Screen Shot 2018-12-17 at 2.07.25 PM.png

Risa Epstein| director

Risa Epstein has been the National Executive Director for Canadian Young Judaea since 1992. As a child she attended Camp Shalom, Camp Solelim, Camp Biluim Canada (1980!), and Biluim Israel. Risa acted as Solelim staff for three years, and transitioned into Camp Biluim Canada Program Director in 1986 where she met her husband, the Israeli Shaliach. As Director of Camp Solelim for 13 years Risa expanded her portfolio on what it meant to be an educator, why it was so important, and how leaders can learn from each and every one of their campers.

In the beginning of 2017, Risa was approached by CYJ's social worker with a conundrum. There is a gap in the Jewish community that needed to be filled. Along with the social worker Gaela Mintz, Risa decided that she needed to create a space within Canadian Young Judaea where children and teenagers could freely express and celebrate their gender identity, and sexual orientation, while exploring their Jewish Identity in a camp setting. Risa is thrilled to be working with such an amazing team to bring Machane Lev to life!

Screen Shot 2018-12-19 at 10.27.02 AM.png

Gaela mintz| Director of camper care

Jennifer levy| Associate Director


Ellie Gamliel| assistant director

Ellie is so excited to be returning for a second summer and is honoured to be taking on a leadership role at Machane Lev, after her first summer as Head of Communications and Social Media. Being a part of such an important and meaningful week shaping and exploring Jewish identities, and helping to make it happen, is one of the most rewarding things she has ever done. Ellie is thrilled to be gearing up for another amazing summer!

Screen Shot 2018-12-17 at 2.07.48 PM.png

Mark kachuck| program director

Mark is excited to be returning to Machane Lev for the second summer as Program Director! He is passionate about helping our campers build bridges between their Jewish, Queer and Zionist identities. He cannot wait to bring new programs, and memorable experiences to all who join our Machane Lev family. He looks forward to an amazing week filled with self discovery, exploration, and growth.


Gaston Lopez-ficher| Assistant PD

Gaston Lopez Ficher is a Grade 2 teacher in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He heard about CYJ last year, and he has been in love with the movement since then. He has been lucky enough to have been involved in Machane Lev's first year, and in Mifgash in the Fall of 2018. When Gaston isn't working with youth, you can find him at a spin class riding to some awesome tunes or reading a book with a cup of coffee in his hand. His goal this summer is to make Machane Lev a place where everyone can learn about themselves and their identities. By being part of this movement, he wishes to enrich the lives of others by learning and teaching about Jewish Queer people in everywhere.  He is truly so excited to be part of the second year of Machane Lev!