URJ Camp Coleman is Proud to Participate in Innovative Nadiv Program
Six Jewish summer camps and school partners met together November 13-15 in Teaneck, New Jersey for the first ever Nadiv Educators Kallah. Below are reflections from the Atlanta Nadiv partners.
Rabbi Micah Lapidus, Director of Jewish and Hebrew Studies at the Davis Academy (an excerpt from a piece originally posted in Rabbi Lapidus’s blog, rabbi’s pen)
During our time together many topics were discussed and many relationships formed and nurtured. As a community of practice we confronted the reality that our pilot project may very well represent the future of Jewish communal life in North America.
In the face of limited financial resources, Jewish institutions will need to join together to engage highly talented professionals. We will need to “link the silos” and be open to the idea that we are stronger together, even if collaborating on such a deep level presents an array of challenges from logistics all the way to mission and vision.
Together we shared some of the challenges, but mostly celebrated the many successes that have already been achieved. Camp directors reported radical enhancements to the delivery of Jewish education at camp. School directors shared the creative ways that Nadiv educators are addressing needs and identifying new opportunities to reach kids and families. Our own Nadiv educator, Sara Beth Berman, has helped reinvigorate middle school Tefila, our Beit Midrash program, and is overseeing a large scale program on “voice and choice” on the 1/2 day before Thanksgiving. In the next year we plan to develop a robust retreat program, brainstorm new ideas for engaging families on a deeper level, and expand our social action presence in the community.
At the center of the Nadiv experiment are the educators themselves. Each had an opportunity to teach. All of us were energized by the creativity and passion that they brought to our meeting and to their work across the country. They’re a remarkable cohort.
As the Nadiv program at The Davis Academy unfolds I hope to have the opportunity to share insights and challenges, as well as innovations and successes. In the meantime, I’m grateful to Bobby Harris, the director of URJ Camp Coleman, Sara Beth Berman, the Nadiv educator at Camp Coleman and The Davis Academy, as well as to all the dedicated stakeholders at our two institutions. And of course, thanks is due to the three foundations that brought this idea to life, Jim Joseph, Avi Chai, and the Foundation for Jewish Camp.
Sara Beth Berman, Nadiv Educator
When someone asked me what I was doing at the Nadiv Meeting, I said that I was going on vacation with my two supervisors. In reality, I was going to work, and for long, exciting hours, at the first official meeting of all Nadiv communities. At this very exciting meeting, I was grateful to meet with the 5 other Nadiv Educators in the country, as well as their dedicated supervisors.
In addition to learning about the intricacies of each Nadiv Educator’s jobs at camp and school, as well as the similarities and differences between all of our positions, the most inspiring part of the meeting was learning from everybody in the room. Supervisors raised important questions, evaluators and funders explained their expectations, and my friends at the Foundation for Jewish Camp kvelled over the work that each person in the room was doing to build the future of Jewish Education.
I taught about the Torah portion of the week, Toldot, during my time to present a piece of experiential learning. Rebekah is concerned about the twins she’s gestating in the story, and asks, “Im ken, lama zeh anochi?” / “If this is it, then why me?” As I sat with my supervisors and discussed the future, with initiatives that weave Davis and Coleman even closer together, I got excited for the challenges ahead. If this is it, then I’m GLAD it’s me. Rebekah went out after asking “…why me?” and looked for God. In my work at Davis and Coleman, I will continue to help kids search for God and Judaism, building their identity one challenge at a time.
Bobby Harris, Director of URJ Camp Coleman
Years ago I heard the great American Jewish writer Chaim Potok speak about creativity. He advised his audience that we can unleash creativity when we really know 2 different environments or ideas and then combine them together. The combination allows us to give birth to something brand new. In our Atlanta community, the Nadiv Fellowship has opened the doorway for a Reform Jewish summer camp, URJ Camp Coleman, and a Reform Jewish day school, The Davis Academy, to dream about how we can best serve our constituencies and how each of us might bring something new to the other that adds even more value to what we are already doing. We have already started thinking about year-long artistic ventures (Tikkun Olam photography exhibits, dramatic productions, etc.) in which Davis students can participate and then bring to Coleman to share, interfaith youth retreat programs, opportunities for Davis families to celebrate Shabbat together at camp and much, much more. I also appreciate the opportunity to learn from 2 extraordinary educators– Nadiv Educator, Sara Beth Berman and Rabbi Micah Lapidus who are my partners in this venture. Coleman and Davis are on a unique journey and I can already feel that we are entering new territory that will bring real, lasting value to our school/camp families and to our community.
An article about Sara Beth’s work at Camp Coleman and the Davis Academy also recently appeared in the Jewish Georgian. The online version of this magazine may be found here, and the article is on page 38.