Hanhallah – Head staff
Debbie Sussman – Director
Debbie has been the director of Camp Yavneh since 1991. She attended Yavneh as a camper and counselor for four years, and was in Kerem ’68. Debbie has three children, Ari (married to Jessica Gray-Yavneh alum), Jonathan (married to Sarah Seewald- Na’aleh alum) and Mera, who all attended Yavneh as campers and were on staff. Debbie’s husband Joel helps camp out in many ways including the Camp Yavneh band. He can be seen parking cars on opening days! The Sussman’s live in Newton and happily summer in Northwood, NH.
Jeff Weener – Assistant Director, 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 foodservice. Jeff has an MBA from Babson College and has held various marketing and technology positions in the business world for the past 20 years. Jeff is married to Barbara and has 3 children who are all alum of Yavneh, with two on staff for summer 2015.
Lisa Rubins – Assistant Director, Director of Programming
Lisa has been attending Yavneh for 38 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!
Davida Amkraut – Rosh Banot (Head Girls Counselor)
Davida is celebrating 20 years at Yavneh this summer. Davida is a graduate of Columbia University Teachers College and currently teaches at The Solomon Schechter Day School in Cleveland, Ohio where she lives with her husband Brian and 3 children. She has served as a principal of a Hebrew School and has taught 5th-8th graders in public school. Davida won the Gross Schechter Day School teacher award. Additionally, Davida is the recipient of the Jewish Cleveland community day school teacher award called the Steiger Award for Teaching.
Meir Deutsch – Rosh Banim (Head Boys Counselor)
This is Meir’s 9th 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 in “National Protection Trust”. Meir comes to camp with his wife Adina and their 3 daughters.
Year Round Staff
Shani Winton – Registrar
Shani has been working for Yavneh as Registrar/Office Manager for the past 10 years. All our families communicate with Shani throughout the year and “know her” by her frequent emails and phone calls! Shani also spends each summer at camp with her 3 children, Eli, Nava and Ari. Erik, her husband comes to camp for Shabbat and is an avid participant in Shabbos Ball. Shani holds a BA from Brandeis University and a Ed.M from Harvard University.
Melanie Gerard – Director of Advocacy and Development
For the last ten years, Melanie has been self-employed as a business consultant. Melanie holds an MBA in Marketing and a BS in Economics-Finance. She serves on the Executive Board for the Boston Chapter of Hadassah. Her family has attended Yavneh Family Camp for seven years and her husband, Michael, is a Yavneh alum. Melanie has two of her three children enrolled at Camp Yavneh.
Efrat Assulin – Family Camp Director and Office Administrator
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 two young boys who are very excited to join her at camp this coming summer.
Charlie Comtois – Facilities Director
This is Charlie’s 11th year at Camp Yavneh. Charlie is a professional mason who is skilled in all aspects of construction and facilities management. Charlie has 5 children, many whom work at Camp Yavneh. He is responsible for building many of the beautiful structures at camp including the Beit Midrash, girls and boys Kerem bunks, the new Ben Zvi, Gilboa- the Amphitheater and rebuilding the agam/waterfront.
Mica Felsztyna – 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 4th summer at Yavneh. Mica is recently married to Marcelo.
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 2 children.
Daniel Hoffman – S’gan Rosh Tochnit (Assistant Program Director)
“Hoffman,” as he is known around camp, has been at Yavneh since 1993 in a variety of roles – camper, counselor, Rosh Ayda (unit head), and assistant programming director. After graduating Yale in 2008, he worked as a teacher at Akiva School in Nashville and now studies at Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School in New York. His favorite parts of camp involve mentoring older campers and counselors taking on leadership roles, especially in Maccabiah. He lives in [Jerusalem/New York] with his wife Eliezah.
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 three years. She is married to Mark and they have four children – all of whom have attended Camp Yavneh and will be at camp this summer.
Marcelo Marianoff – Rosh Rikud (Head of Dance)
Marcelo is the Israeli Dance Director of Maccabi in Cordoba Argentina, and the choreographer of their Leahaka “Sinapzia”. He regularly guest teaches Israeli dance around the world including Peru, Switzerland, New Zealand, England and Israel. This is his 5th summer at Yavneh. Marcelo is recently married to Mica.
Jayne Miller – Rosh Amanut (Head of Art)
This is Jayne’s 15th 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 3 children, one who met her fiancé at Yavneh.
Seth Pertain – Sgan 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 10th summer at Camp Yavneh.
Rabbi Yehudah Potok – Machgiach Ruchani (Spiritual Advisor)
Yehudah returns to Camp Yavneh to teach Kerem once again. Yehudah has smicha (Rabbinic ordination) from Yeshivat Hamivtar and has served Yavneh in many capacities over the years including Assistant Director, rosh banim and as a counselor. One summer he was the madrich for Na’aleh where he met his wife Shira. They have 4 children.
Scott Rubins – Head of Safety & Photography
Scott returns for his 19th year and was previously Rosh Banim. During the school year Scott teaches Forensic Science at New Rochelle high school and has been a volunteer EMT for 28 years. He holds a Masters degree from Teacher’s College, Columbia University in secondary science education. Scott comes to camp with his wife, Lisa and son, Jack.
Netanel Spiegel – Food Service Director
This is Netanel’s 4th summer at Yavneh as the foodservice director. Netanel is a graduate of the professional Israeli chef college. Netanel lives in Jerusalem and works in the food business along with his university studies of business management. He’s in charge of feeding your kids, so don’t worry, they won’t be hungry.
Benzi Thee – Rosh Muzika (Head of Music)
Benzi is celebrating his 10th year at Yavneh and comes from Israel with his wife Yonina, and 6 children. Benzi holds a B.A. in music and a masters in Music Therapy and plays in a simcha/wedding band.
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.