Hanhallah - Head Staff
Bil Zarch - Director
Bil Zarch is the director of Camp Yavneh. Previously, Bil was a head of school at Krieger Schechter Day School in Baltimore and Lander-Grinspoon Academy in Northampton. Bil was an active professional in the Boston community as the Director of the High School at Prozdor and oversaw the period of growth from 150 to 900 students. Bil is excited to be back at Yavneh where he spent seven amazing summers back in the 80's and 90's. Bil earned a bachelor’s degree in public communications from SUNY Buffalo, a master's degree in Jewish education from Hebrew College, and is a fellow and graduate of the Day School Leadership Training Institute (DSLTI.) Bil was the award recipient for Exemplary Jewish Community Leadership from the Jewish Federation of Western Massachusetts. Bil is married to Rebecca Peterfreund Zarch. Their two children; Raviv, Grade 2 and Danya, Kindergarten, are students at the Solomon Schechter Day School of Greater Boston and will be joining Bil at camp this summer.
Jeff Weener - Associate Director, Director of Operations
Jeff has been at Yavneh since 2001. Jeff oversees the operational and financial aspects of camp, and guides areas such as marketing, technology and food service. Jeff has an MBA from Babson College and has held various marketing and technology positions in the business world prior to joining the Yavneh family. Jeff is married to Barbara and has three children who are all alum of Yavneh.
Davida Amkraut - Rosh Banot (Head Girls Counselor)
After 28 years as a middle school language arts teacher and administrator, Davida has switched gears and is now a certified college guidance counselor and has begun her own independent consulting firm called DHA Educational Consulting. She also works as a consultant at an independent school called Laurel in Shaker Heights, Ohio. Davida is celebrating her 23rd year at Yavneh and she and her family consider Yavneh their home away from home.
Meir Deutsch - Rosh Banim (Head Boys Counselor)
This is Meir’s 12th summer as rosh banim. Meir grew up in Gush Etzion, Israel and has served as a Lieutenant Commander in the Israeli Army in charge of 150 soldiers in the Givati Brigade. He has extensive experience with children including the youth groups B’nei Akiva and Shalva. He is currently working for Regavim - a National Protection Trust. Meir comes to camp with his wife Adina and their four daughters.
Melanie Gerard - Director of Advocacy and Development
Melanie is the director of development at Yavneh and oversees fundraising, alumni engagement and donor events. Melanie holds an MBA in Marketing and has previous experience working as a market research consultant for high tech and financial services sectors. She currently serves on the Executive Board for the Boston Chapter of Hadassah and volunteers at Solomon Schechter Day School. Her three children are enrolled at Camp Yavneh and her family attended Yavneh Family Camp for seven years. Her husband, is a Yavneh alum.
Rabbi Yaakov Komisar - Mashgiach Ruchani (Spiritual Advisor)
Rabbi Yaakov Komisar is thrilled to begin his first summer at Camp Yavneh. Rav Yaakov teaches Jews of all backgrounds at Gann Academy. He studied for rabbinic ordination under Rabbis Adin Steinsaltz, Menachem Froman, and Ariel Holland at Yeshivat Hesder Tekoa in Israel, while also serving as a combat soldier in an IDF artillery unit. Before moving to Massachusetts, Rabbi Yaakov was managing editor of Rabbi Steinsaltz's Koren translation of the Talmud Bavli and taught at Ezra Academy and the Jewish High School of Connecticut. He is married to DeDe Jacobs-Komisar, a Boston-area theater professional. They live in Sharon, MA with their three kids: Nani (8), Itai (4), and Uri (almost 2), who are all excited to also be starting their first summers at Yavneh!
Erin Robbins - Communications and Social Media Specialist
Before joining the Yavneh staff in 2017, Erin was a freelance writer and strategist helping clients communicate their stories and connect with their target audience. Erin has years of experience as both a nonprofit staff and board member. She loves writing and planning and is always on the lookout for a great recipe. Erin has a BA from the University of Oregon and an MA in Middle East Studies from Ben Gurion University. Her biggest loves are her family, traveling with friends and swapping Israeli stories.
Michelle Rosenhek Zelermyer - Director of Programming
Michelle joins the Yavneh team as the director of programming. She earned her B.A. from Concordia University in Psychology, and a Master’s degree from McGill University, in a collaborative program of the Jewish Studies and Education departments. Michi’s love of engaging youth and young families in Jewish ‘edutainment’ (education and entertainment!) drives the formal teaching and informal programs and events that she has created and implemented for schools and synagogues in Montreal, and she anticipates a fun-filled summer of programming ahead for Kayitz ‘18. Michi is married to Cantor Gideon Zelermyer and lives in Montreal with sons Max and Ben and puppy Fenway.
Lisa Rubins - Rosh Peulot Meyuchadot (Signature Programs Director)
Lisa has been attending Yavneh for 42 years (really!) as camper (K’85) and counselor. She has held a variety of positions, learning about camp from many perspectives. During the school year, Lisa teaches at the Solomon Schechter School in White Plains, NY. She holds a masters degree from the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS). Lisa comes to camp with her husband Scott who is head of safety at Yavneh and son, Jack who loves camp as much as she does!
Netanel Spiegel - Hospitality Director
Netanel has been taking care of our campers and staff since 2012. He has a rich history in culinary and hospitality management. Netanel recently move here from Israel to work for Yavneh full time. Netanel oversees Yavneh food service (YFS), housekeeping, transportation, and the Yavneh retreat center. Netanel can’t wait for summer to arrive, and he loves when the chanichim ask for seconds.
Year Round Staff
Efrat Assulin - Family Camp Director
Efrat hails from Israel where she held a variety of jobs in conference and event planning, and marketing and administrative roles in high tech companies. Efrat has a BA in communications from University of Michigan and an MBA from the IDC center in Herzliya, Israel. Efrat has four young boys.
Shlomit Keehn - Bookkeeper and Registrar
Shlomit is excited to be joining the Yavneh family! A proud mom of five, she has incredible passion for all things relating to children. Prior to Camp Yavneh, she worked as a certified personal trainer and cycle/spin instructor and is still teaching classes and working with personal training clientele. Shlomit is an active member of her local synagogue and has held leadership roles at several major Jewish communal organizations planning various functions and fundraisers to benefit local Jewish day schools. On summer days (when she's not at camp), you can find her at the beach - her all-time favorite place to be!
Camper and Counselor Care
Jossie Forman - Rosh Havaya (Counselor Experience)
After a short hiatus, Jossie Forman will be back for her 13th summer at Yavneh and she could't be more excited! Jossie is currently finishing her Masters in Mathematics Education at Columbia University Teachers College. In the fall she will start her first job as a math teacher. At camp, Jossie has served many roles including camper, counselor, s'gan rosh agam, and most recently Rosh Leviim in 2014.
Jasmine Hoff - Camp Nurse
Jasmine, joining us for the first time, lives in downtown Cleveland and is a graduate student and college instructor, and works full time as an Emergency Room and Trauma Nurse. Jasmine is a daredevil and loves to seek out adventures such as sky-diving, cliff diving and swimming with sharks! Her favorite hobbies are traveling, working out and eating. She is fluent in Hebrew and spent some time living in Israel.
Jessica Kinstlinger Post - Yoetzet (Social Worker) Second Session
Jessica Kinstlinger Post (1981-89, Kerem 88) is a clinical social worker. Jessica was the yoetzet in 2014 and is excited to return. She received her MSW at University of Michigan and moved to the Boston area fueled by her Yavneh connections. Jessica counseled families in the Diabetes Program at Boston Children's Hospital for seven years. During the school year Jessica works at Mass Bay Community College in the Counseling Services Center. Her children Teddy (Gefen) and Olivia (Gurim) are excited to return to Yavneh.
Miriam Loren - Yedidut Inclusion Coodinator
Miriam is a graduate of Columbia University Teachers College and worked for many years in Early Childhood Special Education, running classrooms for developmentally delayed children and their parents. Miriam has also worked as an evaluator, diagnosing children and evaluating them for special services. Miriam lives in New Rochelle, NY with her husband Ari and her five boys, three of whom will be joining her at camp.
Anna Risman - Camp Nurse
This is going to be Anna's 1st summer as camp nurse at Yavneh and she is very excited! Anna previously worked at the summer camp Gan Israel with Shaloh House in Brighton, MA as a camp nurse for several years. Anna nows works as an APRN, Women's Health NP, her background is in infertility and OB/GYN. She is a clinical instructor/faculty for Regis college, MA. Two of her three kids will be joining Yavneh as campers. Anna is looking forward to the great summer experience at camp.
Ashley Marx - Yoetzet (Social Worker) First Session
Ashley Marx is a clinical social worker and has worked with children and adolescents in schools and private practice since 2005. Currently, Ashley has a private practice where sees children, adolescents, and adults who are struggling with anxiety, depression, ADHD and/or addiction. She was born and raised in Nashville, TN, came to the Boston area for college and stayed for 18 years before returning to the South (Atlanta, GA). Ashley is coming to camp with her two daughters, Noa (Gefen) and Tali (Gurim), and her husband Eli Geller (Kerem 94) who will return to camp for Shabbatot.
Suzi Polirer - Camp Nurse
Suzi Polirer, RN, has been on the nursing staff of Camp Yavneh since 1991! In addition to her B.S. in Nursing, NHTI 1982, Suzi has an A.B. from CCNY. She began her career as a teacher at MTJ in NY and she switched careers entering nursing and serving in the ER, endoscopy and finally transitioning to elementary school nursing in Florida in 2002. Suzi brings her broad spectrum of lifelong learning and nursing skills to the Marp – her summer home on Lucas Pond. Suzi is married to Rabbi Richie and their four children are Yavneh alums - Jonathan, Eric, Meredith and Daniel.
Elana Saenger - Co Rosh Gan/Parparim
Elana has been coming to Camp Yavneh for six years. She worked in the camp office year round and directed Family Camp before moving to Riverdale, NY. During the summer Elana co-directs the Gan/Parparim for the staff children. Elana has many years of experience working in day school and preschool settings in the New York and Boston area. During the year she provides academic support to students in local day schools. She comes to camp with her son Eytan who is 14 (Leviim) and daughter Rebecca who is 9 (Gurim) . In addition to spending time with her family, Elana enjoy reading, biking, hiking and doing arts and crafts.
Stacey Wyner - Camp Nurse
Stacey Wyner, APRN, FNP, joined the Marp staff in 2009. Her first experience with Yavneh was as a counselor in 1991 for Kfirim girls, then returned for Family Camp for a few summers with her husband and four children. Stacey has been working as a nurse practitioner for the past 20 years. Eighteen years were spent in a family practice in Connecticut and the last two years have been spent in a School-Based Health Clinic providing healthcare to underserved teens. Her children have all loved camp, only the younger two remain at Yavneh as campers. She is looking forward to another great summer at Yavneh.
Rena Gray - Co Rosh Gan/Parparim
Rena is looking forward to her first summer experience at Camp Yavneh. Originally from Los Angeles, she has a Master's degree in Early Childhood education from Touro College and has been teaching young children for 10 years. During the school months she works as a toddler teacher at Intown Jewish Preschool in Atlanta, GA. In between teaching, writing and attending her husband Eli's softball games, Rena loves to be surrounded by nature and can't wait to catch her first glimpse of Yavneh.
Simmie Hefetz - Co Rosh Gan/Parparim
Simmie is looking forward to spending her first summer on staff at camp as Rosh Gan Parparim. She has a degree in Early Childhood Education from Boston University and has taught preschool, Hebrew School and jewelry making at a local day camp. She currently teaches a transitional kindergarten class at the Hertz Nursery School in her hometown of Sharon, MA. Simmie is coming to camp with her two daughters, Maya (Gurim) and Eliana (Kfirim).
Amy Glickman Sharff - Office Manager
Amy is joining us from Zichron Yaakov, Israel where she is a Ballet Teacher and Lactation Consultant. Amy is originally from Northampton, MA where her three children attended the Lander Grinspoon Academy. Amy is looking forward to sharing her Yavneh summer with her daughter, Nili.
Scott Rubins - Head of Safety
Scott returns for his 23rd year and was previously rosh banim. Scott has worked in the public safety world as a peace officer and for almost 30 years as an EMT with the Scarsdale Ambulance. He holds a Masters degree from Teacher’s College, Columbia University, teaches Forensic Science at New Rochelle High School and is an Adjunct Professor for Syracuse University. Scott comes to camp with his wife, Lisa and son, Jack.
Ruthie is a native of Schenectady, NY. She earned a BA in Spanish and Russian languages from Union College and a MA in Jewish Education from Hebrew College. Ruthie works for Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School as the Director of Placement and Alumni Support and has been with YCT for 14 years. Ruthie and her husband Joel live in Riverdale with their two children, Hattie and Avery who are thrilled to be returning for their 2nd summer at Yavneh.
Amit Ben Eliyahu - Tennis and Floor Hockey Instructor
Amit is entering his first summer at Camp Yavneh, and is excited to join the tzevet! Originally from a kibbutz in Israel, he currently lives in Montreal, Canada, where he studies philosophy and biology at McGill University. An all-around sports lover with experience in tennis, volleyball and sailing, Amit’s specialty is ice hockey, which he has played for 12 years and refereed for 7 years. In his spare time, you might find him with his nose buried in a book, listening to classic rock, or playing guitar in his band.
Travis Corcoran - Rosh Etgar (Head of Obstacle Course)
Travis is excited to start his first summer at camp as Rosh Etgar! He has been an avid Obstacle Course Racer for three years and lives for new endurance and adventure challenges! Travis has guided groups of all ages and abilities through NH's largest obstacle training facility, Derti OCR Training, right here in Northwood, NH! During the rest of the year, Travis teaches pre-k through 8th grade general music, band and chorus and coaches soccer, basketball and baseball in Acton, ME. Travis fills his free time practicing drums, training for obstacle races and enjoying life with his wife and baby daughter!
Meital Dimant - Cooking and Kolbo
Meital is from Ramat Gan, Israel. Together with her family, she moved to the US eight years ago. She has a B.Ed in Special Education and a MA in Educational Management from Bar Ilan University. For the past eight years, Meital has been a Judaic Studies teacher at the Solomon Schecter Day School of Greater Boston. Meital believes that teaching Hebrew and Judaic Studies is her professional calling.
Adina Deutsch - Rosh Mishlachat (Head of the Israeli Counselor Delegation)
Adina is thrilled to be coming back to Camp Yavneh for her 13th summer. As Rosh Mishlachat, her summers are spent guiding our Israeli madrichim and planning high energy Israeli-themed activities and special programs in Hebrew, including Yom Israel celebrations. During the year, Adina lives in Efrat, Gush Etzion, and is a trained physical therapist who works with children with disabilities in schools, and with kindergarten children with autism. Through the Israeli Ministry of Education, she mentors other physical therapists. But mostly, Adina and her children count down the days until they can come back to their home away from home at Yavneh!
Tali Edry - Art Specialist
Tali was an art teacher in Israel and moved to the United States at a shlichah. She taught K-8 at the Heritage Academy and was very involved in the community. Last year, Tali returned to Israel, after her two daughters made aliyah. She currently teaches art in an elementary school. Tali and her husband, Yehuda, have five children and their youngest daughter will be a camper at Yavneh.
Mica Felsztyna - Co-Rosh Sport (Head of Sports)
Mica is from Cordoba, Argentina and has a degree from the Institute of Physical Education and a diploma in Aerobic training. Mica’s specialty as an Air Aerobic teacher has been a hit at camp. This is Mica’s 6th summer at Yavneh. Mica is married to Marcelo.
Eli Gray - Rosh Sport (Head of Sports)
Eli is from Miami Beach, FL and currently lives in Atlanta, GA. In addition to being a professional photographer he is also a fan of all things Miami sports related and has been known to play in as many as five softball games in one day. This will be his first summer at Yavneh, joined by his wife Rena, and he is looking forward to bringing his love of sports and coaching to Yavneh for summer 2018.
Estelle Lajmer Gomolka - Rosh Agam (Head of Waterfront)
Estelle is a 5th grade teacher at The Greater Boston SSDS. She is a graduate of Maimonides school. She is celebrating her 40th summer at Yavneh (K’79). She has held many positions at Yavneh including rosh banot (head girls counselor). Estelle has well over 20 years teaching swimming and holds her WSI, lifeguarding CPR and First Aid instructor. She is married to Guy and has two children.
Julie Leshem - Ceramic Artist
Julie has been creating and teaching ceramics for over 25 years. Her studio, Golden Lights Pottery is in Efrat, and her work focuses on integrating Judaic themes with usable and aesthetic pieces. Julie is returning to camp for her 8th summer and looks forward to encouraging creativity while at the same time teaching basic skills working with clay and using the potters wheel. Julie lives in Efrat with her husband and enjoys her six children and many grandchildren.
Marcelo Marianoff - Rosh Rikud (Head of Dance)
Marcelo is an Israeli Dance Teacher and choreographer. Currently he is the director of Israeli dance department of Maccabi in Cordoba, Argentina and the choreographer of their Leahaka “Sinapzia”. He regularly guest teaches Israeli dance around the world including in Peru, Finland, Costa Rica, South Africa, Turkey, Panama, Holland, Switzerland, New Zealand, England and Israel. This is his 7th summer at Yavneh. Marcelo is married to Mica.
Jayne Miller - Rosh Omanut (Head of Art)
This is Jayne’s 18th summer bringing her craft to Yavneh. Jayne is skilled in and has taught spinning, quilting, enameling, jewelry and other subjects. She has taken and taught numerous art workshops over many years. She is married to Barry and has three children at Yavneh.
Rana is a Yavneh alum and is thrilled to be returning to camp to work in Omanut this summer. She is a first grade teacher at the Lander Grinspoon Academy in Northampton, MA. Rana loves art, baking, traveling and time with her amazing family.
Jeremy Sarnat - Teva Specialist
This is Jeremy’s first summer at Yavneh. During the rest of year, he lives in Atlanta and teaches about and does research on air pollution health effects at Emory University. Jeremy loves backpacking, mountaineering, birding and teaching kids how to properly identify poison ivy. He is especially excited to be joining two of his three children, Talia and Ilan, this summer as well, and has promised not to embarrass them too much.
Cassie Seinuk - Rosh Drama - Second Session Musical
Cassie is an award winning Jewish Cuban playwright and stage manager with an MFA from Lesley University, and her BA from Brandeis. Cassie's full-length play FROM THE DEEP is the second place recipient of the 2014 Latinidad Playwrights Award at The Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, and the 2014 winner of the Pestalozzi Prize for best New Play at the Firehouse Center for the Arts New Work Festival. Seinuk is a recipient of the BU Jewish Cultural Endowment grant. During the year Cassie teaches Hebrew and runs the drama program at Kesher Newton and the Tot-Shabbat program at Temple Reyim Newton.
Benzi Thee - Rosh Muzika (Head of Music)
Benzi is celebrating his 11th year at Yavneh and comes from Israel with his wife Yonina and his six children. Benzi holds a B.A. in music and a masters in Music Therapy and plays in a simcha/wedding band.
Shani is excited to return to Yavneh for her 13th summer. For 12 years she worked year round at Yavneh and ran the summer office. This past year Shani moved to Gann Academy where she is the Manager of Experiential Education Programs. This summer Shani will be working full time in Amanut. She is coming to camp with her youngest child, Ari, who will be in Kerem.
Kristi Wivagg - Rosh Drama - Maalot Play Director
Kristi received a BA in theater from University of Denver and an MA in directing from Emerson College. She has been an actor, stage manager and director in places around the globe such as New York, LA, Boston and Edinburgh, Scotland. Kristi is the proud mom of two Yavneh alums! This is Kristi's 16th summer at Camp Yavneh.
Alex, a member of 2KX or Kerem 2010, will be returning for her 13th summer at Camp Yavneh. She is currently a 6th-grade teacher at Temple Beth Abraham in Nashua, a nanny for a few families and has an office job. After taking a summer off to finally explore her passion for dirt bike riding, she is more than ready to come back and bring a long time camper/counselor's perspective back to camp. Alex has had many roles at camp including camper, counselor and Yachad (specialist) counselor.
Educational Staff - Leadership
Chana Israel - Rosh Chinuch (Head of Education)
Chana is currently the lead teacher for Kindergarten and First Grade Judaics at the Hebrew Academy of the Capital District. She has directed Jewish educational programming over the past 20 years for students from pre-school through high school. Chana has been a member of the chinuch staff at Camp Yavneh for the past six years. She is married to Mark and they have four children – all of whom have attended Camp Yavneh and three of whom will be at camp this summer.
Seth Pertain - S'gan Rosh Chinuch (Assistant Head of Education)
Seth Pertain is a high school Talmud teacher at the Schechter High School of Westchester. Seth has a B.A. in Judaic Studies from Binghamton and did his graduate work on the Melamdim Program – a joint program between the Hartman Institute in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv University. This is going to be Seth’s 12th summer at Camp Yavneh.
Educational Staff - Morim (Teachers)
Sara Birnbaum has more than 17 years of experience in synagogue schools, Jewish camps and United Synagogue Youth. Sara recently served as the educational director at Congregation Shaarei Tikvah in Scarsdale, NY. Sara received her MSW from YU and her Bachelor’s in Family Studies from Hofstra University. In addition, she began her Rabbinical studies at JTS and is continuing at the Academy for Jewish Religion. Sara and her husband Dan enjoy spending free time with their four children (all at Yavneh this summer) traveling, bike riding, spending time at the beach and playing sports.
This will be Joanne’s 12th summer at camp. Joanne currently teaches first grade at MetroWest Jewish Day School in Framingham, MA. She has taught for many years in a variety of settings including Jewish preschools, afternoon Hebrew schools and day schools. Joanne holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Brandeis as well as three Masters, in Education, Social Work and Jewish studies.
Justin Cammy is an associate professor of Jewish Studies and Comparative Literature at Smith College in Northampton, MA. His courses include the history of Zionism and contemporary Israel and Yiddish literature and culture. In 2006 he was awarded Smith's Sherrerd Prize for Distinguished Teaching. He is the parent of three Yavneh campers, and a former member of the head staff at Camp B'nai Brith of Ottawa.
Rabbi Karen Citrin
Karen attended Yavneh as a camper, counselor and rosh aydah from 87-96. She serves as co-rabbi and educator at Temple Beth David in Westwood, MA. A graduate of Brandeis, Karen received smicha from the Hebrew Union College (HUC-JIR) in Los Angeles and holds a Master’s Degree in Jewish Education from the HUC-JIR. As Yavneh shaped her Jewish identity, Karen looks forward to teaching and engaging the next generation. Karen will be joined at camp by Micah and their twin sons, Itai and Yonah.
Rabbi Micah Citrin
Micah is co-rabbi and educator at Temple Beth David in Westwood, MA. A graduate of the University of Oregon, Micah received his smicha from the Hebrew Union College (HUC-JIR) in Los Angeles and holds a Master’s Degree in Jewish Education from HUC-JIR. Micah spent many memorable summers as a camper, counselor, song leader, rosh aydah and director of education in California. Most importantly, Micah is abba to 4th grade twins Itai and Yonah.
Limor Cohen Mellul
Limor is a native Hebrew speaker and has been involved in Jewish education for over two decades. Limor currently teaches Judaic and Hebrew Studies at Maimonides school, as well as mentoring teachers at Brandeis University. Limor strongly believes that knowing Hebrew can deepen one’s connection to Jewish identity and to Israel. This is Limor’s 9th summer working at Camp Yavneh.
This will be Roselyn's 2nd summer at Yavneh since her years as a camper in Kfirim. She is thrilled to join her children Miryam, Boaz, Ori and Will at camp! For nearly two decades, Roselyn has taught text to students of a wide range of ages in formal and informal settings. She served as faculty at Prozdor for more than ten years, where she taught Tanakh, Rabbinics and Israeli literature. She holds a PhD in English literature from Brandeis and currently teaches ELA at Plymouth North High School.
Avital is so excited for her first summer at Camp Yavneh! Originally from Israel, Avital now lives in College Park, Maryland. Together with her husband, Yonaton, she works at the University of Maryland Hillel as an OU-JLIC Educator. Before moving to Maryland, Avital studied at Matan in Jerusalem, and Bar Ilan University. Avital enjoys the outdoors, drinking green smoothies, reading a good book and spending time with her adorable daughters, Navah (4) and Tamar (2).
Rabbi Yonaton Hirschhorn
Yonaton cannot wait to begin his first summer at Camp Yavneh! Hailing from Neve Daniel, Israel, Yonaton currently lives in College Park, Maryland. Together with his wife, Avital, he serves as an OU-JLIC Educator at the University of Maryland Hillel. Before moving to Maryland, Yonaton taught at various yeshivot and seminaries in Jerusalem, as well as founding a youth beit midrash in Neve Daniel. Yonaton enjoys hiking, learning and basketball! He can't wait to meet you all on the courts.
Jeanie Horowitz has been teaching at Yavneh for the past seven summers. Raised in New York, Jeanie lives in London with her husband and three children who all attend Yavneh. Jeanie is the Hebrew School Principal at Belsize Square Synagogue in London. She is active at New North London Synagogue and is an avid participant in their adult education programs.
Rabbi Daniel Klein
Daniel grew up as a camper and counselor at Camp Yavneh and is looking forward to returning as a teacher this summer and introducing his nine year old son, Micah, to Yavneh. A former middle school social studies teacher, Daniel was ordained by the Rabbinical School of Hebrew College in 2010 and now serves as its Associate Dean for Admissions and Student Life. He is also the Rabbi in Residence at The Boston Synagogue.
Rabbi Marshall Lesack
Marshall Lesack is the Principal of the high school at Donna Klein Jewish Academy in Boca Raton, FL, and also serves as the chair of the Jewish Studies department. He served as the assistant director at Camp Ramah Darom and was a faculty advisor for the Cornerstone Fellowship through the Foundation for Jewish Camp. Marshall has smicha from JTS and a B.A. from Rutgers University, and studied in universities and yeshivot in Israel. He loves camp and is thrilled to be coming to Yavneh this summer with his wife and 3 children.
Shira Loewenstein has been coming to camp for a long time. She started in Ma'alot and has served in many roles throughout the years. Shira works for the Yeshiva University School Partnership. She runs a program supporting new teachers and works with teachers on professional development. Shira also teaches fifth grade Mishnah at the Striar Hebrew Academy in Sharon, MA. This summer Shira will be at camp with her four children.
Amalia is currently stocking up on sunscreen and seforim in anticipation of joining Yavneh for her very first summer! Amalia has worked as a community organizer in Baltimore City with Repair the World and as the director of Jewish Student Life at the University of Arizona Hillel. Amalia has also studied Experiential Education at the Pardes Center for Jewish Educators. This fall, Amalia will be returning to Israel for her Shana Gimmel year at the Rabbinical School of Hebrew College. When not in the Beit Midrash, she can be found baking cookies or hanging out with her cats.
Marla Olsberg is excited to return to the Tzevet Morim for her 8th year. Marla worked in various Jewish Educational settings for the past 25 years. She is employed by the Boston- Haifa Connection (CJP) as the Project Manager for the School to School partnerships between Boston and Haifa. Her work revolves around Jewish Identity and Peoplehood. She both taught and was an administrator at South Area Solomon Schechter for 20 years.
Rabbi Richard Polirer
Richard Polirer, aka Rabbi Richie, has been a Moreh at Yavneh since 1992. A pulpit rabbi since 1977, he brings to Yavneh his wide array of teaching expertise. Rabbi Richie coordinates Torah readers for the Egalitarian Minyan, delivers the news from Israel and helps prepare children for their B’nai Mitzvah. He comes to us from Florida where we pursues his interests, including history, linguistics and chazzanut. Rabbi Richie is accompanied at Yavneh by his wife, Nurse Suzi.
Rabbi Jeffrey Weiss
Jeffrey, originally from Brookline, Massachusetts, spent eight summers at Camp Yavneh (Gurim through Na'aleh). He has smicha from RIETS, a Master's in Jewish Education and Administration from Azrieli, and a Master’s in Elementary Education from Creighton University. He and his family recently moved to Cherry Hill, NJ to join the Kohelet Yeshiva Lab School team as Judaic Specialist in 2016. Previously, Jeffrey served as an Educator, Pastoral Services Coordinator and Mashgiach Ruchani in Omaha, Nebraska for eight years. Jeffrey credits his summers at Yavneh as being one of the greatest influences on his Jewish identity. This will be his ninth summer at Yavneh, although the first as staff, and he is looking forward to sharing the Yavneh experience with his wife Ilana and 4 girls ages 2-8.
Roshei Aydah – Unit Heads
Gurim (Grades 2-4)
Meital Galler (K’14, N’15)
Meital couldn’t be more excited to be returning to camp for her 12th summer as co-rosh Gurim! She is from Sharon, Massachusetts and is currently a freshman at Barnard College where she is on the pre-med track. She is involved in Hillel and Sprout Up, an organization where she goes into NYC public schools teaching science. She spent the last two summers as a madricha for the gurim banot and is most excited to introduce new campers to what makes Yavneh so special and most specifically her favorite day of the year, Zimriyah!
Benji Cole (K'14, N'15)
Benji is SOOOOOO super thrilled to make this kayitz (summer) the most amazing kayitz ever! Before becoming a Gurim counselor for two years, Benji was a loyal Yavneh camper. He began his Yavneh journey in middle Gurim, and went through to Kerem ‘14 and Na’aleh ‘15. Benji is so excited to introduce (or reintroduce) his campers to Marco Polo during schia klalit (free swim) and to epic ninja activities, and to compete in grand tetherball tournaments. He knows that Gurim will be the most fun aydah (age group) in the whole Machaneh (Camp) because he and his counselors are going to work harder than ever to make sure every single camper enjoys every single day. During the non-camp months, Benji is a student at Tufts University studying Community Health and Spanish. We can’t wait for Gurim Ta’Shach (2018)!
Last Gurim Blog - Second Month!
Complete with two trip days, three birthdays, teary goodbyes, and an exciting Macabbiah breakout the past seven days have been a week for the ages! We’ll start at the beginning, which is, of course, the best place to start. On Tuesday, Gurim woke up to Kerem Karnival! The Counselors in Training, known as Kerem, plan this annual in-camp Achla Yom (cool day). This year Kerem combined fun and creative stations (noodle fencing, bowling, face paint, eating donuts off a string) with wacky inflatable stations (water slides, obstacle courses, wipe out, dunk tank). No Achla Yom would be complete, however, without special and delicious nishnushim (snacks)!!! Thus, in the afternoon, every Gur was overjoyed to chow down on chocolate covered pretzels, and cinnamon-sugar covered churros.
That night the banot and banim split for exciting Peulot Erev. The banot collected on the Migrash Sport (sport field) to play 4-way capture the flag with silly rules that left every chanicha smiling. The banim split by bunk, B9 to do a dodgeball/riddle challenge, and B8 to do a maze, learning adventure called Chinuchi (chee-nu-chee).
Wednesday we returned to our regular schedule. Waking up in the morning we held spirited t’fillot, followed by aruchat boker (breakfast), nikayon (clean-up), two chugim (electives) and a kita (class). After lunch and rest hour, the chanichim met in the Chadar Ochel for a fun chinuchi (khi-nu-khi) in which the morim (teachers) taught the summer theme through a super fun peulah (activity). We all ran around camp in groups following clues to different ingredients. Once we had collected them all, we returned to the Chadar and combined them into cookie dough!!!!!! Later we tasted the sweet reward of hard work as we learned the theme “hazorim bidima birina yiksoru” “those who plant in sorrow, reap in joy”!
While Thursday brought clear skies, it also brought a few teary eyes. Over twenty Kaytana chanichim (two-week campers) said their first farewell to the machaneh and to their many new friends! In the Chadar Ochel (dining hall) that morning, the whole machaneh joined together to sing Shalom Chaverim. While we were sad to see them go, all the madrichim (counselors) are looking forward to seeing them for even more time next summer! As one Kaytana chanich (camper) so perfectly said, “I’m so happy I get to see my parents, but then can I stay another two weeks?”
The next day, we ushered in a very wet shabbos from inside the Ben Zvi. But the water did NOT dampen the ruach! In fact, our energy stayed strong throughout shabbat day! As the weather improved, Chanichim had a chance to hang out with friends, play cards, compete in teatherball, suit up for hockey and dive in for free swim.
Sunday came with spectacles, excitement, and breakout!!! In the afternoon, we had just one peulah, instructional swim, before heading back to the bunks to shower. Afterwards, the whole machaneh joined together in front of the Gottesman Family Community Center - GFCC - known as the Beit Midrash. We did so in order to film and record Yavneh’s first ever Kululam!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
We concluded this marathon of a week with another Achla Yom. Our trip day was a Ma-Gu-Pu meaning we hung out with the older aydah, Maalot! First, we hiked up Saddleback (The nearby trek), second we took a bus down the road to a blueberry farm! There, we picked over 60 pounds of blueberries :o ! We have since been snacking on blubes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Last night we finished off with erev superhero - in which the chanichim made their counselors into creative heroes. Check out their amazing video creations online tomorrow!
Thus the longest week in history wrapped itself up. As we enter this final week of camp, and send this letter out on the last Tuesday of the summer, I would like to sign off with a mighty mazal tov to all parents! YOU DID IT!!! Who knew you could make it through 4, or 7 weeks without your kids? Did you get kidsick, the opposite of homesick, longing for them to return? While Meital and I wished we could be there to comfort you as well, we are honored to have had the opportunity to take care of your amazing kids for the summer. Thank you for sharing them for a few magical and memorable weeks. May this be one of many many summers at the Machaneh.
Benji v’ Meital v’kol hamad
Gefen (Grade 5)
Allie Abels (K'14, N'15)
Allie couldn't be more excited to be returning to camp for her 10th summer as the first ever co-rosh Gefen! She is from West Hartford, CT and is currently a sophomore at Binghamton University majoring in integrative neuroscience. Allie was part of Kerem 2014, Na'aleh 2015, and spent the last two summers as a Gurim counselor. She is counting down the days till everyone is swimming in the Agam and dancing during rikudiam!
Sam Sheldon (K'14, N'15)
This will be Sam's tenth year at Yavneh. He is really excited to be with all of his chanichim again and to make Gefen the best aydah there ever was. His favorite thing about camp is rikkud and he can't wait to dance all around Northwood with his amazing tzevet. Outside of camp, Sam is a first-year at Columbia University after taking a gap year in Israel. At school he loves every class and so has no idea what he is majoring in. He also teaches Health Education at public high school throughout New York City and is taking a lot of cool dance classes. He can't wait to finally be back in the 03261!
Kfirim (Grade 6)
Adina Levitt (K'14, N'15)
Adina will be coming back to camp for her 11th summer as Rosh Kfirim! She is currently a sophomore at the University of Rochester studying Brain and Cognitive Sciences and Psychology. On campus, Adina plays on the club field hockey team, works in a research lab and tutors. She is also active in her school's Israel club and Chabad. At camp, Adina loves to spend time at the Agam, and she is looking forward to one of her favorite days of the year, Zimriyah!
Arayot (Grade 7)
Danni Lovich (K'12, N'13)
Danni can't wait to be back at Yavneh with Arayot 2018 for her Bar Mitzvah summer! This will be her third summer as a Rosh Aydah and her fifth summer on staff! Before Danni gets to camp for Kayitz 2018 she will be graduating from Barnard College, and after the summer she will be moving to New York City to begin her career as a teacher! Danni is looking forward to Shabbat, schiah klalit, impromptu dance parties, and chilling with her chanichim. Danni is so excited to be spending her summer in her favorite place with her favorite aydah! #Arayot18
Leviim (Grade 8)
Jonathan Gomolka (K’13)
Jonathan Gomolka is a junior BFA musical theater major at Pace University in New York City. This past year, he performed in The Wild Party (Goldberg) and The Drowsy Chaperone (George). After taking a brief hiatus from the machaneh, working at Weston Playhouse in their Young Company, Jonathan is thrilled to be back as Rosh Leviim. Jonathan will be back for his 11th summer (19th if you include Gan) and cannot wait to share his ruach and love of camp with his aydah. Get ready for an amazing summer!
Maalot (Grade 9)
Ravi Brenner (K'13, N'14)
Ravi is unbelievably excited to be Rosh Maalot this Kayitz! This will be Ravi's 4th summer on staff, and his 13th summer spend at Yavneh. As a camper, Maalot was Ravi's favorite summer, and he can't wait for all the fun peulot and tiyulim that come with being in Maalot. He's looking forward to another summer of bonding and growing with his favorite chanichim. Between summers at Yavneh, Ravi studies Physics at the University of Pennsylvania and sleeps with his Yavneh blanket every night. Ravi loves rock climbing, playing guitar, Shabbat and preparing for Maalot '18!!!!
Kerem (Grade 10)
Josh Schwartz (K'12, N'13)
Josh Schwartz is a senior art history major at Vassar College with an English minor. This year, he was the President of the Vassar Jewish Union, worked as a docent at the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, and worked on his thesis on the Degenerate Art Show. He is ecstatic to return as Rosh Kerem for his twelfth summer at Yavneh. He can’t believe how quickly his campers grew up, and knows that he’ll be shepping nachas all summer long as he watches them be leaders at camp.
Aaron Butler - Rosh Robotics
Aaron is in yeshiva for the year in Israel and will be going to Washington University next year to study engineering. This will be his ninth summer at camp, and second as a counselor. Aaron’s favorite things at camp include Kabbalat Shabbat and Zimriyah. This summer, Aaron will be teaching robotics and is excited to pass on exciting and new skills to campers.
Ben Neumann - Rosh Boating
Ben is a Junior at Union College studying Environmental Science. This summer will be his twelfth summer at camp, and fourth as a member of the staff. As both a camper and as a counselor, Ben has a great love for the Agam and has made countless memories using the boats with his friends as a camper. Ben will be teaching boating skills to campers so they could develop their own love of the Agam.
Sam Russo - Rosh Sailing
Sam is super excited to return to Yavneh for his ninth summer! Sam is from Brookline, Massachusetts and just graduated from Brookline High School. Next year, Sam will study biochemistry and mathematics at the University of Chicago. Sam was a member of Kerem 2016 and looks forward to Zimriyah, Tekes, meeting his campers, and sailing on the Agam. Sam was certified as a lifeguard his Maalot summer in 2015 and can’t wait to spend his summer hanging out on the Agam jumping on the trampoline and of course, SAILING!
Alex Shrago - Archery Specialist
Alex Shrago will be returning to Yavneh for his 10th summer, and his first as a counselor. He is from Sharon, Massachusetts. Alex has been going to camp since he was in Gurim, was in Kerem ‘16, and went to Israel on Na’aleh last summer. This September, he will begin attending Binghamton University in New York. Alex will be leading the Archery chug this summer.
More about staff…
Bunk counselors for each age level are selected for their sensitivity and ruach (spirit). You might be interested to hear that every one of our counselors have attended Yavneh for many years and now want to give back by returning as counselors. Yavneh prides itself on its outstanding camper to counselor ratio of 5:1. Aydot (units) are supervised by leaders who are chosen for their experience in camping, Jewish background and problem solving skills. In addition, our Boys & Girls Head counselors are professionally trained with years of combined camp experience. Specialty counselors are selected for their expertise in drama, waterfront, arts and crafts, tennis, basketball, and dozens of other activity options. Jewish educators are invited to camp to serve as role models and to teach an array of Hebrew and Jewish topics and, to lead informal discussion groups. Licensed physicians and three nurses staff our well-equipped Health Center.