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Rabbi Joe Menashe
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.
Director of Finance & Administration
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. Prior to 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.
Director of Operations
Elie Mechaly was appointed Director of Operations for Camp Ramah in California in January of 1991. He is a graduate of the Tamor Hotel School, Herzliyah, Israel and completed the Hotel General Managers program at the Holiday Inn University. Elie brings to Ramah over 20 years of experience in the hospitality and hotel industry. For 10 years he worked for Holiday Inn resort properties as Resident Manager and Food and Beverage Manager in several Latin American communities including: Guadalajara, Mexico; Panama City, Panama; and San Juan, Puerto Rico. For five years, Elie was the General Manager/Partner of the Grand Lake Spa Hotel in Lebanon, Connecticut and just before coming to work for Ramah he was the Food and Beverage Director of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem and the Ramada Continental in Tel Aviv. Elie is a native of Morocco and is fluent in several languages including Spanish, French, Hebrew, Arabic, Moroccan and English. At the age of 13 he made Aliyah to Israel and as a member of the Israeli army, took part in the 6-Day War. Elie currently resides in Ojai, California with his wife Nurit.
Director of Development
Ilana joined Camp Ramah in California in July, 2011. She most recently served as the Vice President of Philanthropic Services at the Ventura County Community Foundation, and from 1999 – 2007 she was the Director of Planned Giving at the Los Angeles Jewish Home. In her 20+ years in the nonprofit arena, she has also worked for the American Film Institute, the Motion Picture & Television Fund Foundation, and the National Jewish Medical & Research Center.
Ilana taught Planned Giving for the University of Southern California/Hebrew Union College dual Master’s Program for 11 years and currently serves on the faculty for the Ventura County Community Foundation’s Center for Nonprofit Leadership. She has presented as a guest speaker for numerous fundraising events and conferences, both local and national. A former president of the Partnership for Philanthropic Planning – Greater Los Angeles, Ilana has also served as chair for the Western Regional Planned Giving Conference.
Ilana and her husband Steve are proud Camp Ramah in California parents. They live in Thousand Oaks with their two children, Sophie and Benjamin.
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.
Amy Mendelsohn, the current Program Coordinator of Camp Ramah in California, graduated California State University of Northridge in 2009 with a BA in Child and Adolescent Development and Modern Jewish Studies. She is currently pursuing a Masters at CSUN in Educational Psychology after spending last year in Israel studying at Pardes and working at Beit Issie Shapiro, a therapy center for kids with Special Needs. Amy is excited to pursue her leadership role in the Jewish community in a way to give back and thank all those that have propelled her forward in her love for Judaism.
Wendy has called Ramah home for just over four years. Before Wendy began as bookkeeper she worked in Northern California as a Horseback Riding Instructor and Trainer. Armed with a BA in Finance, and an MS in Accounting, Wendy works hard to keep the business end of Ramah running smoothly. On the rare occasion when Wendy finds herself with some spare time she likes to take advantage of grassy lawns with big shady trees and a good book.Be in touch with Wendy if you have questions about tuition payment, balances on your account or other financial-related questions.
Karmi joined the Ramah staff at the start of September 2009. Karmi has been a Ramah parent and supporter for years and is a leader at the Jewish Federation's Valley Alliance as the Women's Department past President and is actively involved in Adat Ari El's Sisterhood. Karmi loves to hike, cook, travel and, in her new role, spread the word about just how wonderful an experience at Ramah can be for kids. Be in touch with Karmi for information on any of our campership incentive programs, to sign your child up for Ramah and to better spread the word about Ramah in your home community.
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