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Who's Who at Derech Hateva

Derech Hateva Staff Summer 2009


Yael Ukeles

As part of Teva Adventure, Yael has lead wilderness programs in the Rockies for teens with NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership School) and through Derech Hateva throughout Israel. In the summer of 2002, Yael was a recipient of a Cummings Fellowship in Jewish environmental education. She served on the education committee of Canfei Nesharim and was a Senior Fellow at ATID for the 2004-6 program. In 2005, Yael assisted with the development of the Eco-Activist Beit-Midrash program and since has taught at the program on a variety of subjects including "Nature & Prayer", "Jewish Approaches Time & the Environment" and "Simcha & Sustainability." Yael lives near Jerusalem having made Aliyah from New York in 1996. Back to top


Batel Meshel
Marketing & Recruiting

Batel (Beth) Meshel grew up 'round the US as she moved with her family from Missouri to California to Maryland. She was an active member of Young Judaea (YJ), the Zionist youth movement of Hadassah. After high school she spent 2 years in Israel; first on YJ Year Course, second at Midreshet Harova. Batel received a BA in political science from Yeshiva University's Stern College for Women in 2003. She was then sent by YU on the Counterpoint program to volunteer for 6 months in the Jewish community in Perth, Western Australia. Upon completing extensive travels in Australia, New Zealand & Thailand on a round the world tour, Batel realized she wanted to combine her passion for Jewish education and nature and find work in Jewish outdoor education. She made Aliyah in 2004 with Nefesh B'Nefesh and began working for YJ. In fall 2005, Batel met Yael Ukeles while studying at Yeshivat Simchat Shlomo's Eco-Activist Beit Midrash. Ever since, Batel has been a student at the yeshiva and has been working with Derech Hateva as the Marketing & Recruiting Coordinator, summer madricha and managing the interns who participate in Derech Hateva's Leon Shaw Memorial Internship Program. Back to top

Adam Burnat
Program Coordinator

Adam Burnat joined Derech Hateva in summer 2009 as our program coordinator, after working at Daat Educational Expeditions and the David Cardozo Academy. Adam grew up in New York City and graduated from Queens College of New York City in 2005 with a B.A. in Psychology and with honors from an honors business program. Shortly after graduating he made Aliyah and is currently living in Jerusalem. Adam has traveled extensively in Europe and along the west coast of the United States. He enjoys beach volley ball and sailing, and when he grows up he'll buy himself a yacht. Back to top

Sara Gidding
Kehillat Natan Coordinator

Sara has been a madricha for two summers with Derech Hateva. Originally from Philadelphia, Sara studied World Religions and Atmospheric Science at McGill University in Montreal. Inspired by the spiritual and physical beauty of Israel, she made Aliyah one year ago. She is now studying to recieve her Teaching Certificate from a college in Haifa. Throughout her studies and travels Sara always finds time to be outside in nature. Because she is continuously inspired by the beauty of Israel, it seriously concerns Sara to witness pollution that comes from apathy and lack of awareness. Sara currently lives in Tsfat, where she tries to walk the line between settled contentment with life as it is and fiery motivation to fix what has been broken. Back to top


Udi Hammerman
Program and Curriculum Development

Udi Hammerman, graduated the Hebrew University in Jerusalem with a B.A. in Psychology and is currently an M.A. student in psychology. In addition, Udi is the process of completing his studies for Rabbinic Ordination from the Israel Rabbinate at Yeshivat Sulam Yaakov. Udi is a founding member of Derech Hateva's curriculum development team, utilizing his wide breadth of knowledge in Jewish texts, specifically Chassidut and psychology since 2005. He worked as a Senior Jewish Outdoor Educator for Teva Adventure's 2004 summer program in Wyoming with NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership School) and for Derech Hateva's Israel Trail Teen Adventure in the summer of 2005. An avid biker and runner, Udi also volunteers weekly with disabled veterans and the blind as a tandem biker and spends weekends with Ethiopian immigrants in Ashkelon. Udi made Aliyah with his family at the age of 10, and was a paratrooper in the Israel Defense Forces through the Hesder Program at Yeshivat Har-Etzion. He loves to hike and climb and can often be found leading his friends on hikes and sharing words of Torah. Udi is married to Shira and they live in Jerusalem. Back to top

Dave Birk
Curriculum Development, Photography and Staff Training

Dave Birk has had extensive experience in outdoor education and leadership, which began with a love for the outdoors ingrained in him from his early childhood in Africa and upbringing in Western Australia. He has backpacked around much of Australia and New Zealand taking amazing pictures with his camera. He received a BA in Zoology & a degree in Law from the University of Western Australia. Dave came to Israel in 2005 to further his Jewish education at Ma'ayanot Yeshiva and began working for Derech Hateva (DH) as an assistant counselor that summer. ITTA was the perfect combination joining Dave's passions of the outdoors & Judaism. In addition from being an educator for 4 years, he has photographed and collected a large library of outdoor adventure photos, which have been used in various presentations where he can be seen jumping high above Gallil and desert landscapes. As a curriculum team member, Dave has also compiled and designed our interactive Trailbook, a collection of sources that is used on all DH programs. Dave currently lives in New Jersey and will soon be married. Back to top

Rona Atlas
Editing, Translation and Web Assistant

Rona Atlas grew up in Jerusalem. During her army service in the Nahal unit she lived and worked on Kibbutz Ein Hanatziv, worked with children in Jaffa and with youth in Beit Shean. She received a B.A. in Jewish History from Hebrew University. After a year of travels in the US and some farming as an Adamah fellow at the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center in Connecticut, Rona returned to Israel and began working at Derech Hateva in June 2007. She is currently studying Shiatsu, and will answer the phone "Boker Tov" at any time of day. Back to top


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Last Updated: Monday, 23-Nov-2009 14:59:12 UTC