gathered around her
ready to head off in one of four directions. In addition to the cupcakes, there is also a
t-shirt tie-dying station and pillow-decorating.
     On the basketball court, bags of Polyfil stuffing, pillowcases and markers await
campers’ creativity. The pillows are to be donated to a hospital. Jason Gurevitch, a
Cochavim camper, explains his pillow, decorated with a purple heart inside a red
cross, which he says is the symbol for a hospital. Jason likes the project because, he
says, “you don’t know who you’re helping, but inside you know you’re helping.”
     During July, Gesher also organized a dance for Mahaneh Bet—with admission
by paid ticket—that raised $570. Tzedakah activities during the second month
included selling bracelets on Visiting Day and at the Nyack-CRB staff basketball
game, and organizing a tzedakah sports night. According to Annie Zaks, head of the
Gesher tzedakah committee for the first month, proceeds from the event were sent
to an Israel Youth Sport Center for the Disabled, for children affected by terrorist
attacks. “We researched different organizations on the Internet. This was just right
because it’s Israel and it’s helping our peers.”

                                                                                                                                                                 August 2006   Page 11
                                                                                               Great Role Models At Sixteen
                                                                                               Gesher campers take their age seriously. Being in the oldest edah, they say, means
                                                                                               serving as role models. The Ozer(Assistantship) program helps them to do just that.
                                                                                                    Allison Reed has been a camper for six years and this summer is helping out
                                                                                               with Gan and Haverim in Omanut. “Art is something I like to do,” she says, “and
                                                                                               this is a good way to learn more. The staff really knows what they’re doing.” Being
                                                                                               an ozeret, she adds, is more than just being a camper. “It’s another way to prepare us
                                                                                               to go out into the world and become counselors.”
                                                                                                    The program, says Rosh Gesher Ari Perten, bridges the transition year from
                                                                                               camper to tzevet, provides training towards serving on specialty staff and allows
                                                                                               campers to focus on their own interests in one of four areas: Omanut, Al Hagova,
                                                                                               Sports or Agam. In addition to devoting an hour and a half each day, five days a
                                                                                               week, to help in the area they choose, the ozrim meet once a week with the Rosh
                                                                                               and enjoy one-on-one training. Each of the four groups has a culminating activity:
                                                                                               the sports ozrim went to a WNBA Liberty game, for example, and the Agam ozrim
                                                                                               went waterskiing.
                                                                                                    “I want to help with something I’m good at,” says Hallie Dunn, an ozeret for
                                                                                               Shorashim and Tzeirim in Hug basketball. “I teach them what I know and play
                                                                                               games with them. It means a lot more coming from us because they look up to us.
                                                                                               We’re their C.I.T.s.” Jeremy Kimmelstiel, an Al Hagova ozer, helps campers climb
                                                                                               the rock wall and learn how to make campfires.
                                                                                                    “Gesher’s about new experiences, a new frontier at camp,” says Daniel Eida, an
                                                                                               ozer at the Agam. Last year I took LGT—lifeguard training—and I got certification.
                                                                                               So I help with lifeguarding. It’s cool because I remember last year when I was on the
                                                                                               other side—so it’s easy to communicate with the kids and give them tips.” Being an
                                                                                               ozer, he adds, “gives us more responsibility and a sense of individuality.

    The Perfect Time Is                        Always
    When her son Isaiah was born in 2003, Sarah Sokolic (Gesher ’88) started the
    Ramah Baby Association, a playgroup and support network for Ramah mothers from
    all camps. RBA now has more than 35 names on its mailing list, and between 8 and
    12 moms (and sometimes dads) meet every Monday afternoon in Manhattan. Many
    families are now on their second babies.
         RBA is only one of the events that the Ramah Alumni Association plans and
    hosts. Sunday morning brunches, Shabbat dinners, and the original RBA—the
    Ramah Basketball Association, now in its tenth year—allows old friends to get
    together, reminisce, and enjoy each other’s company. On July 9, over 30 alumni from
    Gesher ‘96 reunited at camp, toured the new facilities, shared stories with this year’s
    Gesher, played against this year’s softball hug, and even pulled out a marginal victory.
    You’re never too young—or too old—for camp.

Newspaper Credits:                    Camp Ramah in the Berkshires
                                      25 Rockwood Place
Rabbi Paul Resnick                    Englewood, NJ 07631
Rabbi Amy Roth
Assistant Director
Steven Eisen
Business Manager
Elana Gershen
Director of
Rahel Musleah
Lisa Clarkson
Project Manager
Sarah Chabon
Graphic Design
Lisa Krivitsky
Steve Goldstein

Mifgash Ramah is published by
Camp Ramah in the Berkshires.
We welcome letters to the editor,
a selection of which will be
included in the next issue. Please
address all correspondence to
Mifgash Ramah, Camp Ramah
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