Camp Tevya receives $1 million gift from noted alumnus

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE  November 10, 2015

Michael Leven

Georgia Aquarium (and former Las Vegas Sands) exec
Michael Leven contributes camp’s largest-ever gift,
anchoring transformative facility improvements

BOSTON/WELLESLEY, MA – Michael Leven, a veteran hospitality industry executive and CEO of the Georgia Aquarium, has made a $1 million gift to Camp Tevya, one of the three Cohen Camps, located in Brookline, NH. This gift, the largest single contribution from an individual in the nonprofit, Jewish camp’s 76-year history, makes possible the new Aaron and Blanche Gordon House, which will enrich campers’ lives by providing space to accommodate more department heads and senior specialists and also bring in more visiting rabbis, artists, and coaches. Camp Tevya recently broke ground on the new building, at the heart of its campus. “All of us are inspired by and deeply grateful for Mike’s leadership gift,” says Camp Tevya Director Mindee Gerstein Meltzer. Camp Tevya is online at

“I believe we owe a debt to institutions that provided us the values that make us successful,” says donor Michael Leven, who also serves as International Chairman for the Planning Committee of Taglit-Birthright Israel. “As a child, as a counselor, and on senior staff, Camp Tevya played a pivotal role in my life. Tevya intensified my love of Judaism and taught me leadership skills, both of which have strongly influenced my career in business.”

Gordon2The new building will be named in honor of the late Aaron and Blanche Gordon, beloved members of the Camp Tevya community. Aaron Gordon served both as Tevya director in the 1950s through the early 1970s and as Leven’s teacher at Boston Latin School. “The Gordons’ legacy of exceptional leadership, strong character, and dedication continue to inspire me,” says Leven. “I make this gift in thanks to Camp Tevya, to honor Aaron and Blanche Gordon, and to sustain this extraordinary Tevya community for new generations.”Gordon1

“Michael’s generosity will directly enhance our campers’ experience at Tevya by giving them talented staff focused on implementing quality programs,” says Meltzer. “Michael’s commitment to the future of Jewish camping and to the Tevya community will make a substantial, positive impact on current and future campers.”

Founded in 1940, Camp Tevya welcomes over 300 campers each session to their spirited home on the shores of Lake Potanipo in Brookline, NH, one hour’s drive north of Boston. Strong enrollment (100% full in 2015) and committed alumni have contributed new levels of donations in recent years.

Leven grew up in Mattapan, MA and attended Camp Tevya starting in 1948, joining the staff in the mid-1950s. Many from that era recall him as a “legend”. He was a role model to many campers and staff who were influenced by the various leadership roles Mike filled in his years at camp.

Gordon House will replace a current, smaller facility built in the 1960s. Plans for further Camp Tevya improvements include bunk construction and renovations, plus a new dining hall and health center. “We are entering a new era here,” said Jonathan Cohen, third-generation president of The Cohen Camps, the non-profit that also includes Camp Pembroke, Camp Tel Noar, and the Dor L’Dor Israel leadership programs. “Nurturing confidence, character, leadership, and love of Judaism and Israel are as important as ever for youth and the American Jewish community. With new investment and the partnership of donors like Michael Leven, we look forward to strengthening Camp Tevya for campers next summer—and in the years to come.”