Wednesday, March 10, 2010


An Especially Fine Retreat

Class of 2010
The Anshei Darom Retreat, Class of 2010.

[Click on the pic for a larger version. This photo is also available for download in several sizes here, up to the full original size of 2955 x 1435 pixels... suitable for framing!]

This year's regional Retreat at Camp Ramah Darom - the eleventh of its kind - was blessed with exceptional weather, exceptional programming, and an exceptional group of guys.

The gathering began Friday afternoon, February 19, as men from around the Southeastern United States trickled in to the camp, tucked away in the hills of Clayton, Georgia. Mark Berlin, the president of FJMC (and a member of the Seaboard Region) joined us as well. We had an exceptional cohort of first-time attendees as well.

Our Scholar-in-Residence, Rabbi David Sirull of Congregation Adas Yeshurun in Augusta, Georgia, gave presentations on Being a Conservative Jew and Living in a Predominantly Christian Country, and Faith After the Holocaust, both of which stimulated plenty of discussion. And the sparks really flew during Mark Berlin's talk on Fairness in the Media, as attendees raised all kinds of questions concerning current policies vis à vis the Fairness Doctrine, political speech on the airwaves, and the like. Anyone who thought Mark's session would be a good time to catch a few zayins got a big surprise.

Gene Sacks continued a tradition of long standing by leading his usual Shabbat afternoon hike to the Camp Ramah waterfall... and another long-standing tradition, the Famous Sweat Hut, was once again loaded with hot rocks and packed with guys eager for a healthy schvitz... or eager to escape Saul Sloman's joke marathon by the campfire, yet another Camp Ramah tradition.

Sunday morning was especially inspiring for me as Willy Adler, a member of Congregation Emanu-El Men's Club (Charleston, SC) led the Pesukei d'Zimrah service, chanting the psalms of praise that are the daily prelude to the Shacharit service. Willy is 92, the oldest man to attend our Retreat... and a Holocaust survivor, having escaped from Germany in 1940, where he had been incarcerated in a concentration camp. Listening to him that morning was worth the price of admission, as far as I was concerned. I'm proud to say that Willy is a Man of the South... and I'm proud to have been at Camp Ramah with him.

Special thanks are due to Doug Friedman and Howard Silverstein, co-chairs of the Retreat committee, who did a fine job of making the arrangements and ensuring everything ran smoothly. Jim Handler headed up the Ritual committee, and the services under his direction were inspiring and well-coordinated. Norm Hamburger headed up our fund-raising activities - I am happy to report that we raised an additional $2,417 in support of the region's Mark Elkan Memorial Scholarship to Camp Ramah Darom - and our trusty Treasurer, Joe Zendlovitz, worked with Doug to make sure the financial end of things was taken care of, as well.

Kol ha-kavod, guys! Let's do this again next February!


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