Camp Prep #8: Meet the Merakzim

CYJ Prep - Camp Young Judea Texas

Nitzanim & Mini Mensch (First Session) - Asher Bar-Yadin

Howdy Nitzanim campers and family!

My name is Asher Bar-Yadin and I am going to be your Nitzanim merakez for this summer. I am from San Antonio Texas but also lived in Houston going to Emery for high school. I am currently a rising senior at Tulane where I'm studying business management and real estate development. I am a member of both a business and a volunteer service organization where I love to give back to the community and meet new people. I love making random things from miniature models to wall posters. 

I went to CYJ for 5 summers as a camper and this will be my 3rd summer joining as a staff member. I always find myself coming back and calling CYJ my home away from home. Nitzanim is such an important year as it's the camper's first introduction to camp, and I want to make sure it is the best it can be. I am so excited and honored to have the opportunity to be your Nitzanim merakez and lead this amazing aidah for your first summer with the CYJ family.

Get ready for an awesome summer!

Asher Bar-Yadin

*2nd session Nitzanim & Mini Mensch families: we will send you the 2nd session merakez bio soon!

Ofarim - Evan Hacker

Hello Ofarim campers and families!

My name is Evan Hacker and I am so excited to be the Ofarim Merakez this summer!

I am 20 years old, from Dallas (Go Cowboys!) and currently just finished up my 2nd year at the University of Kansas where I am majoring in Sport Management. In my free time I love watching movies, playing games, and hanging out with friends too!

Whenever I am at camp I always feel as if I am at home. Although CYJ may just be my second home, this will be my 10th summer at camp - including three as a staff member. I have met some of my best friends, and created some of my best memories at camp and am super excited to help you have an amazing summer and create your own long lasting memories!

I can’t wait for this summer! I am counting down the days until I get to meet all of you!!

See y’all soon!

Evan Hacker

Chalutzim - Alan Rojsen

Hey Chalutzim campers and families!!

My name is Alan Rojsen and I’m very very excited to be your merakez for the summer. I really hope that y’all are as excited as I am for this summer! I’m sure that this is going to be your best one yet.

I am 21 years old, I was born and raised in Mexico City. I am currently doing a major in Marketing in Universidad Anáhuac in my hometown. Throughout high school I was part of a Zionist youth movement called Scouts Israelitas de México, where I had the opportunity to create a connection with Israel, as well as working with kids. After that, I had a gap year in Israel that reinforced my connection. I love sports, playing and watching them, I support FC Barcelona and the Pittsburgh Steelers

At camp, I've had the opportunity of being an Ofarim, Tsofim, Maginim and Kesher counselor throughout the years, but I’m really counting down the days until I see you at camp, and I get my first expirence with this amazing aidah. CYJ has been a crucial part of my life for the past 3 years!! Last two summers I had the pleasure of working as a counselor. And now I’m thrilled to go back as a merakez. I know that I’ve only been to camp twice, but that’s enough to say that CYJ is my happy place, I have amazing memories and friends from camp!

Chalutzim is one of the best years at camp! Educationally, we’re going to be learning a lot about Israel, the culture and some amazing places. Also, we are going to have some amazing activities, such as: swimming, art, dancing, sports, ropes, chugim, and a lot of fun surprises for all of you.

I’m very excited to share this summer with all of you! I can’t wait to meet y’all.

See y’all soon!!!

Alan Rojsen

Tsofim - Elan Silberlicht

Hi Tsofim campers and families!

I'm so excited for camp this summer, and I hope y'all are too! Whether this is your first summer at CYJ or not, I am sure that this will be the best one yet!

My name is Elan, and I am the Tsofim merakez this summer. I am currently a rising junior at the University of Texas at Austin, HOOK’EM. I'm also from Houston and a big Houston sports fan. My favorite camp activities are the ropes course tower, bunk time, and swimming. What are YOU excited for at CYJ this summer?

I was a camper at CYJ starting out at the beginning in Nitzanim and going all the way through the end to Segel.  Actually, I've been going to CYJ every summer since I was born because my dad, Frank Silberlicht, is the Executive Director of CYJ and I've been lucky enough to literally call CYJ my summer home, or my home away from home.  So much of who I am today is thanks to what I have gained through CYJ (life long friends, values, respect, independence, leadership skills, teamwork and so much more).

Tsofim is by far my favorite group at camp because the kids are so much fun to be around! I was a Tsofim counselor last summer and I really enjoyed this age group, especially seeing this age group start creating life long friendships which will remain for years to come!  I am looking forward to getting to know each and every one of you.

I can't wait to meet y’all on opening day!

Elan Silberlicht

Maginim - Raquel Beja

Maginim campers and families, I could not be more excited to greet you! My name is Raquel, and I am going to be your Merakezet this summer.

Get ready for the amazing activities and experiences camp has in store for you.

We will meet soon enough, but for now some things I can tell you about me are that I was born in Mexico City, and though I love tacos, sushi is by far my favorite food. I am studying architecture in Universidad Anahuac, I have two younger brothers, and someday I hope to adopt and care for as many puppies as possible.

I grew up going to Macabi Hatzair Mexico, a youth organization for Jewish kids, so naturally I love anything related to camp. There I was a chanicha, a madricha, and a rosh. I oversaw the educational program of the whole institution. I spent a year in Israel as a gap year where I got to learn about leadership, spend some time in the army and got to enjoy Tel Aviv’s beaches.

Right now, my focus is to create amazing activities and prepare everything so that we have our best summer yet!

Counting down the days to meet you,


Kesher - Evan Katzman

Greetings Kesher campers and families!

My name is Evan Katzman, and I am thrilled to be the Kesher Merakez for this summer!

I was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas (Remember the Alamo!) and after high school I spent a year in Israel on a gap year called Year Course. After my gap year, I attended American University in D.C. where I studied Justice, Law, and Criminology for one year before I transferred to the University of Texas (Hook ‘em!) and now study Philosophy and Sociology. I plan to eventually attend law school after I graduate and follow my family’s footsteps. Other than school, I am passionate soccer fan and watch every game I can. I also love to read and watch movies, so recommendations are much welcomed and appreciated!

I have spent eight summers total at CYJ, three of those as a staff member and the other five as a camper. I feel an immense sense of pride to say that CYJ has always been, and will always be, my home away from home. It is truly a magical and exciting place for everyone to feel at home and connect with one another. Kesher has a special place in my heart because I fell in love with CYJ while I was a Kesher camper. “Connection, contact, and relationship” are the themes for our Kesher campers. We wish to build strong sense of community and understanding of why it is so important to belong to one.

I am eager to make the most memorable experiences together this summer and prove to you why Kesher is the best! Let’s have the best summer ever!

Farewell and prosper,

Evan Katzman

Bogrim - Matan Kissinger

Shalom Bogrim campers and families!!!

My name is Matan Kissinger, I am excited to be your Bogrim Merakez this upcoming summer! I’m 22 years old, I was born and raised in Israel. I live in Arad, a small town close to the Dead Sea. I recently finished my army service in which I served as a combat sargeant in the artiller corps.

I started my journey with Young Judaea back in 2018-2019 where I took part in YJ Year Course in Israel as an Israeli scout. During the summer of 2019 I attended CYJ as the Head Scout and a counselor! I had such a wonderful experience and I knew I wanted to return.

The Bogrim summer program is very special, and certainly one that you will never forget. It is called “From Dream to Reality” and the program will allow you to dive into important events in Jewish history and shape your own opinion and identity.

I’m determined to help you make this summer the best!

I’m so excited and looking forward to the camp to start, as I’m sure you are too. So get ready to join the best aidh at CYJ. I am confident that we will all have an amazing summer together!

Welcome to Bogrim.

See you soon!

Matan Kissinger

Segel - Shai Ilan

My name is Shai Ilan and I am incredibly excited to be your Segel Merakez this summer!!! Like you all probably are, I’m counting the days until camp.

I am 22 years old and I live in a small town called Shoham (right in the middle between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv). In my free time, I love to play music, go hiking and I also love to cook! I love learning new things, so I’m expecting to learn a lot this summer!

I was part of the Israeli scouts for many years and was a counselor and head of staff for three years. When I was 16, I went to the US on the Scouts delegation and worked at a camp near San Fransisco. After I finished high school in 2018, I was a on Young Judaea Year Course as a Scout, and it was one of the best choices I ever made. After Year Course, I worked at Camp Judaea in North Carolina as Head Scout and had the greatest summer. I was drafted to the army in 2020 and worked in a special intelligence unit. My service was filled with lots of interesting, meaningful, and special experiences

For you as Segel, being the oldest aidah, we are planning one crazy summer! I'm positive that you will collect amazing experiences and learn a lot about yourselves. I’m eager 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!

Shai Ilan

Click here to read our past Camp Prep Emails:

#1: Transportation

#2: Packing

#3: Food

#4: Summer Communication

#5: Homesickness

#6: Camper Care and Medical Teams

#7: Parent Survival Guide

Did this answer your question? Thanks for the feedback There was a problem submitting your feedback. Please try again later.

Still need help? Contact Us Contact Us