Monthly Archives: June 2015

Leaving a CJ Legacy: Memorial Dedications 2015

So much of the magic at Camp Judaea happens because of our past and current campers, staff and other visionaries. We share memories and honor leaders who are remembered at camp like Herman Popkin, Susie Schwartz, Paul Kaplan, Lila Reisman, Shira Kansas and so many more.

Ashley Cohen hugs the memorial plaque dedicated to her uncle, Robert Feingold.

Ashley Cohen (Oranim) hugs the memorial plaque dedicated to her uncle, Robert Feingold.

Ashley Cohen, Danielle, Charlie & Jacob Kapustin participated in remembering Robert Feingold, a long time camper and staff member (the first Sayarim merakez) at camp, and Rafael Kapustin, a father and grandfather whose children and now grandchildren attend Camp Judaea, in the naming of the new cabin memorial garden. It’s an honor to have this opportunity and build this legacy in their beloved memory.

Charlie and Jacob Kapustin (Kesher) pose in the new memorial garden as they remember their grandfather, Rafael Kapustin.

Charlie and Jacob Kapustin (Kesher) pose in the new memorial garden as they remember their grandfather, Rafael Kapustin.

July 3 we will dedicate the softball dugouts in memory of George and Eva Stern. George was the first director at CJ’s present location and with a huge leap of faith, he and his wife Eva directed CJ for several years. George was an avid CJ advocate and donor until he passed away a few months ago. He served on the board for several decades and always loved a great softball game!

It is important that we keep alive the memories of those who played integral parts in CJ’s development, growth, and culture. There is plenty of room for more beautiful tributes around Camp Judaea, and as our facilities expand, opportunities to leave your legacy will grow.

“We all brought back a part of CJ with us to our families, friends and our work.  We are now adults, with our own families to support, bills to pay, and many responsibilities in life.  If we think about it CJ has never asked us for help before.  CJ is at a point where it needs our help to guarantee its presence in our children’s lives and hopefully in our children’s lives.  We need to come together as a family and ask others to help.  It is important that we keep CJ in our minds and hearts to guarantee this legacy continues. This is the reason why we honor individuals like Robert Feingold and Rafael Kapustin.  It is our responsibility to keep this going. CJ needs us to step up and continue our support.  The goal is to guarantee a summer home for our children and our children’s children. Each one of us must do our part to make this happen.  We must do everything we can to give back.”  –Alex Solomiany

Shabbat at Camp Judaea

IMG_6092Shabbat in Camp Judaea is one of the most special, sacred, and looked-forward-to activities among campers and staff members. It is a time for everyone in Camp to take a step back, relax, and reflect back on the week while looking ahead with fresh eyes to the coming days. From just before sunset on Friday evening to sundown (and 3 stars in the sky) on Saturday night, everyone is in Camp celebrating Shabbat as a family, and it is truly beautiful.

Since Shabbat is such a change from the normal CJ routine, we like to help our campers shift gears Friday afternoon so that everyone is excited by the time Kabbalat Shabbat begins. We do this by having Shabbatayadda— a camp-wide celebration during which campers can write Shabbat-o-grams to give to their friends and counselors, braid challah, practice Israeli rikkudim (dances), and more!

Then we begin our official Shabbat Prep. Campers clean their cabins and write letters home so that everything is finished before Shabbat starts. Everyone showers and dresses in their “Shabbat Best” in time to meet up with their Eda for Peulah Shabbat. This is the time for the campers and staff to take pictures and make sure all “business” is taken care of before Shabbat begins.
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By now, everyone is ready to welcome Shabbat, so the entire camp fills the amphitheater overlooking the lake. Each week, a different Eda is assigned to lead Shabbat. Usually during the day, they have created artwork to decorate the amphitheater, chadar ochel, and Beit Knesset. They work with our Shira and Rikkud activity counselors to prepare songs and dances to perform. We sing the prayers together while overlooking the lake, listening to the sounds of nature and watching the week disappear behind the trees. When the service concludes, Tom Rosenberg, our executive director, addresses the camp and tells a story. The story usually revolves around the week’s Torah portion and its relevance to camp. The campers really like to hear and learn from Tom, so this is definitely a special moment for all.
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We make our way over to the chadar ochel. Before we eat, we stand with our arms around each other and sing “Shalom Alechem” and then recite Kiddush. Dinner is served—challah, soup, chicken or brisket, potatoes, green beans, strawberry salad, and rugalach for dessert! When everyone is full, we sing the Birkat Hamazon, careful to include the Shabbat additions and changes, and then walk across the field to the Beit Ha’am for Oneg!

Everyone loves Oneg; it is an improv comedy show performed by a handful of counselors for the whole camp! They play games like “Freeze” and “Typewriter” and take volunteer participants from the audience—usually, the whole room is in stitches! By 9:15, the nurses and medical staff are ready to start administering nighttime medicines, and then bedtime for campers. They love getting back to the cabins after Oneg because their light switches are taped down. To observe Shabbat, we do not flick the lights on or off, instead, we turn on the bathroom lights before Shabbat begins and turn off the cabin lights. Not only does this observe Shabbat, it also encourages the campers to be in bed earlier since there is no light!

Saturday morning is the best—LATE WAKE-UP! We give the staff and campers time to catch up on their sleep, and we begin the day at 9:00am instead of 7:30am. We don’t raise the flag on Shabbat, so we head to the chadar ochel for snack. On Shabbat, it is customary to only eat three Shabbat meals. Since Shabbat begins Friday before dinner, that meal is included. For this reason, we refer to Saturday morning’s spread as “snack” instead of breakfast.

After breakfast, we hold Shabbat morning t’fillot (prayers) in the Beit Knesset. The eda assigned to lead Shabbat continues to lead, and even get to perform in the “Parsha Players” skit which depicts the week’s portion. It’s usually fairly silly and entertaining. Before concluding t’fillot, a staff member gives a D’var Torah, words of the Torah, to segue from Torah into Camp and relate the two back to each other. The whole camp then heads up to our outdoor picnic tables for Kiddush featuring grape juice, fruit, and baked goods.

Chofesh is next! This is a two hour period where campers are not allowed in their cabins, but are allowed to choose an activity in which to participate. Basketball, tennis, and swimming in the pool are popular choices. Some campers elect to lay out on towels in the grass to read, nap, or talk with friends. Staff members are stationed around camp to supervise and enforce safety rules and boundaries, but for the most part, everyone is having fun and relaxing.IMG_6124

By 1:30pm, we are ready for lunch. Traditionally, Shabbat lunch is an assortment of deli meats, sandwich fix-ins, and pre-made salads. When everyone has finished eating, the entire camp bursts into an epic shira (singing) session! Some songs are led by staff members, others by campers—many of them have hand motions and choreography! The chadar is filled with voices and energy. This is a favorite activity, especially among staff members.

After lunch, campers choose a counselor-led “optional mandatory.” The idea behind optional mandatories is that the campers have many options, but it is mandatory for them to attend one of the options. We have recently renamed these “Shabboptions!” Staff members plan lectures, meditations, games, or discussions. Sometimes they are related to camp, other times they may be related to history, pop culture, or miscellaneous topics that catch campers’ attention. After Shabboptions, campers have one more hour of chofesh (free time) before returning to their cabins for menucha (rest).

At this point, the campers have had a full day of praying, playing, and resting after an even fuller week of non-stop activity. To slow things down, each eda meets up for an activity called Sikkum haShavua. This is the time where the campers can share with their friends and staff members what they learned during the week, what they loved about the week, and even what part of the week they didn’t love so much. It is a sweet way to seal the previous week and leave it in the past so that everyone can move on to a fresh, new week. From Sikkum haShavua, everyone goes to dinner.

When dinner is finished, the camp splits by eda and meets up for an active and entertaining tochnit erev. By the time tochnit erev is over, the sun is setting. Everyone meets on the basketball courts and sits together to begin our shira shketa (quiet singing). Voices of our seven year olds blend with the voices of Bogies and voices of our staff members and senior staff members as we sing songs like “Uf Gozal” and “Eli Eli.” Three stars appear in the sky, and we know it is time to see off Shabbat and welcome a new week.

A giant circle forms around the basketball court as the leading staff members recite and sing the blessings of Havdallah. CJ has recently started a new tradition for the end of Havdallah; everyone must be absolutely silent when it comes time to extinguish the Havdallah candle in the Kiddush cup. If you can clearly hear the “sizzle” of the candle in the wine, the upcoming week will be a good one! Everyone wishes each other “shavua tov” meaning “have a good week!”

Music starts to blare, and the basketball courts erupt in camp-wide dancing! All of the dances taught during the Rikkud peulot are danced in unity: circle dances, line dances, even some “River Dance” dancing. Its our energetic way of welcoming the week and starting it off on a good foot! After an ample amount of stepping, turning, clapping, and jumping, it is time for nighttime medicine, showers, and bed. Shabbat is over and a new week begins.

In an age where technology comes first and people remember moments retrospectively through pictures rather than experiencing the moment in “the now,” it is difficult for us here in CJ to “show” you how we celebrate Shabbat since we are strictly Shomer Shabbat and do not use cameras to take pictures. This is one of the reasons why we stress the importance of togetherness and encourage everyone to participate in observing Shabbat— so that campers and staff members remember Shabbat and will know different ways to observe Shabbat even when not in Camp, if they so choose.

Shabbat Shalom, CJ family.IMG_5693


Highlights From Our First Week

It’s hard to write in one page or less about all of the goings-on at CJ this week. Instead, I’ve collected quotes from a few campers and staff members to highlight a couple of the special events and moments that occurred during the first week of the session.  Additionally, our CJ News crew worked hard all week to produce this week’s video.  Enjoy!

Or view in HD!

Kesher Hatzagah

“This was my third time helping put on a Kesher hatzagah. I must admit, in the beginning of the day, I was a little stressed. There are so many aspects to putting on a hatzagah to show the entire camp! I needed to make sure the actors knew their blocking, that the rikkud group was prepared for their dance, the omanut groups get all of the artwork complete, and that the entire eda knows their song. But, after a very long and hard day of working with Kesher, I can proudly say that “A Kesher Karol” was a hit!
Every eda here at Camp Judaea has a theme that we, as madrichim, want the chanichim to understand. Kesher’s theme is Jewish identity, which is all about realizing who they are as a Jewish person and who they are as a person at camp. So, “A Kesher Karol” portrayed a “what if” scenario in which Jonathan Burger never came back to CJ as the Kesher Merakez or even to CJ at all. Throughout the show, Jonathan was visited by the Ghost of Kesher Merakzim Past, Present, and Future. At the end, Jonathan realized how important it was to come to CJ and come back as Kesher Merakez. The main message that I wanted the Kesher chanichim and all the chanichim in the audience to understand is that every single camper that comes through the camp gates has the amazing potential to start, create, and carry new traditions. It doesn’t matter which eda you are in, everyone has the ability to leave a lasting imprint on camp.”—Matthew Kaplan, Head of Dramau1302754_p14616733

Yom Yachad (Part 1)

“Yesterday, I had the privilege of traveling with our Bogrim eda to visit Camp Living Wonders. Camp Living Wonders offers a safe, loving overnight camp experience for high-functioning Jewish children, ages 7-25 years old with developmental disabilities, regardless of affiliation or background. Despite the rain, the Bogies rose to the occasion and acted as wonderful leaders and dugmot ishit (personal examples) to the campers at CLW. The Bogies taught them Israeli dances that we do during our rikkud sessions, Israeli songs that we learn during our shira peulot, and everyone made pita together. Then the Camp Living Wonders campers and staff members invited us to their “Wonder Garden” where the campers were delighted to find that their squash were fully grown and ready! We ate dinner all together in their chadar ochel. It was beautiful to see how open and willing our campers were to help guide the CLW campers. It was equally as impressive to witness the eventual openness of their campers to ours. On Sunday, Camp Living Wonders will travel here to Camp Judaea to participate in other activities, and I am really looking forward to having them here.”—Elana Pollack, Communications DirectorFullSizeRender (3)

“I was playing ping-pong with a boy named Austin. I was really playing the best that I could, but he kept beating me! At first, I thought that coming to this camp would make me sad, but now I see how happy the campers are here and how happy the counselors are. It makes me happy to know that there are cool people like this out there who make a special place for these kids.”—Sofia Feldman, Bogrim chanichaimage (1)

“I danced with Rebecca and Ilan. They were so open and willing and excited to learn from me. I couldn’t help but smile because of how much I could see Ilan enjoying himself. Coming here was a great opportunity for them, but also for us to see how other campers live. Just like we have our special place at CJ, they have their special place here.”—Solana Roitman, Bogrim chanicha

BO Night/Bowling (Bogrim/Offarim Buddies)

“It was surprising because I didn’t expect it to happen last night, but I had a fun time meeting my BO, Shaul. He’s nice. He thinks it is cool that I can name all of the Presidents, states, and capitals in order! I really liked making s’mores on real sticks. This morning, I beat Shaul in bowling 29-18! He’s going to bring me back a soda from DC. When he comes back from Washington, I hope we can do activities like basketball and art together. WARNING to future Offies: If you come to camp in Offarim, be prepared to be woken up in the middle of the night for BO night!”—Ryder Zufi, Offarim chanichu1302754_p14622945

“Seeing the kids’ faces light up when they saw their BO’s was so indescribable because its the cutest thing you’ve ever seen. They were all so excited! They weren’t nervous, but they were definitely surprised because the counselors tricked them into thinking it wasn’t last night. Bowling was fun— they all had a great time!” —Haley Kaplan, Offarim madricha

Since arriving on Monday, campers have eaten 13 meals at camp, gone swimming at least 3 times, learned the names of all of their counselors, gone bowling, and will celebrate their first Shabbat of the session tonight. Tomorrow night, we say goodbye to our Kesher and Bogrim edot as they embark on their trips to New York City and Washington, DC. We will miss them, but we know they’ll have a blast and bring back lots of stories to share! There’s never a dull moment at Camp Judaea, so we are looking forward to a peaceful Shabbat and wishing you all the same!

Opening Day of First Session 2015

CJ 1 2015-9456…And we are officially open! First session 2015 has begun! At 9:00am, our gates opened, and the fun began. Campers carrying backpacks and pillows followed their counselors to the cabins with their parents a couple of steps behind (hey, these mountains are for real!) The staff and parents helped the campers unpack and set up, tours of camp were given, T-shirts were sold— the whole camp was alive with excitement and energy!CJ 1 2015-9502
At 11:00, families enjoyed a beautifully presented brunch. There were blintzes, bagels and lox, salads, fruit, and a whole table of pastries. Displayed among the platters were 8×10 prints of campers of previous summers swimming, playing sports, cheering for Bikkurim, and more. Having these photos added a personal “CJ touch” to the buffet line which did not go unnoticed or unappreciated by parents, campers, or visitors.CJ 1 2015-9559
By 1:00pm, most parents and families had departed and the campers started on an activity rotation. Rishonim took a tour of camp, Offarim visited our farm, Oranim started with volleyball and archery, Sayarim went to Tzofim (scouts) and rikkud (dance), Kesher changed into their suits for swim tests and pool time, and Bogrim hit the basketball courts. Throughout the rest of the afternoon, the groups switched activities and remained busy so as not to waste any precious camp time and to reduce possible first-day-homesickness.CJ 1 2015-9548
It was wonderful to see all of our parents and alumni visiting camp today! They were curious and enthusiastic about the renovations happening at Camp. Many took advantage of the signs posted around our property which showed our first-phase diagrams of the new buildings coming and had wonderful feedback to give! For those of you who weren’t in Camp today, we are expected to have a new Chadar Ochel (dining hall), new Art Barn, new Instructional/Lap Pool, and new Cabin Village. Many of these expansions are coming as early as May 2017!
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We had a special returning alum in CJ today; Lee Greene Kapner was a Camp Judaea camper in 1961! That’s right, our first year of CJ EVER! She was here with her daughter and grandson, Jacob (Offarim), to drop him off for his first year at Camp! Though she only attended CJ for one summer, she sent both of her children to Jewish summer camps, and she holds firm in her belief that Jewish summer camps positively influence a child’s life, making him/her more responsible and self-aware. Not to mention, she always loved having adult time during the summers her own kids were away! Welcome back Lee!

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It was a very busy day for parents, campers, and staff, so tonight will be an early one. We can’t wait for our first full day of camp tomorrow! Laila tov, CJ family…

Staff Training Week 2015 (Part Two)

Shabbat is here again, but this time, Camp Judaea is filled with over 125 newly-trained staff members awaiting the arrival of our eager campers. Tonight we will welcome Shabbat with song and dance while reviewing the rules of Shabbat at CJ, but before we start our Shabbat prep, we want to share with you what we’ve been doing since we last caught up…

Earlier this week, we received a video from some of our first session campers telling us what they are looking forward to at camp and how the staff can make this summer great for them. This video was an inspiration to us this week as we planned peulot (activities), assigned staff members to each eda (unit), and set up around camp.

Before Shabbat, we have something to share with our campers and their parents— a response to your video!  See what the staff has to say!

Wednesday morning, the merakzim revealed who would be working on each eda staff. Our leadership team worked late into Tuesday night (and Wednesday morning) to decide which staff members would be best suited for which campers. Everyone was pleased with their placements (and we’re sure the campers will be, too!), and the merakzim immediately encouraged staff bonding and putting them to work writing their peulot eda (educational activities by unit). By the end of the afternoon, everyone had packed their overnight bags and were on their way up the mountain for staff campouts. The tzevet (staff) enjoyed burgers, hotdogs, potatoes, s’mores, and rocky mountain toast at their sites before returning to camp Thursday morning.11401184_10152783545427471_9092105875911446905_n

And then it was back to work! Thursday, we were joined by Becky Borak who spoke to us about inclusion at camp— making sure that every camper is given the opportunity to participate in every activity despite their different abilities. She stressed to us that every camper has individual needs and that as a staff, it is our duty to tend to each camper and his/her needs. After lunch, each staff planned their tochniot erev (evening activities) which are usually games or pool parties or contests— everyone really enjoys planning and leading these! In the late afternoon, we attended a peulah about emotional safety and bullying; every staff member should be “ON” at all times, engaging with their campers, and nipping any questionable interactions in the bud before they turn into problems. Thursday evening, the staff was rewarded with time out of camp to refresh before the busy weekend (and to watch the basketball game).11267356_10152783545057471_7679378575174460617_n

This morning, Maya, our Head of Waterfront, is conducting staff swim tests and going over the procedures that the staff members must follow at the pool and lake. We want to make sure that everyone knows how the staff should be assisting the lifeguards during normal water peulot and what to do in case of an aquatic emergency. Following lunch (pizza if I’m not mistaken), we will hear from the camp medical staff about health in camp before beginning our Shabbat nikayon (cleaning) and prep.

We can’t wait until next Shabbat when we will have about 275 campers filling up all the empty space!  Shabbat Shalom, Camp Judaea family.  See you soon!

Staff Training Week 2015 (Part One)

Staff training week at Camp Judaea started Sunday evening. Between then and Monday, June 15 at 10am, the entire tzevet (staff) of Camp Judaea will have spent hours upon hours in peulot (activities) and lessons led by the Senior Staff and MASH team. Our goal during this week is to create an environment in which the staff feels bonded, enabled, and confident that they can provide the campers with a memorable, meaningful, fun, and safe summer! Here’s what we’ve been up to so far…11162067_10152779145222471_3926751369975126536_o
Sunday was filled with arrivals and greetings.Staff members were assigned temporary cabins in which to stay until eda (unit) placements are decided. Tours of camp were given to those who had never been to CJ—and to those who wanted to seeall of the new improvements and additions to camp! By dinner, we had a large group of excited andexhausted staff members, but that did not stop us from having our Sunday cookout! After dinner, we played icebreaker games to learn names and backgrounds. Then, just before dark, we made our way up to the Sayarim fire circle (behind the Ampikol near some of the horse trails) and had our first campfire as a full staff. During the fire, individuals took turns explaining how and why they came to work at Camp this summer and what they were most looking forward to. This activity is called “reverse keylog” because at the end of the summer, we will gatheragain and discuss our favorite parts of the summer.11425843_10152779144732471_98021316523432736_n

Monday, we were joined by Valerie Mitrani and Benji Lovitt. In a peulah planned by Valerie and the MASH team, we discussededucation in camp. The staff got to participate in activities around camp that involved teamwork, quizzed us on Israel geography, introduced social barometers, and we played a human version of Hungry Hungry Hippos in order to spell “Israel” with Hebrew letters. The tzevet learned how to include elements of Zionism and education in activities that are fun and engaging for the chanichim. Benji’s comedic presentation addressed the non-political relationship between Americans and international staff. This topic was well received and extremely relevant since we have an Israeli mishlachat of 37 people in addition to about 15 staff members from Europe! In the late afternoon, the staff participated in problem-solving exercises which involved role-playing scenarios that may arise during their time as staff at CJ. The day concluded with a tochnit erev (evening activity) planned and executed by members of our tzevet who are Cornerstone Fellows which highlighted the importance of staff participation and enthusiasm in camp.11406958_10152779145477471_292606703854571549_n

Tuesday’s morning schedule was not quite as lighthearted, as the staff had to learn about eliminating risks and risk management at camp. In these training courses, we make sure that every staff member understands that the emotional, mental, and physical safety of every single camper is of utmost importance and should always be the number one priority. The day lightened up, though, after lunch when we learned how to makeordinary moments extraordinary by turning them into “teachable moments.” Then, staff members had the opportunity to visit the omanut (art) shed and decorate coffee and tea mugs to use in the chadar ochel (dining hall).

11038003_10152779145317471_6416425533913083987_nEveryone is very excited because rumor has it that the eda placements will be announced tomorrow morning, and then we’re off on our staff overnights! There’s never a dull moment at Camp Judaea. We hope you all are getting packed and ready for your trip to 48 Camp Judaea Lane.
We’ll see you soon!

Merakzim And Specialty Heads (MASH) 2015

Camp Judaea prides itself in breeding and recruiting strong leaders to make everyone’s camp experience as successful as possible.  The MASH team consists of the merakzim (unit heads) and activity directors.  Camp Judaea is confident that this team will undoubtedly lead the entire camp for a fun, safe, and educational summer!

FullSizeRender (2)Avi Kessler
Rishonim Merakez

I am the Rishonim Merakez and will be helping show the first time campers a taste of what CJ has to offer. I am from Caldwell, NJ and currently a student at the University of Massachusetts studying Sports Management. I enjoy all sports and am a huge fan of the New York Yankees. This is my 3rd summer as a part of the CJ staff, and I was a camper at both Sprout Lake and Tel Yehudah in New York. I love coming back each summer and seeing old friends and making new ones. I can’t wait for the campers to come and to have an amazing summer. My hobbies include playing baseball and basketball.
Fun fact: I love Israel a lot and attended Young Judaea Year Course back in 2013-2014!

photoIsabelle Morris
Offarim Merakezet

Hi! My name is Isabelle Morris and I am the Offarim merakezet this summer at Camp Judaea! Offarim is the second youngest age group in camp (and the cutest if you ask me :)) I couldn’t be more excited. I am from Little Silver, New Jersey, and currently am a junior at the University of Miami where I am studying broadcast journalism. In my free time I enjoy running, reading, being with friends and family, and traveling. This will be my 4th summer as a Camp Judaea staff member and will definitely be the best summer yet. Can’t wait to meet you all!
Fun fact: Even though I went to Camp Young Judaea in Sprout Lake, I am totally a CJ girl!

11391424_10152770204037471_1816256296146510038_nSamuel Prieto
Oranim Merakez

I’m Sam from Clearwater, FL. I am a student at the University of Pennsylvania. This will be my third year as a staff member at Camp Judaea. My favorite CJ memory so far was stargazing last year with the staff and campers on the Kesher overnight. I am most looking forward to creating an exciting and joyful summer for my campers and staff.
Fun fact: I have been to 44 of the 50 states.

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Amanda Shames
Sayarim Merakezet

I am the head of the Sayarim age group which consists of 10 and 11 year olds that are going into the sixth grade. Since I worked with Oranim last summer, I’m very excited to be the merakezet for the same kids this year. I am from San Juan, Puerto Rico, and this year I will be a junior at Syracuse University majoring in social work. I hope to one day work with children with disabilities. Before becoming a supervisor, I was an Offarim and Oranim madricha (counselor) and I loved it! I’ve had an incredible time working closely with campers and staff. Every camper I’ve had has taught me a lot, and I hope that I taught them as well. I loved being a Bikkurim captain last summer because I was able to explore my creativity and get the campers to challenge themselves and support one another. This summer I am looking forward to watching the campers enjoy the fun activities we have planned for them…and eating the delicious food from the new chefs!
Fun fact: this is my 11th summer at CJ!

Screen Shot 2015-03-31 at 11.38.18 AMSydney Levy
Tsofim Merakezet

I am the Tsofim merakezet! I am the head supervisor of the kids going into the 7th grade; most of the chanichim are 12 years old. I am from Miami, FL but am attending the University of Maryland. This is my fourth summer working at CJ. My favorite memory from CJ was completing 10 days of outward bound during Chalutzim! I am most looking forward to getting to know my campers, Bikkurim, and for the overnight.
Fun fact: I’m celebrating my birthday at camp for the first time this year and I am very excited about it!

10506850_10152621340196800_9037023079391442095_oJonathan Burger
Kesher Merakez

I’m the supervisor for campers going into 8th grade. I am from Miami, Florida and an incoming senior at the University of Arizona where I am double majoring in Middle Eastern studies and political science. This is my 13th summer at Camp Judaea and my 5th year on staff. I am a second year merakez; last year was my first year in upper staff as Chalutzim merakez. I am looking forward to going to New York and leading my Kesher campers and staff!
Fun fact: I am the biggest Miami dolphin fan you will ever meet (this is our year) and I am a nationally ranked Super Mario bros player on the Nintendo 64!

Screen Shot 2015-06-04 at 3.34.51 PMRachel Cohen
Bogrim Merakezet

I am from Raleigh, North Carolina and a junior at The University of Georgia studying Magazine Journalism. I began my summers at CJ in 2002 and this is my 4th year as staff. Last year I was the Sayarim Merakezet. My favorite memory from CJ was writing my Bogrim Hatzagah. This summer, I am determined to give the Bogies their best summer yet!
Fun Fact: I started coming to CJ in Nitzanim! (similar to today’s Rishonim)

FB_IMG_1433462855972Aviv Hoffman
Chalutzim Merakezet and Leader of Teva (nature)

I am Aviv from Israel where I work in a preschool. Soon I will start to study at a university. This is my second summer at CJ— last summer I also worked as the leader of the teva activities. I am really excited to go on outward bound with the Chalutzim campers! My favorite memory from Camp Judaea was making shakshuka with the teva chug last summer.
Fun fact: I have one green eye and one blue eye.

IMG_2330Matthew “Ralphie” Kaplan
Head of Drama

I am the Drama Director of CJ! I will supervising, writing, and running the drama peulot, the hatzegah (play) for Bogrim and Kesher. I will be directing the two summer musicals which are probably going to be Beauty and the Beast and Annie. I am originally from ft. Lauderdale, Florida, but now live in Atlanta, GA. This past semester I participated in the Disney College Program. While there, I worked as a safari driver at Kilimanjaro Safaris at Animal kingdom in Orlando, FL. I will be transferring to University of Georgia this upcoming fall. This is my third summer at CJ! My first summer I was a general mad rich for Rishonim and Tsofim, last year I led drama, and this year I get to continue to run the drama program, but I also have the amazing opportunity to be a supervisor on the MASH team. My favorite memory at CJ thus far was when I realized that being a member of the CJ family meant that I was a part of something a lot more. I am most looking forward to allowing the chanichim to really and truly shine on the stage, making them feel like they are a star!
Fun fact: I’m the biggest Disney fan in the entire world…seriously, I’m the biggest fan.

Screenshot_2015-06-04-11-02-49Maya Boukai
Head of Aquatics

My responsibility this summer is watching over the safety of all campers (and staff) during pool and lake activities and planning instructional and recreational water peulot. I am from Israel. And Indianapolis. Long story— but I’d love to share it with you when we meet. Before coming to camp, I served in the IDF. After camp, I will travel in South America before starting my studies at a university. I have never been to CJ, but I attended Camp Chi in Wisconsin as a camper and worked at Jordan River Village which is a camp in Israel for children with chronic illnesses. I am most looking forward to meeting all of the campers, teaching new skills/games, and making this a summer we’ll never forget.
Fun fact: I have an adorable goldendoodle named Doobie (which means teddy bear in Hebrew), and I love hiking and camping.

IMG_9401Gabi Doobrow
Head of Sports

I am from Weston, Florida and during the year, I study at the University of Florida (Go Gators!). My major is communications, sciences, and disorders with the ultimate goal of being an audiologist. This summer at CJ, I will be supervising all of the sporting activities at camp such as basketball, Gaga, tennis, soccer, and many others. I started attending Camp Judaea my Tsofim summer—when it took me a full 20 minutes to get off the zip-line platform! Since then, I have worked as a Bogrim and Kesher counselor. I can not wait to meet all the new campers and seeing campers from past years!
Fun Fact: I am 6 feet tall (1.83 m).

photo 1Yonaton “Yoni” Manor
Head of Ropes

Shalom! I am from Zurit, Israel. This is my first summer at Camp Judaea, though I worked at CYJ Texas in 2009 and 2010 as the Leader of the Tzofim (scouts). When I return from camp, I will start my studies in computer science at Ben Gurion University in Be’er Sheva. I am excited to see the happiness of the campers as they reach the top of the tower and exclaims, “YEAH!” I hope that during my time in CJ, I will inspire campers and their families to visit Israel— see you all there!
Fun fact: I can imitate any accent.

11304302_10153342538592667_727651901_nAurelie Nelken
Head of Sussim (horses)

I’m Aurelie from Jerusalem, Israel. This is my second summer here at CJ. Horses are my passion. The first time I rode a horse was when I was just 18 months old, and now I am a professional horseback-riding instructor and horse trainer! I just spent the last year working in Florida as an assistant trainer in a dressage barn. After camp, I will begin studying at Ben Gurion University. I look forward to having kids who are unsure and afraid learn to be comfortable and confident enough to approach and enjoy horses. I also want to make sure my staff has best experience possible.
Fun fact: My first time in any theme park was last year in Universal Studios, Orlando!


If you follow @CampJudaea on Instagram or keep up with our Facebook page, you have probably noticed (and been drooling over!) the delicious new and improved food we’ve been posting and eating! Thanks to our new food service company, WOLFoods, Inc., campers and staff alike will have fresh, yummy, and filling meals and snacks every day.

Before our campers arrive, we’d like to introduce the men behind the counter.

stuart 1378209_10151990533158745_447224810_nChef Stuart Reichman, the face of the CJ kitchen, comes to us from Teaneck, New Jersey. “Chef” has in-depth knowledge of Kashrut laws and is approved by many organizations as a mashgiach. He is fluent in Hebrew and knows some Spanish. Chef has over twenty years of experience in a variety of food service environments. He possesses broad knowledge of ingredients, purchasing resources, and production methods. He is familiar with different cuisines and has great communication and leadership skills to effectively run any kitchen at peak performance. His son, Dovid, will be a camper here this summer. While you’re in camp this summer, make sure you stop for a chat with Chef— he always has great stories!

JoelPhotoJoel Shover is from Naples, Florida. He has an impressive background as a sous chef in kitchens across the country. Since 2001, Joel has worked in Naples, Florida, Monroe, Louisiana and, Moultonborough, New Hampshire. His specialty cuisines include: Italian, French, Mexican, Cajun/Creole, Southern, American, seafood, and smoked meats. Joel has had the opportunity to cook for a handful of celebrities! Charlie Babb (NFL, Miami Dolphins), Marty Schottenheimer (NFL), Coach Mike Ditka (NFL), Larry Bird (NBA), John Kruk (MLB), Tiger Woods (PGA), Alex Lifeson (RUSH), Ralphie May (Comedian), Speaker of the House John Boehner, and Jeff Foxworthy (Comedian) have all had the privilege of eating Joel’s food.

MikeSatchellMichael D. Satchell has 50 years of scratch baking experience. He is a 5th Generation German-American Baker whose family started baking in America in 1876. Michael grew up and baked in Maquoketa, Iowa for 30 years where they had a retail bakery for 52 years. He has also worked for Publix Supermarkets in Florida, Safeway Supermarkets in Arizona, and HyVee Supermarkets in Iowa. Additionally, he has worked for resorts in Arizona, Florida, and Las Vegas, NV. This will be Michael’s ninth year working a Jewish summer camp; he continues because he really enjoys the camp environment and the kids. His camp specialties are blueberry muffins, personal cheesecakes, and dinner rolls!  He looks forward to bringing “a lot of really good bread and baked goods to most meals.”

Needless to say, everyone at Camp Judaea this summer will be well-fed!