Louis Bordman, Senior Director
Louis has been a leader in the field of Jewish Education and Jewish camping for over 25 years. Over the last 15 years, his vision and direction inspired the URJ Eisner Camp’s renaissance. He guided the redevelopment of Eisner’s facilities and program and the addition and renovation of virtually every building in camp, including The Freelander Dining Hall, the Tilles Family Fine and Performing Arts Program and Facility, The Mallah Family Athletic Program and Facility as well as The Heller-Wexler Family Retreat Series. During his tenure, Eisner has become one of the most respected camps in the country boasting camper return rate of over 90% and home-grown staff return rate over 85%.
In 2006, Louis was among a select few camp director’s chosen nationally to participate in the Foundation for Jewish Camps’ inaugural Executive Leadership Institute. His professionalism, vision and passion continue to drive Eisner Camp to be considered one of the premiere Jewish educational and experiential programs and facilities in the North America.
Staff development has long been a hallmark of Louis’s work with camp. His direction prompted the growth of numerous year-round staff development seminars. These programs now represent Louis’s “ladder of success” model among the staff. From the “machon program” for entering seniors in High School, to the “Olim Fellowship” for High School Seniors through their Freshman year in College, to the “Cornerstone and Achva Fellowships” for returning 2nd-4th years returning American and Israeli staff, Eisner staff members have developed a true partnership and level of commitment unsurpassed in camping.
During the summer, Louis is happiest when teaching a camper to ride a bicycle for the first time, playing basketball or splashing in the pool with campers and staff. Some days you will even see him don his almost famous Maccabiah Man costume where he is painted and dressed in the four team colors of Maccabiah. Louis says, “My role as a father to my kids, Ashley, Dalya and Jacob continue to inspire my views and approach in taking care of the next generation of Jewish Adults”.
James Gelsey, Director of Operations
James joined the Eisner summer staff in 2008 to work on camp’s amazing 50th Anniversary Celebration. He spent the next few summers as Program Director and Summer Administrator before joining the full-time staff in 2011. James’s varied professional background includes Jewish camping, education, and youth work; commercial theater in New York and Toronto; and authoring over 60 children’s books (the “Scooby-Doo! Mysteries” chapter books among them). James grew up in Miami, spending nine summers at URJ Camp Coleman, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania. James and his family live in northern New Jersey and belong to Temple Beth El of Northern Valley, where James served six years as chairperson of the Education Committee and continues to serve on the Board of Trustees. His wife is an Eisner alum, and both of their children have been at camp since 2007.
Laura Gurvis, Associate Director
Laura began working at Eisner in 2000 as our Camp Mom. Since then, she has been our Parent Liaison, Camper Care Director, and now is a full time Associate Director. She has served as the Jewish Educator at both the URJ Henry S. Jacobs Camp in Utica, MS, and the URJ Joseph and Betty Harlam Camp in Kunkletown, PA. She has held various positions in the Jewish community such as Educator at Temple Shaaray Tefila in New York, NY, and as the Director of the Children’s Department at the YM-YWHA of Washington Township, NJ.
Laura runs our “satellite” office in Newton, MA, working closely with our Boston-area congregations. Laura lives in Newton, MA with her husband, and four children – all of whom are alumni of Eisner Camp.
Rabbi Liz Hirsch, Assistant Director
Rabbi Liz P.G. Hirsch was recently ordained by the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) in New York. Originally from the Boston area, Liz grew up as a camper at Eisner and an active member of NFTY. She previously worked at Eisner as a counselor, songleader, Teva Director, and T’filah Director. Liz graduated from Brown University in 2009 with a degree in Environmental Studies. Between college and rabbinical school, Liz worked as a Legislative Assistant at the URJ Religious Action Center in Washington, D.C. In recognition of her academic and leadership achievements, Liz was honored as a Wexner Graduate Fellow and Tisch Fellow during rabbinical school. While at HUC-JIR, she served several congregations and organizations throughout the New York and Boston areas. Liz and her husband, Rabbi Neil Hirsch, met at Eisner and they are delighted to be moving to the Berkshires, where he will serve as one of the rabbis at Hevreh of Southern Berkshires. We are thrilled to welcome Liz as an Eisner Assistant Director.
Catie is the newest member of our team and is delighted to be part of the amazing Eisner community! Catie is an alumnus of the URJ Camping movement, having grown up at URJ GUCI in Zionsville, Indiana. She spent 5 summers as a staff member at GUCI, before graduating from Ball State University with a Music Education degree. Most recently, Catie worked for Disney Cruise Line, beginning as a Youth Activities Counselor and Trainer and then spending 3.5 years as an Assistant Youth Activities Manager onboard the Disney Magic. She is excited to bring her passion for guest service, working with youth, and love of Jewish camping to Eisner. After spending 4.5 years traveling and exploring, she is so excited to be part of the Eisner full-time staff and begin to spread her roots in the Northeast!
Alison Simpson, Development Associate
Alison Simpson is proud to be the Development Associate for Eisner and Crane Lake Camps. Alison has been part of the Eisner and Crane Lake community since 2006, working on staff at both camps, and accompanying a trip to Israel. Alison found Jewish camping after years of protesting overnight camp with her family, worried that she wouldn’t love it. Prior to working for Eisner and Crane Lake Camps, Alison spent five years working as a youth educator at a synagogue outside of Boston, MA with children preschool through high school. Alison grew up in Guilderland, NY before attending the University of Vermont, where she received degrees in Geography and Political Science. Alison is passionate about sharing her excitement for Judaism and camping with others.
Ben Michaels, Registrar
Ben brings to Eisner years of experience working with Jewish youth as an Eisner staff member, a congregational Youth Director, and a religious school teacher. His love for Eisner started in 2006 when he was a camper and continued to grow throughout his years as a Machon, a counselor, and Assistant Waterfront Director. Ben is very excited to be on the full-time staff and to work hard to support every aspect of Eisner’s success. Ben graduated from SUNY Albany with a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics and a minor in Business. In addition to his summer work at Eisner, Ben has worked for 10 years at Congregation Gates of Heaven in Schenectady, NY, and has also served as the Teen Project Coordinator for the Jewish Federation of Northeastern NY. He is passionate about nurturing the growth of Jewish youth through education, peer engagement, and camping.
Lauren Hyde, Business Manager
Eisner Camp has been a huge part of Lauren’s life as she had the unique experience growing up on the property as a child while her parents worked for the camp. After she graduated from Westfield State College she joined the Eisner and Crane Lake team as a full time employee working as one of the bookkeepers. She has done many different jobs at camp from Day Camp counselor to dishwasher and is now our Business Manager. Lauren is happy to be able to enjoy the beautiful Berkshires all year round where she lives with her husband (who she married on the Eisner Camp grounds) and two children.