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Meet The Head Staff

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Rabbi Michael Merrill

Founder & Director

Some people just love camp and others need time to warm up to it...or just need to be in the right camp. As a kid summer was Rabbi Merrill's least favorite time of the year. Now, Rabbi Merrill lives and breathes camp. Rabbi Merrill founded Camp Al Haderech in the summer of 2003. He wanted a camp that would have lots of trips and get him to see places he never saw before. At the time, #1 on the list was Niagara Falls. He has since been there 5 times (at least). But over time, added to the list were rafting, alpine slides, and the world's tallest filing cabinet (only 3x so far). Before making aliyah in 2021, Rabbi Merrill spent 20 years in Jewish Education including 18 years at HANC where he taught, was the Director of Student Activities, and the Assistant Principal. 

His greatest joy in the summer is seeing campers grow by taking chances at new activities. He has watched this thousands of times and gets the greatest satisfaction when some of those campers eventually become staff and help other campers overcome their fears!

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Eli Cohen

Assistant Director NY & Boys Head Counselor

Eli Cohen entered Al Haderech the summer after fourth grade. He started as a camper in the travel camp. He continued with the camp until he graduated 8th grade. In 9th grade Eli joined the staff as a CIT. Although he was sometimes confused with his campers, that was only in size. In stature he clearly was a leader at a young age. Eli continued to grow as a staff member and would finish as one of the best counselors of all time. Eli went off to Shaalvim for 2 years of learning and then rejoined our head staff. As a head counselor he distinguished himself with his ability to stay calm no matter what. Eli's patience is most apparent when dealing with some of the more difficult campers. He listens to them carefully and is able to help get them back on track. He entertains campers on the buses with his tree trivia and random food facts. This summer Eli has added Assistant Director to his title where he focuses on the behind the scenes logistics and staff training.

When Eli is not busy working at Al Haderech he is learning at Yeshiva Gedolah of the Five Towns.

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Dylan Broder

Assistant Head Counselor Boys Max & Head counselor Boys Travel New Jersey

 

Dylan is from West Hempstead, NY, but spends most of his time these days in Washington Heights studying at Yeshiva University. Prior to attending YU, he studied for two years in Yeshivat Kerem B'Yavneh (KBY). When he was younger, Dylan enjoyed many fantastic summers as a camper at Al Haderech. He is excited to be returning to camp as the Al Haderech Boys Max Assistant Head Counselor and Head Counselor of Al Haderech Boys Travel NJ.

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Malkie Merrill

Director

Malkie was born into a camp family. Her father was a camp person through and through... So much so that he owned and directed his own camp for 7 summers. When they got out of the camping business Malkie missed it... Since her parents no longer owned a camp she was free to try out other camps. In the process she learned a lot about the way camps run and eventually would meet her future husband in camp. After getting married she took the summer off, but her dad whispered in her ear to start her own camp. After a bit of cajoling she got Rabbi Merrill on board.

At the start Malkie was the behind the scenes director (and first summer cook). As the camp grew her role grew as well. She is a constant support for all the head staff that are out on the road. She has great programing ideas and adds so much to our day to day activities.

Until Malkie made aliyah in 2021 she taught at Bais Yaakov of Queens for 20 years. As a beloved Morah her students gained so much from her patience and caring demeanor.

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Deena Lewin

Assistant Director NJ

Several years back Al Haderech was searching for the perfect candidate to lead the NJ Travel division. We asked a close friend and they said Deena Lewin is perfect. She's hard working, super creative, detail oriented, and extremely dedicated and loyal. Deena interviewed and was the perfect candidate. Deena started with 30 campers, but over her tenure the program has grown by leaps and bounds. Deena continues to invest her heart and soul into camp. After many summers as the girls head counselor she has moved on to be the Assistant Director of the NJ camp. In her first year she has focused on programming and the calendars for all the camps. With her usual tenacity those areas look like they will make this summer our best yet.

Deena is an outstanding teacher who has spent the last 15+ years teaching at Yeshivat Noam. She is beloved by her students and their parents. Many of them call the camp office and introduce themselves as Deena's really good friend. Deena is the mother of 4 adorable future Al Haderech campers.

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Chaya Rochel Gordon

Head Counselor Girls Travel NJ

Chaya Rochel has spent the last bunch of years at Yeshivat Noam. She is the Director of Student Activities and is always on the lookout for another great activity to liven up the school. We are happy to have Chaya Rochel bring that experience and joy to Al Haderedch Travel NJ Girls where she will be the Girls Head Counselor working closely with Deena Lewin, our Assistant Director.

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