Introducing Our Summer Leadership Team (Mazkirut)
We are so excited to introduce our 2021 Leadership Team (Mazkirut)! This team is comprised of staff members who help oversee all of the areas of camp. Their leadership will be incredibly valuable towards creating a great experience for our campers, staff and larger community!
This blog was updated February 2021 to reflect the full team.
Audrey Honig, Rosh Kallah
Audrey is so happy to be returning to OSRUI as the Rosh Eidah of Kallah! This will be Audrey’s 13th summer at camp and her 5th summer on staff. She is a Senior at Kalamazoo College, where she studies Jewish Studies and Creative Writing. On campus, she is the President of Hillel and is involved with the interfaith community. She is also the Middle School Coordinator for NFTY-CAR. In her free time, Audrey loves playing the flute and her purple accordion!
Audrey believes Kallah is a very special eidah because it often the place of the first camp memories that so many of us hold in our hearts for years! She is excited to meet all of the chanichim (campers) and help them build an awesome kehillah (community). Whether the chanichim are finding new ways to pray, approaching big goals, or making friends in their tzrifim (cabins), Audrey can’t wait to introduce them to the many joys of OSRUI. She is counting down the days until Summer 2021 begins!
Shira Brandhandler, Rosh Tzofim
Shira is thrilled to be returning home to Oconomowoc this summer as the Rosh Eidah of Tzofim! This will be her 14th summer at camp and her 7th summer on staff. Shira graduated from the University of Michigan in 2019 where she studied Judaic Studies and Biopsychology. Now, she works at Temple Jeremiah in Northfield, IL as the Youth and Family Engagement Director and OSRUI CLASP fellow.
Shira is so excited to be back in Kibbutz HaTzofim hanging out in the refet (farm), gan (garden), and Tzofim hill! She especially loves Tzofim traditions like high-sock Thursday, Oconomostock (the all camp talent show put on by Tzofim Gimmel) and coming together with the whole camp for Shabbat Shira. As she counts down the days until the start of the summer, Shira is thinking about all of her memories at OSRUI and can’t wait to meet the wonderful chanichim (campers) and help them create their own amazing experiences and memories.
Alek Kopolsky, Rosh Gesher
Alek is beyond excited to return this summer as the Rosh Eidah of Gesher. OSRUI has been a second home for Alek for 11 summers, 6 of which he spent on staff in the roles of madrich (counselor), songleader, and music specialist.
Alek graduated from Brandeis University in 2019 where he majored in psychology and public health. He now works as the Youth and Family Engagement Coordinator at Congregation BJBE in Deerfield, Illinois as well as an OSRUI CLASP fellow.
Alek is grateful to be welcomed into this community which values embracing new experiences. Between Gesher’s new intensives and our many chugim (electives), there will be so many opportunities this summer to grow ourselves and as a community. Alek can’t wait to meet the incredible chanichim (campers) of Gesher and to create memories and lifetime friendships.
Sam Cohen, Rosh Moshavah
Sam is thrilled to be returning to OSRUI as the Rosh of Mosh! This will be his 10th straight summer at camp and 5th on staff; there is absolutely no place he’d rather spend summer than good ole’ Oconomowoc, Wisconsin. Sam is from Round Lake Beach, Illinois and is currently a senior at Indiana University where he studies Education. When not doing school work, you can find him going outside, playing with his cats Simba and Zazu, or working at the local bagel shop in Bloomington, Indiana!
Moshavah is an incredible unit where Sam has made some of the greatest life-long friends and challenged himself to learn and grow! He is thrilled to get back to going on tiyulim (trips) and hanging out on Mosh Hill! He is very excited to help build a kehilah (community) of chanichim (campers) that are passionate about Judaism and the teva (nature). Sam cannot wait to strap up his chacos and get down to business in Moshavat HaTeva 2021!
Micah Brandhandler, Rosh Chalutzim
Ethan Stone, Rosh Avodah
Ethan can’t wait to join our Avodaniks at camp this summer as Rosh Avodah! Ethan grew up attending OSRUI’s sister camp in Indiana – Goldman Union Camp Institute. Originally from Overland Park, KS, he is a graduate of Brandeis University and majored in Latin American and Latino Studies. Ethan currently works in Boulder, Colorado at Congregation Har HaShem as the Youth Director and is an OSRUI CLASP fellow.
This will be Ethan’s very first summer at OSRUI! He was looking forward to spending last summer in Oconomowoc, but still got to know our community through the weeks of summer virtual programming. In the meantime, he has been actively involved in positioning the Avodah program as the Ultimate Camp Internship. Ethan can’t wait to meet and work with this year’s Avodah Corps and to experience the magic of OSRUI first hand.
Marni Israel, Rosh Chaverim
Marni is so excited to return to camp this summer as the Rosh Eidah of Chaverim! She has spent 8 summers at OSRUI and cannot wait for her 9th! Marni also spent 3 summers at the URJ Kutz Camp in Warwick, NY. She is from Deerfield, IL and spends her school year down in Champaign where she is studying Speech and Hearing Science, Psychology and Social Work at University of Illinois. On campus, Marni is very involved in her sorority along with Illini Hillel. Outside of school, she loves being outside and playing with her dog.
Marni cannot wait to return to Oconomowoc where her love for summer camp began. She is most looking forward to sharing the magic of OSRUI with the youngest generation. She is thrilled to jump into her time in Chaverim and spend the summer with all the staff and faculty children on camp!
Becca Levy, Rosh Omanut (Art)
Becca is delighted to return to OSRUI as Rosh Omanut! This will be her eleventh summer at camp, and sixth on staff. When she was last at camp she spent a lot of time in the Mirkaz Omanut (Art Center), Beit Am, and Barn Theatre as Rosh Eidah of Tiferet in 2014 & 2015 and a madrichah (counselor) 2011-2013.
Becca works as a Chicago–based educator, theatre artist, and certified yoga instructor. Becca has taught theatre with Emerald City Theatre and youth yoga with Mission Propelle Yoga. She is a stage manager and proud artistic ensemble member of Strawdog Theatre Company. She has worked in several creative Jewish spaces including Havaya Arts, a Jewish overnight arts camp where she served as Program Director, and Culinary Judiacs Academy, where she currently writes curriculum. When she’s not working, you can find Becca on her yoga mat, baking challah, or listening to her favorite podcasts. Before moving to Chicago, Becca earned a BFA in Stage Management from Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
From arts chugim (electives) and programming all across camp to Gesher’s new “Making a Musical,” Becca can’t wait to create and facilitate art-making with chanichim (campers) and tzevet (staff) all summer long!
Jeff Gates, Rosh Recreation
Jeff Gates is returning for another fun filled summer at OSRUI as Rosh Recreation. Jeff grew up in Omaha Nebraska as a member of Temple Israel. In the summers he went to JCC day camp where he would later become a counselor in high school. In college, Jeff came to OSRUI for the first time as Madrich in Gesher’s inaugural summer. The next summer Jeff found his place in the Mercaz Sport as the Sports Director and has been back ever since.
After graduating from the University of Nebraska where he studied Psychology, Religion, and Philosophy, he decided to work for various non-profits and split his time between Israel and The United States. In the summer and winter, Jeff often volunteers for Birthright Israel, having led over 10 trips to the Holy Land. He enjoys playing guitar, learning new languages, swimming, and discovering new places. When he is back home visiting Omaha, Jeff enjoys spending time with family and life as an entertaining uncle to his 3 nieces and nephews. During the pandemic, Jeff left Tel Aviv and came back to Omaha to continue working as a mentor in an emergency shelter. He is a mentor and a tutor for at risk youth in the shelter where he has worked for 13 years. Jeff describes working at OSRUI as an honor and a pleasure, proudly embarking on his third decade with staff at OSRUI.
Rafi Ellenson, Rosh Ivrit
Rafi (he/him/his) is thrilled to come back to OSRUI as Rosh Ivrit! Rafi was last at camp in 2017 as Rosh Chalutzim and before that as a music specialist, songleader, and madrich (counselor). Between his time on tzevet (staff) and as a chanich (camper), this will be his 13th summer at camp. Rafi loved OSRUI so much as a kid that he was more than happy to fly to Oconomowoc every summer from his hometown of New York, NY.
Rafi is a rabbinical student at the Rabbinical School of Hebrew College outside of Boston in Newton Centre, MA. He works as a rabbinic intern in the Miller Center for Interreligious Learning & Leadership and freelances as a literary translator jumping back and forth between Hebrew and English — just like all of OSRUI’s chanichim (campers) will do this summer! Prior to beginning rabbinical school, Rafi graduated with an Individualized Bachelor of Arts from Goddard College and lived in Jerusalem for three years where he worked at the Hotline for Refugees and Migrants, 0202: Points of View from Jerusalem, and was a fellow on the Dorot Fellowship in Israel studying translation, education, and tzedek chevrati (social justice).
Having taught and written curricula for a diverse range of synagogues, NGOs, and more for many years, Rafi is overjoyed to get back to his roots and his favorite topic by imparting his love for Ivrit to the whole OSRUI community. Az nu kvar, yallah, (So, come on already!) let’s get going to kayitz (summer) 2021!
Mady Frisher, Staff Programming Coordinator
Mady is looking forward to returning to OSRUI this summer to be Staff Programming Coordinator! This will be Mady’s 9th year up at camp and 4th year on staff (well, 5th if you include the virtual summer of 2020). Mady graduated from American University in 2019 where she majored in International Studies. Now, she works as the Youth Engagement Coordinator at North Shore Congregation Israel in Glencoe, Illinois and as an OSRUI CLASP fellow.
Even though she hasn’t been at camp in a couple years, when she isn’t working you can find Mady chilling in her chacos with her bakbook mayim (water bottle) making friendship bracelets.
Mady can’t wait to be back in Oconomowoc and get back her epic sandal tan while helping to ensure our staff have a fun, meaningful, and incredible experience summer!
Michelle Margolies, Rosh Tour La’agam
Michelle is looking forward to returning to OSRUI this summer as the Rosh Eidah of Tour La’agam! This will be her 15th summer at camp and 6th summer on staff. Michelle graduated from UC Berkeley last May where she studied Architecture and Natural Resources. This year she has been enjoying working for a climate responsive design firm and cannot wait to spend the summer outdoors!
Michelle loves Tour La’agam because the eidah gets to explore different places around Lake Michigan, experience breathtaking hills and teva (nature) and remain connected to the OSRUI traditions and community. She is wheely excited to meet this year’s tourists and start having fun biking, swimming, making fires, and setting up camp in just a few months!