Year Round Staff

Rabbi Joe Menashe
Executive Director
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Rabbi Joe Menashe
Executive Director

Rabbi Joe hails from Portland, Oregon, where he grew up attending Congregation Neveh Shalom. He spent his first summer at Ramah in California in 1995 as a Moreh (teacher) and social justice coordinator. He remained part of the Ramah family during the 90’s serving as Rosh Edah, Rosh Kvutzah for Seminar in Israel and Founding Director of the Meytiv Program, a Ramah based social justice program for high school students. Rabbi Joe received a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1993 and attended the Pardes Instititute for Jewish Studies from 1993-1994. Rabbi Joe obtained a Master of Hebrew Letters degree from the University of Judaism in Los Angeles in 1996 and received his Rabbinic Ordination and a Master of Arts degree (with a concentration in Jewish Education) in 2000 from the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York .

From 2000 – 2006, Rabbi Joe served as the Hillel Director at The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore , Maryland. During his tenure, Hopkins Hillel opened a home for Jewish life, The Smokler Center for Jewish Life, Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Building. He was awarded Hillel’s Richard M. Joel, Exemplar of Excellence Award in 2004. From 2006 until 2010, Rabbi Joe has served as an Associate Rabbi at Congregation Shearith Israel in Dallas, Texas.

During one of those amazing “Ramah Summers,” Joe met Deborah Musher. Deborah and Joe were married in her hometown of Houston in 2002. Deborah is a special educator with a long history at Camp Ramah and focuses her work and research on students with autism. Together Joe and Deborah have three beautiful children, Molly, Gabriel, and Samuel.

Randy Michaels
Director of Finance & Administration
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Randy Michaels
Director of Finance & Administration

Randy joined Camp Ramah in California in the fall of 2008, bringing a wide range of business management skills to the leadership team. Prior to joining Camp Ramah, Randy ran Redwood Kitchen & Bath, a company he founded in Marin County. Prior to his seven years in the design and home improvement industry, Randy spent over ten years in the financial services industry perfecting his skills in management consulting, investment banking and financial analysis with such firms as Charles Schwab, SEI, and Investment Counseling Inc.

Randy served on the executive board of the Osher Marin Jewish Community Center for six years. Before accepting a professional position with Ramah, Randy served on the camp’s Board and also on the committee evaluating the expansion to Northern California. Randy earned his bachelor’s degree from Winona State University and a Master’s in Psychology, Dominican University of CA.

As an alumni of Camp Ramah in Wisconsin, Randy has always had a special place in his heart for Ramah and he and his wife Marlene are thrilled to be giving their two sons, Stephen and Alex, the Ramah experience.

Ariella Moss Peterseil
Associate Director
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Ariella Moss Peterseil
Associate Director

Born in Berkeley, Ariella grew up in Israel, raised in Jerusalem at the feminist Orthodox school Pelech and served as a Commander Teacher in the Education Unit of the IDF, working with juvenile delinquents. Ariella received recognition as Exemplary Soldier in the Training Course as well as the President of Israel’s Exemplary Soldier Award for the Education Unit.  After the classic post-Army traveling, Ariella studied Jewish Philosophy at Hebrew University and Theater Production at The School of Visual Theater in Jerusalem. After University Ariella studied at the Pardes Institute for a year while working for the Chairman of the Jewish Agency.

In one of those great Jerusalem Shabbat meals, Ariella met her husband Nachum who is a talented musician and also devoted to Camp.

Ariella is a longtime Ramahnik, starting as a Shlicha after the Army in 2000 and serving on staff at Camp Ramah in Canada for over a decade. Ariella and Nachum moved from Israel to Toronto in 2008 where Ariella worked at Camp Ramah in Canada as the Assistant Director from 2008-2012.  Ariella was hired as the Associate Director at Camp Ramah in California in 2012.

Ariella likes to bring her creativity, warmth, passion and yiddishkeit to this giant Jewish playground, we call camp.

Ariella and Nachum have three precious children, Miya, Shachar and Adi Shalev, who have all been at Ramah since they were born.

John Magoulas
Director of Development
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John Magoulas
Director of Development

John Magoulas has spent a lifetime in awe of the limitless benefits of Jewish camping.  John spent 25 years at Camp Akiba where he started as camper and grew through the ranks to Program Director. He has helped raise thousands of dollars to support Jewish camping.

A native of Los Angeles, John joined Camp Ramah in California the summer of 2016, bringing a depth of financial resource development and relationship building skills to the leadership team.  Prior to joining Camp Ramah, John was the Associate Chief Development Officer of The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles.  In that role, John oversaw a team of committed community builders and development professionals who continue to shape the landscape of the Jewish community in Los Angeles, Israel and around the world.

 John worked for The Jewish Federation for more than 17 years, and began his career in Jewish communal work more than 20 years ago in youth programs, resident and day camps, and teaching children and adults at Temple Akiba in Culver City and Temple Menorah in Redondo Beach.  John enjoys working with talented young people and continues to be inspired by the graduate interns who work with him each year.  To date, John has supervised and mentored a total of 15 graduate interns from prestigious Jewish institutions of higher learning around Los Angeles, many of who have gone on to serve the Jewish community as distinguished professionals in their own right.

John received his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Business Finance and a Masters of Business Administration from The University of Judaism (now American Jewish University). He proudly served on the executive board of Temple Akiba for over 10 years as well as on various committees. He recently received the Mickey Weiss Award for Outstanding Alumni from American Jewish University.  In 2015 John was awarded The Bobbi Asimow Award for Professional Mentorship on behalf of The Jewish Communal Professionals of Southern California.   In addition, he received The Jewish Communal Professional Award for Excellence in Fundraising in 2011.

In addition to his work in the Jewish communal field, John is passionate about travel, and he has visited many Jewish communities around the globe, including Poland, Cuba, Ethiopia, Amsterdam and of course, Israel, where the Ben Yehuda shopkeepers know him by name.

Elana Naftalin-Kelman
Tikvah Director
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Elana Naftalin-Kelman
Tikvah Director

Elana has been a member of the Ramah family since she was a “staff kid” in the Gan, and was a camper, counselor, and Rosh Edah. Her connection to the Tikvah program started when she was a Tikvah buddy as a camper in Machon. She then went on to be a Tikvah counselor for two summers and the Rosh Edah for the, now re-named, Amitzim, for two summers. She is a graduate of UC Santa Cruz and studied in Israel for several years. She holds a Masters Degree in Special Education from Bank Street College of Education and a Masters in Social Work from Columbia University. She has taught in the NYC public schools and in LA Unified and has worked as a supervisor for a behavior intervention agency in Los Angeles. She helped to create and start the Ezra program (it was her masters’ thesis for Bank Street) as well as several synagogue special education programs in the Los Angeles area, such as the Koleinu Shabbat minyan at Temple Beth Am. She has taught special education courses at the University of Judaism in Los Angeles as well as many one-day seminars on Special Education for educators in the broader Jewish community. She is currently editing a book on Jewish Special Education. She now resides with her husband Adam and their children in Berkeley, CA, but loves coming back to Ojai each summer! For Elana, being the director of the Tikvah program is like coming home.

Dr. Aviva Levine Jacobs
Director of Camper Care
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Dr. Aviva Levine Jacobs
Director of Camper Care

Aviva completed a joint degree in Psychology and Judaic Studies at Brown University. She received her PysD in clinical psychology from the CA School of Professional Psychology in San Francisco with a focus on children and families. Aviva has worked as a therapist supporting children, teens, and families at the Lifespan Psychological Center in West Los Angeles for the past several years. Aviva has a long history with Camp Ramah in California as a chanicha, madricha, rosh edah, and rosh mador. She currently serves as Director of Camper Care, working alongside Ramah’s outstanding yoatzim/parent liaisons, in the role of promoting the social-emotional well-being of campers and staff members and supporting staff training and education. She recently relocated to Skokie, Illinois with her husband, Stu, and two daughters, Elinoa and Roni, who are 3rd generation Ramahniks.

Gaby Natelson
Recruitment & Engagement Associate
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Gaby Natelson
Recruitment & Engagement Associate

Camp Ramah has been a special place for Gaby since she was a Gesher camper. After being on staff for 4 years and being a Rosh Edah for 3 summers she is excited to transition from the Program Assistant to the Recruitment and Engagement Associate. Hailing from Orange County, California, Gaby graduated from the University of Washington in Seattle with a BA in Communications and Minor in Jewish Studies. When she is not working, you can find her cheering on her Huskies or learning the latest Hebrew song and Israeli dance.

Yael Kornfeld
Program Coordinator
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Yael Kornfeld
Program Coordinator

Yael Kornfeld is a lifelong Ramahnik, and is excited to be a part of the year-round team. She started her Ramah journey as a chanichah in Adat Shalom, went on Israel Seminar, worked on staff for three years as a madrichah, was a Rosh Edah for two summers, and is thrilled to now be the year-round Program Coordinator. Yael is originally from Denver, Colorado, and graduated from the University of Michigan with her BA in Organizational Studies, and spent 5 months this past year traveling in South America. When she’s not at camp, you can find her outside hiking, going to yoga, trying new restaurants or hanging with her friends and family!

Ari Polsky
Marketing and Communications Associate
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Ari Polsky
Marketing and Communications Associate

Ari is recently moved back to Los Angeles to join the Camp Ramah in California year-round team from Denver, Colorado.  In Denver, he was working with Ramah in the Rockies in Communications and Development. Ari has a degree in Studio Art from the University of California, Davis and spent a Gap Year in Israel on the Nativ program. In his free time Ari enjoys skiing, traveling, hiking, photography, and visiting friends and family around the world. He has traveled extensively in Israel and Italy, and has also visited Poland, Jordan, Canada, and Alaska.

Brian Dab
Facilities & Special Projects Associate
Teri Naftalin
Guest Coordinator
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Teri Naftalin
Guest Coordinator

Teri joined the Camp Ramah family in 2005 as a summer Yahadut (Judaic) teacher and joined our year-round staff in 2015.  Teri currently spends the year working with the retreat season staff on housing and logistics, co-coordinating our Passover program, and preparing for summers in Ojai.  In the summers, she coordinates the canteen as well as the hospitality for our visiting Rabbis, doctors in residence as well as our guest educators and Shabbat guests.  Teri also helps with our outreach and recruitment in San Diego.  When she is not at Camp, Teri is busy volunteering, working out, and serving on the board of directors at Congregation Beth Am and the University of Arizona Parent and Family Association.

Teri and her husband Howie live in San Diego and are the proud parents of Ethan (Machon ’11, Mador ’13, Office/Sports staff ‘14), Isaac (Machon ’13, Mador ’15, Drama staff ’16/’17), current chanichah (camper) Adina and their crazy Wheaten Terrier, Brutus.

Pam Trotter
Development Assistant and Financial Aid Manager
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Pam Trotter
Development Assistant and Financial Aid Manager
Daniel Maya
Finance Manager
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Daniel Maya
Finance Manager
Angela Contreras
Accounts Receivable
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Angela Contreras
Accounts Receivable
Hanit Stern
Summer Camp Registrar
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Hanit Stern
Summer Camp Registrar
Usha Visanji
Finance Assistant
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Usha Visanji
Finance Assistant
Efren Calderon
Maintenance Supervisor
Alicia Escabar
Housekeeping Supervisor
Jillian Berman
Health Center Administrator
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Jillian Berman
Health Center Administrator
Etan Kelman
Ropes Course and Adventure Supervisor
Vicente Garcia
Food Service Manager
Giovanni Herrera
Dining Room Manager
German Contrares
Executive Chef
Matt Goldfarb
Baker