About Us


Since 1958, thousands of families have chosen NFTY for more than a promise of a thrilling summer. NFTY programs have transformed nearly 30,000 young people by turning a spark of interest into a summer of exciting challenges, wonderful new friends, and a lifelong involvement with Judaism. More than 350 synagogues, 19 youth regions, numerous Jewish camps, Jewish Federations and communities annually turn to NFTY to provide the ultimate teen travel experience.


Unique Integrated Travel and Learning Curriculum Designed Especially for our Teens:

  • Exciting days and fully programmed evenings
  • Highly qualified Reform Jewish group leaders
  • The single thread that binds together the panels of your Jewish life
  • A once in a lifetime chance to spend a summer in Israel with your peers

NFTY’s #1 Priority is Health and Safety.

In over 60 years of sponsoring travel programs – the safety and security of participants has always been our primary concern. NFTY will always strive to aspire to the highest standards of safety and security. NFTY has a well-deserved reputation for care and caution in designing and implementing summer programs.

NFTY in israel TEAM

Rabbi Loren Sykes

Director of Israel Immersives

 Rabbi Loren Sykes grew up in the northern suburbs of Chicago where he was a lifelong Jewish camper and active member in synagogue and youth group life. He holds BA degrees in both European History and Talmud, as well as an MA in Jewish studies and rabbinic ordination. Loren brings seventeen years of senior leadership in Jewish camping to his position as Director of Israel Immersives and Principal of URJ Heller High. He has wide-ranging experience in not-for-profit leadership and management as both a professional and a lay leader. In recognition of his work in the field of Jewish camp, Rabbi Sykes received The Covenant Award for Excellence in Jewish Education in 2006. He made Aliyah in August, 2013, along with two of his three children and lives in the Arnona neighborhood of Jerusalem.


Ilana SChear

Assistant Director

Ilana first joined the NFTY in Israel team as Registrar in 2016 before moving into her current role as an Assistant Director. She graduated from Goucher College with a degree in Communications and Media Studies and a minor in Political Science. Throughout High School Ilana was actively involved in NFTY-GER, and was a participant on NFTY in Israel and Urban Mitzvah Corps. Ilana is an enthusiastic traveler discovering different cultures, sites, and sounds of our global world and is so grateful to be able to use that passion to send thousands of teens on NFTY in Israel.


Ruby Sommer

Associate Director

Ruby was born and raised in Israel. He served in the IDF for 4 years in a Commanders position for a special unit. Following his service, Ruby became a certified tour guide. Ruby has worked for NFTY in Israel every summer since 1984. In 2000, Ruby became the Director of Operations & Budgets, before becoming the Associate Director. He is married with two kids.


Judy Goldstein

Director of Participant Care


Judy graduated from Hebrew University with a Masters in Social Work. She joined the URJ in 2005 working for NFTY in Israel in the summer and then joined the Heller High team full time in 2007. Judy is now apart of the Israel Immersives team and oversees Participant Care for both Heller High and NFTY in Israel. Judy is originally from Philadelphia and moved to Israel in 1988. She was a Commander and Hebrew teacher in Basic training for new immigrants from 1998 to 2001, and was also the commander of a course that trains teachers and prepares them to be commanders and Hebrew teachers. Later, she spent six years of hadracha as a youth counselor in the Noam youth movement, and a number of years as a counselor and educator for NFTY summer programs. She lives in Israel with her husband and daughter.


Yudit Burkowitz
Israel Office Manager
Yudit has served URJ Teen Travel Programs since 2012. After graduation from Barnard College, she made aliya to Israel. She has held varied administrative positions over the years and finds great satisfaction in sharing her love of Israel  with cohorts of our future leaders and members of the American Jewish community.
Paige KOhn


Paige been working in camping and youth programming for over 24 years now. More than half of those years were spent with the URJ between URJ Eisner Camp and helping open three new specialty camps. She holds a degree in Mathematics and minored in Recreation and Leisure Studies. Paige has been a member of the youth finance team supporting all the non-camp URJ Youth offerings since the fall of 2017.

Resources for congregations

Thanks for helping to spread the word about NFTY in Israel, as well as the other 60+ youth programs that the URJ has to offer! These ready-to-use tools make it easy to help each of your families find the right experience for them. From regional & specialty camps, to leadership & social justice opportunities, to Israel and beyond, there is something for everyone in your congregation. If you have any questions, or are looking for something you don’t see here, contact us!


Incentive grants of up to $3250 available!

Pre-register now to let us know you are interested!