Camp JCA Shalom Director/ Shalom Institute Asst. Exec Director
Joel has been at Camp JCA Shalom for 32 summers and has been the Director of camp for 17 years. Jewish Camping is his life’s passion.
Starting at Camp JCA Shalom in 1988 as a TASCer, then as a CIT, Counselor, TASC Unit Head, CIT Director, Tiyul (Teen Travel Trip) Director, Etgar (Israel Trip) Director, and Program Coordinator, Joel returned to the Shalom Institute in 2001 and has been the Director of Camp JCA Shalom since 2003. Joel graduated from the University of Arizona (go Wildcats!), went to graduate school at Colorado State University, and earned his MBA in Nonprofit Management from American Jewish University. Joel is married to Rachel and has two beautiful children, Jonah and Lily. Joel and Rachel are looking forward to watching their children grow up at Camp JCA Shalom.
Rabbi Bill Kaplan
Shalom Institute Executive Director
Beginning his 30th year at the Shalom Institute, Bill began his camping career at Camp JCA in 1976. Bill received his BA from Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT, and his MBA in Nonprofit Management, Jewish Communal Service at the University of Judaism, and ordination from the Academy For Jewish Religion in Los Angeles. Bill is married to Rachel and has two children, Noah and Rebecca. Bill has enjoyed watching his children grow up at Camp JCA Shalom.
Shalom Institute Chief Operating Officer
Elisa has over 20 years of experience working in camps all over Southern California. She received her BA as well as her Teaching Credential from UC Irvine. In addition to being the Associate Director, she also serves as Membership Chair and Site Visitor for the American Camps Association of Southern California. Elisa loves being part of the Shalom Team.
Shalom Institute Director of Year Round Programs / Camp JCA Shalom Associate Camp Director
Allison came to Camp JCA Shalom from Toronto, Canada in 1999 after a close friend told her about “this camp in Malibu she just HAD to check out”. She began her camping career as the Habonim Unit Head and Camp Teva Program Director and then spent her next few summers as the Head Counselor. In 2007, Allison was thrilled to return to JCA full time as the Assistant Camp Director. After a number of years traveling and living abroad, Allison studied social work at Ryerson University in Toronto while also working as a children’s entertainer and exotic animal educator, leading interactive and educational programs for kids featuring live animals. Now, at camp, there is no place she’d rather be, and is so grateful that she made the decision to ‘check out’ Camp JCA Shalom.
Shalom Institute Program Director / Camp JCA Shalom Day Camp Director
Growing up in a small town outside of Dallas, Allison Blonder found her love for Jewish community by attending Jewish overnight camp and has had a passion for Jewish camping ever since. Her camp experience led to increased involvement in the Jewish community, including forming her synagogue’s NFTY youth group, becoming active with Hillel while attending the University of Texas at San Antonio, and working at URJ Greene Family Camp during summers and weekends. Allison joined the Shalom Institute team as a Program Director in 2017 and joined Elisa Becker at Camp JCA Shalom Day Camp as Assistant Director. In 2019 Allison was honored to be a Hazon JOFEE Fellow and promoted to Day Camp Director, and in 2020 she created and implemented “JCA @ Home,” the virtual camp experience for campers from both the day camp and overnight camp.
Shalom Institute Operations Director
David Starkopf grew up spending summers at Camp JCA Shalom, first as an Alufim camper in 1998, then as a TASCer, Chalutznic, a CIT, a Counselor, Photography Specialist, and Unit Head. During the year, between summers, David worked as a Hebrew school teacher and Youth Director at Beth Shir Sholom in Santa Monica. In 2011 David became the Photographer for the Mayor Of Los Angeles. After some time in the Mayor’s administration, David and three friends who met at Camp JCA founded the San Fernando Valley Moishe House, a place that provides meaningful Jewish experiences to young adults in their 20s, from Shabbat dinners to building a sukkah on Sukkot. After the Mayor was termed out, David happily found his way back to the Shalom Institute to work on the year-round staff.
Sarah Verity Collica
A former Chaverim Unit Head and Head Counselor (2005 and 2006), Sarah returned to JCA in 2013 and is thrilled to be back! Sarah is a Los Angeles native where the JCC and camp were important parts of her life growing up and helped influence her to work in the Jewish community. Sarah has a BA in history from UC Berkeley and an MPA in non-profit management from New York University. Sarah loves camp and is happy to be part of the year round team helping families experience the JCA magic! Sarah is married to Larry and they have two daughters, Joanna and Alexandra, and two dogs, Lucy and Phoebe.
Marsha Katz Rothpan
Shalom Institute Development & Engagement Director
Marsha began her time at Shalom Institute in 2012 as the Marketing and Community Engagement Director. Her love and appreciation of the outdoors and camping began as a child growing up in Ada, Oklahoma. She spent her childhood summers at Campfire Girls overnight and day camps and on Explorer Scouts adventures. Marsha was bitten by the Jewish Camping bug as a teenager at URJ’s Greene Family Camp in Bruceville, Texas – where she met her husband, Jeff, in 1987. She brings more than 25 years of Jewish and secular non-profit professional and lay experience to her roles at Shalom Institute. Marsha holds an Honorary Doctorate and a Masters Degree in Jewish Non-Profit Management from Hebrew Union College, a Masters in Social Work from USC, and a BA in Social Work from the University of Oklahoma.
Development & Administrative Assistant
Jessica joined Shalom Institute in the Summer of 2019. Before that, she was an Administrative Coordinator at Cal State University, Northridge where she also got her bachelor’s degree in Psychology. She loves being outdoors, particularly hiking, geocaching, or being at a Dodgers game.
Adventure Center Director/ Assistant Operations Coordinator
William’s first summer was in 2010. He became part of Shalom Institute’s year round staff in 2016. He has been a general counselor, a TASC Project Coordinator, the Archery Specialist, Ropes Course Director, Program Coordinator, and is currently the Assistant Operations Director and Adventure Center Director. William’s dog is Earl. His favorite camp meal is the breakfast burrito.
After her first summer in 2013 as a CIT, Riona fell in love with JCA and never left! Since then, she has worked at camp as a General Counselor, Inclusion Specialist, Job Coach, Unit Head, and Program Director and officially joined the Year Round Team as a Program Associate in 2019. Before joining the Year Round Team, Riona worked as a Hebrew school teacher and Madrichim Director at Congregation Tikvat Jacob in Manhattan Beach. Riona and her dog Max love spending their summers in the sun at JCA, and hopes everyone gets a chance to experience the “camp magic” we all know and love!
Marketing and Communications Coordinator
Lauren first came to Camp JCA Shalom in 2004 from Toronto, Canada. She never forgot it. She spent a few summers working as a Camp Counselor, then Sports Specialist, and in her third year was selected to be Cornerstone Fellow. Lauren has a BA from the University of Toronto and before making the permanent move to California, she worked as a Marketing and Sales Director for an urban issues magazine covering sustainability, architecture, and urban planning. It was through this community that she fell in love with working for ‘do-good’ organizations and non-profits, creating partnerships with Patagonia, Car2Go, Shopify, TIFF to name a few. Lauren’s passion to build a stronger community impact and purpose is what led her towards this continued love affair for camp. In her spare time, she is a published illustrator and photographer.
Family Relations Coordinator
Lori Brockman is a graduate of the Rhea Hirsch School of Education at Hebrew Union College Jewish Institute of Religion. She has a Master’s Degree in Jewish Education. Lori has worked in Informal Jewish Education for over 20 years. She has extensive experience with Youth Groups and Family Education. Lori is married to Eric Grodan and has two children, Gabriel and Ayla who have been campers at Camp JCA Shalom for many years.
Shalom Institute’s Bookkeeper
Caroline and her husband Doug came to Shalom in June of 2012. Caroline took on the role of bookkeeper in 2015. A former Guide Dog Mobility Instructor and dairy farmer, she enjoys all things outdoors, especially horseback riding, hiking, and dog agility.
Earl is a 4-year old 148lb Anatolian Pyrenees. He is the former livestock guardian for the Shalom Institute headquarters in Malibu California. Currently, Earl’s role includes assisting the Adventure Center Director, William Smythe, management of Malibu Creek’s River taste testing, and fertilization of the land pre-rebuild. He is often seen throughout summer and at in-person Year-Round Programs in Malibu providing love and support to the community – campers, staff, and welcoming guests. He guards and protects our SI home and people.