Anna Serviansky, a Camp Ramah Darom alum, was recently named the camp’s new director and head of education. She brings to the new roles she began in December professional experience, personal passion, a history with the camp, and a background in law and Jewish education.
“I went to law school at Georgetown University, but discovered my heart wasn’t in it,” Serviansky said. “I kept thinking about Ramah Darom and how it was my dream. It isn’t uncommon for lawyers to decide to quit law and pursue something they are more passionate about.”
Serviansky worked as the associate dean of List College and the Kekst Graduate School at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York for the past five years. At List College, she worked closely with students and oversaw several key initiatives, including the JustCity summer programs and an annual teen summit. Serviansky was at Ramah Darom from 2000 to 2004 and worked for two years at the National Ramah Commission and Ramah Nyack in New York as a year-round staff member and Rosh Aidah (unit head).
“Something that was maybe going to be a one summer thing for me turned into five summers,” she said. “During my time at Ramah, I figured out how much I loved experiential education. If it weren’t for Ramah, I might have never figured out my passion for education.”
After leaving law, Serviansky got a master’s degree in Jewish education from JTS with a focus on experiential education. She describes experiential education as “learning by doing,” and as a teaching method Ramah Darom already incorporates into its Jewish curriculum.
“Experiential education aims to create an environment where learners can be exposed to new ideas and learn it in a way that sticks, without traditional methods like reading or lectures,” Serviansky said. “This already exists in Ramah’s existing programs, such as our Havdalah service. We learn about Shabbat by lighting the candles, singing the songs, and having fun with other people.”
Serviansky said her background in law has helped contribute to her success in the field of education and camp. “The lawyer in me is always troubleshooting and looking for what can go wrong, of course,” she explained. “But another part of the lawyer in me is always striving for excellence, which I bring to my work with Ramah Darom.”
Camp CEO Wally Levitt said of the new director, “We’re thrilled to welcome Anna back to the Ramah Darom community. Anna has an impressive background as an innovative Jewish educator, and she has brought a fantastic new energy and creativity. And we love that our new camp director is both an alumna of Camp Ramah Darom and a camp parent herself.”
As far as plans for her new role, Serviansky said she is spending much of this time settling into her role and learning as much as she can about the camp.
“It’s my first year, so I am still learning,” Serviansky said. “But my plan for now is to improve upon successful programs we already have, with a special emphasis on the arts. I’m hoping to have some fun surprises planned for the camp’s upcoming summer and am so excited to be a part of the camp’s next chapter.”
Serviansky stepped into the shoes of longtime Ramah camp director Geoffrey Menkowitz.
“Being a camp director is one of the most thrilling, but demanding jobs you can have,” Anna said. “From what I understand, he was ready for his next professional opportunity after 13 years. He served Ramah Darom so well and I am honored to be able to continue his work.”
Menkowitz plans to finish his dissertation for his Ph.D., according to Serviansky. Ramah Darom has constructed a trail in his honor called the Menkowitz Trail.