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Our merakzim (unit heads) are in charge of the staff and campers in their aidah (age group) during the summer.  They are responsible for the daily schedule and ensuring that everyone in their aidah is happy, healthy, and having a blast!  Meet your campers' merakez or merakezet below!
(2-day campers entering 1st & 2nd grade, 9-day campers entering 2nd & 3rd grade)

Hello Mini Mensch & Nitzanim campers and families!
My name is Jessica Zimmon and I am beyond excited to be your Mini Mensch & Nitzanim merakezet  this coming summer!  I am currently finishing up my senior year at the University of Florida and I will be graduating with a degree in Applied Physiology and Kinesiology this May.  I plan to move to Austin after camp and take some time off before heading back to Physical Therapy School!
Young Judaea has always been a very special place to me.  I live in Orlando, Florida now, but I used to live in Austin when I started attending camp.  I was a camper at CYJ-Texas for 5 summers and a camper at Tel Yehudah in New York for 1 summer.  I then returned to CYJ for the CIT Program in 2013 and have been working on the CYJ staff every summer since!  Last summer I was the Ofarim merkezet and I couldn't be happier to return this summer to lead Mini Mensch & Nitzanim.
Throughout this summer, our youngest campers will have to opportunity to learn all about camp and see what amazing things it has to offer!  We'll get to swim, make arts and crafts, play sports, go to the ropes course, and try so many other fun and exciting things that camp brings!
I hope you are looking forward to the summer as much as I am and I am so excited to spend it making awesome memories with all of you!
See you soon!
Jessica Zimmon
Mini Mensch & Nitzanim Merakezet
(campers entering 3rd grade)       
Hi Ofarim campers and families!

My name is Anna Rosenthal and I am so excited to be spending my summer as the Ofarim merakezet! I graduated from the University of Texas last May, where I majored in Early Childhood Development and minored in Hebrew. After college, I moved back to Houston where I'm currently living and working.

After being a camper for many years, I returned to camp for the first time as a staff member last summer as an Ofarim counselor and had the best time. I had the opportunity to get to know the campers that came as "Ofarim Minis" last summer and can't wait to spend more time with them and get to know all the new campers that will be joining us this summer!

The theme of Ofarim this summer is "The Jewish Life Cycle" and campers will spend time learning the significance of Jewish names and Brit Milah, Bar/Bat Mitzvahs, and Jewish weddings.  We'll conclude our session with everyone's favorite part of Ofarim - the Ofarim Wedding!   With each camper acting a part, our aidah will hold a mock wedding for the entire camp to attend.

I know we will all have an amazing summer this year and I look forward to seeing everyone so soon!!

Anna Rosenthal
Ofarim Merakezet

(campers entering 4th grade)

Hello Chalutzim campers and families!
My name is Claudia and I am very excited to be your Merakezet this summer!
While I was born in New York, I have been living in Austin for some time.  By the time I meet you I will have just graduated from Texas A&M Univeristy with a degree in English with a focus in Education.
Even though I was a camper for just the Bogrim and Segel years, CYJ has been such a big part of my life.  It had such an impact that I came back to be a CIT in the summer of 2013 and have been coming back at a staff member ever since.  While I have been a counselor and education intern at CYJ, this will be my first summer as a Merakezet.
Chaltuzim's theme is "Jewish Values and Traditions," so we will have a lot of fun activities to learn about Jewish customs! In addition to learning about Jewish traditions, we will also swim in the pool and lake, make arts and crafts, spend time at the ropes course, and get to do all of the other fun things that CYJ brings.
I hope that you are excited for this summer too, because I can't wait!
See you soon,
Claudia Shapiro
Chalutzim Merakezet
(campers entering 5th grade) 

Hello Tsofim Families!

My name is Moriah and I am a 23 year old Israeli living in downtown Toronto!  I recently graduated from Ryerson University with a bachelors in Psychology and Biology.  I currently work at a center for children with autism as an instructional therapist and I love my job!  In my free time, I love to be outside at the park or bike riding with friends. 

CYJ Texas has been my summer home for over ten years and I am so excited to be back at camp this summer as a Merkezet! I  cant wait to get started with Tsofim and all the amazing educational opportunities the aidah presents.   Throughout the session, we will be learning about the history of Israel (my favorite place, of course!)  I can't wait to explore the history of the Holy Land with my campers!  Camp has a very special place in my heart and every summer I am able to go back is a blessing

CYJ Texas 2018, here we go!
Moriah Allouche
Tsofim Merkezet

(campers entering 6th grade) 

Hello Maginim families!

My name is Sergio Meizner and I am super excited to be your Merakez this coming summer!

I am 22 years old and from Mexico City.  I am finishing up my third year at Universidad Anahuac in Mexico City studying Entertainment Business Management and I will be graduating next year.

In Mexico City, I have been involved in a youth movement called Macabi.  There I was camper for 11 years, counselor for 2 years, and head staff for year and a half.  I planned and ran many activities ranging from Jewish and Zionist programs to Mexican Culture and some others!  Additionally, I have also had the opportunity to serve as counselor in other summer camps and I really enjoy working with kids and teenagers.

This will be my fourth summer working at CYJ!  I have been a counselor for the past three years and had the opportunity to work in many different aidot:  Ofarim, Chalutzim and, of course, Maginim!  This is my first year as Merakez and I am very honored and exited for the summer!  I know that it will be an unforgettable summer for everyone, so get ready for lots of fun and an incredible time!

In our educational programs we will be focusing on the Israeli Culture, including the music, food, arts, and sports, and I am positive this will make you love Israel even more.

I'm counting the days until CYJ starts and I hope you are all excited for camp as I am!
I can't wait to meet y'all! 

See y'all soon!
Sergio Meizner
Maginim Merakez

(campers entering 7th grade)

Hi Kesher Campers! 

My name is  Rachel  Sasiene and I am excited to be the Kesher Unit Head! 

I'm originally from Houston and will be graduating from the University of Texas in just one week with degrees in History and Jewish Studies.  At UT, I have become super-involved with Hillel, serving on the student board, acting as the Jewish Life intern, and planning our famous Israel Block Party.  I also have been working for the Anti Defamation League in the Education department, running the No Place for Hate program in over 350 Austin area schools.

My plans for the future including working in Jewish non-profit, but next year I will be in Israel working for Masa Israel Teaching Fellows, teaching English in Israeli schools. 
I am fairly new to the CYJ Family, but I am already in love! I have worked weekend retreats and Bar/Bat Mitzvahs at CYJ, and have had an amazing time getting to know camp and the camp families!  I am very excited to meet my Kesher Kids and have an amazing CYJ summer. I cant wait to see you all soon!

Rachel Sasiene
Kesher Merakezet

(campers entering 8th grade)

Hello Bogrim Families!
My name is Meytal Russo and I'm from San Antonio, Texas.  I am currently a student at The University of Texas at San Antonio pursuing a Business Management degree.  I will be a senior in the fall. 
Camp Young Judaea has been a special place for me for many years.  I started attending camp in Nitzanim and continued through Segel.  I returned two years ago as a counselor and it has been incredibly rewarding!  My Jewish roots and identity has always been important to me throughout my life and CYJ has helped build that within me.
Bogrim is a very exciting aidah that I know most of you have been waiting patiently for! I am so excited to get to know each and every one of you this summer and be your Bogrim Merakezet!  I cannot wait for all the fun, new, and exciting experiences we will be able to share together! Bogrim Rocks This Doghouse!
See you all so soon,
Meytal Russo
Bogrim Merakezet
(campers entering 9th grade)

Shalom Segel campers and families!

My name is Miki Plotkin and I'm 27 years old.  I was born in Russia and I moved to Israel when I was 3.  A year and 8 months ago, I moved to USA and I am currently working as the Israeli Shaliach (emissary) for the Jewish community of Houston.

Before I moved to Houston I studied Political Science and Education at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

My connection to Young Judea began 6 years ago when I was Madrich (counselor) at Camp Tel Yehudah in NY (the senior leadership camp of Young Judaea).  This meaningful experience lead me to keep working with the Jewish Agency in different programs all over the world, including Siberia (Russia)!  Also, it led me to my current long term Shlichut job in Houston.
I am very excited to return to CYJ this summer as merakez for the second time.  Bogrim was amazing last year and I can't wait for the summer to start and begin the adventure of Segel 18!

Miki Plotkin
Segel Merakez
Shalom Awesome Segel campers and families! 

(campers entering 10th & 11th grade)

Hi Bonim Families!

My name is Amit Lichtman, and I am super excited to spend the summer with you at CYJ! 

I'm coming to camp all the way from Netivot, Israel.  This is my second year at camp.  Last year, I was one of the education directors and I can honestly say that it was a love on first sight. 

I am really excited to come back to camp.  Unfortunately, it will be just for the second session, since in Israel I'm a homeroom and ESL teacher, and my students have their final exams (Bagrut) during 1st session.  I want to finish the year with them before I join you for Bonim 2nd session. 

Bonim is the Hebrew word for "Builders" and this is what we will discuss and do during camp.   Our theme this year is "Impact Leadership."   How can we build ourselves as better Jewish people and build a better community?  With volunteering, with helping others, with giving back to community and to camp, and of course, with crazy and amazing Peulot.  

I know it is going to be an amazing summer!  

Looking forward meeting you at camp! 
Amit Lichtman
Bonim Merakez l 713.723.8354 l
Camp Young Judaea-Texas
5410 Bellaire Blvd, Suite 207 Bellaire, TX  77401