Seekers of Meaning 5/24/2024: Jewish Summer Camps, with Lisa David and Lori Zlotoff of the URJ Camps

On this week’s episode of the Seekers of Meaning TV Show and Podcast, Lisa David, executive director, URJ Camps/Camp Harlam and URJ Camps Pipeline Strategy, and Lori Zlotoff, inclusion coordinator at URJ Camp Harlam, discuss the importance of summer camp experiences for Jewish children and teenagers.

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About the Guests

Lisa David
Executive Director, URJ Camps

Lisa returned to Camp Harlam as the Associate Director in April of 2014 and was promoted to be camp’s sixth Director in history in 2017. Lisa began her involvement with Camp Harlam as a camper in Arava in 1988, continuing through as a camper, CIT, staff member, Assistant Unit Head, and as the CIT Director in the summer of 2000. Her Harlam connections run far deeper, as she also met her husband Ben in the summer of 1988, and she has maintained connections to many of her counselors and campers, serving for a brief time as the Co-President of the Alumni Network as well.

Before returning to Harlam, Lisa worked as Associate Director of Camping for the URJ, working with all of the camps in the URJ system on a range of different programmatic initiatives. She also served as the Director of KESHER, the College Department of the URJ, and as the Assistant Camp Director and Director of Teen Services and the Jewish Community Center of Central New Jersey.

Lisa grew up in Bucks County, PA, and graduated from the University of Maryland in 1999 with a BS in Family Studies. In 2001 Lisa received her Master of Social Work from the University of Pennsylvania and her Master of Jewish Communal Service from Gratz College.

Lisa is thrilled to be back at the camp that inspired her personal and professional path. Beyond the Machanayim scar still visible on her knee (Red Team, 2nd session 1990), camp – and the inspiring leaders and peers she experienced it with – left an indelible mark on her identity as well. They inspired her to grow from a shy, quiet 1st time camper at 11 years old to a Jewish camping professional working to provide a meaningful and fulfilling camp experience for many more Jewish youth.

In Lisa’s role as the Director, she oversees Harlam’s complete summer program and all operations.   

Lisa currently lives in Jenkintown, PA with her husband, Rabbi Benjamin David, and their children Noa, Elijah and Sam, and is a member of Temple Keneseth Israel.

Lori Zlotoff

Lori Zlotoff, LCSW, grew up in Merrick, NY and was an active member of NFTY throughout high school. She attended Kutz Camp as a camper and returned to URJ camping in 1997 for the inaugural year of Camp Newman in Santa Rosa, CA as a bunk counselor. It was there that she met her future husband, Jacob, who had also been NFTY President. 

Lori received her undergraduate degree from Binghamton University and her Master of Social Work from the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy and Practice in 2001. In addition, she participated in a dual program with Gratz College, receiving a graduate certificate in Jewish education. 

For more than 20 years, Lori has worked in New York as a licensed clinical social worker with a variety of clients, and she currently owns her own private practice.  Lori is the point-person on Harlam’s inclusion efforts, including the direct support of campers and families prior to and during the camp season.  She also oversees the Avodah program.

Lori currently lives with her family in Port Washington, NY, where they are members of The Community Synagogue. Lori is the executive producer of The Community Synagogue Theater Company, which blends her love of musical theater with her love of the Jewish community!

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