Our Team

Here's a brief introduction to our current staff members and camp assistants!

Ruthy Slann
Hostess, Director, Instructor

Our hostess and veteran teacher, a native of Israel and an avid dancer. She travels in the Southeast U.S. and beyond to teach Israeli Folk Dance workshops for children and adults. She was the assistant course director for the annual Karmiel Summer Course for Foreign Teachers for 16 years, and was also on the Fred Berk-Blue Star staff from 1990-1998. She organized the Karmiel Tour of Israel 1997-2000 with Dany Benshalom, and continues to lead tours to Israel with Ronit Nachman. She is cheerful and friendly, and her enthusiasm for dancing can be dangerously contagious.

Ruthy Slann
Joseph Simpkins
Instructor, DJ, Tech Support

Our talented teacher, who started coming to camp in 2003 and has attended 2 of the Karmiel Summer Courses for Foreign Teachers in Israel, joined our teaching team several years ago and occasionally teaches at the Raleigh, NC Israeli folk dance session. He is a computer software engineer and lives in Cary, NC with his wife Shalisha and their 4 kids. Joseph helps with all technical and sound problems, as well as DJ's two of our night parties. He started dancing at the age of 17. He is a great teacher, accurate and easy to follow, energetic and patient.

Meliss Jakubovic
Instructor, DJ

Our home grown amazing dancer and leader, started coming to camp as a young teen, has been the leader of the Atlanta Israeli Folkdance group since she was 16, and has attended many workshops in the US, Europe and a few Karmiel Summer Courses in Israel. A mother of 2 and a Yoga instructor, as well as a professional DJ in the Atlanta area. Meliss usually DJ's one of our night parties during the weekend. A truly delightful dancer with elegance and beauty, and an excellent teacher.

Debbie Bateman

Our newest staff member, joined the staff in the last minute in 2019. She lives in Charlotte, NC and has been coming to camp since 2006.
Debbie has been the dance leader at her congregation Hope of Israel since 1998, and has been spreading love for Israel through love for Israeli dancing to many of her dancers, young and older. She is a beautiful dancer, a clear and patient teacher, and passionate about dancing, always encouraging and positive and always smiling.

Livia Burghardt
Administrative Assistant & Decorator

Our chief decorator and administrating assistant, comes from Toronto, Canada, where she has been dancing for many years in popular Israeli Folk Dance sessions. She has been with Karmiel USA from the very start and is known for her creativity and tireless efforts, her smile, energy and good nature. She is ready to help with all your needs.

Sarah Lamb (Anderson)

A great dancer with a warm and friendly personality, she has been coming to camp for many years, although in previous years her last name was Anderson. She married in 2018, and in 2019 she and her husband moved to Charlotte, NC from the Raleigh/Cary, NC area where they were involved in the Israeli folk dance session in Raleigh and she occasionally taught dances. She is responsible and caring, as well as a wonderful teacher. We welcomed her officially as a staff member in 2016 and are delighted to have her.

Joanna Blackwelder

Has attended Karmiel USA for many years, has taken the Karmiel Summer Course, and has come back in 2017 to rejoin the staff. She comes from Vancouver, Canada where she is a regular teacher at Nona Malki’s Israeli Folkdance session, running the beginner class and teaching in the intermediate and advanced sessions and in workshops. She has an incredible memory and is very accurate in her teaching.

Rebekah Constantin

Comes from Gainesville, FL where she teaches dancing at Kol Simcha congregation. She too has taken the Karmiel summer course and is an accomplished teacher. Her gentle style and good nature enhances her high quality teaching.