Avidan Halivni
Shira Forester

Lena Eskin
Rosh Kochavim 2019

Where are you this year and what are you doing? I’m living in Chicago, about three months into my first year of medical school at Rush Medical College.

Years as camper and staff member: Camper for six years, on staff for five

Favorite 2019 memory from chadar aleph: Themed meals this summer were a real highlight and allowed for some good shtick. For example, singing a full rendition of “Chicago, Chicago, That Toddlin’ Town” with Shira before a Chicago-style dinner and absolutely no one else joining in.

Favorite meal of the summer: My unpopular opinion is that Shabbat breakfast is an amazing meal. While I’m a coffee cake girl at heart, the scones this summer were a pretty great addition to the rotation.

What keeps you coming back to camp? Camp is where I feel most connected to the people and space around me. I truly grew up there, forming some of my closest friendships and gaining confidence and leadership skills. It’s always such a gift to be able to return and immediately feel at home in the camp community.

Favorite camp musical: From my personal repertoire, Nivonim 2011’s Mamma Mia is the clear winner (though Shoafim 2008’s Newsies is a close 4th runner up). More generally, The Lion King is always a crowd pleaser.

Favorite campwide event: Post-Yom Sport talent show

Favorite place in camp: The Kikar!

Avidan Halivni
Rosh Garinim 2019

Where are you this year and what are you doing? Working as a volunteer with the Masorti community of Berlin, alongside Rabbi Gesa Ederberg.

Education: Graduated from Columbia in 2019 with a degree in Religion.

Years as camper and staff member: A camper since Garinim 2006 and a staff member for 5 summers. 

Favorite 2019 memory from chadar aleph: Teaching everyone about the bracha (blessing) you say over a rainbow after a big storm during dinner – everyone ran out to see the rainbow and when we had brought everyone back in I taught everyone the appropriate bracha! (זוכר הברית ונאמן בבריתו וקים במאמרו)

Favorite meal of the summer? I love quesadillas

Why did you want to be a Rosh Aidah? I feel like I’m my fullest self in this job — camp brings together all the different parts of my personality (not surprising, considering who I am has been shaped so much by camp) and I love sharing my connection to camp with campers and staff!

How will your experiences as a Rosh Aidah help you in other aspects of your life? The management skills are invaluable tools in any job — as a Rosh Aidah, you’re managing hundreds of relationships at once: with your tzevet (staff), with the kids in your tzrifim (cabins), with all the different anafim (activity areas), and with upper Hanhalah (head staff). I learned important communication skills and how to stay organized in my work and present in my relationships. 

Favorite camp musical: Les Miserables, Little Mermaid, Fiddler on the Roof, Chicago

Favorite campwide event: Alufei Ashpah!

Favorite place in camp: Mirpeset Sifriyah (the porch of the library), the drama costume closet!

Ellie Goldstein
Rosh Kochavim/
Halutzim 2019

Where are you this year and what are you doing? I’m a first-year graduate-student at the Columbia Mailman School of Public Health in the Population and Family Health Department. I live in Washington Heights, New York. 

Years as camper and staff member: I was a camper for three summers (Bogrim, Machon, and Nivo) and on staff for two summers (Halutzim 2015 and Kochavim/Halutzim 2016). 

Favorite 2019 memory from chadar aleph: We often played Take Me Home, Country Roads (by John Denver) during lunch and/or dinner. Campers and staff members would all sing along and it would turn into a giant dance party.

Favorite meal of the summer: Breakfast for Dinner

Why did you want to be a Rosh Aidah? Being on staff provided me with a different perspective of camp that allowed me to create unique, memorable experiences for campers and to encourage younger campers to come back to camp. I wanted to be a Rosh Aidah to work closely with staff members, encouraging them to form relationships with campers and to plan creative programs that campers would remember throughout their camp experience. 

What keeps you coming back to camp? I come back to camp to give campers the experiences that made camp memorable for me. I love spending the summer in the Northwoods of Wisconsin with friends that I don’t often see during the year. 

How will your experiences as a Rosh Aidah help you in other aspects of your life? As a Rosh Aidah, you learn to work as a team with people that have perspectives, backgrounds, and experiences that may differ from yours. Because the public health world emphasizes the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration, my summer as a Rosh Aidah will be useful in my professional experiences. 

Favorite camp musical: Mamma Mia

Favorite campwide event: Zimriyah (music festival) – The first campwide event that showcases every aidah really kicks off the summer.


What’s your favorite place in camp?

Besides Chadar Aleph, my favorite place in camp is the set of benches on the Kikar outside of the Moadon.



Shira Forester
Rosh Solelim 2019

Where are you this year and what are you doing? I am currently living in Madison, WI, where I am working as a teacher in a preschool classroom at the Waisman Early Childhood Program. WECP is an inclusion-based program, serving children who developing typically as well as children with disabilities, together in the same classroom. In addition, I am working at Beth Israel Center, where I am teaching Talmud Torah for my fifth year. I am also working to plan some Shabbatonim for Ramah Wisconsin in various cities, so be sure to be on the lookout for those!

Years as camper and staff member: I was a camper for seven summers, went on Ramah Seminar, and was a counselor for four summers before working as a Rosh Aidah for one summer.

Favorite 2019 memory from chadar aleph: One of my favorite memories from chadar aleph this summer was when we had our US state-themed meals. We would play “Take me home country roads” as all of the chanichim/ot (campers) would sing along, and we had representatives from various states announce where they are from. We also created a competition where we went around to each table and asked each tzrif (cabin) to come up with a different state, trying to see how many we could think of on the spot. 

Another great memory from chadar aleph was getting to know Zofie and Basia, who were two international staff members who worked in our chadar. We became friends with them and loved getting to know people who are similar in age to us, who live across the world. They were even thoughtful enough to bake a cake and write cards for mine and Ellie’s birthday. (Yes, Ellie Goldstein and I have the exact same birthday).

Favorite meal of the summer: My favorite meal this summer was the warm, fresh, grilled cheese sandwiches that were made for me on the spot after I notified someone who worked in the kitchen that I was allergic to the other options at that meal. It was the best grilled cheese I have ever had at camp.

What keeps you coming back to camp? I always thought that my love and passion for being at camp would fade away with age. However, that giddy feeling I get walking on the kikar after arriving to camp on the first day has not gone away. Camp continues to be something I think about constantly throughout the school year, which shows me that there must be some reason why I need to continue to spend my summers in Conover.

Favorite camp musical: This is a pretty loaded question. It is very tough to choose. I will say that it is probably a toss-up between Matilda 2017 and Bye Bye Birdie 2011. 

 Favorite place in camp: My favorite place in camp is chadar aleph, especially when Avidan, Ellie, and Lena are there with me!