Risa Epstein | National Executive Director
My history with Canadian Young Judaea starts many years ago when I was eight years old and my parents put me on the bus to Camp Shalom. It is hard to believe that was over 40 years ago. I am happy to say that I went right through the system and spent five years on staff, 3 at Camp Solelim and 2 as Program Director of Camp Biluim Canada. It was at Biluim Canada in 1986 where I met my husband Amir to whom I have been happily married for close to 30 years. As history often repeats itself my three daughters Annie, Fay and Ellie have also enjoyed being active members of CYJ. My oldest daughter Annie is a teacher in the TDSB, Fay is studying Musical Theatre at Sheridan College, and Ellie is a Student at Ryerson University and a Solelim Staff Member. I am an honors graduate majoring in English Literature and continued my studies in Holocaust and Genocide studies. For over 20 years I have been National Executive Director of CYJ and I have recently retired as Camp Solelim Director after a wonderful 13 year. I enjoy every moment I have the opportunity to educate young people on Judaism and Israel.
Jennifer Levy | Camps Administrator
I was born and raised in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe and there I spent many wonderful years involved in Habonim. After moving to Canada and settling in Thornhill I found Canadian Young Judaea and it became my second family. I have worked at CYJ as the Solelim and Biluim Canada Administrator for over 15 years and joined the Camp Solelim team as Assistant Director in 2003 from which I have recently retired. My children spent many wonderful years at Camp Kinneret-Biluim, Camp Solelim, and Biluim Israel.
Lindsay Cohen |Regional Program Director
The Jewish community has always been a significant part of my life. Growing up, I went to Jewish day school, volunteered in the community, and belonged to a synagogue. However, although I tried a few different camps, I hadn’t yet found a camp that felt right for me. In 2004, two of my friends somehow convinced my parents to send their 11 year old daughter on a plane to a camp in Nova Scotia for six weeks. Little did they know, I’d end up back at this camp for five years as a camper, and six as staff member. It wasn’t until I worked at Camp Kadimah, a CYJ camp in the Maritimes, that I truly began to realize camp’s impact on Jewish growth and identity. For many campers, this was their only exposure to Jewish life, Israel education, and Jewish community. I began to realize that informal learning experiences can sometimes be more effective than lessons taught in a classroom during the school year. It is because of camp that I’ve become increasingly passionate about informal Jewish education. I graduated from the University of Guelph in 2015 with a Bachelor of Commerce in Accounting, and decided to pursue informal education. I am extremely excited to make this year an incredibly enjoyable and transformative year for all of our CYJ campers, staff, parents and alumni! CYJ is an amazing organization and I am looking forward to engaging our future community leaders through the wide range of programs we will offer!
Ryan Peters| Biluim Israel Director
Ryan is an alumnus of Camp Shalom, Camp Kadimah, Camp Biluim Canada, and Biluim Israel, and served on staff for seven years at Camp Kadimah, most recently as its Associate Director in Summer 2015. During the year, Ryan teaches English and Drama at the Leo Baeck Day School to middle school students. As a dynamic teacher he gets the opportunity to educate and connect with the Jewish community’s future leaders on a daily basis. Ryan is a graduate of McGill University where he majored in Drama/Theatre and Literature and received his Bachelor of Arts. As well, Ryan received his Bachelor of Education from Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. He is currently pursuing his masters in Adult Education and Community Development. Ryan has a passion for music, theatre, informal education and team-building. Each year, he looks forward to embarking on the Bilium Israel journey with a new group of Chanichim and Madrichim and combining these passions with his love for Israel.
Ellie Gamliel| Marketing and Communications
I have grown up in the CYJ family since birth, going on Mifgash as a small kid and spending my summers from the age of six at Camp Solelim has taught me to be independent and how to roll with the big kids, but it was when I was shipped off to Camp Shalom in 2006 where my independent nature helped me succeed. I was a camper at Shalom for 5 years, then off to Solelim and Biluim of 2013. My camper years were concluded in the trip of a lifetime on Biluim Israel. As someone with Israeli family, Biluim Israel gave me a new understanding of what it meant to be a Zionist and to belong to a Zionist Youth Movement. I spent my last two summers being the Head of Social Media and Photography at Camp Solelim as a Madricha, and I work throughout the year at CYJ as Social Media Manager and assisting in JOLT, etc. I am currently in my second year at Ryerson’s School of Professional Communications. I believe in all that CYJ has to offer and I cannot wait for many more amazing years together!
Mark Kachuck| JOLT Montreal
Growing up in the Kachuck house, there were very specific things that were non-negotiable. One of which was attending camp. I was put on a coach bus at the Bathurst Jewish Community Centre back in 2003, when I was just shy of 8 years old, for my first summer at Camp Shalom. In all, I spent six summers at Shalom, then two at Camp Solelim. From there I graduated to Biluim Canada of 2011. I spent my final summer as a camper in the CYJ movement at Biluim Israel. Throughout the years as I grew up in the movement, I was an active member of the Toronto Youth Council, helping to plan coffee house in the city, and organizing programs. Mifgashim and Kinusim were always on my calendar in the fall and winter. I am currently a staff at Camp Solelim, and will be returning for my fifth summer in 2017. I have staffed various Mifgashim, and have participated in CYJ Senior Staff Programming Seminars. In 2015, alongside one of my best friends, whom I met on Mifagsh in 2010, Rebecca Starr and I were approached to start up and run JOLT Montreal. After a year of great turnout and positive feedback, I am happy to be continuing to help run CYJ in Montreal, where we continue to build the Jewish leaders of tomorrow. Empowering the youth of tomorrow is a passion of mine, and it just so happens that with CYJ, I get to connect my love for Judaism and Zionsim with this passion. I look forward to building the CYJ movement through Montreal and abroad.
Rebecca Starr| JOLT Montreal
Hi everyone! My name is Rebecca. I go to Concordia University and study Early Childhood and Elementary Education. I grew up in Montreal and started going to Camp Kinneret back in 2006. After coming home that summer, I didn’t speak to my mom for a few days because I was so upset that she didn’t force me to go to camp earlier. I spent the next five summers there and my sixth camp summer was at Biluim Canada in 2011. The following year, I got to experience one of the greatest trips of a lifetime as I embarked on Biluim Israel for my final summer as a camper. Through my two summers of Biluim, I really began to understand the CYJ Movement. The idea that our movement was National seemed incredible to me; that there were 7 camps filled with campers and staff singing the same songs at Shira, doing the same dances at Rikud, and chanting the same cheers during Maccabiah. During the year, as I longed for the summer, I attended Kinus and Mifgash, where I met one of my great friends, Mark Kachuck. We are both so excited to begin a second launch year of JOLT in Montreal, enriching the lives of young Jewish teens and instilling a love for the community as a whole. We hope to help the members of JOLT MTL and CYJ grow into the Young Judaean leaders of the future and to share with them our passion of Judaism and Zionism in new and creative ways!