URJ Heller High (formerly NFTY-EIE) has a dedicated team of staff members with years of experience working with high school teens. They are passionate about teaching and caring for the health and well-being of each of our participants.
Rabbi Loren Sykes, Principal (Israel)
Rabbi Loren Sykes grew up in the northern suburbs of Chicago where Rabbi Joseph Strauss z"l of Temple Menorah played a significant role in his early Jewish experiences. Loren was a lifelong Jewish camper and active member in synagogue and youth group life. He holds BA degrees in both European History and in Talmud, as well as an MA in Jewish studies and rabbinic ordination.
Loren brings seventeen years of senior leadership in Jewish camping to his position as principal of Heller High. He was the founding executive director of Camp Ramah Darom in Clayton, Georgia. He also created Camp Yofi: Family Camp for Jewish Families with Children with Autism, a groundbreaking program for which he received the Covenant Award for Excellence in Jewish Education in 2006. Rabbi Sykes has vast experience in not-for-profit leadership and management as well as years of volunteer service on the boards of directors of several Jewish day schools.
Loren met his wife, Rebecca at Jewish overnight camp. He and Rebecca have three children - Elan Mira and Amalya. Elan attends college in the US. Loren, Rebecca, Mira and Amalya made Aliyah in August, 2013 and live in the Talpiyot neighborhood of Jerusalem.
David Solomon, Associate Principal, General Studies (Israel)
David has worked with the Heller High program since 1996 in many different capacities. In addition to his own teaching responsibilities in the general studies program, he works as the general studies coordinator. David, known and loved for his very special sense of humor, hails from Johannesburg, South Africa, and made aliyah in 1985. After completing a B.A. in History and English Literature at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, David gained certification as a qualified secondary school teacher and has been teaching in some of the most prestigious high schools in Jerusalem ever since.
Judy Goldstein, Director of Student Services (Israel)
Judy graduated with honors from Tel Hai College. She was a Commander and Hebrew teacher in Basic training for new immigrants from 1998 to 2001, and was also the commander of a course that trains teachers and prepares them to be commanders and Hebrew teachers. Later, she spent six years of hadracha as a youth counselor in the Noam youth movement, and a number of years as a counselor and educator for NFTY summer programs . Last year Judy was the Director of Counselors and Co-curricular Activities, and also the Camp Director for part of the NFTY in Israel summer programs.
Evan Wertheim, Director of Jewish Learning (Israel)
Evan grew up in Atlanta, Georgia, where he developed a lifelong love for the Jewish People and Israel. His Jewish identity was shaped by a home committed to Judaism, active participation in synagogue life, and NFTY events (especially his trip to Israel in 1999). Upon finishing his BA at George Washington University, Evan served in the AmeriCorps VISTA program working with people with special needs. In 2007, he made aliyah and has continued to be involved in Jewish life, especially as a member of Beit Tefilah Israeli, a synagogue that is a shining example of pluralistic Jewish life in Tel Aviv. He is studying towards his MA in Tanakh and Talmud at the Schechter Institute in Jerusalem. Evan is thrilled to be a part of the staff and share his love for Am Yisrael with the students. Evan has worked at Heller High since 2015 and lives in Modiin with his wife, Yaara, and children, Mati, Idan, and Gili.
David Alon, M.A., Jewish History Teacher (Israel)
David, a NFTY alum, grew up in the Reform Movement and was formerly a madrich for NFTY's summer program and the education director at URJ Camp Harlam. He received his BA in religion from the University of Rochester in 1999, and spent the next year in Israel as a participant in the Jewish Agency's Project Otzma for young leadership. As part of this experience, he chose to engage in a course of studies at the Pardes Institute in Jerusalem. David subsequently received his MA from Brandeis University in 2003 in the field of management and also pursued a graduate cluster in Jewish studies. Upon completing his Masters, David made Aliyah to Israel and enrolled for another year of learning at the WUJS Institute-Arad, focusing on Hebrew language, Tanakh, Jewish history, and Zionism. Later, he enlisted for six months in the IDF and trained with the artillery corps, where he still serves as a reserve soldier. Before coming to Heller High, David was a teacher in the Israeli public school system in the Negev. David is excited to be a part of the Jewish History faculty, where he has the great opportunity to share with the students his passion for Eretz Yisrael and being a part of the Jewish people.
Josh Scharff, Jewish History Teacher (Israel)
Josh grew up in Saint Louis, MO. He graduated from Yale in 2013 with a B.A. in history and was a member of the varsity baseball team for four years. After graduation, Josh spent the year teaching English in an Israeli elementary school through Masa Israel Teaching Fellows. After the year in Israel, he worked for The David Project doing Israel advocacy on college campuses, bringing back both his passion for Israel and all that he learned to the States. Since moving back to Israel in 2015, Josh has worked both as an educator for NFTY in Israel as well as a coach/project coordinator for the Israel Association of Baseball. Josh is incredibly excited to be a part of the Jewish History faculty in order to share and develop his passion for Am Yisrael and Eretz Yisrael with the students
Talia Jacobson, Jewish History Teacher (Israel)
Talia is so excited to return to Tzuba as a teacher. After her semester as a student in Spring 2009, Talia has been dreaming of returning to teach. She grew up in numerous Jewish settings in Chicago and the Midwest, among them Skokie Solomon Schechter Day School and camp URJ OSRUI. Talia also grew up watching her parents serve the Jewish community through Chicago Jewish Funerals and many other programs and events in Chicago. Talia's passion for Israel was ignited by her 8th grade trip, Ta'am Yisrael, continued through her semester on EIE and led her to an army preparatory gap year here in Israel. She has a BA in Judaic Studies and Arabic Language from SUNY Binghamton and now lives joyfully in Jerusalem. Talia is also a licensced tour guide throughout Israel. Talia is so excited to share her passion of the Jewish people, our land, language and religion, with the students and is overjoyed at the opportunity to teach.
Robin Kulwin, Associate Principal, Director of Admissions (U.S)
Robin Kulwin has lived in Montclair, New Jersey since 1990. Her professional career had included stints in commercial banking in Mississippi, public service in the state governments there and in Pennsylvania, and a decade with the Project Finance/Global Power Group at Chase Securities Inc. She served six years on the Montclair Board of Education, two as President, and she and her husband are the parents of two post-high school EIE alums and a son and daughter-in-law who live in New Orleans.
Paul Reichenbach, Immediate Past Director of Camp and Israel Programs (U.S)
Paul J. Reichenbach served as a senior member of the Union for Reform Judaism staff for over 30 years. He served as Co-Director of the Kutz Camp, Director of the college department and for 25 years as Director of Israel Programs. He was the Director of Camping and Israel Programs with principal responsibilities for the 15 URJ Camps and high school and college programs in Israel. A leader in the field of Informal Jewish Education, Paul has been Chairman of the North American Conference on Informal Jewish Education. A proud alumnus of NFTY and New York University, Paul has three wonderful children who are all alumni of NFTY.