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Meet the Merakzim (Unit Heads)

Our m erakzim  (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!  

(campers entering 2nd & 3rd)

Hello Ofarim campers and families!

My name is Jessica Zimmon and I am beyond excited to be your Ofarim merakezet (unit head) this coming summer! I am currently a junior at the University of Florida. I am studying Applied Physiology and Kinesiology, with the hopes of becoming a physical therapist in the future. 

Camp 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 coming to 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 I have been working on the CYJ staff every summer since as both a counselor and a ropes course specialist!

The theme for Ofarim this summer is "The Jewish Life Cycle". We will have the opportunity to learn about the bris, bar/bat mitzvah, and the best part- the Ofarim wedding! We'll also get to swim, make arts and crafts, play sports, go to the ropes course, and 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
Ofarim Merakezet

(campers entering 4th grade)       
Hey y'all! My name is Bianca Lax and I am so excited to be your Merakezet this summer!  
I was born and raised in Dallas, Texas and am a rising Junior at the University of Texas at Austin where I am majoring in Health with a minor in Business. 

CYJ has always been my home away from home and I can't wait to spend this summer with all of y'all! I started attending CYJ in Maginim when I was 10 years old, and continued through Segel. After high school I went on to do Young Judaea Year Course and have come back to work as a counselor ever since! 

The theme for Chalutzim this summer is, "Jewish Values and Traditions". We'll learn about the different Jewish customs in super fun ways. For example, to explore the custom of kashrut, the campers will have a scavenger hunt activity at a grocery store, seeking out real food items with the kosher certifications they've learned about!
I cant wait to be your merakezet this summer and look forward to meeting all of you!!


Bianca Lax 
Chalutzim Merakezet

(campers entering 5th grade)

Shalom Tsofim Families!

My name is Uri Suvalsky and I'm from Monterrey, Mexico and I'm 21 years old. I started studying Architecture in Spain 3 years ago, but recently moved back to Monterrey to finish my studies at Universidad Regiomontana.

I grew up participating in a Jewish youth movement called Beyachad from 7th grade through high school. I've always felt a deep connection to Israel.  I've traveled to Israel 3 times already and I hope to make my fourth trip this coming year. Even though all my friends and family went to CYJ as campers and some returned as staff, I was never lucky enough to attend in my camper years. I start working at CYJ the summer of 2014 as a counselor and continued for two more summers. Last summer I worked as the Arts and Crafts specialist. I'm excited to return to CYJ as a merakez because I believe that is the best job at camp! I'm excited to supervise the entire aidah and still get to spend time with all of my campers. 

Cant wait for the summer and get back to CYJ to meet all of the campers and staff!

Uri Suvalsky
Tsofim Merakez 

(campers entering 6th grade) 

Hello Maginim campers and parents!

My name is Roni Gilad, I'm going to be your Merakezet throughout the summer and couldn't be more excited about it!
I'm 23 years old from a small Israeli city near Haifa called Kiryat Motzkin, and planning to start my studies at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem next year in Occupational Therapy.

I went to CYJ as a camper only once, in Ofarim, and made my way back last year as part of the Israeli Mishlachat (delegation), right after finishing a service of three and a half years in the IDF - the Israeli Defence Forces.

In Maginim this summer we will be focusing on Israeli culture, learning about the music, food, arts and sports that make Israel such a special and colorful country. I'll admit, I'm a little biased about Israel, but you will be too by the time summer ends!

I know this summer is going to be amazing and can't wait to meet all of you!

Roni Gilad
Maginim Merakezet

(campers entering 7th grade) 

Hello Kesher families!
My name is Cindy Mohnblatt and I could not be more excited about being your Kesher merakezet this summer!
I grew up in Bogotá, Colombia, but I am currently living in Worcester, MA finishing my degree at Clark University, with a major in Psychology and a minor in Management. I participated in a Jewish Youth movement growing up in Colombia named Kineret, in which we learned valuable lessons about Judaism and Zionism. I started going to Kineret at age 6 as a camper and continued going until I became a counselor, and then a program director. After graduating from high school I went to Israel for a year to continue my leadership training.
In 2008 and 2009 I went to CYJ as a camper for Bogrim and Segel. Last year, I finally came back to CYJ as a counselor and had the time of my life! I am already counting the days until next summer to meet the Kesher family!
See y´all soon!
Cindy Mohnblatt
Kesher Merakezet

(campers entering 8th grade)

Shalom Bogrim campers and families!
My name is Miki Plotkin and I'm 26 years old. I was born in Russia and I moved to Israel when I was 3. Six months ago I moved to USA and I am currently working as the Israeli Shaliah (emissary) for the Jewish community of Houston.

For the last 3 years I studied Political Science and Education at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

My connection to Young Judea began 5 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, even in Siberia (Russia). Also, it led me to my current long term Shlichut job in Houston.
I am very excited to be part of the CYJ family and to be Merakez for Bogrim. I can't wait for the summer to start!

Miki Plotkin
Bogrim Merakez

(campers entering 9th grade)

Hello Segel families!
My name is Lauren Laderman and I am so excited to be your Merakezet (unit head) for Segel this summer! I am originally from Houston and will be graduating from Indiana University this May.
I first became a Young Judaean in 2001 as a Nitzanim camper at CYJ. After 8 summers as a camper, I went to Camp Tel Yehudah in New York (YJ senior leadership camp) for 2 summers, went on to YJ's Machon in Israel for summer 2011, and finally returned to CYJ as a counselor for an amazing 3 seasons. I also attended Young Judaea's gap year program, Year Course, 2013-2014. I have been the Merakezet for Chalutzim and Ofarim the last two summers and I couldn't be happier to return this summer to lead Segel!
The theme for Segel this summer is "Leadership." Over the course of the session, we will work together as an aidah (unit) to define what it means to be a leader. Of course, the highlight of the summer will be driving out of the CYJ gates to embark on our 2-week journey all over the Southwest. I have no doubt this summer will be unforgettable! I can remember my own Segel experience so vividly - the rush of excitement as we arrived at our first stop and the bittersweet feeling of finality that overcame us as we returned.
I can't wait for all the fun, exciting, and new memories we will make and I'm honored to go on this adventure with you!
See Y'all Soon!
Lauren Laderman
Segel Merakezet

(campers entering 10th-11th grade)

Hello Bonim Families! 

My name is Moises Sandler but most people call me Moi. I am 22 years old and I'm from Monterrey, Mexico.
I've been a part of a youth movement in Mexico called Beyachad since I was in 4th grade.  In 10th grade, I became a counselor for the movement in charge of planning and running activities for the kids of Monterrey to learn all about Judaism and Israel.
I have been going to CYJ since I was 12 years old starting in  Kesher, and continued through Segel. This will be my 7th summer working at camp and my third time as a Merakez. I am very excited to work with this new group and looking forward to an amazing inaugural summer!

I hope everyone is as excited as I am for this summer, I'm sure its going to be the best one yet for all of us! See you soon.  

Moi Sandler
Bonim Merakez l 713.723.8354 l
Camp Young Judaea-Texas
5410 Bellaire Blvd, Suite 207 Bellaire, TX  77401