Hanhallah - Head Staff
Bil Zarch - Director
Bil Zarch is the new Director of Camp Yavneh as of Sept 1, 2016. Prior to this, 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 has been the recipient of an award 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 3 children who are all alum of Yavneh, with two on staff for summer 2016.
Lisa Rubins - Assistant Director, Director of Programming
Lisa has been attending Yavneh for 40 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 22 years at Yavneh this summer. Davida is a graduate of Columbia University Teachers College and has just retired from teaching after 28 years as a middle school language arts teacher. She is going back to school for her certification in college guidance counseling and is hoping to open her own counseling business. She lives with her husband Brian and 3 children in Cleveland, Ohio. 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 and the Grinspoon Award for Teaching Excellence.
Meir Deutsch - Rosh Banim (Head Boys Counselor)
This is Meir’s 10th 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 11 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 Retreats Coordinator
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.
Miriam Loren - Yedidut Inclusion Coodinator
This is Miriam's first summer at Camp Yavneh. 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.
Ashley Marx - Yoetzet (Social Worker)
Ashley Marx is a clinical social worker and has worked with children and adolescents in schools and private practice since 2005. She was born and raised in Nashville, TN, came 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 and Tali, and her husband Eli Geller (K’ 94) who will return to camp for Shabbatot.
Mitch grew up in Chelsea, Massachusetts and has lived in Southern New Hampshire since 1987, where he has worked and raised a family. He presently works as a School Guidance Counselor in Nashua. For 10 years, when his children were of camp age, he worked as a Yoetz at Camp Ramah in New England. Mitch has also taught religious school at Temple Beth Abraham in Nashua where his wife, Noreen Leibson, has been education director. Mitch holds a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology From Lesley College and an undergraduate degree in Psychology from Boston College. He attended Yavneh when he was 13 years old and is thrilled to return to the camp as the Yoetz for second session.
Amiel Abir - Rosh Teva V'Hisardut (Nature and Survival)
Amiel is excited to join Camp Yavneh for the first time! Amiel is from Jerusalem, and is a veteran of the Israeli army (IDF) and an archaeology and history enthusiast. Amiel hopes to enable each and every chanich to connect with the natural environment and to appreciate past generations and attempt to understand their interactions with the natural world by exploring how they lived. He will also touch on the history and archeology of ancient Israel during the course of the summer and learn how these crafts pertain to our ancestral heritage.
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.
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.
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 6 children and many grandchildren.
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 6th summer at Yavneh. Marcelo is married to Mica.
Jayne Miller - Rosh Omanut (Head of Art)
This is Jayne’s 16th 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 at Yavneh.
Scott Rubins - Head of Safety & Photography
Scott returns for his 21st 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.
Netanel Spiegel - Rosh Mitbach (Food Service Director)
This is Netanel’s 5th 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 11th 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.
Kristi Wivagg - Kerem 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 11th summer at Camp Yavneh.
After a short hiatus, Jossie Forman will be back for her 12th 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. She is looking forward to her new role on the tochnit team this summer!
Itzik Shalem - S'gan Rosh Tochnit
Itzik Shalem has been part of the Yavneh family since 2004 when he came to camp as a shaliach. Since then, he has played many different roles at camp, including video guy, counselor, unit head, rosh mishlachat, and now as assistant to the program director. A native of Holon, Itzik currently resides in Haifa, where he teaches media studies for middle and high school students.
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 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.
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 11th summer at Camp Yavneh.
Rabbi Yehudah Potok - Mashgiach 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. During the year, Yehudah is the head of school of Striar Hebrew Academy in Sharon, MA. One summer he was the madrich for Na’aleh where he met his wife Shira. They have 4 children.
Educational Staff - Morim (Teachers)
This will be Joanne’s 10th 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 3 Masters, in Education, Social Work, and Jewish studies. Joanne will be joined by her daughter Elianna, who was a camper at Yavneh for many years and will be returning this summer as a fourth-year counselor.
Justin Cammy is Associate Professor of Jewish Studies and Comparative Literature at Smith College in Northampton MA where he also served as director of the Program in Middle Eastern Studies. His teaching at Smith includes courses on the history of Zionism and contemporary Israel and Yiddish literature and culture. His distinctions include visiting fellowships at Yad Vashem, the Goldreich Institute for Yiddish Studies at Tel Aviv University, and the Institute for the Study of Contemporary Jewry at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. 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
Rabbi Karen is excited to return to Camp Yavneh this summer! She attended Yavneh as a camper, counselor, and Rosh Aydah from 1987-1996. Rabbi Karen serves as Co-Rabbi and Co-Educator along with her husband, Rabbi Micah, at Temple Beth David in Westwood, MA. Originally from Belmont, MA and a graduate of Brandeis University, Rabbi Karen was ordained from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles in 2003, and holds a Master’s Degree in Jewish Education from the HUC-JIR Rhea Hirsch School of Education. She has served as Rabbi and Educator at Peninsula Temple Beth El in San Mateo, CA and as Co-Rabbi at Temple Israel in Tulsa, OK. In addition to leading prayer, lifecycle, and other pastoral roles, Rabbi Karen directed a variety of education programs including a nationally recognized Shabbat family education experience. 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
Along with his wife, Rabbi Karen Citrin, Rabbi Micah is co-rabbi and co-educator at Temple Beth David in Westwood, MA. Originally from Albuquerque, NM and a graduate of the University of Oregon, Rabbi Micah Citrin was ordained from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles in 2005, and holds a Master’s Degree in Jewish Education from the HUC-JIR Rhea Hirsch School of Education. With a passion for Hebrew language, Rabbi Micah’s rabbinic thesis focused on Zionism and rebirth of Hebrew in the early 20th century. In addition to congregational work, Rabbi Micah served as the Director of Community Life and Learning at Kehillah Jewish High School in Palo Alto, CA. Rabbi Micah spent many memorable summers as a camper, counselor, song leader, rosh eidah, and director of education at Camp Swig, Camp Hess Kramer, and Camp Newman in California. Most importantly, Micah is aba to 4th grade twins Itai and Yonah.
Yonit has been teaching formally for 28 years but really for her whole life! Yonit teaches at Barak Hebrew Academy in Philadelphia as a morah l’ivrit (Hebrew teacher). This is Yonit’s 7th summer at Yavneh. She has three children. Her youngest will be attending Yavneh this summer for her sixth summer and her two eldest are in the Israeli army.
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 8th summer working at Camp Yavneh.
This will be Roselyn's first summer at Yavneh since her years as a camper in Kfirim, and she's thrilled to join her children Miryam, Boaz, and Ori 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 litearture. She holds a PhD in English literature from Brandeis University and currently teaches ELA at Plymouth North HS. In addition to the campers in her family, she will be joined at camp by her youngest, Will, who looks forward to quality time at the Agam with the Gan.
Michal is very excited about joining her husband, Moishik, and kids, Yuval and Ori, for the first time at Camp Yavneh. Michal is currently a 3rd grade teacher at Atlanta Jewish Academy. She grew up in Elkana and moved to Atlanta in August of 2015. Michal has a bachelor’s degree from Ariel University in behavioral sciences. She also has a teaching certificate. In Israel, Michal was a 5th grade teacher. Unlike her husband, Michal is not an avid watcher or player of sports.
Rabbi Moishik is very excited to join the Camp Yavneh family! Currently a Judaic Studies teacher at Atlanta Jewish Academy, Moshik grew up in Elkana and studied at Mechinat B’nei David. Moishik served in the Golani army unit in the IDF and has a bachelor’s degree from Bar Ilan University in logistics and economics. Rabbi Moishik’s favorite sport to play, watch, and coach is soccer. His favorite team is Macabbi Tel Aviv.
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.
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 husband Yehudah (whom she met at camp) and their four children.
Marla Olsberg is excited to return to the Tzevet Morim for her 6th 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, 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.
Daniella was born in Jerusalem, Israel and grew up in Chicago. She received her BA from Barnard College, Columbia University in Religion and Dance and her MA from Vanderbilt University in Jewish Studies. She was a member of the Scholar’s Circle and the Summer Talmud Intensives at the Drisha Institute in NYC and has studied at The Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Israel. Daniella has served on the Board of HaYedion, is a past president of Jewish Family Service and currently serves on the Board of The Jewish Middle School. Daniella was awarded a DSLTI fellowship for future leaders of Jewish Day Schools and her writings have been published in the PEJE, Avi Chai, RAVSAK and JOFA journals. Daniella has taught and lectured nationally on curricular design & implementation, children and spirituality, and has taught locally on Torah, Talmud and Jewish thought. She is married to Rabbi Saul Strosberg of Congregation Sherith Israel and the mother of four spunky children: Cole, Amalia, Ravital and Yedid.
A native of Schenectady, NY, Ruthie (Strosberg) Simon discovered Camp Yavneh at the age of 8. She was a camper in Gurim, Kfirim, and Maalot, and led the Na’aleh trip to Israel. She earned a BA from Union College and a MA from Hebrew College. Following a thoroughly enjoyable 4 years working at Prozdor under the leadership of Bil Zarch and Margie Berkowitz, Ruthie moved to NYC and joined the administration of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School. She has been with YCT for 13 years and is currently the Director of Placement and Alumni Affairs. Ruthie and her husband Joel live in Riverdale with their two children, Hattie (age 11), and Avery (age 8). The Simons are members of The Riverdale Jewish Center and The Hebrew Institute of Riverdale -The Bayit, where Ruthie serves on the Executive Board of Trustees.
Rabbi Saul Strosberg
Roshei Aydah – Unit Heads
Gurim (Grades 2-4)
Kfirim (Grades 5-6)
Arayot (Grade 7)
Leviim (Grade 8)
Maalot (Grade 9)
Kerem (Grade 10)
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.