Camp Prep #7 - Meet the Merakzim

CYJ Prep - Camp Young Judea Texas

Shalom Parents!

Welcome back to the WimberLead, your weekly news source for camp preparation.

This is our last WimberLead before camp starts: some of the Head Staff have already moved up to camp to get ready for your campers! We are all ready to get started so let's... Meet the Merakzim (Unit Heads)!

Nitaznim - Hannah Via

Hello Nitzanim Campers and Families!

My name is Hannah Via, and I will be your Merakezit (Unit Head) this summer.

Some fun facts about me: I am 21 years old and currently live in Austin Texas. I will be graduating this summer with a B.A. in Psychology with a focus on child development. I am currently in the process of applying to graduate school and working on the next steps of my career. I am the second oldest of eight kids, with two of my siblings working this summer alongside me.

I have been an active part of the CYJ family since 2018. I have worn many different hats the past few summers: I have been a counselor for Nitzanim, Ofarim, and Chalutzim, helped run the CYJ Online Program last summer and have been the archery specialist at camp. Nitzanim has always been my chosen aidah! They definitely have the best programs and the most fun at camp and I cannot wait to for y’all to experience the magic of CYJ.

In preparation for this summer, I have gained several camp-related certifications including: Camp Mental Health First Aid and Youth Mental Health First Aid and took part in an internship provided by the Foundation for Jewish Camp. I have previously served as a Cornerstone Fellow, Nachshon Fellow, and Cornerstone Intern. These fellowships are training programs for summer camp staff to learn from the experts in the Jewish camping world.

As I mentioned, Nitzanim has some of the best programs at camp. We will learn about Israel and Jewish heroes. We will get to participate in arts and crafts, making our very own art to take back home at the end of the summer. But don’t worry, we will leave time for swimming, sports, and eating all the coffee cake our hearts desire.

Looking forward to meeting all of you this summer,
Hannah Via
Nitzanim Merakezet

Ofarim - Ariella Teller 

Hi Ofarim campers and families!

My name is Ariella Teller and I am so excited to be your Merakezet this summer!

I am 22 and from Houston, Texas. I’m currently studying at University of Missouri-Columbia (Mizzou) and majoring in Human Development and Family Science, emphasis in Child Life, with a minor in Leadership and Public Service. I’m looking forward to becoming a Child Life Specialist in a pediatric hospital. I am also the Manager of Fellowship Programming for Allelo, an ed-tech startup company with the mission of improving online discourse for more productive and engaging interactions. I’ve been part of the CYJ family since 2007, as a camper, a CIT, and a counselor, and spent two years at Tel Yehudah as well. After high school, I spent an amazing year in Israel on Young Judaea Year Course, where I made life-long friends while traveling the country and taught English to fourth-sixth grade students. I cannot wait to share my love for Judaism, Israel, and Young Judaea with you.

The theme of Ofarim is “The Jewish Life Cycle.” Campers will learn about the significance of Jewish names, the Brit Milah, Bar/Bat Mitzvahs, and Jewish weddings. We will conclude the session with everyone’s favorite part - the Ofarim Wedding! With each camper acting a part, our aidah will hold a mock wedding for the entire camp to attend.

I cannot wait for an amazing summer with many fun moments and shared experiences!

See y’all soon, 
Ariella Teller
Ofarim Merakezet

Tsofim - Carly Hacker

Shalom Tsofim campers and families!

My name is Carly Hacker and I am thrilled to be returning to CYJ for my 10th summer, this time as Tsofim merakezet!!

I am originally from Dallas, Texas and am currently a rising senior at Washington University in St. Louis (WashU) where I am studying Spanish and American Culture Studies. At WashU, I am also a tour guide and a peer health educator. In St. Louis, I love working with kids, and spend my nights and weekends coordinating an after-care program downtown, tutoring students at the juvenile detention center and coaching basketball at the YMCA. After graduation, I will be teaching elementary school in New Orleans as a Corps Member for Teach for America – Greater New Orleans.

CYJ is truly my home away from home!! My two younger brothers and my mom will be at camp this summer as both staff and campers, so camp means so much to my family. I attended camp from Ofarim through Segel, worked as a CIT and then as a counselor for 2 years, so I cannot wait to take on this new role!

Tsofim is one of the best years at camp (in my opinion!). Educationally, we will be surveying the history of Israel through games, shows, and many other fun programs! We will also enjoy all of camps activities like pool, sports, arts and crafts, and more!

I’m sure that y’all, just like me, have been counting the days until we can safely return to camp, and I am so thrilled that I will be a part of your camp experience this year!! I can’t wait to meet you.

T-, T-, T-S-O-, F-, F-, F-I-M, Tsofim! Tsofim! Shout a little louder!

See y’all soon!
Carly Hacker
Tsofim Merakezet

Maginim - Adam Abileah

Howdy Mighty Maginim families!

My name is Adam Abileah, and I am the Maginim Merakez!

I am 20 years old, and I was born and raised in Houston, TX. I am a senior at Emory University in Atlanta. I am studying Political Science with a focus on political advertising and looking forward to a master’s and PhD after college.

I was lucky enough to have been a camper at CYJ for 5 years and those were some of the most amazing times of my life. I made unbelievable friends and had unforgettable experiences that I wouldn’t trade for anything which is exactly why I started working at CYJ in the summers. I always remembered my counselors and merakzim as being the most fun and energetic part of camp and were 100% devoted to the campers’ happiness. I want my campers to be able to look back on their time at CYJ and remember it as fondly I did. I spent my CIT summer with Maginim, so I have so many ideas for this summer!

I am so excited for this summer and I hope that you guys are too. I can’t wait to see what this summer has in store!

Remember: We are Maginim and we don’t mess around!

Adam Abileah
Maginim Merakez

Kesher - Mia Raskin

Shalom Kesher families!

My name is Mia Raskin and I am so excited to be the Kesher Merakezet this summer! I am from Potomac, Maryland but grew up in Dallas, Texas where I started going to camp in Nitzanim in 2009. After graduating high school in 2019 I took a gap year in Israel to immerse myself in the culture, Jewish studies, and deepen my overall love for the Jewish State. Today, I am a student at SUNY Binghamton University in the School of Management studying Marketing and Entrepreneurship. 

Camp has always been my home away from home. After moving from Dallas going into fifth grade, Camp Young Judea remained my constant.  I was a camper all the way through Segel, a CIT in 2018, and a counselor both sessions in 2019. I always looked forward to going back summer after summer to see my friends, push myself out of my comfort zone and have the best time ever.

After a long first year of middle school in a COVID world, I am really looking forward to having the most amazing and fun summer with all of our campers! Kesher’s theme is Community and this year especially, it’s been harder than ever to feel that aspect of community. I am extremely excited to cultivate our special CYJ and Kesher community together through activities, conversation, and friendship. To me, camp is the ultimate place for growth and I am so excited for all of the personal and communal growth we’re going to experience together! 

I am counting down the days until I get to meet all of you and be together this summer! I and the whole CYJ Staff promise this will be a summer you will never forget. 

See y’all soon! 
Mia Raskin

Bogrim - Jenn Greenspan

Hi all Bogrim Chanichim and Mishpacha!!

My name is Jenn Greenspan and I am THRILLED to be your Bogrim Merekezet this upcoming summer!

I’m 21 years old and was born and raised in Dallas, Texas. I just finished up my Sophomore year at College of Charleston in South Carolina, majoring in Women and Gender Studies. On campus, I’m a member of Sigma Kappa and Students 4 Support, a group of highly trained volunteers who provide peer counseling.

Young Judaea has been a huge part of my life. I attended CYJ as a camper from 2008-2014 and continued to Tel Yehudah the following two years. I returned to CYJ as a CIT the summer of 2017 and have worked at camp every summer since. I was also a participant on Young Judaea Year Course 2018-2019 in Israel!

The theme for Bogrim is “Dream to Reality.” Having been a Madricha (counselor) for Bogrim before, I’m truly invested in this Aidah’s programming. I believe that the Bogrim programs allow the kids to develop their individuality while creating a stronger bond with each other and Judaism.

I am so very excited to get to know all of you and to be part of this incredible Aidah!

See y’all soon! 💪🏻💪🏻💪🏻
Jenn Greenspan
Bogrim Merekezet

Lapidim - Barak Levy

Shalom Lapidim!

My name is Barak Levy, and I am so excited to be your Merakez this summer! This is my 11th summer at CYJ, and I am confident that this will be my best one yet!!!

I was born and raised in Dallas, Texas and I currently attend the University of Georgia. I plan to graduate this fall and hope to work at a summer camp full time after college. At the University of Georgia, I am majoring in Psychology with a business minor. On campus I am on Hillel’s Jewish Life committee and am a member of the Spikeball team. Recently I was selected to part of the Nachshon Fellowships cohort 7 where I learned how to be an even more effective leader in the Jewish community. Outside of school I enjoy running, watching movies, and playing various sports with friends.

Ever since I stepped into camp when I was 8 years old it has been my home away from home. As both a camper and a counselor, camp has allowed me to be my best self and has given me lifelong friendships. I am so excited to be able to create those same experiences for Lapidim this summer. I have dreamed of being a Merakez since I was a camper, and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to be Merakez for the first ever Lapidim aidah!

I am confident that we will all have an amazing summer together filled with enough ruach, friendships, and memories to last a lifetime.

I am counting down the days to seeing you all at camp,
Barak Levy
Lapidim Merakez

Segel - Ella Dagan

Hello Segel Families!

My name is Ella Dagan and I am so very excited to be your Merakezet this summer!!! I am counting down the days until camp.

I am 22 years old and I'm from Israel! I live in a city name Rehovot (about 25 min from Tel Aviv). I am currently living in Tel Aviv and Working as a Year Course madricha (counselor) and I love it. I am in charge of running and planning fun activities for the year coursers and plan activities about the Israeli culture and Judaism.

Since I was 10 years old, I was a part of the Israeli Scouts and spent 3 years there as a Counselor and a Head of Staff for a year. When I was 16, I went to the US for the first time on a delegation and worked at a day camp in Brooklyn. After I finished high school in 2017, I went on Young Judaea Year Course as a Scout and it was the best year of my life. After Year Course I worked at Midwest as a Scout and had an amazing and unforgettable summer. I drafted to the army in 2018 as a sport instructor in a combat unit, I had a very meaningful and special experience during my service.

For you as Segel, being the oldest aidah, you have such an unbelievable summer planned! And I'm positive you will have amazing experiences. I can’t wait to meet all of you in person. Get ready to spend the best summer of your lives and create awesome memories together.

See y’all soon!

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