Hillel Day School sixth-grader Aryeh Gamer wins essay contest about Dor L’Dor program, receiving $5,000 for summer camp.

By Michael Pearce

Sixth-grader Aryeh Gamer was awarded $5,000 for his essay about the Dor L’Dor program at Hillel Day School. The program brings together sixth-graders and Jewish seniors to share experiences and spend time together.

“The essay reflected on the sixth-graders’ experience in Dor L’Dor,” says Judaic Studies teacher Allison Gutman. “The students spend approximately one program a month doing a Jewish experience with the seniors.”

Gamer’s essay was the winner of the school-wide competition, which had 43 entries. The $5,000 prize from the Legacy Heritage Foundation was given toward a Jewish summer experience. For his experience, Gamer chose Camp Ramah, located three hours north of Toronto, Ontario at Muskoka Lakes.

According to Camp Ramah’s website, their philosophy is to “empower young people to become more independent, to gain an appreciation of nature and the great outdoors, and to develop important individual and team skills. Ramah also instills in its campers a love of Judaism, the Jewish people, and the state of Israel.”

Gamer talked in his essay about stories he heard from the seniors at Jewish Senior Life, something that he described in his essay as “quite wondrous.”

“Something important I learned from this was to listen to the stories that they [seniors] have,” he says. “At the program where we got to interview them, I got to learn the story of the person I interviewed and that was very cool to me, to learn the stories of my elders who are Jewish.”

Before taking part in the Dor L’Dor program, Gamer had minimal experience speaking with older people besides his grandparents.

“Some of the seniors were Egyptian Jews we had an Iranian Jew and professionals in the service,” Gutman says. “It was not the traditional Ashkenazi Jew that might be their grandparent. It was a group of Jews that had different life experiences, and most of the kids had not spent a lot of time around elders that were not their grandparents.”

As for Camp Ramah, Gamer is a part of the group of kids that were the youngest to ever attend the camp. His group was the first to start at the camp as kindergartners, and will be the group of kids that has spent the most time at Ramah.

“I’m excited for camp… spending time with my friends that I have been there with for six years,” Gamer says.

Gamer enjoys writing and while compiling his essay, he focused on how he felt and what he learned from the Dor L’Dor program and his interviewee, Dori.

“I’m very proud of Aryeh,” his mother, Wendy Gamer, says. “He’s a good writer and he has an opinion, but I was really proud he found something that he really liked and that he was able to express how much he liked it in writing.”

Wendy and her husband, Rabbi Bob Gamer, also expressed their gratitude toward the teachers at Hillel in the press release from the school, stating, “we are very appreciative of all of Aryeh’s teachers who work above and beyond to make opportunities like this one possible.”