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 has three children - Elan Mira and Amalya. Elan lives in Washington DC. Mira and Amalya made Aliyah in August, 2013 and now are pursuing studies in America.
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.
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.
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, M.A., 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 Achva, a pluralistic synagogue in Modiin. He holds an MA in Tanakh and Talmud from 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. He 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, Tanach, Jewish history, and Zionism. Later, he enlisted for six months in the IDF and trained with the artillery corps, where he served as a reserve soldier for 11 years. Before coming to Heller High, David was a teacher in the Israeli public school system in the Negev. Also a licensed Israel tour guide, 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.
Ilan Bloch, M.A., Jewish History Teacher (Israel)
Ilan works as a tour guide, teacher and session facilitator for individual tourists, and adult, family and student/young adult groups from overseas. Before making Aliyah almost twenty years ago, he worked as a Jewish Studies, Hebrew and Israel Studies teacher, and served as the Head of Informal Jewish Education, at The King David School in Melbourne, Australia. He is married with twins and lives in Jerusalem. Ilan is very excited to join URJ Heller High and get back into the classroom. Ilan holds a Ministry of Tourism Tour Guide License and a Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI) Ministry of Education-authorized Tour Guiding Certificate. He also holds a Master of Arts degree in Jewish Education, and a Bachelor of Arts degree and a Graduate Diploma of Education (Teaching Diploma) in Jewish Studies and Hebrew Literature.
Yael Lewis, Jewish History Teacher (Israel)
Yael is originally from San Diego, California where she was active in the youth movement of Young Judaea. She made Aliyah with Garin Tzabar in 2008 and enlisted in the IDF where she served as a fitness instructor in the Infantry unit of the Nachal Brigade. During her army service she lived on Kibbutz Hazorea in the Jezreel Valley. After her service she received a merit scholarship from the Heseg Foundation and was an Argov Fellow at Reichman University (IDC Herzliya) in Israel. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Government, Diplomacy and Strategy with a distinction in International relations. After her studies, she served as an Israel Emissary through the Jewish Agency in Westchester, New York. This experience led her to the field of tourism, organizing trips around Israel for Israeli and North American groups. Her love for education and desire to interact with people led her to become a tour educator and teacher. She is very excited to be on the Jewish history team at Heller High this year!
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.