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 almost 38 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 over 25 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 studying to become a teacher while running CYJ's JOLTs, Fay will be a second year staff at Camp Solelim this coming summer, and Ellie will be attening Camp Biluim.
I am an honors graduate majoring in English Literature and continued my studies in my late 30's doing graduate work in Holocaust and Genocide studies.
For over 20 years I have been National Executive Director of CYJ and for over 10 years the Director of Camp Solelim. 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. My children spent many wonderful years at Camp Kinneret-Biluim, Camp Solelim, and Biluim Israel.
Josefa Michaelson | Alumni and Development
I was born and raised in the beautiful town of Markham, ON and started at Camp Shalom as a Lower in 1989. I moved on to Camp Kinneret for LITs and went to Biluim 1994. In 1995 I had the summer of my life in Israel with my closest friends. In 1996 I started my staff career at Camp Kinneret and switched to Camp Biluim Canada the following year. In total, I worked at Biluim Canada for five summers, where I ended my years there as Program Director in 2002. I moved on to Biluim Israel in 2003 and retired from running it in 2010.
I currently plan amazing alunmi and adult activities, engage with alumni and am working with our team of employees and lay people to build on CYJ's vision and mission.
In between all of that camp I went to school: first at Leo Baeck Day School, followed by the Community Hebrew Academy of Toronto. I am also a proud alumna of both the University of Toronto and York University.
Fern Kachuck | Social Media and Design
I was born into a house where camp was more than just a way to spend my summers, it was a way of life, and a household rule – you went to camp, no questions asked. As far back as I can remember, I was hearing about camp and how much my mom loved it and all I knew was that I needed to go to camp.
So when I was 8 years old, we loaded up the car with my duffel bags, and headed to the buses where I was off to spend my first summer of my camp career. I started out at Camp Shalom as a Junior, and went on to spend my summers at Camp Solelim, Camp Biluim, and finally finished off my years as a camper on Biluim Israel and experienced the culture that I had learned about at camp for years.
After spending 10 summers as a camper I am now going on year number 13 in the system. I will be returning this summer as a third year staff at Camp Solelim. At Camp Solelim I help to run everything social media from twitter to Facebook to their website. As well, I am camp photographer and run the photography chug. This year I have expanded my part in the social media of Canadian Young Judaea and work to create and promote for almost everything web related!
During the year I study at Ryerson University and am currently in my second year of a four-year photography program.
Agnes Epstein | Israel Program Administrator
I was born and raised in Krakow, Poland and moved to Canada in the 1990's.
I have been working for Canadian Young Judaea for 8 years as the Biluim Israel Administrator. My two beautiful daughters have attended CYJ since they started their journey at Camp Shalom. My oldest daughter Lailah, will be attending Biluim Israel this coming summer, while my youngest daughter Rachel will be going to Camp Solelim as a Rookie this summer. Both my daughters have always been extremely involved in Junior Programming, JOLT, Youth Council, and even Alternative Winter Break.
Annie Gamliel | Educational Director
I am thrilled to be the Educational Director at Canadian Young Judaea! My Young Judaea experience started in 1998 when I spent my first summer at Camp Shalom. I vividly remember my first moments at camp, the banner with my unit’s name on it- GARINIM! That summer I “drank the Kool-Aid” and have been actively involved in the movement ever since.
From participating in the Youth Council’s revival, to being one of the first participants in Va’ad Tikkun Olam, travelling around Europe as a Young Judaean, running Junior Programs and now being the representative of Year-Round Education, Young Judaea has enriched my life experiences and I am here to return the favor to the Young Judeans I have the pleasure of working with every week.
JOLT is lively and is packed every month with unprecedented attendance from young high school aged participants. This year JOLT Senior, a pilot project, has already planned their own events, including a gift drive and a Raptor’s Game, and they are enthusiastic about events to come. Junior Programs are in higher demand than ever with almost 50 very young Judeans actively participating. 13 Young Judean’s just returned from a week of service in New Orleans, still devastated from the Hurricane. Youth Council is busy discussing what it means to be a Jewish Youth Movement, while in the office we are already planning KINUS, our national leadership convention still to come! Needless to say the movement is bursting with fun, engaging and meaningful activities, and to be able to work with this group has been a privilege.
When I am not working with Judeans I am completing my Masters of Teaching at OISE, a pursuit that has been supported a by the community at Young Judaea, especially the young community whose encouragement is immeasurable.
Looking forward to a great year of Educational Programs!
Rebecca Haimovitz | Biluim Israel Director
My name is Rebecca Haimovitz, I have grown up in Toronto and luckily have been to Israel about a dozen times, if not more. This will be my 4th as the Camp Director. I worked at Camp Solelim (in Sudbury, Ontario) for 5 summers and Camp Shalom (Gravenhurst, Ontario) for 1 summer. I was a camper in the CYJ system from the age of 7 to 17. On top of my commitment to Biluim Israel, I am teaching grade 4 part time at Eitz Chaim in Toronto.
Jess Bronstein | Junior Programs
My camp obsession began as a Junior in 1999 when I attended camp shalom for the first time. It was that summer that I was introduced to the world of Maccabiah, Mifkad, chugs, and of course cinnamon buns on Saturday mornings. I was hooked. I habitually counted down the days to my summers at Camp Shalom, followed by those at Camp Solelim, Camp Biluim and Biluim Israel.
After 10 incredibly memorable summers as a camper, I returned to Camp Shalom where I spent the last five years as Ski Staff, Seniors Unit Head, Assistant Program Director and Program Director.
During the year I work with other CYJ staff to plan fun, engaging and educational programs for our campers. These programs offer campers the opportunity to experience “camp in the city”, reconnect with camp friends and make new friends. It is the ultimate cure for those who are “camp-sick”, I promise!
Aside from my involvement with CYJ, I recently graduated from The University of Western Ontario with an Honours Specialization in Media, Information and Technoculture. I am currently working on completing a post-graduate degree at The Humber College Business School in Marketing Management Studies.