Rabbi Michael Merrill and Malkie Merrill

Directors and Founders of Camp Al Haderech

Twenty years ago Rabbi Michael and Malkie Merrill founded Camp Al Haderech to create a camp with a Torah environment, that also provided diverse programming, creating a wonderful experience in camp each day. Along the way they also started the NJ and 5T's campuses in addition to Al Haderech Max.  As hands on directors they are available at all times for the children, staff, and parents. Rabbi Merrill lives and breathes Al Haderech all week long throughout the summer. He can be caught on his phone 24/6. Malkie Merrill serves as the Aquatics Director and directly oversees the day to day operations of our camp office. She is usually the one you get on the office line and she helps our head staff all day long. They can be reached at all hours of the day and often late at night to ensure your child has a great camp experience.

For 18 years Rabbi Merrill has been the Director of Student Activities and teaches at the Hebrew Academy of Nassau County (HANC). In 2018 he assumed the position as Assistant Principal of HANC Elementary School. After the summer of 2021 he assumed the position of Director of Education at Eretz Chemda in Israel.

Malkie Merrill as been teaching at Bais Yaakov of Queens for the last 20 years. She was an active member of numerous committees in the West Hempstead Jewish community.

The Merrill Family made aliyah after Summer 2021, and is  running the camp office from Israel. They look forward to continuing to visit their Al Haderech Family each summer back in the US.

The Merrills and their children love spending their summers at Camp Al Haderech. Some of them are even part of the Al Haderech staff.

Katie Lichter

Assistant Director

Katie is from Great Neck where she is the assistant Rebbetzin at the Great Neck Synagogue. She is getting ready to enjoy her eighth summer as the Assistant Director. Katie has great programming ideas and has teamed up with the rest of the Head Staff to make every day at Al Haderech special. Katie is the one that makes sure that everything runs through all of Al Haderech. She is busily in touch with our camp parents and head staff regularly. Al Hadereh is so lucky to have Katie running the entire back end of the camp. Katie’s children look forward to another great summer with their Al Haderech family!

Leora Penn

Max Head Counselor

Leora joins Al Haderech for her first summer. She has previously worked on Mach Hach B'aretz as a lead counselor. Additionally, she was a Rosh Edah at Moshava Ba'ir in Paramus. The two jobs make her the ideal candidate to be on the road with our wonderful campers. Additionally, Leora is an all star second grade Morah at HANC. Leora is excited to join the Al Haderech family.

Deena Wertman Lewin

NJ Girls Travel Camp Head Counselor

Deena joined the camp for Summer 2017 as a master teacher in Yeshivat Noam and is excited about her sixth summer running Al Haderech Girls Teaneck. Deena knows NJ and helped plan great trips, but she does so much more. Her daily activities make camp a blast. Deena is full of excitement and ruach and helps make Al Haderech NJ the place to be. She knows all the kids and loves every minute of camp. In her spare time Deena loves to play with her adorable children.


Eli Cohen

Boys Max & Travel Camp Head Counselor

Eli joined the camp in 4th grade as a camper. He graduated Al Haderech and joined the staff where he immediately became one of the best counselors. After 2 years in Israel Eli returned as a Head Counselor. Entering his third year as Al Haderech Boys Head Staff Eli is well known in camp for his patience and calmness all the time. He can be found entertaining a bus full of campers or chilling and learning during his off time. Al Haderech is lucky to have Eli for his ____ (too many to keep track of) summer. 

Ariella Merrill

Al Haderech Max - Assistant Head Counselor

Ariella has been part of the Al Haderech family since birth. At 6 weeks old she was keeping her mom company as she was cooking camp lunch. She would later join the Tots, Juniors, Travel, and now Max divisions. Ariella has been a staff member in all of our divisions as well. Ariella finished her senior year in TAG and became the youngest head staff member in camp history. She is now at Michlala and looks forward to returning for another amazing summer. She is high energy and loves to sing and drink coffee.