Camp Prep #9: Meet the Merakzim

CYJ Prep - Camp Young Judea Texas

Nitaznim & Ofarim - Ryan Sternberg

Hello Nitzanim and Ofarim campers and families!

I'm so excited for camp this summer, and I hope y'all are too! Whether this is your first or second CYJ summer, I am sure that this will be the best one yet!

My name is Ryan, and I'll be your merakez this summer. I just graduated from Texas State University in San Marcos, 30 minutes from camp. I'm also from Houston - go ‘Stros! My favorite camp activities are the playground zipline, swimming, and chofesh (free time). What are you excited for this summer?

Nitzanim and Ofarim are by far my favorite groups at camp, and this summer, I have the best of both worlds! As a counselor, these groups are the most rewarding. As a camper, these groups set the foundation for lasting camp memories. I have no doubt your campers will make lasting friendships that will remain for years to come! 

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

Ryan Sternberg

Nitzanim and Ofarim Merakez

Chalutzim - Damian Zayat

Hola Chalutzim families!!

My name is Damian Zayat and I am so excited to be the Chalutzim Merakez this summer!

I am 22 years old, I was born in Argentina, but raised in Mexico City since I was three. I am currently a senior at Universidad Anahuac, in Mexico, where I am studying Actuarial Science, and about to finish next semester. I took a gap year in Israel and had one of my greatest experiences of my life, where I got to meet a new culture and people from all around.

This is my 4th summer at CYJ, and I could not have asked for a better place to have spent my summer than camp. Ever since I started coming in 2018, I fell in love with this place and the people in it. The way that you connect with everyone in this place is what makes it so special, and I am so happy to be part of it one more time. Here at CYJ I met some of my best friends in life, and I’m excited to help my campers to be able to have an amazing time and create endless memories!!

I am counting the days until I get to meet you all and have an amazing summer full of happiness and joy!

Get ready to throw the Chalutzim swag!!

See y’all soon,

Damian Zayat

Chalutzim Merakez

Tsofim - Mauri Maya

Hi Tsofim campers and families!

My name is Mauricio Maya and I am super happy to be your Merakez this summer!

I am originally from Monterrey but now I live in Mexico City. I’m a senior student at the University Tecnologico de Monterrey, where I study Business and Technology. Throughout high school and some years after that I was part of a Zionist youth movement called Beyachad were I got the opportunity to be the director, I’ve always liked working with kids and learning more about Judaism and Israeli culture. Personally I enjoy playing sports, watching movies and meeting with my friends.

CYJ has been my happy place since 2010, I can definitely say that my best memories are from this very special place. I’ve worked for CYJ for 3 years, my first two years as a counselor and then as sports staff. I'm thrilled to return back having this position by hopefully making this something memorable for the campers.

Tsofim is definitely an amazing year at camp. Educationally, we will be learning about Israel, their culture and some of their amazing places. We will also enjoy of the different activities such as sports, pool, ropes course and many others!

I’m very excited to be able to share this summer with y’all and can’t wait to meet you!

See Y'all Soon!

Mauri Maya

Maginim - Adam Abileah

Hello Maginim!!

My name is Adam Abileah, and I am going to be your Maginim merakez this summer! I am from Houston, but spent the last 4 years at Emory University in Atlanta, GA where I just graduated with a BA in political science. On campus I was the executive Shabbat chair for the Emory/Oxford Jewish Student Union, and I was the president of the dental association. I am a huge movie fan and I love watching movies in my free time. Some of my favorites include Robots, D3 the Mighty Ducks, and of course the Lion King.

I have spent 10 summers at CYJ. For the last 5 years, I have called CYJ my summer work home, and this summer will be my third summer with Maginim (second as merakez). I am so excited to have the opportunity to lead this fantastic aidah one more time, and even more excited to meet each of y'all this summer. I know each and every one of you will add something unique to our aidah this summer and I am confident that we will all have our best summer yet. 

Counting down the days until I see you at camp,

Adam Abileah

Kesher - Cynthia Sacal

Hello Kesher Campers and Families!

My name is Cynthia Sacal and I’m so excited to be the Kesher Merakezet this Summer!

I’m from Mexico City and next semester I graduate with a Law degree at the Universidad Iberoamericana located in Mexico City. Before coming to camp this semester, I did an Internship at Israel´s Embassy in the Consular Area and right now I’m finishing interviewing and background checks to enter an Israeli company located in Mexico after camp. I hope that not long after graduating, I will be able to get an internship in either the International Commission of Human Rights or in the International Court of Human Rights.

Since I was 6 years old, I attended a youth group program every single Saturday called Macabi Hatzair Mexico up until I was around 18 years old. There, I was both a chanicha and I was also a Madricha for about two years for kids around 11 and 13 years old.

I first came to CYJ Texas 4 years ago and I was a lifeguard/counselor. This year is my 3rd time working here (due to camp being cancelled in 2020) and I truly believe that camp is my safe and happy place. I want to make sure everyone has the same feeling of peace and security that I have every time I come back.

Last year I was a Kesher counselor for one session. Kesher has amazing programming, following the theme “Connection, contact and relationship”. This year more than any other we want the kids to bond, have their own sense of community, and to know why it is so important to belong to one.

I can’t wait for this summer! I’m sure we are all going to have an amazing experience and moments together to remember for the rest of our lives.

See y’all soon!

Cynthia Sacal

Bogrim - Ariela Frymerman

Hello Bogrim campers and families!!! 

My name is Ariela Frymerman and I am so excited to be coming back to CYJ this summer as the Bogrim Merakezet!!! 

I am 23 years old and I was born and raised in Mexico City, where I have loved it’s food and culture ever since I can remember. I studied Interior Architecture and graduated in December and I’m looking forward to start working in an architectural firm after the summer and facing new challenges and projects. Besides school and work I am passionate about dancing, reading, traveling, eating and spending quality time with friends and family. 

I was lucky enough to hear about the existence of CYJ in 2019, and I’ve been part of this amazing community ever since. In my two previous summers working at camp, I’ve passed through different aidot and got to experience different programs, age groups, and challenges. My first year I was a counselor for Ofarim and Maganim, while the second year I was a counselor for Bogrim both sessions, and had a blast! 

Bogrim has a very special program called “Dream to Reality” which is full of fun activities covered in knowledge that make the kids and staff build and shape an opinion and an identity while learning about big important events that happened in Jewish history. I am fully committed and excited to share and enjoy this amazing program with you and I hope you love it and enjoy it as much as I do. 

Knowing how long the year can feel when it comes to camp, I’m thrilled to say that camp is right around the corner, so get excited and ready to join the absolute best aidah of CYJ. Looking forward to spending time with you and getting to know you guys. See you very soon!

Sending love, 


Bogrim Merakezet

Segel 9 - Jenn Greenspan

Hi all Segel 9 Chanichim and Mishpacha!!

My name is Jenn Greenspan and I am THRILLED to be your Segel 9 Merekezet this upcoming summer!

I’m 22 years old and was born and raised in Dallas, Texas. I just finished up my Junior year at College of Charleston in South Carolina, majoring in Women and Gender Studies and minoring in Criminology. On campus, I’m a member of my sorority, Sigma Kappa, and Students 4 Support, a group of highly trained volunteers who provide peer counseling through a texting line and in person.

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! Last Summer, I was lucky enough to be the Merekezet in Bogrim for many of the same campers.

The Segel trip is the year that all of your kids have been waiting for. Whether this is your first summer or eighth Summer, I’m determined to help you make this Summer the best!

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

Segel 9 Merekezet

Segel 10- Barak Levy

Shalom Segel 10!

My name is Barak Levy, and I am so excited to be your Segel 10 Merakez this summer!

I was born and raised in Dallas, Texas, and I recently graduated from the University of Georgia with a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology. At the University of Georgia, I was a board member for the University’s Hillel and competed on the University's Spikeball team. Some of my hobbies include running, screenwriting, watching movies, and playing various sports with friends.

Ever since I stepped into Camp Young Judaea when I was 8 years old, it has been my home away from home. Camp is responsible for some of my greatest memories and for meeting many of my best friends. Through my summers as a camper, counselor, and a Merakez, camp has helped me become the person I am proud to be today.

For many of you, I was your Lapidim Merakez last year. Getting to know each and every one of you and hanging out with you all every day made last summer my best one yet. When I learned I would be your Segel Merakez, I was ecstatic, not only because I would be with this amazing group one more time but also because I am determined to make your last summer at camp your best one. Segel was so impactful for me growing up, and I am beyond excited to help give you all a similar experience to the one I had.

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

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