Save the date!
On Sunday, December 6, 2020, we will joyfully gather as a community for a Shehechianu moment – our first-ever virtual Celebration Gala. While we will certainly miss the warmth of our community gathering at Sinai Temple, this moment presents new opportunities – namely, not having to sit in LA traffic on your way over. In all seriousness, we are delighted and grateful to recognize our executive staff for their accomplishments throughout their tenure with Camp Ramah and especially during this year.
We can think of no better way to honor the individuals that have carried us through 2020 with intention, transparency, and dedication. Throughout this year of uncertainty, we had confidence that Camp Ramah would remain healthy due to the leadership of our executive team.
This year, we honor and recognize the leaders of Camp Ramah in California.
Honoring Special Anniversary Years
Rabbi Joe Menashe – 10 Years as Executive Director at Camp Ramah in California
Randy Michaels – Bar Mitzvah Year
Ariella Moss Peterseil – Bat Mitzvah Year
Recognizing Outstanding Accomplishments
John Magoulas – Director of Development
Elana Naftalin Kelman – Tikvah Director
Dr. Aviva Levine Jacobs – Director of Camper Care
To sustain the legacy of Jewish Camp and its role in Jewish life, proceeds from the evening’s celebration will support our COVID-19 Emergency Fund. This fund is crucial in overcoming the shortfall we endured during this crisis and ensuring our financial stability as we move toward the future.
To honor Rabbi Joe, Randy, Ariella, John, Elana, & Aviva, become a member of the Honorary Committee, purchase a sponsorship package and join us virtually for the Celebration Gala.
For more information, please see our event page or contact John Magoulas at 818-668-2929 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lesley Wolman, Celebration Chair
Karmi Monsher, Development Chair
Ellen Brown, Chair, Board of Directors
Joe Menashe spent his first summer at Ramah in California in 1995 as a Moreh (teacher) and social justice coordinator. His Ramah journey continued as a rabbinical student in the 1990s on tzevet (staff), 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. After five summers with Ramah and meeting his future wife, Deborah Musher, Rabbi Joe knew that Ramah was central to his personal and professional identity. He 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. Over the following decade, Rabbi Joe served as the Hillel Director at The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland from 2000-2006 and went on to serve as an Associate Rabbi at Congregation Shearith Israel in Dallas, Texas from 2006 until 2010.
In 2010, Joe joined the Ramah leadership team as the Executive Director. He has stewarded Ramah through a decade of growth and steady sailing, through challenges of drought and a fire. Joe can’t wait to finally celebrate the opening of the new Goldstine Machon Shetach with our community, please God soon! His wife Deborah is a special educator who has been involved in Tikvah since the 1990s and has focused her work at camp recently with the Ezra Vocational Education program. Joe believes deeply in the long-term impact of a Ramah experience and treasures the relationships he has with his colleagues, lay partners and summer staff. Joe’s entire family, including his children Molly (TRY and Machon 2021), Gabriel (Tzofim 2021), and Sammy (Giborei Yisrael 2021) are delighted to be on a Ramah Journey for a Lifetime.
Randy began his Ramah journey as a day camper at Nyack in the ‘70s and later as an overnight camper at Ramah Wisconsin with cherished memories of Shabbatot on the Kikar, sailing on Lake Buckatabon, and connecting with friends and mentors. His experiences with Jewish camping helped shape all aspects of his life.
Randy brings a wide range of business management skills to the leadership team. Prior to joining Camp Ramah in the fall of 2008 as the Business Director, Randy ran Redwood Kitchen & Bath, a company he founded in Marin County. Randy brought years of experience from his time in the financial services industry where he honed his skills in management consulting, investment banking, and financial analysis with such firms as Charles Schwab, SEI, and Investment Counseling Inc. Randy earned his bachelor’s degree from Winona State University and holds both an MBA and a Master’s in Psychology. Randy recently completed a certificate program in management & leadership from the UCLA Anderson School of Business.
During his time at Ramah, Randy has helped secure camp’s independence and the purchase of our Ojai property, helped navigated our community through the Thomas Fires and the reopening of camp, and has been overseeing the redesign and growth of our Zimmer Retreat & Conference Center. Randy has been instrumental in securing funding for and managing a variety of capital projects along with streamlining our financial and endowment reporting, enhancing and implementing HR policies, and managing our legal and compliance efforts. Randy has worked closely with our scholarship committee to ensure the distribution of millions of dollars in financial aid, which allows thousands of campers to have their own Ramah journey. Before accepting a professional position with Ramah, Randy served on the camp’s Board and on the committee evaluating the expansion to Northern California.
As a camp alumnus, Randy and his wife Marlene are proud to be giving their two sons, Stephen and Alex (both Tzevet 2019), the Ramah experience that started over 15 years ago while attending family camp and are grateful to see how Ramah has helped shape their lives. The Ramah friendships forged throughout the years have helped shape their family’s commitment and passion to our community. Randy looks forward to continuing to work with incredible colleagues and staff to help shape generations of Ramahniks.
Ariella Moss Peterseil grew up with Ramah in her home. Her parents, David and Rosalyn Moss, met at Ramah in Wisconsin in the 1960s and spent 12 summers there as staff, even after making Aliyah with their family. Ariella spent her first kayitz (summer) at camp after serving in the IDF and made her Ramah Canada debut in 2000 as a shlicha (Israel Emissary). She returned as a Rosh Mishlachat (head of Israelis at camp), Rosh Tzevet (head of staff), and summer Assistant Director from 2002-2008. She married Nachum Peterseil and studied Jewish Philosophy at Hebrew University. She moved to Toronto in 2008 to be the Assistant Director at Camp Ramah in Canada.
After four successful years, Ariella was approached by Ramah California to be the Associate Director and moved with her family to Los Angeles in 2012 to join the leadership team. Ariella became Camp Director in 2018. During her time at camp, Ariella has led the creation of the new Machon and new Mador, helped reimagined the Gesher experience, and partnered to create an educational and values-based ladder for the edot, among other enhancements at camp. Ariella loves the intersection of Judaism, education, creativity, and relationships.
Ariella’s family lives and breathes camp. Her husband Nachum brings his musical talents to camp through programming and as an educator for Tikvah. Her kids were raised at camp and have spent every kayitz there. Ariella loves that her kids Miya (Adat Shalom 2021), Shachar (Nitzanim 2021), and Adi (Gan 2021) are part of the giant Jewish playground where we get to play, innovate, fall, experiment and learn. Ariella feels lucky and grateful to be working with the most incredible professionals and mensches on the year-round team, in the lay leadership, and with parents, tzevet, and chanichim.
John has spent a lifetime in awe of the limitless benefits of Jewish camping. His camp journey began at Camp Akiba, where he started as a camper and grew through the ranks to Program Director. Today, John brings his passion for camping together with his depth of financial resource development and relationship building skills to the leadership team as the Director of Development.
Over the course of a 25-year career in the Jewish community, John has played an active role in numerous organizations. Prior to joining Camp Ramah, John was the Associate Chief Development Officer of The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles and worked for The Federation for more than 17 years. He proudly served on the executive board of Temple Akiba for over 10 years as well as on various committees. John received his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Business Finance, his Master of Business Administration from The University of Judaism (now American Jewish University), and his Master of Arts in Education from American Jewish University.
During his four years at Camp Ramah, John has raised $17 million dollars and initiated tremendous growth in numerous directions. John’s propensity for relationship building led to 1,200 new supporters of Camp Ramah and brought new energy into relaunching the alumni engagement effort. He has grown each of Ramah’s campaigns, including the annual campaign, the scholarship campaign, and two crisis campaigns – for the fires during 2017 and our current COVID-19 Emergency Fund. He also continues to work on the Machon Property Capital Campaign.
John is delighted to continue his work of stewarding and cultivating donors and building relationships for Ramah to last a lifetime.
Elana has been a member of the Ramah family since she was a “staff kid” in the Gan. In fact, her Ramah journey started before she was born, when her parents moved to California and her father, Rabbi Stuart Kelman, became Camp Director of Ramah in California. She spent four summers as a chanicha (camper), went on Ramah seminar, and then spent six summers on staff as a madricha (counselor) and Rosh Edah (unit head). She has never stopped spending her summers in Ojai and has served as the Tikvah Director for 15 years.
For Elana, being the director of the Tikvah program is like coming home. She credits her own journey to her experience as a Tikvah buddy as a camper in Machon. Since then, she has pursued an undergraduate degree from UC Santa Cruz, spent several years studying in Israel, and holds a Master’s in Special Education from Bank Street College of Education and a Master’s in Social Work from Columbia University. Elana brings a wealth of expertise in the Jewish Special Education space and with the help of her mentor, Tara Reisbaum, created and started the Ezra program.
When Elana is not at camp, she wears many other hats. She is an adjunct faculty member in the Special Education department at San Francisco State and a fieldwork supervisor for new Special Education teachers at Loyola Marymount University. Elana has consulted with multiple Jewish institutions to aid them in thinking about how to be more inclusive of Jews of all abilities. She is a Co-Founder of Edah, a Jewish after school program located in Berkeley, California. Elana lives in Berkeley with her husband Adam and three boys, Yair (Machon 2021), Nevo (Tzofim 2021), and Etai (Nitzanim 2021) who love spending their summers at camp!
Aviva Levine Jacobs began her own Ramah California journey in 1989 as a gesher chanicha (camper), but her family’s connection with Ramah began long before that. Her father, Dr. Rabbi Ron Levine, z”l, was a camper during Ramah’s inaugural summer of 1956 and went on to serve many roles on staff, including Camp Director. Aviva was a chanicha each summer through Machon ’95. She attended Ramah Poland-Israel seminar and then returned as a madricha (counselor) for four summers, staffed Ramah Israel seminar, was a Rosh Edah (unit head) (’02-’03), and served as Rosh Mador (’07, ’09). Her experiences as a staff member ignited her passion for working with children and teens and creating meaningful and supportive relationships.
Aviva pursued her Doctorate in Clinical Psychology at the CA School of Professional Psychology in San Francisco (2012) where her dissertation research focused on the topic of bullying prevention and awareness in Jewish camps. Aviva served as the interim Assistant Director at Ramah California in the summer of 2012. Aviva continuously looked for ways to apply her training as a psychologist to the camp setting and she was thrilled when, with the support of the Ramah professional staff and lay leaders, she was able to step into the new role of Director of Camper Care in 2013.
Aviva currently leads and supervises the Camper Care team of yoatzot (parent liaisons) during the summer and is responsible for initiatives that strengthen the social and emotional well-being of campers and staff. Aviva also serves as the Coordinator of the Senior Yoetz Cohort for the National Ramah Commission, which convenes Directors of Camper Care from across the Ramah movement. Aviva serves as a mental health consultant at the Childcare Network of Evanston. Her husband Stu has served many roles over his summers at Ramah, and along with their daughters, Elinoa (Giborei 2021), Roni (Shorashim 2021), and Maytal (Gan 2021), they are so grateful to be carrying on the spark of Ramah forward to future generations of Ramahniks.