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
Chief Operating & Financial Officer
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Randy Michaels
Chief Operating & Financial Officer

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
Camp Director
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Ariella Moss Peterseil
Camp 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, Masters of Business Administration from The University of Judaism (now American Jewish University) and Masters of Arts in Education from American Jewish University. He proudly served on the executive board of Temple Akiba for over 10 years as well as on various committees. He received the Mickey Weiss Award for Outstanding Alumni in 2016 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.

Jara Brewer
Dining Room Manager
Maria Brewer
Director of Operations
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Maria Brewer
Director of Operations

Maria is no stranger to the camp world with 14 years of experience working for the Wilshire Blvd. Temple Camps.  During the fires in December 2017, Ariella reached out to her friends from Wilshire to see if they could host them for their annual Alumni weekend.  The connection between Maria, Ariella and the whole Camp Ramah team was instantaneous.   Maria has 3 grown children and as an empty nester she was looking to make changes.  Change when she was asked to produce a film she had written years ago and she decided to resign and begin new endeavors.   Timing is everything and Maria found herself available when she heard about the opportunity of a position at Ramah and found herself a new camp to call home.

Efren Calderon
Maintenance Supervisor
Lisa Cooper
Family Relations & Outreach Coordinator
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Lisa Cooper
Family Relations & Outreach Coordinator

Lisa experienced the magic of Camp Ramah vicariously through her three kids for nine years, until she finally joined our staff as a Yoetzet (parent liaison) in the summer of 2015. Over these past four years, Lisa has worn many hats, both year-round and at camp during the summers. For two years, she worked as the Head of the Early Childhood Family Camp and helped us kick off a program of Shabbatonim for local preschool families. She now works as the Family Relations and Outreach Coordinator, supporting Ramah families both old and new. Lisa attended USC, where she earned a BA in Communication. Lisa received a MS in Education from Hunter College in New York City. The highlight of her year is spending the summer as a Yoetzet (parent liaison) surrounded by the magic of camp while working with children, young adults, and our fabulous Ramah families.

Lisa and her husband, Craig, are the parents of three life-long Ramahniks: Talya (Machon ’11), Riva (Machon ’13) and Sam (Machon ’17).

Alicia Escabar
Housekeeping Supervisor
Matt Goldfarb
Baker
Josh Hillinger
Special Projects Coordinator
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Josh Hillinger
Special Projects Coordinator

Josh joined the Camp Ramah family in early 2019.  A passioned creator and community builder, Josh is thrilled to apply his leadership skills to overseeing Ramah’s Master Plan and other projects.  No stranger to the Jewish summer camping experience, Josh spent seven summers as a camper at URJ Camp Newman, followed by seven more summers there on staff.

He received his BA in theatre from San Francisco State University and has performed on stages from Thousand Oaks to Tel Aviv.  He entered the world of restaurant hospitality and leadership development, working as a consultant with GetDining.  During this time he volunteered as a resident of the Sherman Oaks Moishe House, hosting hundreds of events for the post-college Jewish community.  He later became their Southwestern Regional Director, supervising twelve houses and managing several of their learning retreats.

Josh currently lives in the North Hollywood Arts District.  He still performs theatre and is a true blue fan of the LA Rams and Dodgers.

Amanda Huss
Hospitality Associate
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Amanda Huss
Hospitality Associate
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.

Andrea Kasowitz
Marp Clinical Director
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Andrea Kasowitz
Marp Clinical Director

 

Andrea graduated from Tufts University with a degree in Clinical Psychology.  After working in pharmaceutical consulting and doing infectious disease research at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, she went on to receive her medical degree from the New York College of Osteopathic Medicine.  She completed her residency in Family Medicine at the Hackensack UMC Mountainside Hospital Family Medicine program in Montclair, NJ. With a particular interest and focus in college health, Andrea went on to work as a physician at the Rutgers University Student Health Center in Newark, NJ before moving to Los Angeles, where she works as a physician at the UCLA Arthur Ashe Student Health and Wellness Center.

This is Andrea’s second summer at Camp Ramah in California – she worked as a Marp physician for two weeks last summer and fell in love with camp!  She is thrilled to return in a new role – helping to oversee the clinical operations of the Marp.  She is excited to partner with all of the staff to create an overall sense of health and wellness throughout camp.

Andrea and her husband Andrew are the lucky parents of three boys, Ross, Simon, and Dean.

Etan Kelman
Ropes Course and Adventure Supervisor
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!

Daniel Maya
Finance Manager
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Daniel Maya
Finance Manager
Teri Naftalin
Hospitality Coordinator
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Teri Naftalin
Hospitality 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.

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.

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. She was on  staff for 4 years and being a Rosh Edah for 3 summers before becoming the Program Assistant, and later the Recruitment & 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.

Ari Polsky
Marketing & Communications Associate
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Ari Polsky
Marketing & Communications Associate

Ari has been working for Camp Ramah in California since 2017, and is a lifelong Ramahnik. He grew up on literal (carousel) slide-shows of camp, and was a camper, counselor, and rosh edah.  Prior to joining the Ramah California team, he worked at 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 Colorado, Israel and Italy, and has also visited Poland, Jordan, Canada, and Alaska.

Kara Rosenwald
Early Childhood Family Camp & Passover Program Coordinator
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Kara Rosenwald
Early Childhood Family Camp & Passover Program Coordinator

Kara Rosenwald grew up in Westlake Village, just down the road from Ojai, making her way to camp whenever she could through Ramah programs, LA Hebrew High weekends, USY programs and spent a summer on staff at Ramah in college.  Kara graduated from San Diego State University with a degree in Psychology and Jewish Studies.

Kara loves watching the transformational experiences that happen in the camp environment.  Kara feels so lucky to be able to be a part of creating opportunities for so many people to learn and grow together at Camp Ramah as the the Early Childhood Family Camp & Passover Program Coordinator. Kara also teaches at the Talmud Torah of Minneapolis.

Kara and her husband Uri have lived in San Diego/CA, Herndon/VA and now are experiencing the midwest lifestyle in Minneapolis with their two wonderful children, Jeremy (who spends his summers at Camp Ramah in the Rockies) & Ariella (who spends her summers at Camp Ramah in Wisconsin) and their devoted lab mix, Rolo.

Zak Steinberg
Marp Administrative Director
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Zak Steinberg
Marp Administrative Director
Benjamin Strom
Summer Camp Registrar
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Benjamin Strom
Summer Camp Registrar
Pam Trotter
Office Manager
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Pam Trotter
Office Manager
Katy Vanderwyk
Hospitality Manager
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Katy Vanderwyk
Hospitality Manager
German Velasquez
Executive Chef
Usha Visanji
Finance Assistant
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Usha Visanji
Finance Assistant
Angela Zapata
Finance Assistant & Financial Aid Coordinator
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Angela Zapata
Finance Assistant & Financial Aid Coordinator
Morin Zaray
Development Associate
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Morin Zaray
Development Associate

Administrative Office

17525 Ventura Blvd #310
Encino, CA 91316
Phone: (310) 476-8571
Fax: (310) 472-3810

Camp Mailing Address

385 Fairview Road
Ojai, CA 93023

Camp Location

385 Fairview Road
Ojai, CA 93023
Phone: (310) 476-8571
Emergency Pager: 805-227-8023