Jerry Kaye, Director
Jerry Kaye is the Director of the URJ Olin-Sang-Ruby Union Institute in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin and was one of just 30 people from around the world invited to join the International Task Force on Jewish Peoplehood, under the auspices of the Jewish Agency. This past year he was appointed to a prestigious national panel on Jewish Educational Leadership as the only camp director among university professors and other practitioners of work in Jewish life.
Jerry has authored numerous works relating to Jewish education, self-esteem and youth. He consults to communities and congregations throughout North America and presents programs on Jewish content for children, adults and families alike. His most recent article appears in Text Messages – A Torah Commentary for Teens. He is only one of two camp directors who have works included in this book.
Jerry is professionally associated with the National Association of Temple Educators and is a Life Fellow of the American Orthopsychiatric Association. He has been cited with the title of Reform Jewish Educator (RJE) by NATE and was recognized as the Alexander Dushkin Distinguished Educator by the Chicago Board of Jewish Education. In addition to his work with the camp, he is also a teacher in the Florence Melton Adult Mini-School – a program serving adult learners.
Jerry takes special pride in having been selected as the first recipient of the Guardian of Hope Award from Keshet, an organization of families with special needs children. In May of 2000, he received the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters honoris causa from the Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion.
Jerry holds a Master's degree in counseling psychology from Roosevelt University and completed post-graduate studies at the Chicago Medical School/University of Health Sciences. He has also studied at the Spertus College of Judaica in Chicago and his professional and scholastic honors include membership in Blue Key, Pi Kappa Delta (Degree of Special Distinction), and Phi Delta Kappa, Professional Education Society.
Jerry is best known, though, as a storyteller. He is the Emmy nominated host and moderator of Sanctuary, a Chicago television series focused on Jewish communal issues.
E-mail Jerry | Call Jerry at 847-239-6977
Susan Alexander, Associate Director
Susan has been a member of the OSRUI family for many years, first as a camper parent, program coordinator and then assistant and associate director. In addition to coordinating our summer and winter programs and recruiting campers and staff, Susan directs our scholarship program. She brings with her years of experience as a gifted teacher and musician.
Raised in the Chicago area, Susan taught for many years in the Chicago Public School system and then in District 68 in Skokie. She then served as director of education at Temple Judea Mizpah in Skokie, where she also taught music and directed their youth choir. Susan holds a Master of Arts degree from Northwestern University, and is the recipient of the Fay and Haskell Lurie Award for Excellence in Teaching in Jewish Classrooms.
An avid gardener, Susan plants the beautiful garden in Kibbutz HaTzofim each spring. She is very excited about overseeing the new environmental program that will begin at camp the summer of 2014. "We can't wait to nurture the knowledge and appreciation of the earth and caring for it, from our youngest campers to our entire OSRUI family. We will have a new greenhouse along with areas in camp that will be used for sustainable gardening and much, much more. Judaism says a lot about treating the earth with care, and we plan to include these teachings, along with Hebrew, art, and of course the usual OSRUI fun."
Susan has a love for OSRUI and all the children and staff who pass through its gates.
E-mail Susan | Call Susan at 847-239-6980
Max Weinberg, Assistant Director
Max joined our staff full time in September 2013, after serving on our summer staff for five years, the last two as Avodah Rosh Eidah. Previously he was a counselor and a songleader in Kallah, Gesher, and Tzofim. Max works with Jerry and Susan on camper recruitment, staff recruitment, outreach to congregations and social media. A graduate of Indiana University in Bloomington, Max has a degree in Elementary Education, and currently holds a Teacher's License in both Indiana and Illinois. Max has worked numerous congregational retreats at OSRUI as well as the Father/Son Kallah.
Email Max | Call Max at 847-239-6983
Jill Silver Topolski, Director of Development
Jill joined the staff in 2012, bringing with her a wealth of experience in development. She coordinates our fundraising efforts, as well as donor and alumni relations. Although she was new to OSRUI, she now thinks of it as her second home. She enjoys meeting all those who are committed to OSRUI and to Jewish camping.
Email Jill | Call Jill at 847-239-6973
Denise Heimlich, Manager of Marketing
& Camper Registration
Denise is responsible for all aspects of the camper registration process, as well as marketing, advertising, and communications. A former camper and staff member, her very first job with OSRUI was working in the office at camp while a member of the Avodah Corps; she has worked full time for OSRUI since 2002. Denise was also a camper parent and is well versed in parent concerns.
E-mail Denise | Call Denise at 847-239-6989
JoAnn Sandoval, Business Manager
JoAnn has served as the OSRUI Business Manager for 25 years. She handles camper accounts and all other financial matters for Camp. JoAnn holds a degree in accounting from DePaul University and came to OSRUI with a substantial background as a corporate executive. She enjoys hearing from parents and making sure that every camper has the opportunity to attend camp.
Email JoAnn | Call JoAnn at 847-239-6981
Barbara Gordon, Program Coordinator
As part of our year-round team, Barbara Gordon coordinates weekend retreats and facilities usage, year-round events and programming, and special OSRUI programs such as Lehrhaus, Hava Nashira and Shabbat Shira. Barbara has also led cooking chugs and programs for many summers at camp.
E-mail Barbara | Call Barbara at 847-239-6984