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 founded a company in the design and home improvement industry. Randy started his career 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.

While living in Northern California, Randy served on the board of the Osher Marin Jewish Community Center and before accepting a professional position with Ramah, Randy served on the committee evaluating the expansion to Northern California and then joined the Ramah CA Board of Directors. Randy earned his BA in Business and Economics from Winona State University and an MA in Psychology from Dominican University, along with a Master’s Certificate in Leadership & Management from UCLA Anderson School of Management.

As an alumnus of Camp Ramah in Wisconsin, Randy has always had a special place in his heart for Ramah and he and his wife Marlene (z’l) were grateful to give their two sons, Stephen and Alex, the Ramah experience as both campers and staff and to share this journey for a lifetime with so many beloved Ramahniks.

Ariella Moss Peterseil
Camp Director
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Ariella Moss Peterseil
Camp Director

Born in Berkeley, Ariella grew up in Israel, where she was raised in Jerusalem at the feminist Orthodox school Pelech and served as a Commander Teacher in the Education Unit of the IDF. 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 taking some time off to travel following her army service, Ariella studied Jewish Philosophy at Hebrew University and Theater Production at The School of Visual Theater in Jerusalem. Ariella then studied at the Pardes Institute for a year while working for the Chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel.

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

Ariella began her Journey for a Lifetime as a shlicha in 2000, and continued on staff at Camp Ramah in Canada for over a decade. Ariella and Nachum moved from Israel to Toronto where Ariella worked at Camp Ramah in Canada as the Assistant Director from 2008-2012.  Ariella was then hired as the Associate Director at Camp Ramah in California in 2012 and has been the Camp Director since 2015.

Ariella was elected as a fellow for the Jewish Education Project’s GenNow fellowship, along with 30 other Jewish Educators in the US.

Ariella likes to bring her creativity, warmth, passion, and yiddishkeit to the giant Jewish playground we call Camp Ramah. Ariella and Nachum have three children, Miya, Shachar, and Adi, who have all been Ramahniks since they were born.

Jesse Zilberstein
Day Camp Director
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Jesse Zilberstein
Day Camp Director

Born and raised in Columbia, SC as one of only a few Jewish kids in her school, it was Jesse’s summers spent at camp – immersed in Jewish time, Jewish fun, and Jewish friends – that both grounded her and helped her grow.

Jesse graduated from Cornell University with a BS in Human Development & Family Studies in 1998, and then went on to pursue an MA in Jewish Non-Profit Management from Hebrew Union College and a Master of Public Administration from USC. Jesse worked for the Federations of North America in New York City as the Director of University Programs before returning to LA where she was the Director of Strategic Planning for the West Valley JCC and then a development professional for the LA Jewish Federation.

Also an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant and family educator, Jesse worked for a decade helping new parents transition into family life with patience, humor and empathy, working one-on-one with parents and babies, as well as leading parenting classes and support groups. Eventually Jesse was pulled back into the world of Jewish camping as the Director of Community Care for Eden Village West, a start-up Jewish overnight camp in Sonoma County, where she finally found a way to combine her love of Jewish camping with her skills in supporting families and children. She is thrilled to now be working with Camp Ramah and can’t wait to bring Ramah’s magic to a new day camp experience for LA’s families.

In her spare time, Jesse can be found baking, hiking, or singing showtunes at the top of her lungs. She also volunteers regularly as a mentor to newly bereaved parents. Jesse and her husband, Amit, are parents to three incredible children: Zeve, Oren, and their forever 5-year-old, Gidi (z’l).

Mike Dolinka
Director of Development
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Mike Dolinka
Director of Development

Originally from San Diego, Mike has a rich personal connection to Ramah, where he began as a camper (Machon 2000) before working as a madrich (counselor) for several years, and staffing Ramah Seminar in Israel in 2006. He then joined the IDF Nachal Brigade as a chayal boded (lone soldier) alongside several longtime Ramah friends. Mike lived in Israel for several years after his IDF service before returning to the US.

Mike brings diverse professional experience to Camp Ramah, having worked in the technology and healthcare industries as well as in Jewish nonprofit management. Mike previously served as Assistant Director for the Anti-Defamation League in San Diego, Associate Director for AIPAC in San Diego and Desert Communities, and Executive Director for the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces in San Diego, Orange County, and Arizona.

Following his time in the nonprofit sector, Mike attained his MBA and co-founded a veterinary technology company, serving as the Director of Strategic Accounts. Most recently, Mike was a Director at DaVita, overseeing business development in its Southern California hospital services group and operations for the Cedars-Sinai Health System.

Mike resides in the Pico Robertson area with his wife Lauren (whom he met in Israel and who is currently Lower School Director at Sinai Akiba Academy), their son Lev, and their dog, Buddha.

Molly Auerbach
Program Coordinator
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Molly Auerbach
Program Coordinator

Originally from Denver, Colorado, Molly is a recent graduate of Emory University with degrees in Mathematics and Hebrew. Most recently, Molly has been serving as the Springboard Innovation Fellow at Hillel at UCLA. Having spent a semester of college studying abroad in Jerusalem, she has an extreme love for Israel and is passionate about the Ramah kehillah she has formed over the years. Molly has spent 15 incredible summers at camp, five of them as a madricha and two as a Rosh Edah. In her free time, you can find Molly going on her weekly Shabbat walks, busting her moves in rikkud, and uncontrollably laughing. She is so excited to step into her new role at Ramah as Program Coordinator to continue doing what she loves most year round!

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
Rory Carmer
Tikvah Director
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Rory Carmer
Tikvah Director

Rory Carmer is a Special Educator from Las Vegas, NV who recently relocated to Chicago, IL. She received both her Master’s and undergraduate degrees in Special Education with a focus in Autism and Intellectual Disability from the University of Nevada Las Vegas. Rory has been a Board Certified Behavior Analyst for over two years primarily working with children on developing their communication skills, social skills, and decreasing any challenging behaviors through applied behavioral analysis. During her graduate studies, Rory began working at UNLV’s Project FOCUS, a fully inclusive postsecondary program for college students with developmental disabilities. Throughout her time in FOCUS, Rory worked with students on creating individualized goals in Academics, Independent Living, and Career Development skills. For three years she taught classes on healthy relationships and career skills further deepening her passion for working on these skills and the necessary prerequisite skills with all of the children and adults she works with.

Lisa Cooper
Day Camp Director of Camper Care
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Lisa Cooper
Day Camp Director of Camper Care

After experiencing the magic of Camp Ramah vicariously through her kids for over a decade, Lisa finally decided she had to see it for herself in 2015! Lisa has spent every summer since at camp in Ojai and has worked on the year-round team since 2017. During that time, she has worn many hats, including as a yoetzet and yoetzet supervisor (camper care team member) and, for the past number of years, as the Family Relations Director, working with new and prospective families throughout the year.

Lisa is beyond excited to join the Ramah Day Camp LA team as the Director of Camper Care, helping kids start their “Journey for a Lifetime” right here in LA before graduating to Camp Ramah in Ojai in the coming years.

A proud Trojan, Lisa studied at USC, earning her B.A. in Communication and meeting her husband, Craig, who sits on the Ramah Board. Lisa also received a Master of Education at Hunter College in New York City and, together with Craig, is the parent of three lifelong Ramahniks (Talya (Machon ’11), Riva (Machon ’13), and Sam (Machon ’17)). After all these years, she knows first-hand how Jewish camp shapes committed and caring Jewish young adults.

If you don’t see Lisa at camp, she just might be sneaking off to visit her kids in NYC, baking a mean challah on Friday afternoon, or popping into the Showtunes Chug to sing a duet with Day Camp Director, Jesse!

Alicia Escobar
Housekeeping Supervisor
Dr. Jason Goldman
Director of Strategic Initiatives
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Dr. Jason Goldman
Director of Strategic Initiatives

Dr. Jason G. Goldman never attended Camp Ramah, but spent eleven summers attending and working at Camp Alonim and the Brandeis-Bardin Institute. He is deeply committed to Jewish summer camping and believes it is the best, most effective way to help children, teens, and adults to find the joy in Jewish life.

Before joining Camp Ramah, Jason was an award-winning science journalist and author with bylines in Scientific American, The New York Times, National Geographic, The Washington Post, Los Angeles Magazine, Teen Vogue, and elsewhere. His books are Wild L.A.: Explore the Amazing Nature In and Around Los Angeles and Science Blogging: The Essential Guide. He co-founded Scifari Expeditions, a wildlife-based ecotourism company, and SciCommCamp, an annual, international conference for science communicators.

Jason received BA, MA, and PhD degrees in the psychology department at the University of Southern California, where he was an Annenberg Foundation Fellow, and an MA in Jewish Nonprofit Management from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, where he was a Legacy Heritage Midcareer Fellow.

When not at camp, you can find him hanging around the Academy of Magical Arts/Magic Castle where he is a magician member, photographing wildlife, or Israeli folk dancing.

Adena Goss
Day Camp Program Coordinator
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Adena Goss
Day Camp Program Coordinator

Adena Goss is thrilled to join the Ramah Day Camp team as the Program Coordinator.  Originally from Los Angeles, California, Adena spent her summers at Camp Ramah in Ojai, where she was a camper, counselor, unit head, program manager, and even ran the acapella group one summer. She grew up in Jewish Day School and graduated from CHAMPS Charter High School of the Arts, Multimedia, and Performing. Adena graduated from the University of Kansas with a BA in History, Art History, and Psychology. During the spring semester of 2019, she studied abroad in Rome, Italy.

After college, Adena lived and worked in St. Louis, Missouri, where she taught Hebrew School and worked as a legal administrative assistant to the Varsity Tutors’ corporate legal department. She moved to New York City in 2021 to be the Day Camp and Early Childhood Education fellow at the Foundation for Jewish Camp. She spent two years engrossed in the field of Jewish camp and, before coming to Ramah, served as an assistant director for a day camp in NYC.

 

Adena got married in 2023 to fellow Ramah-nick Sam Goss, and the two live with their dog, Copper. Some of Adena’s favorite things include any kind of pasta, scented candles, and taking her dog to the dog park. Her favorite camp things are singing and dancing to classic camp songs, making jewelry, and maccabiah (color war)!

Kimberly Habi
Development Assistant
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Kimberly Habi
Development Assistant

Kim is a Philadelphia, PA native. She relocated to the Los Angeles area in 2014 with her husband Dedoceo Habi. She has an extensive background in the area of Administration, Event Planning, and Social Services. She has worked within the Jewish community for the past 5 years.  Her journey in the community started at The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles where she had the opportunity of working with programs like NuRoots and Caring for Jews in Need. Her current role at Camp Ramah as Development Assistant has allowed her the opportunity to continue working alongside amazing people who care deeply about the community we serve. At present Kim is a continuing education student at Arizona State University and is looking forward to obtaining her BA degree in the area of Psychology. She is a mother of 6, a grandmother of 8, and a dog owner of 2. She enjoys meditation, philosophy, and spending time with family and friends.

 

Marisa Holt
Camper Care Associate
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Marisa Holt
Camper Care Associate

Marisa completed an undergraduate degree from California State University, Long Beach and received her Marriage and Family Therapy Degree (MFT) at the University of Southern California. She has worked in a variety of mental health settings with children and their families. In the summer of 2023,  she worked at JCamp at the JLos Angeles  (previously the Westside JCC) where she fell in love with camper care and decided to immerse herself into the world of camping even further. Marisa enjoys working with campers and staff and creating opportunities to infuse wellness into daily activities. Marisa attended Camp Ramah for a few years as a chanicha (camper) and is excited to make her return to Ramah in this role.

When she’s not at camp, Marisa can be found baking challah and babka or in Karate class!

Michal Kogen Kress
Assistant Camp Director
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Michal Kogen Kress
Assistant Camp Director

Growing up in Los Angeles, Michal began her Camp Ramah journey at a young age in the gan. She spent every summer as a chanicha and continued on to be a madricha and member of the special programming team.

Michal attended Heschel, Milken, and was in the second pioneering class of de Toledo High School (formally New Community Jewish High School). She attended the University of California, Irvine majoring in Political Science and minoring in Education. Michal spent her junior year abroad at Hebrew University’s Rothberg International School.

Michal worked for Ramah California on the development team from 2016-2017 and most recently worked at BJE running the Los Angeles teen delegation of March of the Living. She is very excited to join the team as the Assistant Director with her two kids, Aria and Caleb.

Dr. Aviva Levine Jacobs
Director of Camper Care and Staff Wellness
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Dr. Aviva Levine Jacobs
Director of Camper Care and Staff Wellness

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 in private practice and community mental health settings.  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 and Staff Wellness, 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 currently lives in Skokie, Illinois with her husband, Stu, and her three daughters, Elinoa, Roni, and Maytal, who are 3rd generation Ramahniks.

Andrea Kasowitz
Marp Clinical Director
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Andrea Kasowitz
Marp Clinical Director

Originally hailing from snowy, Syracuse, NY, Dr. Andrea now loves spending her summers in Ojai! She graduated from Tufts University with a degree in Clinical Psychology and went on to receive her medical degree from the New York College of Osteopathic Medicine. She then completed her residency in Family Medicine in New Jersey. With a particular interest and focus on adolescent and 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 worked as a physician at the UCLA Student Health and Wellness Center. Andrea is now also pursuing her love of public health and infectious disease research through an Masters in Public Health program at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health.

This is Dr. Andrea’s fifth summer at Camp Ramah in California. She is thrilled to continue overseeing the clinical operations of the Marp and 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, who also love spending their summers at Camp Ramah.

Elana Naftalin-Kelman
Tikvah Consultant
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Elana Naftalin-Kelman
Tikvah Consultant

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.

Benjamin Strom
Senior Administrator & Registrar
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Benjamin Strom
Senior Administrator & Registrar

While Ben did not attend Camp Ramah as a camper, in 2014 he joined as a summer staff member working in the gan before moving on to help support the office and operations teams. In early 2018 he joined as a full-time team member as the Registrar and Sr. Administrator and now works to ensure that all campers who wants to attend camp can do so.

He graduated from CSUN with a BA in Child Development and over the years has worked with every age child from 0-18. From teaching preschool to Hebrew High retreat staff to being a USY Advisor/Assistant Director to joining Camp Ramah, he enjoys working with the Jewish community.

When not at camp you can find him at a Kings game, theatre show, riding his bike, or otherwise enjoying all the museums and learning opportunities Los Angeles has to offer.

Pam Trotter
Office Manager
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Pam Trotter
Office Manager
Katy Vanderwyk
Hospitality Manager
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Katy Vanderwyk
Hospitality Manager

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: 805-646-4301
Emergency Pager: 805-227-8023