About Us

Year-Round Staff

Bill Kaplan
Shalom Institute Executive Director
Since 1990, Bill has been part of the year-round SI staff, but really began his Jewish camping career at Camp JCA in 1976. Bill received his BA from Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT, his MBA in Nonprofit Management and Jewish Communal Service at the University of Judaism, and is currently in his 4th year of rabbinical school at the Academy For Jewish Religion in Los Angeles. Bill is married to Rachel and has two children, Noah and Rebecca, who have grown up at the Shalom Institute and love their Camp JCA Shalom experiences.

 

Joel Charnick

Assistant Executive Director/ Camp JCA Shalom Director
Starting at Camp JCA Shalom in 1988 as a TASCer, then as a CIT, Counselor, TASC Unit Head, CIT Director, Tiyul (Teen Travel Trip) Director, Etgar (Israel Trip) Director, and Program Coordinator, Joel returned to the Shalom Institute in 2001 and has been the Director of Camp JCA Shalom since 2003. Joel graduated from the University of Arizona (go Wildcats!), went to graduate school at Colorado State University, and ultimately at American Jewish University for his MBA. It was during his time at AJU when Joel met his beshert, Rachel and they were married in September of 2011.

 

Elisa Becker
Associate Director/Day Camp Director
Elisa has over 25 years of experience working in camps all over Southern California. She received her BA as well as her Teaching Credential from UC Irvine. In 2011, she started Camp JCA Shalom Day Camp for campers in 1st – 8th grades. In addition to being the Associate Director, she also serves as a Site Visitor for the American Camp Association of Southern California. Elisa loves being part of the Shalom Team.

 

Lori Brockman
Family Relations Coordinator
Lori Brockman is a graduate of the Rhea Hirsch School of Education at Hebrew Union College Jewish Institute of Religion. She has a Master’s Degree in Jewish Education. Lori has worked in Informal Jewish Education for the past twenty years. She has extensive experience with Youth Groups and Family Education. Lori is married to Eric Grodan and has two children, Gabriel and Ayla who have grown up at Camp JCA Shalom.

 

Randy Childs
Adventure Program Director
Randy comes to us with a wealth of experience in outdoor education and is a nationally recognized leaders in ropes courses and experiential education. His camp experience is extensive throughout the United States – from being a camper and staff member, to raising his family at camp. Randy has always thrived on being a part of a camp family. He has a degree from Michigan State University in Environmental Education. Randy began his California outdoor experience in 1984 by playing a major role in the creation of The Wilderness Institute with his brother. Randy has been instrumental in developing and supervising our current ropes course since 1993. Randy heads the Pioneer Living program, which has active learning stations for reconnecting to our natural and cultural heritage.

 

Jonathan (Yoni) Chocron
Operations Director
Jonathan, also known as Yoni, first came from Israel to camp in the summer of 2006 as the Program Coordinator. After 3 years as the Program Coordinator, he joined the year-round staff as the Operations Director. He is now responsible for taking care of the facilities, maintenance and food management at the Shalom Institute. As always, Yoni is determined and dedicated to bringing the Shalom Institute to new heights of greatness.

 

Ben Bessner
Program Coordinator
Ben Bessner joined the Camp JCA Shalom team in 2005, first as a lifeguard and program facilitator during the summer, and later as the Aquatics Director. Since the autumn of 2008 he has risen to the challenge of being the year round Program Coordinator, responsible for logistics and a lot of what happens “behind the scenes”. Originally from Toronto, Canada (go Raptors!), he grew up spending most of his summers at Jewish camps (most of it in the water) as both a camper and staff. Ben has completed his Honors B.A. in English and Communications Studies at York University. Ben loves all things camp and is proud to be a part of the great year-round team.

 

Sarah Verity Collica
Registrar
A former Chaverim Unit Head and Head Counselor (2005 and 2006) and a Los Angeles native, Sarah is thrilled to be back at Camp JCA Shalom after spending the past 7 years in New York. Sarah has worked for a variety of organizations in the Jewish community, including Hillels, synagogues, and most recently, The Museum at Eldridge Street on New York’s Lower East Side. Sarah has a BA in history from UC Berkeley and an MPA in non-profit management from New York University. Sarah loves camp and is happy to be part of the year round team helping families experience the JCA magic!

 

Michelle Horowitz Cait
Alumni Relations Coordinator
Michelle is a graduate from Lesley University in Cambridge, Ma. She has a Master’s degree in Expressive Arts Therapy. Michelle started at Camp JCA Shalom in 1988 as Drama Specialist. She worked in various Jewish Community Centers in Los Angeles as Day Camp Counselor, Unit Head, Enrichment Specialist,and Director of Children’s Services. Michelle has vast experience in the arts, group development, and event planning. She is married to Robert Cait and has three children, Justin, Spencer and Tatiana.

 

Arthur Pinchev
Sherut L’Olam Director
Arthur Pinchev is proud to join the roster of Jewish educators at Shalom Institute as Sherut L’Olam director. Arthur brings more than 20 years experience in youth work, camping and experiential education having directed both Camp Alonim and youth and family programs at the former Brandeis-Bardin Institute in Simi Valley. Arthur received his Bachelor of Arts degree from The Evergreen State College, Washington and his Master of Science degree in education from Bank Street College, New York. He has served as a Peace Corps volunteer and training director in Lesotho, Africa. Arthur resides in Studio City with his wife Carrie Ungerman, an artist and educator. Both serve as the unofficial “aunt and uncle” to dozens of former Alonim staff offspring.

Marsha Katz Rothpan
Community Engagement Director and Gala Director

 

Alison Miller
Development Associate and Executive Assistant

 

David Starkopf
Assistant Retreat Director and JCA Teen Director

 

Becca Andryushchenko
Administrative Assistant