Our Staff

Summer Staff

Ramah counselors and staff are dedicated to providing the highest quality camping experience for each and every camper. Our exceptional counseling staff is comprised largely of former campers who want to share their love of Ramah with a new generation of campers. They recognize that current campers look to them as role models for athletics and traditional camp skills as well as for ethical values and religious traditions. Before camp begins, they participate in extensive training and workshops that continue throughout the summer.

Ramah’s international reputation also draws the finest specialists in art, dance, music, camping, sports and waterfront skills, as well as leading American and Israeli scholars, Rabbis and teachers from Jewish communities all over the world. Campers gain skills, knowledge and life experiences from their daily interactions with talented staff and guests.

To apply to work at camp for summer 2018, please click here.

Year-Round Staff

Rabbi David Soloff
Chief Executive Officer

Rabbi David Soloff was the Director of Camp Ramah in Wisconsin from 1975-2009. A graduate of Brandeis University, he earned a master of arts and was ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary in 1974. Rabbi Soloff is the Co-Chair of the Midwest Jewish Camp Directors’ Association. He is a past president of the Chicago Region Jewish Educators’ Assembly and the Chicago Rabbinical Assembly and former chair of the Education Committee of Chicagoland Jewish High School.

jacobJacob Cytryn

Jacob Cytryn is a lifetime Ramahnik and has been a camper and participant in Ramah Seminar Plus.

A member of the year-round staff since January of 2007, Jacob previously served as Assistant Director, Program Director, a Rosh Eidah, Counselor, and Teacher. An alumnus of the Wexner Graduate Fellowship, Jacob is an advanced Ph.D. student in Jewish Studies and Education in the Mandel Center for Studies in Jewish Education at Brandeis University.

He has an MA in Talmud and Rabbinics from the Jewish Theological Seminary, a BA from the University of Pennsylvania and has studied in Israel at the Hebrew University, the Conservative Yeshiva, and the Hartman Institute. Jacob, his wife Tamar and their three sons live in Chicago.

1469754_10200928504836507_1804804748_nAdina Allen
Assistant Director

Originally from St. Paul, Minnesota, Adina has been a part of the Camp Ramah in Wisconsin community since 2001, including numerous summers as a camper and counselor as well as two summers as a Rosh Aidah. Most recently, Adina worked in the Sales/Marketing department at The Advisory Board Company in Washington DC, in the health care research division. Adinahas spent time working as a Blueprint Teaching Fellow in St. Louis, and as a volunteer mentor with the Higher Achievement Program in Washington, DC. She holds a BA from Washington University in St. Louis, where she studied Political Science and Jewish/Near Eastern Studies and is an alumna of the Nativ College Leadership Program.

benjiBenji Bearman
Chief Operating Officer

Benji Bearman is the Chief Operating Officer of Camp Ramah in Wisconsin. In this capacity, Benji is responsible for the finances and operations of the camp. He also oversees construction projects at camp including the new Chadar Ochel. Benji also works closely with the Ramah Day Camp. Prior to starting at Camp Ramah full-time, Benji was the Director of Youth Activities for the Mid-Continent Region of United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism for eight years.

He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Speech Communications. A former camper, counselor, Rosh Aidah and fieldworker, Benji has been at Camp Ramah since 1989. Benji lives in Skokie with his wife Faye and their three children, Mia (Halutzim), Leo and Lev.


Linda Hoffenberg
Director of Institutional Advancement

A former Ramah Wisconsin camper (Nivonim 1970), Linda and her husband Michael lived in Israel in the 1970’s and 1980’s. When they returned to the United States they settled in Skokie, Illinois, with their three sons, Ilan, Jon and Noam.

Linda earned a degree in Hebrew Language Education from Spertus College in Chicago. While in Israel she worked at Bar Ilan University and the Weizmann Institute of Science. Back in the U.S., she worked in the travel industry for 10 years.

Linda joined the year-round Ramah staff as Development Director in 1997. She is very proud to be a part of a development team made up of lay leaders and professionals who give generously of their energy and resources to support Ramah’s mission. Linda and Michael are active members of the Skokie Egalitarian Minyan and they are proud grandparents of eight current/future Ramahniks.

samSam Caplan
Chief Development Officer

Sam joined the year-round team in January 2014. Previously, Sam had served for two terms on the Ramah Wisconsin Committee and had been co-chair of Development with Dan Blumenthal on the Ramah Wisconsin Executive Committee.   Professionally Sam brings a wealth of development experience most recently serving as the Midwest Deputy Director for AIPAC where he managed an annual campaign of $14M across nine Midwest states.   Sam spent four years at Ramah Wisconsin as a camper and seven on staff including several as a Rosh Aidah.  Sam met his wife Sarah Ettinger (Nivo ‘98) at camp, and they now have three children.

yaelYael Bendat-Appell
Camper Intake Coordinator

Yael comes to Ramah Wisconsin from the Sager Solomon Schechter Day School in Northbrook, Illinois, where she was the Team Leader for Judaic Studies/Hebrew Academic Support in grades 5-8. A Toronto native, she is an alumna of Camp Ramah in Canada where she was a long-time camper and staff member, including serving as the Rosh Eidah for the Tikvah program and the Tikvah Director.

Yael earned a B.S. in Psychology from the University of Toronto with a second major in Jewish Studies as well as a Master’s Degree in General and Special Education from Bank Street College. A Wexner Graduate Fellow, she previously taught in Solomon Schechter schools in the suburbs of New York City and Philadelphia.

Yael lives in Highland Park with her husband, Rabbi Jordan Bendat-Appell, and their three children, Adin (Kochavim), Orli and Shaiya.


Robin Rubenstein
Parent Liaison/Alumni Coordinator/Family Camp Director

Robin Rosenbaum Rubenstein brings tremendous energy and warmth to her position as she keeps 60 years worth of Ramahniks connected to camp through email, special events, and visits to camp. She is excited to be working for Ramah since she was a camper for 6 years (Nivonim ’90), attended Israel Seminar (’91) as well as a staff member working as a junior counselor and counselor. After being away for several years, Robin returned to camp in 2000 and has worked in various positions as her husband served as a visiting rabbinic educator.

Robin is originally from suburban Chicago. She graduated from the Joint Program of the Jewish Theological Seminary and Columbia University in 1996 with degrees in Talmud and Political Science. Robin currently lives in West Bloomfield, Michigan with her husband Steven and her children, Ari (Nivonim) and Tali (Shoafim).


Barrie Orloff
Twin Cities Ramah Representative

Barrie Orloff joined the Ramah year-round staff in September 2011. After several years as a camper (Nivonim 1985), staff member and parent of current campers, she is thrilled to be a part of the Ramah team! Barrie graduated from the University of Wisconsin – Madison in 1991 with a BS degree in Education. During the school year, Barrie also works at the Heilicher Minneapolis Jewish Day School.

Barrie lives in Golden Valley, Minnesota with her husband, Steven (Nivonim 1982) and her three children, Sam, Danielle (Nivonim) and Noah (Bogrim).


Ann Lesley Rosen
Communications Coordinator

Ann Lesley joined the year-round staff in December 2010 after spending many years as a camper (Nivonim 1996) and staff member. She spent several summers working with the Tikvah and Atzmayim programs, as well as several summers as the website photographer and blogger.

Originally from St. Louis, Missouri, she has an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Missouri-St. Louis and BA in Music and English from Lake Forest College. Ann Lesley lives in Buffalo Grove, Illinois with her husband Scott (also Nivonim 1996) and their four children, Liana (Halutzim), Gillian (Garinim), Asher and Amira.


Shaina Sugar
Development Assistant

Shaina joined Ramah in winter 2012. She grew up in Milwaukee, WI and later moved to Chicago. Shaina graduated from the University of Michigan in 2004 with a degree in Film and Video Studies.

After returning to Chicago with her husband, Brad (Nivo ’98), she attended The French Pastry School. Shaina currently lives in Evanston with her family.

Elisa Pener
Head Nurse

Elisa is a Kansas City native and works year-round for Ramah. This will be her 20th year as part of our medical staff. She graduated from Research Medical Center College of Nursing.

Elisa is the Health Coordinator for the Jewish Community campus and Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy in Overland Park, Kansas.


Ralph Schwartz
Director of Special Needs Programming

A veteran Ramahnik, Ralph worked in the Tikvah Program at Camp Ramah Palmer from 1977-1982. He directed the Breira Program at Ramah Berkshires from 2002-2005.

A graduate of Brooklyn College with a degree in Special Education, Ralph also earned a Masters in Social Work from Hunter College.

photo (1)Joe Pennington
Food Services Manager/Head Chef

From Louisville, Kentucky, Joe has been part of the Ramah staff for many years. He received a BA in English at the University of Louisville and studied Culinary Arts at Sullivan University. Joe and his wife Christina have one son, Joey.

paulinaPaulina Gugala

Paulina has been a familiar face in our dining halls since she first came to camp as a member of our International Staff in 2009.  Originally from Poland, Paulina grew up near Warsaw, and found her way to Ramah through a European summer program that gives students the opportunity to work and travel in the United States while on vacation from university.  In December 2013 she graduated from the University of Warsaw with a Master’s Degree in International Management. She moved to Chicago in 2014 and recently completed an 18-month internship doing special projects in the year-round Ramah office.  Paulina lives in Chicago with her husband, Michael.