Ignite Spring 2012
The Spring 2012 issue of Ignite, the official magazine of NCSY.
THE NCSY MAGAZINE PASSOVER 2012 NCSY is the International youth movement of the OU EXECUTIVE LEADERSHIP Rabbi Steven Burg.............................International Director, NCSY; Managing Director, OU Keevy Fried........................................Associate International Director, NCSY Dr. Simcha Katz..................................President, OU Joseph Stechler.................................National Youth Commission Chairman, OU Rabbi Steven Weil..............................Executive Vice President, OU Paul S. Glasser...................................Senior Director of Institutional Advancement, OU David Frankel.....................................Chief Operating Officer, OU Shlomo Schwartz..............................Chief Financial Officer, OU David Olivestone...............................Senior Communications Officer, OU Ronit Meitlis-Hofer............................Director of Strategic Planning, OU INTERNATIONAL LEADERSHIP Rabbi Jack Abramowitz....................OU Torah Content Editor Rabbi Dovid Bashevkin.....................Associate Director of Education Devorah Becker.................................Program Executive Rabbi Moshe Benovitz......................Dean of Summer Programs Rabbi Glenn Black.............................Director of Strategic Planning David Cutler.......................................Director of Summer Programs & Finances Marc Fein............................................Director of Advisor Development Rabbi Dave Felsenthal......................Director of Alumni Tova Flancbaum................................Marketing Associate Rebekah Friedman............................Summer Programs Associate Rabbi Yaakov Glasser.......................Director of Education Jen Goldman......................................Assistant Director of Summer Programs Dan Hazony........................................Director of Information Systems Jenni Richton.....................................Director of Professional Development and Evaluation Adam Simon.......................................Director of Technology Integration Duvi Stahler........................................Director of Marketing REGIONAL LEADERSHIP Atlantic Seaboard..............................Rabbi Jonah Lerner Argentina............................................Rabbi Marcelo Krawiec Canada...............................................Rabbi Leib Irons and Rabbi Glenn Black Central East........................................Rabbi Tzali Freedman Chile....................................................Michael Bengio Germany.............................................Anna Segal Israel...................................................Rabbi Yisroel Goren Midwest..............................................Rabbi Micah Greenland New England......................................Rabbi Shmuel Miller New Jersey........................................Rabbi Yaakov Glasser New York............................................Rabbi Aryeh Lightstone Southern.............................................Todd Cohn Southwest..........................................Rabbi Israel Lashak Upstate NY.........................................Marc Fein West Coast.........................................Rabbi Effie Goldberg and Solly Hess SUMMER LEADERSHIP BILT.....................................................Rabbi Akiva Naiman GIVE....................................................Erin Cooper ICE.......................................................Rabbi Israel Lashak JOLT....................................................Rabbi Nahum Zak Kollel...................................................Rabbi Moshe Benovitz Michlelet.............................................Rivkah Yudin Camp Sports......................................Rabbi Jon Green TJJ & TJJ Ambassadors.....................Rabbi Ben Zion Goldfischer ON THE COVER: Leah smiles with her new friend while volunteering at the Ethiopian Absorption Center in Meron on NCSY’s Summer Program GIVE (Girls Israel Volunteer Experience). 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THAT’S A 46% INCREASE FROM LAST YEAR. Your ongoing support is transforming Jewish teens everyday. Donate today at ncsy.org/give PA S S O V E R 2 012 3 6 FACES IN THE CROWD After a long hiatus, Paul Glasser returns to the OU. Plus, get to know the man behind the success of NCSY Summer Programs, David Cutler. 10 YOUTHCON More than 600 people attended the inaugural YouthCon, a one-day convention for experiential Jewish educators. 20 COMMUNITY SNAPSHOTS Community members showed their support this year at various events in order to raise funds for and awareness of NCSY. 26 A DYNASTY OF NCSY SUPPORTERS The 40-year history of the Sapirstein-Stone-Weiss family’s involvement in NCSY. 30 FROM REGIONAL TO RUNWAY NCSY alumna Heather Kaminetsky makes her mark in the fashion world as a proud Orthodox Jew. 34 CAPITAL GAINS Greater Washington NCSY sees higher dividends thanks to a new director and its teen leaders. 4 7 8 FROM THE DESK OF FREDA GREENBAUM Successful fashionista and NCSY supporter Freda Greenbaum talks openly about why she supports NCSY. 14 INTERNATIONAL TEEN PRESIDENT Judah Joseph reflects on his experience visiting NCSY Shabbatons around the country. 18 YARCHEI KALLAH A record 226 public school students dedicated their winter break to learning Torah and connecting to their Jewish heritage. 22 SOCIAL ACTION NCSYers across the country make a difference in people’s lives through the art of giving back. 24 B.I.L.T. TO LAST NCSY is launching a new Israel summer program for boys who want a challenging expedition through Israel. 28 MEIRA BRESLER RIEMER A”H TRIBUTE NCSY pays tribute to NCSY alumna Meira Bresler Riemer a”h who was a shining example of how to live. 29 ASSEMBLYWOMAN DR. AMY HANDLIN A mother’s journey through her and her daughter’s involvement in NCSY. 31 A CAUSE WORTH FIGHTING FOR The life-changing transformation of a girl who was diagnosed with cancer at nine years old. 32 EYE ON ADVISORS Meet two advisors and find out how they got started in NCSY and what keeps them going. 37 MEET PETE A young man’s inspirational story of growth in a public high school. 50 HIGHLIGHTS PASSIONATE MODERATION Happenings from around the NCSY world. Rabbi Moshe Benovitz discusses whether passion and extremism necessarily go hand in hand. IGNITE // THE NCSY MAGAZINE PHOTO: WWW.KRUTER.COM he impact of NCSY’s International Yarchei Kallah this winter was so inspiring and effective that I would be doing you a disservice if I didn’t share my thoughts and observations on the spectacular event. live in a Torah community are privileged to meet teens who are giving up their winter break to spend a few days getting some Judaism into their lives. Everyone comes out of the experience elevated. Yarchei Kallah has always been one of the most impressive programs under NCSY’s rubric. The idea of public school students dedicating their winter break to learn Torah together is nothing short of awe-inspiring. This year, however, Yarchei Kallah was more like a traditional beit medrash than ever before. We talk a lot about NCSY Summer Programs. Spending a month on Kollel, JOLT or TJJ is certainly a transformative experience. Yarchei Kallah may not receive the year-round attention of its big sister but it is no less life-changing for the teens who are motivated to learn Torah with their peers and advisor role models during their winter break. I thank all the staff and everyone else who contributed to making Yarchei Kallah 2011 one of the most impressive NCSY events in our yearly calendar. Every advisor was assigned a group of four NCSYers. The advisors were primed for the shiurim through pre-event preparation. They then prepared the material with the NCSYers before being formally taught by the rebbeim – just as in any “real” yeshiva throughout the world. For those few days, the Stamford Hilton reflected as real a beit medrash as anywhere! The power of Yarchei Kallah goes far beyond that. One girl who attended Rabbi Yaakov Glasser’s shiur remarked that she had attended Hebrew school and had some background in Jewish education, but her Yarchei Kallah classes were the first time a rabbi ever asked her what she thought. Rabbi Glasser’s response was a sincere one: “The Jewish people have been waiting 3,000 years to hear what you think,” he told her. The girl’s reaction was that if this is what learning Torah is really supposed to achieve, then she can’t wait to go to seminary in Israel. Shabbat was impactful in a different way. Once again, we left our hotel surroundings to spend Shabbat together with the Teaneck community. This is such a kiddush Hashem in two ways. First, the NCSYers get to see a vibrant Jewish community whose members observe and embrace a Torah lifestyle. As important, those who are fortunate enough to PA S S O V E R 2 012 Wishing you a chag kasher v’sameach, Rabbi Steven Burg ACTION STEPS! Arrange a speaking engagement with the expert on Jewish teens To hear from Rabbi Burg on how to relate to, inspire and educate Jewish teens in your community, shul or school, please call 212.613.8329 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. 5 Without NCSY__________ (fill in the blank). December 6, 2011 at 2:12pm · Like Jacob Epstein I wouldn’t have a place to connect with other teen Baal Teshuvahs like myself. December 6, 2011 at 3:37pm · Like 4 Sammy Aronson I wouldn’t be in Israel studying at Yeshivat Lev Hatorah as an observant Jew. December 6, 2011 at 4:46pm · Like 4 for OU Senior Director of Institutional Advancement PAUL S. GLASSER Q: How does it feel to be back at the OU after so many years? Sara Fea Astrin Englard I wouldn’t be where I am now, a modern Orthodox married mom of two wonderful boys! December 6, 2011 at 6:00pm · Like 3 “Like” us on Facebook. Visit facebook.com/myncsy A: I have been associated with the Orthodox Union Q: What most impresses you about NCSY? A: Today, NCSY has professionalized their day-to- day operations. Regional Directors are now trained administrators and they are accorded the advantage of professional direction through conferences, both internal and external. These conferences allow NCSY to evaluate the progress that is made through the thoughtful planning of the International and Regional offices. Moreover, much of the NCSY structure and program has proven to be effective long-term. Q: What message do you have for those who support NCSY? A: For more than half a century, NCSY has made a profound and impactful difference in the Jewish community by changing the course of the Jewish future. Not only have more than 250,000 teens been inspired, but also donors should realize that through their contributions, they are literally creating the future leaders of the Jewish world. The Jewish community, and the OU in particular, is grateful to those who have chosen to help teens connect to their Judaism, develop a positive Jewish identity and learn to live passionate Jewish lives. The return on investment has been significant and hopefully we will continue to build a more effective and efficient NCSY with support from alumni, family and friends. 6 Director of NCSY Summer Programs and Finances When David Cutler took over NCSY Summer Programs in 2006, there were 530 teens involved. Under his guidance, NCSY Summer Programs have grown to 890 teens with 765 travelling to Israel – more teens than any other program sends to Israel. He also developed Yom NCSY, an event that brings together all NCSY participants and alumni for a concert, barbecue and inspiring program. Last year, Yom NCSY had over 1,200 participants, a true testament to David’s efforts and efficiency. David also functions as NCSY’s Director of Finances. His eye for detail, sense of organizational responsibility and professional accounting background has helped ensure NCSY maintains the highest level of fiscal integrity and trust. Before coming to NCSY, David worked as an accountant for Bear Stearns, but was always looking for a job that would allow him to make more of an immediate difference in the Jewish community. “It is extremely fulfilling and meaningful to work for the Jewish community,” David says. “Nothing gives me more satisfaction than providing teens with unforgettable Jewish experiences.” David’s involvement with teen programming began in Staten Island seventeen years ago when he became the Youth Director for the Young Israel of Staten Island. Seventeen years later, David is still the Youth Director (in addition to everything else he does) and he and his wife continue to be an inspirational presence for the entire community. IGNITE // THE NCSY MAGAZINE PHOTO: BENJICHEIRIF.COM in one way or another for over 40 years whether as an NCSYer, board member, national advisor, Regional Youth Commission Chair or NCSY professional. I feel a particular affinity towards the people who work for the OU and embrace the non-judgmental philosophy of the OU towards building our Jewish community. It is truly a privilege to return professionally to the Orthodox Union and I hope that I will be able to meet the challenges in the years to come. Fashionista, community activist and NCSY supporter y first impression of NCSY came when I attended NCSY’s Leadership Training Seminar in Bal Harbour back in 2010. There, I witnessed such a tremendous difference between the teens who were active and engaged and other teens, elsewhere, who were lost and floundering, without any direction or focus. I can still see those NCSYers in their breakout sessions, wrestling with real issues such as the challenges facing their peers, the vision of a youth group and what success looks like after a year of hard work. I had never seen teens like that before. There are many wonderful youth programs with many talented leaders, but my experience has shown me that only NCSY has the dedicated professional staff and enthusiastic volunteer advisors who can answer teens’ most challenging questions about G-d and our religion. They are not only passionate and talented; they are educated and engaging. Our teens need role models who are not only present at meetings and events, but who are there to help kids grow as Jews and to take the next steps in their engagement. NCSY provides those critical lifelong connections with mentors that I just haven’t seen anywhere else. Since becoming involved with NCSY, I have been privileged to sit with other Jewish givers throughout South Florida. Hearing what makes them motivated to make a difference is truly inspirational. I am personally committed to helping our team raise the funds necessary to really take off. The more I do that, the more I learn about Jewish leaders around us, their past and what inspired them to grow into who they are. I would encourage those who are considering supporting NCSY to come to a Shabbaton and experience the magic for themselves. Hearing about NCSYers’ growth and success cannot compare to meeting some of these amazing teens firsthand. Ride the bus to an event with them, like I did, and hear their stories. Sit at their table and learn how NCSY has PA S S O V E R 2 012 changed their lives. We are saving Jewish souls, one by one. As we do so, the teens grow and inspire others to do the same. We all know the challenges that our teens and young adults are facing on college campuses across the country. Many have no Jewish connection and are clueless about our rich heritage and traditions. If we don’t prepare them before leaving home, the statistical likelihood of losing them forever is frightening. The organized Jewish community must respond by investing major resources to impact and educate our teens while they are still at home. It’s the only chance we have – and NCSY is doing just that. After completing her graduate studies in Art Education at FIU, Freda opened her first clothing store, A Nose for Clothes. For the next 34 years, Freda expanded the company to nine locations and an online store while serving as the fashion director, buyer and merchandise manager. She also served as the PR, marketing and advertising coordinator. Freda currently serves as NCSY’s Advisory Committee Chair. She has served as the GMJF South Dade Campaign Vice-Chair, Founding Chair of the March of the Living Education and Development Committee, Past President of the Alper Jewish Community Center, President of CAJE, First Chairperson of AIPAC South Dade and national positions with AIPAC, JESNA, and the JCCA. Freda resides in Bal Harbour, Florida, and has two children, Ari and Stacy, and five grandchildren. 7 In today’s day and age, there is an unnecessary disconnect between observant and nonobservant Jewish teenagers. Further, within those two demographics are subsections where the same dividing phenomenon applies. What causes Jewish teenagers to, perhaps unintentionally, defend their respective sides of Judaism is their fear of the unknown. This fear of commitment in adolescents comes from a frank and unfortunate reality: it is not easy to be Jewish, let alone Jewish and observant. The important thing to remember is that the best things in life are almost always difficult to attain. NCSY’s Winter Regional and lastly, International Yarchei Kallah. With each week, the feeling of community and family inside of me was augmented. To spend a Shabbat at the largest Atlantic Seaboard Shabbaton in years and go directly to a Shabbaton on the other side of the country and experience the same incredible feelings of Jewish empowerment and unity was an unforgettable sequence in my lifetime. With International Yarchei Kallah as the climax of my adventure, I spent my winter break with 225 other public school teens that also elected to have a meaningful and rewarding vacation. NCSY has given public school students a reason to be proud of who they are and has provided yeshiva day school students with a vehicle to grow even further. This is why I love NCSY and am honored to be a part of it. NCSY has figured it out. It is clear to anyone that has participated in a Shabbaton, a weekly Latté & Learning program or a Jewish culture club, that NCSY bridges the gap between religious and non-religious Jewish teens and does so exceptionally well. In my high school, I have seen students positively affected by our Jewish culture club. In my community, I have seen the numbers at our Latté & Learning grow. And in my own region and other regions, I have seen students so moved by the inspiration NCSY imparts that they take on new responsibilities to become more connected with their Judaism. NCSY is the unknown variable in reconciling the differences between people who know and those who want to know. This winter, I had the unique opportunity to spend three consecutive weekends on NCSY Shabbatons: first on Atlantic Seaboard NCSY’s Winter Regional, followed by West Coast 8 Judah Joseph is a senior at Cherry Hill High School East in Cherry Hill, NJ. IGNITE // THE NCSY MAGAZINE PHOTO: WWW.KRUTER.COM eens constantly face the problem of peer pressure, specifically in terms of alcohol, drugs and driving past curfew, among endless other things. This peer pressure can manifest and channel itself in many different directions. On one side of the persuasive spectrum lays the up-to-nogood group of kids that wants you to join its biker gang and move away from any hint of a Jewish, observant lifestyle. On the other end of the spectrum lay those who want to help you make the right decisions in life, although their approaches may be misguided. Those people can include parents, teachers, etc. When the clichéd teenager defiantly exclaims, “You don’t understand!” he or she has a point. Sometimes adults simply don’t understand. MAJOR EVENTS AROUND NCSY 10 YOUTHCON 14 YARCHEI KALLAH 18 SOCIAL ACTION 20 COMMUNITY SNAPSHOTS 22 B.I.L.T. TO LAST pg pg pg pg pg More than 600 professionals and lay leaders attended the inaugural OU/NCSY YouthCon, a one-day convention for experiential Jewish educators. A record 226 public school teens dedicated their winter break to learning Torah and connecting to their Jewish heritage. NCSYers across the country make a difference in peopleâ€™s lives through the art of giving back. Community members showed their support this year at various events in order to raise funds for and awareness of NCSY. NCSY is launching a new Israel summer program for boys who want a challenging expedition through Israel. NCSY Launches Inaugural YouthCon Convention More than 600 professionals and volunteers, representing more than 160 organizations across the Jewish spectrum, unite for a groundbreaking moment dedicated to their passion: Jewish youth By: Tova Flancbaum ixty-one speakers and more than 600 participants walked through the doors of the Stamford Hilton on Sunday morning, August 21, 2011, for the inaugural YouthCon convention. YouthCon was created to strengthen informal education by enabling hundreds of educators from all backgrounds to come together and share their skills, ideas and experiences with one another. Additionally, it addressed the challenges and opportunities of defining Jewish education in the 21st century. The energy felt throughout the day was palpable. Between the 24 breakout sessions in Best Practices, Digital Media, Israel Education, Leadership, Social Sphere and Traditional Spirituality, the ten roundtable discussion sessions at lunch and the infamous YouthCon sparks, it was certainly a day full of learning, creativity and collaboration. PHOTOS: WWW.KRUTER.COM The Mishnah Project, led by vocalist and guitarist, Rabbi Dovidâ€™l Weinberg, and accompanied by his two brothers, Rabbi Moshe Tzvi and Josh, put on a live musical performance to teach how music can be both inspirational and educational. Other performers included Matt Bar, The Bible Raps Project, and Rabbi Simcha Willig. 10 IGNITE // THE NCSY MAGAZINE During lunch, ten roundtable discussions took place on various topics relevant to experiential education including Jewish Camp Programming and a Career in Experiential Jewish Education. Participants chose from 24 breakout sessions including one on preventing bullying, given by the founder of JLove and Values Mara Yacobi, MSW, LSW. Rabbi Steven Burg, NCSY International Director, explained, “YouthCon’s goal above all else, is to help us become collaborators in empowering teenagers to love their Judaism, in the hope that they will use that power to build a better world.” Matthew Ackerman, The David Project, Rabbi Steven Weil, Orthodox Union, and Eric Gallagher, AIPAC, discuss sensitizing the “me generation” to Israel’s struggles. THE PRESENTATIONS AT YOUTHCON WERE THOUGHTFUL, INNOVATIVE AND PRACTICAL - AND THE OPPORTUNITY TO NETWORK WITH OTHER YOUTH PROFESSIONALS LIKE MYSELF WAS INVALUABLE! -Chanie Kirschner, Youth Director Congregation Ahawas Achim B’nai Jacob and David, WEST ORANGE, NJ PA S S O V E R 2 012 11 Participants spoke directly with representatives from organizations sharing similar values throughout the day at the vendor fair. Exhibitors included Alisha Goodman, Executive Director of Jewish Lens (left) and Hillel Hurwitz, Marketing Manager of The Israel Experience (right). Sarah Lefton, Founding Executive Director of G-dcast.com, captivates the audience with her session entitled â€œDo it Yourself Jewish Media: Turning Students Into Content Creators.â€? YouthCon Videos Now Available Online! More than 30 sessions from YouthCon are now online at www.youthcon.org. Plus, you can sign up for free monthly webinars on experiential Jewish education. 12 To see so many educators and people committed to Jewish survival under one roof was truly an inspiration. I attended YouthCon with the hopes of networking with other youth directors, comparing and sharing ideas. What I came out with was much more. -Rabbi Sean Jensen Great Neck Synagogue and North Shore Hebrew Academy, LONG ISLAND, NY IGNITE // THE NCSY MAGAZINE 160 organizations participated in YouthCon from the United States, Canada, England and Germany including: AIPAC AJWS AVI CHAI Foundation BBYO Camp Stone The David Project DoSomething.org The Foundation for Jewish Camp The Frisch School G-dcast.com Hillel The iCenter The Israeli Embassy J-Teen Leadership JCCA The Jewish Education Project Jewish Free School (London) Jewish National Fund Jewish Teen Funders Network Manhattan Jewish Experience MASA NECHAMA NFTY The Tribe (England) UJA-Federation of NY Yeshiva University Young Judaea PA S S O V E R 2 012 13 By: Tova Flancbaum When the final bell of the semester rang and thousands of teens rushed out of school to begin packing their suitcases for a relaxing tropical vacation, more than 225 public school teens across North America began packing their suitcases to attend NCSY’s International Yarchei Kallah in Stamford, Connecticut. Yarchei Kallah is an annual, week long NCSY program where teens spend their winter break studying Torah and connecting with their Jewish heritage through interactive sessions, one-on-one learning and late-night discussions with advisors and peers. “The beauty of Yarchei Kallah is watching the teens transform themselves into passionate, inspired Jews with a new appreciation of the relevance, wisdom and timelessness of the Torah’s values and messages,” said Rabbi Steven Burg, International Director of NCSY and Managing Director of the Orthodox Union. Shabbat of Yarchei Kallah took place in Teaneck, NJ. “We want the Yarchei Kallah participants to meet community members outside of the NCSY staff who embrace a Torah lifestyle. It demystifies what it means to be a Torahobservant Jew,” said Rabbi Yaakov Glasser, Regional Director of New Jersey NCSY and Director of Education for International NCSY. “Furthermore, it also gives the community a chance to see first-hand the impact NCSY is having on teens across North America.” -Rachel Hia, 10th Grade The Bronx High School of Science, NEW YORK, NY Students learned from top rebbeim and master educators in classes that explored the book of Shemot, the role of sports in Judaism and the relationship between Judaism and music, among others. 14 IGNITE // THE NCSY MAGAZINE PHOTO: WWW.KRUTER.COM I know that it's hard trying to be a religious Jew in public school, but Yarchei Kallah helped me better understand concepts in Judaism that I was struggling with. PA S S O V E R 2 012 PHOTO: WWW.KRUTER.COM PHOTO: WWW.KRUTER.COM PHOTO: WWW.KRUTER.COM Every night, NCSYers stayed up until the late hours of the night learning in the open beit medrash with advisors. On Thursday night, there was a special late-night mishmar with cholent and kugel. Students chose from more than 20 inspirational classes and lectures to attend. PHOTO: WWW.KRUTER.COM NCSY Mashgiach Ruchani Rabbi Menachem Nissel’s unique blend of humor and Torah enthralled NCSYers and provided an accessible way for teens to achieve even deeper levels of Torah and meaning in their lives. PHOTO: WWW.KRUTER.COM Charlie Harary, Esq., noted inspirational speaker, leads a discussion with NCSY’s college advisors on how to best mentor and educate teens. Later in the day, he delivered a keynote address to the teens on “The Secret of Greatness.” Each morning, participants learned in small groups with college-aged advisors to analyze Jewish texts and derive themes that underlie the Jewish faith. IT IS SO REFRESHING, GIVEN HOW CYNICAL THE WORLD CAN BE, TO EXPERIENCE SUCH SINCERE AND NATURAL EXPRESSIONS OF THE JOYS OF BEING JEWISH. THE TEENS FROM CENTRAL EAST -Avi and Becky Katz NCSY supporters from NCSY LITERALLY ROCKED OUR TEANECK, NJ, who graciously hosted Central East NCSY’s HOUSE WITH THEIR RUACH. Friday night oneg. 15 On Thursday night, the MACCABEATS performed in front of their most adoring fans and infused an even greater level of energy and inspiration into Yarchei Kallah. The Yeshiva University-sponsored concert was not only a great time for all, but it also presented the teens with religious role models who proudly promote their Judaism around the world. The friends you make and the learning we had was so memorable. The divrei Torah that each person spoke about was so inspiring. I wear a kippah at dinner with my family every night now.” -ISAAC FREEDMAN, 10th grade, Benedictine Military School, Savannah, GA PHOTO: WWW.KRUTER.COM During a special Q&A session, Rav Zvi Sobolofsky (left), Rosh Yeshiva at Yeshiva University and posek of NCSY, answered the NCSYers most pressing questions related to Judaism. Yarchei Kallah has inspired and empowered me to become a better Jewish teen not only for myself but for the benefit of others by sharing the inspiration and divrei Torah that I have listened to and learned from. -Molly Sonenberg, 10th Grade “Being surrounded by enthusiasm made me more enthusiastic to learn. I was transformed from a skeptical teenager to a fascinated Torah student.” -RACHEL KRAVITZ, 9th grade, Mason High School, Cincinnati, OH Guilderland High School, ALBANY, NY 16 IGNITE // THE NCSY MAGAZINE PHOTO: WWW.KRUTER.COM NCSYers devoted themselves to the American Idol themed d’var Torah competition. They spent hours learning Jewish texts and crafting divrei Torah before delivering them in front of an audience of their peers. For many, this was the first time they had written and presented a d’var Torah on their own. I REALIZED THAT THIS PROGRAM WILL FOREVER ASTOUND ME BY THE WAY IT CHANGED MY LIFE, MY FRIENDS’ LIVES AND THE FUTURE OF THE JEWISH PEOPLE.” -Zachary Ziv, 11th Grade Former public school student who switched to Columbus Torah Academy, COLUMBUS, OH PHOTO: WWW.KRUTER.COM ACTION STEPS! PA S S O V E R 2 012 • Sponsor a teen on Yarchei Kallah Email Keevy Fried, NCSY Associate International Director, at email@example.com 17 A glimpse into social action initiatives across North America Los Angeles, California A group of 20 Vancouver teens and parents traveled to Oppenheimer Park to distribute coffee and sandwiches to local residents. This was the kickoff event for the new Vancouver NCSY Social Action Track. West Coast NCSY’s Teen Philanthropy Movement allows Regional Board members to spend a month learning the Torah’s perspective on tzedakah and chesed with representatives from seven non-profit organizations. The teens then deliver presentations to one another and select three of the organizations among whom to split $5,000. Additionally, the teens research and visit Jewish culture clubs in public schools and award an additional $5,000 to select clubs. PHOTO: JAN CARTWRIGHT Vancouver, British Columbia Detroit, Michigan Detroit City Director Rabbi Dovid Lichtig, Avi Mendelson and Madi Spalter from Oak Park and West Bloomfield, MI, pack food packages at Gleaners Food Bank in downtown Detroit as part of the ongoing J-Serve volunteer initiative. 18 IGNITE // THE NCSY MAGAZINE Brooklyn, New York Forty public school and yeshiva day school teens from all over Brooklyn and Queens, NY, together with their advisors, volunteer at Masbia, Brooklyn’s kosher soup kitchen, on Thanksgiving Day. Nashville, Tennessee Teaming up with Southeast Nashville Recovery, New Jersey NCSY ran a disaster relief mission to Nashville with students from Torah Academy of Bergen County (TABC) and Fair Lawn High School. Minneapolis, Minnesota Minneapolis NCSY wrapped and delivered gifts to individuals and families during the annual “Chanukah - Chag Sameach Program” at the Minneapolis Jewish Family and Children’s Service (JFCS). Portland, Oregon Rockleigh, New York Portland NCSY teens volunteer as cheerleaders at the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. The teens came up with the idea at an NCSY teen board meeting in August 2010. Sixteen teens from Teaneck NCSY spent Shabbat energizing residents at the Jewish Home at Rockleigh, near Monsey, NY. According to Teaneck Directors Rael & Aliza Blumenthal, the goal of the program was not only to involve key students in a weekend of chesed but also “to teach the NCSYers to appreciate the gifts that they have and use them to make the world a better place.” PA S S O V E R 2 012 19 PHOTO: ARI HEITNER Thornhill, Ontario Rabbi Glenn Black, CEO of NCSY Canada, with host Jack Feintuch and co-chair Craig Guttman at the Thornhill NCSY parlor meeting. Guest speaker Freida Korobkin spoke about her experiences in the Holocaust and her new book. PHOTO: KF PRODUCTIONS Regional Director Rabbi Leib Irons, honorees David & Fran Woolf and Director of Development Sonya Budd, at Canada NCSY’s 31st annual concert. With 950 attendees, the concert was sold out. PHOTO: JACK BECKER Toronto, Ontario Baltimore, Maryland More than 1,800 people came out to support Atlantic Seaboard NCSY at its 37th annual Isaac H. Taylor Jewish Music Festival. This year’s concert paid tribute to the mentors of the Senator Ben Cardin Jewish Scholars Program. Pictured in the center at the VIP reception are Regional Director Rabbi Jonah Lerner and Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) together with some of the mentors of the program. 20 IGNITE // THE NCSY MAGAZINE PHOTO: ALIZA BLUM Boca Raton, Florida Chicago, Illinois Robin Gross, Rena Milstein and Stephanie Krasner enjoy San Diego NCSY’s Evening of Cheese and Wine at the home of Jeremy and Hilda Cohen in La Jolla, CA. NCSY supporters came out to sample artisanal California wines and kosher cheeses, raising funds to expand NCSY’s local programming in San Diego and La Jolla. PHOTO: NOACH KLEIN Senator Ira and Alderman Debra Silverstein pose with their award as NCSY’s Dor L’Dor recipients at Midwest NCSY’s annual banquet held on December 12 at the Hilton Orrington Hotel in Evanston, Illinois. Senator Ira and his wife Alderman Debra embody the NCSY ideals of passionate Jewish living and leadership, which they have also passed to their children, themselves active leaders in NCSY. San Diego & La Jolla, California Columbus, Ohio One hundred and twenty community members, leaders and NCSY parents joined together on September 13 for the second annual Columbus Garden Sizzler. The event highlighted 12 NCSY graduates who left for Israel that week to embark on a year of Torah study. PA S S O V E R 2 012 PHOTO: MILTON KRASNER PHOTO: REUVEN TURK Helen Cohan, Past Chair of Palm Beach AIPAC, Rabbi Steven Burg, International Director of NCSY and Managing Director of the OU, and Saby Behar, Past President of Greater Miami Jewish Federation, gathered at the grand opening of Euro Fusion for an evening of sushi and cocktails. The event, which increased awareness of NCSY’s outreach programs available to teens in South Florida, was generously sponsored by the David Bensmihen Foundation. (LEFT PHOTO) David, Eda and baby Ayala Schottenstein host the second annual Garden Sizzler for the second time. (RIGHT PHOTO) Drs. David and Miriam Portman and their son Noah, a senior at Columbus Torah Academy (CTA), enjoy themselves as they attend the all-you-can-eat steak barbecue fundraising event. 21 NCSY LAUNCHES NEW BOYS’ ISRAEL SUMMER PROGRAM COMBINING LEADERSHIP TRAINING AND CROSSCOUNTRY EXPEDITION By: Rebekah Friedman fter months of careful planning and anticipation, Boys Israel Leadership Training (BILT) has officially launched. Under the leadership of Rabbi Akiva Naiman, City Director of NorCal East NCSY, boys in grades 9-12 will have the chance to experience a five-week adventure in Israel over the summer. Highlights of BILT include hiking “yam l’yam” (from coast to coast) through Israel, experiencing life on an army base and participating in numerous volunteer opportunities such as running a children’s summer camp for victims of terror and working with the blind. “I believe that a quality every Jew should have is leadership,” said Rabbi Naiman. “NCSY gives the opportunity to foster that leadership throughout the year. BILT will help every NCSYer find their potential and passion while helping klal Yisrael and physically challenging themselves over the summer. During intense outdoor activities, they will build and realize parts of themselves that they were unaware of before.” During BILT, participants will visit various communities while discussing different volunteer initiatives they can start in their hometowns. One of the many goals BILT hopes to accomplish is having participants execute what they’ve learned when they return back to their respective communities. Rabbi Naiman always jokes, “Whenever someone tells me they are interested in BILT, I like to say, ‘Trust me, you will get built on BILT.’ You will not only build new relationships while having the time of your life, you will build yourself up in a way that you weren’t aware was possible before.” ACTION STEPS! • Find out more about NCSY’s nine unique summer programs including BILT and sign up at NCSYSUMMER.COM 22 IGNITE // THE NCSY MAGAZINE Profiles of the people and places that matter 24 MEIRA BRESLER RIEMER A”H TRIBUTE 26 A DYNASTY OF NCSY SUPPORTERS 28 ASSEMBLYWOMAN DR. AMY HANDLIN 29 A CAUSE WORTH FIGHTING FOR 30 FROM REGIONAL TO RUNWAY 31 EYE ON ADVISORS 32 MEET PETE 34 CAPITAL GAINS pg pg pg pg pg pg pg pg NCSY pays tribute to NCSY alumna Meira Bresler Riemer a”h who was a shining example of how to live. The 40-year history of the Sapirstein-Stone-Weiss family’s involvement in NCSY. A mother’s journey through her and her daughter’s involvement in NCSY. The life-changing transformation of a girl who was diagnosed with cancer at nine years old. NCSY alumna finds her style as Vice President of Marketing at Barneys New York. Meet two advisors and find out how they got started in NCSY and what keeps them going. A young man’s inspirational story of growth in a public high school. Greater Washington NCSY sees higher dividends thanks to a new director and its teen leaders. Meira Bresler Riemer a”h, NCSY alumna, was a shining example of how to live. By: Tova Ross “She had so much personality, it was almost like an explosion of energy,” said Meira’s husband, Danny Riemer. Meira, together with her husband Danny and daughter Eliana in Israel. 24 IGNITE // THE NCSY MAGAZINE few words come up time and time again when family and friends speak of Meira Bresler Riemer a”h, who passed away during Sukkot: character, courage, compassion and care for others. When Meira, a native of St. Louis, an active alumna of NCSY’s Midwest Region and a young wife and mother, was diagnosed in 2010 with synovial sarcoma, a rare cancer, she never lost hope or got angry. “Meira believed that if there is a purpose to any challenge, it is how you react to it. So let’s get the best doctors, do our research and do everything we can to succeed. There’s no sense in complaining or bemoaning what happened,” explains her husband Danny about her outlook on the situation. “Our daughter, Eliana, was also the biggest motivator for her there could be. Meira loved being a mother.” Meira’s strength as she began treatment, combined with her continued devotion to caring for Eliana, then 18 months old, imbued those who knew her with her trademark optimism and fiery passion for life. “It was that fire,” said Danny, that initially made him wary of her when they met during their post-high school year in Israel. “She had so much personality, it was almost like an explosion of energy, and at first it kind of rubbed me the wrong way. But I got to know her better when we were both counselors at Camp HASC and through staying in touch over the years, I realized that she was simply incredibly passionate about the Jewish people, Israel, and her family and friends. She went through life looking to inspire people and that didn’t change when she got sick.” Rabbi Michael Rovinsky, City Director of St. Louis NCSY, met Meira when she was a fifth-grader at Epstein Hebrew Academy where he served as the Executive Director. “From the moment I met her, Meira was larger than life,” he said. “Her passion and fire inspired everybody around her, which is why she was so good in her roles at NCSY and later, in other kiruv missions.” Rabbi Steven Burg, International Director of NCSY, recalls the summer of 2004 when he was the director of NCSY’s Summer Program TJJ and Meira served as one of the advisors. “She was a truly inspirational advisor and a genuine role model,” said Rabbi Burg. “Teens got to see an observant Jewish advisor with an amazing sense of humor and passion for Judaism and Israel – they simply flocked to her.” “She remained involved with NCSY from fifth grade through high school and beyond,” said Meira’s sister, Michal Pudles. “After attending Midreshet Moriah in Israel for a year and a half, she spent the second half of the year on a kiruv mission in the Ukraine where she was the only American. That’s not something the average person can do, but Meira had the inner strength from a young age that allowed her to do whatever it took to reach others.” Danny and Meira, both Yeshiva University graduates, married in 2004 and moved to Meira’s hometown to attend graduate school. Danny studied law and Meira, social work. “Her long-term goal was to work with troubled teens. She never stopped thinking of how to reach others,” said Danny. PA S S O V E R 2 012 When Meira’s family saw her treatments in New York weren’t working, they found an experimental treatment available in only three countries, one of which was Israel, at Hadassah University Medical Center. Meira went with Danny, Eliana and her mother, who moved with them to help care for the household and Eliana. Despite the doctors’ best efforts, Meira’s condition didn’t improve and her family was told to come to Israel. However, Meira’s sister, Riki, was nine months pregnant and had to remain behind as the others went. As the rest of the family was on the flight to Israel, Riki gave birth to a baby boy. Riki then brought him to Israel so he could have his Aunt Meira attend the bris. ...she sat down to write letters to Eliana - one for each birthday she would celebrate until she turned 21 and one for important milestones, like her wedding, and the more mundane, like her first trip to Disney World. The day before the bris, the family attended another moving ceremony – Meira officially obtained her Israeli identity card, tangible proof of her citizenship in the land she loved so dearly. The process, which normally takes several months, was accelerated by Nefesh B’Nefesh after hearing Meira’s story. “Though she had never planned on making aliyah under these circumstances, Meira did not let her dire prognosis deter her from living her dream and fulfilling this great mitzvah,” said Michal. Meira held on for another five weeks. During that time, she showed her amazing courage yet again when she sat down to write letters to Eliana - one for each birthday she would celebrate until she turned 21 and one for important milestones, like her wedding, and the more mundane, like her first trip to Disney World. She composed a cookbook of her recipes and a scrapbook for Eliana with pictures and messages. “She schlepped a backpack of scrapbook supplies to her chemo treatments,” recalls Michal. “She didn’t let a second go by without working to ensure her daughter would have her mother there with her when she grew up.” Danny adds, “Even when she was really sick, in a wheelchair and barely able to eat, and there were only a few hours of the day, rather than indulge herself, she devoted those times to Eliana.” Meira Mindel bas Chava Golda was 28 years old when she passed away. May her neshama be a meilitz yosher for all of us. Meira and her family gather for a group photo at her daughter Eliana’s third birthday party in Riverdale, NY. 25 By: Judge Danny Butler About 40 years ago, as Regional Director of Central East NCSY, I accompanied Rabbi Berel Wein (then Executive Vice President of the Orthodox Union, NCSY’s parent organization) on a visit to Irving Stone, former CEO of American Greetings Corporation, at his office in Cleveland, Ohio. As the very junior witness to a wideranging discussion between two visionary titans of their respective professions, I was more than slightly intimidated when the conversation turned to me as they attempted to gauge my potential for continuing the pioneering work of my predecessor, Central East’s first Regional Director, Dr. Ivan Lerner. It was a pivotal moment. Irving Stone had been very supportive of NCSY in those first years and his continuing support would be crucial in my efforts to maintain and expand the Region’s programs. In his gregarious fashion, Mr. Stone probed my teenaged capabilities with a few incisive questions. Amazingly, as nervous as I was, I apparently satisfied his concerns with my brilliant responses: I knew my name, my city of origin, my age and the yeshiva high school I had gone to prior to attending Yeshiva University. Smiling broadly, he was nodding his head in what I took to be a reassuring fashion. Irving Stone, former CEO of American Greetings Corporation. But before he had the opportunity to deliver that essential statement of commitment, which would be key to the organization’s success in the coming years, we were interrupted. Irving’s father, Jacob Sapirstein (whose sons had changed their name to Stone in the early 1940s, not too long after Sapirstein Card Company became American Greetings) entered the room. He was the founder of the company, whose original horse-drawn wagon, from which he had first sold post cards, resided in the front lobby (the horse resided elsewhere). Mr. Sapirstein was apparently hard of hearing. His son jumped up to introduce him to Rabbi Wein and, speaking very loudly, said, “Rabbi Wein… Orthodox Union… NCSY.” Then, almost shouting, he added, “WE’RE HELPING THE KIDS!” And they have. Irving Stone’s shout has reverberated through the decades, so much so that Jacob Sapirstein’s greatgrandchildren, who are responsible for managing the company now (with the ever-present guidance of their father, Morry Weiss) continue to honor that shouted commitment with the serious dignity and generosity befitting a dynasty. And, as a result of that commitment–and their generosity– they and the rest of the Jewish community have benefited. Irving Stone (second from left) along with Central East Director Rabbi Tzali Freedman (left), enjoying the company of NCSYers who he often said gave him reason to be optimistic about the Jewish future. The picture was taken in 1994. 26 Rabbi Steven Burg, International Director of NCSY, recognizes that “Cleveland NCSY continues to serve as a model for the rest of the country as we watch proud NCSY alumni remain involved with the organization. None of IGNITE // THE NCSY MAGAZINE this would be possible without the pioneering vision and optimism that Irving Stone imbued in his children and grandchildren.” While he is the first to hold the title of International Director, Rabbi Steven Burg is not the first head of NCSY to point out what an incredibly different Jewish world it would be if every community had an Irving Stone. With his vision, principles and powerful optimism, Irving’s example continues to motivate and inspire his children and grandchildren. Judy and Morry Weiss are very practical people. They were funding a youth organization, so they sent their kids. Even that wasn’t enough for Judy. She opened her home. At first, to house my successor as Regional Director – so comfortably, in fact, that it was months before he found a place to live. But, once their son Gary founded an NCSY chapter in their neighborhood, the Weiss house became overrun with NCSYers. When son Jeff became President of the Region, it was a harbinger of things to come. He’s now President of American Greetings. There was one Shabbaton when so many kids were staying at the Weiss’ that on Friday afternoon some kids took turns washing their hair in the kitchen sink (word is, that happened more than once). Now, as NCSY’s fourth-generation develops that same perspective and begins to follow that same trajectory, it’s hard not to notice that the institutions themselves – the schools, the camps, Yeshiva University and even the state of Israel – have benefited in ways that no one could have foreseen as they were filled over the decades with NCSYers whose Jewish passion was sparked by an organization whose very existence could be traced back to the endless support and commitment of that incredible family in Cleveland, Ohio. So it raised no eyebrows when Rabbi Pinchas Stolper, NCSY’s founding director, undertook to say kaddish in tribute to Irving Stone for the year after his passing, on behalf of the thousands of NCSYers over the years whose debt to him and his family could never be quantified or paid – a debt which flows from his helping the kids. DANNY BUTLER, CENTRAL EAST YOUTH COMMISSION CHAIR, HAS BEEN INVOLVED IN NCSY FOR 41 YEARS AND IS A POPULAR SPEAKER AT SHABBATONS AROUND THE COUNTRY. PHOTO: JONATHAN KOSLEN Gary Weiss – of the fourth generation – says it best: “NCSY expanded our world. It gave us friends. It gave us perspective. It gave us passion. It gave us a whole new dimension in which to appreciate our Jewishness. And it opened up a world of Jewish options, which we might not have encountered otherwise.” Gary and his parents, who expected the University of Michigan to be his destination, ended up on the road less traveled, to Yeshiva University. And the ripples from that big stone being thrown into the pond just keep moving outward. It’s not just that Morry became YU’s Chairman of the Board. It’s the thousands of kids whose NCSY experiences altered the trajectory of their Jewish lives – inspired them to study at YU and other places, to visit Israel, and even to live there. Inspired them to live Jewishly wherever they are. Judy & Morry Weiss (seated) with sons and daughter-in-laws (from left to right) Elie & Sara, Jeff & Karen, Gary & Hildee, and Rachel & Zev. PA S S O V E R 2 012 27 A mother reflects on her and her daughter’s journey through Judaism I grew up in a tiny rural Jewish community in Monmouth County, New Jersey. The area had been settled by young people who left the Lower East Side of New York in search of economic opportunity. My father and uncle started a poultry-breeding enterprise which flourished among the local chicken and dairy farms. Too far from Jewish population centers to access pre-established facilities, they worked with their neighbors to create a community of their own. Our synagogue was a simple wooden structure that also served as an activity center and Hebrew school. In the summer, it offered “day camp,” which essentially meant supervised games on the lawn. Because the members of our little community had to create most of their own Jewish experiences, they were open to a wide range of perspectives. I learned to respect every branch of Judaism and to appreciate our shared history and destiny. My parents were particularly passionate about Zionism and often hosted lectures about the State of Israel in our home. During the Six Day War in 1967, they posted a huge map of the Middle East on our kitchen wall so everyone could marvel at General Moshe Dayan’s daily progress. Decades later, when I returned to Monmouth County with my husband to start our own family, the Jewish population had grown but remained modest in size and resources. We joined a Conservative congregation and our children attended a Solomon Schechter Day School. I also spent many years on the board of the Jewish Federation. During the 1990s, Orthodox families began moving into our area in large numbers. They brought new ideas and community aspirations, including an NCSY chapter that made strong efforts to reach out to the Solomon Schechter students. As a parent, I appreciated the NCSY approach: it simply invited young people to celebrate Judaism and Israel, without denigrating or directly competing with alternative youth groups. As someone who had been raised to value klal Yisrael, I welcomed the new friendships and learning opportunities it offered. And the NCSY advisors had a special gift – somehow, every meeting became a can’t-miss, ultra-cool social event. Whenever my daughter Rebecca attended Latte & Learning at the local Starbucks, 28 the line of modestly-dressed teens waiting to join Atlantic Seaboard Regional Director Rabbi Jonah Lerner stretched out into the street. She counted the days leading up to every Shabbaton, Winter Regional and the annual trip to Six Flags during chol hamoed Sukkot. After Rebecca began attending a local public high school, NCSY events were still fun and cool, but now they took on another important dimension. Looking back, she says “NCSY was crucial in helping me build confidence in my identity as a Jew and my commitment to mitzvot in a world that was largely unfamiliar with Judaism. It was a community where I always felt comfortable, welcome and loved, and where there were always great advisors to help me with personal challenges. I remember one head advisor, Raizel Garfinkel, who sat with me for hours through an entire bus trip from Connecticut to New Jersey, helping me figure out the right Jewish direction for my life. She never lectured or criticized, just offered support for my choices.” Rebecca’s enthusiasm for NCSY spilled over into our home, helping to enrich our family’s observance of Shabbat and the holidays. It even influenced me in my role as a state lawmaker; I made sure to educate myself about the public policy concerns of the Orthodox Union and how its priorities dovetail with those of other religious groups. Rebecca’s Jewish journey has differed from mine. As a student at Harvard, she’s president of the Orthodox minyan at Hillel and is more observant than I was at her age. But I strongly identify with her commitments to learning, mitzvot and community – nurtured during her years in NCSY and increasingly critical to the future of all American Jews. Amy H. Handlin is a graduate of Harvard University, holds a Masters Degree in Business Administration from Columbia University and a Ph.D. in Marketing from New York University. She currently holds the position of Deputy Minority Leader of the New Jersey General Assembly. In addition, Assemblywoman Handlin is an Associate Professor in the department of Marketing and International Business at Monmouth University, in West Long Branch, NJ. Dr. Handlin resides in Middletown with her husband David. Her son Daniel is a graduate student at MIT and her daughter Rebecca is an undergraduate student at Harvard. IGNITE // THE NCSY MAGAZINE NATALIE EICHELBAUM’S LIFE CHANGED WHEN SHE WAS DIAGNOSED WITH CANCER AT NINE YEARS OLD By: Dalia Caplan Garfinkel Well, I saw a flier one day and it looked really interesting. So I decided to try it, and I loved it,” says Natalie Eichelbaum in her soft, southern drawl. Natalie, from Savannah, Georgia, tells me her story happily and enthusiastically, about how she came to NCSY and the things she loves so much about it. And what I find most astonishing about her story is not how much she loves NCSY, the leadership she exhibits in her region or her dedication. It is all the things she faced before NCSY and how her journey led her to where she is today. When Natalie was nine years old, she started suffering from some odd symptoms. With swollen joints and other intensely uncomfortable symptoms, Natalie went to see doctors and specialists. Diagnosed with juvenile arthritis, Natalie began undergoing treatment but nothing seemed to work. Visits to specialists, holistic treatments, acupuncture and shots, Natalie and her parents tried everything but to no avail. Finally, on August 5, 2005, Natalie and her family arrived at Memorial Hospital where they were told the devastating truth: Natalie was suffering from acute lymphoblastic leukemia—a form of cancer where malignant white blood cells overproduce in the bone marrow and invade other organs, forcing healthy cells to die. “Yes, it was really frustrating to be misdiagnosed at first, putting all that effort in,” says Natalie. “But at least when I found out what was wrong, I could do something about it. I finally knew what to fix.” And so, Natalie fought. All the treatments were painful, some more than others. “I remember they had to do one test to make sure the cancer hadn’t spread to my brain,” remembers Natalie. Overall, Natalie remembers her experiences with the clarity of a student and the wisdom of an adult. As she writes in her college essay, “I did not know the reason I had this illness but I knew now what I had and could move forward. I am who I am today because of my experiences.” Natalie beat the cancer and has remained cancer free ever since. PA S S O V E R 2 012 After beating the cancer, Natalie continued to fight the disease in her own unique and driven way: she started a non-profit organization to help kids battling the disease and it has raised more than $50,000. Natalie’s journey transformed her into a purpose-driven individual and she continued to seek meaning in her life as she grew older. NCSY was the perfect outlet for her desire to strive forward and upward. When she reached high school, Natalie saw a flier for an NCSY Shabbaton and has continued to grow there, never looking back. Natalie’s favorite part of NCSY is reaching out to new people in the region and on Shabbatons and making them feel at home. Given her warm and outgoing nature, it comes as no surprise that she is on her chapter board and connects with people of all ages and backgrounds. “She was instrumental in kicking off a new chapter board in Savannah, was an active member on the board and assisted in Savannah – the nation’s oldest NCSY chapter – receiving the Chapter of the Year award,” said Rabbi Lob, NCSY City Director of Savannah. “Natalie also went on The Jerusalem Journey (TJJ), an NCSY summer program.” Natalie herself gushed about TJJ, describing her favorite parts and new experiences of the program. This year, Natalie is currently attending Israel XP, Bar Ilan University’s American gap year program, on a full scholarship granted to her by Yeshiva University. When asked what her future plans include, Natalie says she wants to be a pediatric oncologist and credits her own pediatric oncologist for being an inspiration. “I really matured during that year and gained so much knowledge of medications, medical procedures and diseases. I want to save children’s lives and inspire children and their families with my story.” 29 NCSY ALUMNA FINDS HER STYLE AS VICE PRESIDENT OF MARKETING AT BARNEYS NEW YORK. By: Nicole Grubner One could hardly suspect that sitting near the top of the corporate world, Heather (Goldstein) Kaminetsky, a proud NCSY alumna, is the Vice President of Marketing for Barneys New York. Involved in a fast-paced, fashion-focused world, Heather makes her mark, unabashedly, as an Orthodox Jew. Raised in a traditional home and educated in the public schools of Manalapan, NJ, Heather had her foray into Orthodox Judaism when she joined Jr. NCSY in 5th grade. As she progressed towards adolescence, NCSY became more than just a social outlet. At Spring Regional Convention in 7th grade, Heather befriended a group of Orthodox girls who would not only become some of her best friends, but also a driving force in her strengthened connection to Judaism. Heather continued attending NCSY events throughout her high school years with her Orthodox friends. Between the Shabbatons and her social network in NCSY, she began to feel part of something greater. As a senior in her local public high school, Heather reached a major turning point when she gave up her position on the royal court of her prom to spend Shabbat in a Torah environment with her friends. Today, Heather attributes a great deal of her religious growth to her fellow NCSY participants, recognizing the power that one’s friends have in shaping a person’s identity. Bluefly provided Heather her “in” to the fashion world and after several years, she moved to Barneys New York to develop its digital systems when they were in their infant stages. As time progressed, she was transferred to the marketing division and soon was promoted to Vice President of Marketing. In her new job, she had a wide-range of responsibilities and a strong voice in all of Barneys’ marketing strategies and campaigns. Whether in the workplace or at home with her husband Daniel (also a NJ NCSY alumna) and her three children, Heather is proud of and dedicated to her Jewish identity. She insists upon staying true to herself in all facets of her life and serves as a wonderful role model for those facing the challenges of maintaining a religious lifestyle within the secular world. To NCSYers and others facing a similar balancing act, Heather offers advice: “Don’t be ashamed of who you are. People are so concerned with outward appearances...and that is coming from someone in the fashion industry!” Heather and her husband Daniel enjoying a night out at Yankee Stadium. After her tenure in NCSY, Heather entered the college scene as a student in Stern College for Women. She spent her junior year abroad in Midreshet Lindenbaum in Rav Menachem Leibtag’s Tanach program. Upon returning to Stern, Heather completed her major in Management Information Systems and entered the secular workforce. Post-graduation, Heather spent four years at an Israeli start-up, after which she entered the fashion world with a position at Bluefly, a highly successful fashion website, where she began working in the ever-expanding field of digital marketing and e-commerce. 30 IGNITE // THE NCSY MAGAZINE BY: AVITAL MOSS BY: AVITAL MOSS Estee Gross Jason Felder As a former chapter president of Teaneck NCSY, Estee Gross always knew she’d come back to NCSY as an advisor. When she returned after spending two years studying in seminary, a friend recommended Upstate New York NCSY and as Estee notes, “four years later, I’m still there.” She keeps coming back year after year, giving up time normally reserved for friends, studying and sleep, because she sees no other alternative. She values her role as an advisor because, “when you see a teen who has such a thirst for knowledge, how could you not give?” As a proud alumnus of New Jersey NCSY, Jason Felder decided to give back by joining the Atlantic Seaboard NCSY team as an advisor. After studying at the University of Maryland for three full years, Jason realized that attending secular college equipped him with a broad set of experiences that could benefit many public school NCSYers. Upstate New York Estee gains from and enjoys every Shabbaton because it’s “great to be a part of their journey and what they’re trying to uncover in Judaism.” Estee attributes her strong background to her great mentors, parents and the rest of her family whom she says make her passionate about sharing Judaism with others. As a Stern College graduate and current student at the Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration at Yeshiva University, she wants to continue teaching Jewish education both formally and informally. She loves being a part of the Upstate NY NCSY team. Atlantic Seaboard For Jason, the most rewarding part of being an advisor is watching seniors attend Spring Regional Convention. “Spring Regional marks the culmination of their years in NCSY as they are about to embark on their next stage of life. To see the look of pure joy on a 17-year-old’s face when he reflects on his high school years or watch a girl get a scholarship to a seminary in Israel, well, it gives me goose bumps.” According to Jason, the key to success goes deeper than just teaching NCSYers. “The most important thing is not to teach the teens, but to empower them. To give them the tools so they can grow and shine on their own. Being a good advisor means giving teens the opportunity to grow on their own.” ACTION STEPS! • Apply to be an NCSY advisor Visit www.ncsy.org/advisors PA S S O V E R 2 012 31 PHOTOS: WWW.KRUTER.COM By: Tova Ross PETER CENTURY TAKES INSPIRATION FROM THE JERUSALEM JOURNEY (TJJ) TO HIS OWN JOURNEY When Peter Century stepped into his high school’s Jewish culture club one afternoon, he wasn’t expecting too much to come of it. In a public school with fewer than 40 Jewish students, Peter grew up with little knowledge of his Jewish heritage and did few traditional “Jewish” activities. “My mother didn’t grow up with Jewish traditions, but she thought it was important for me to grow up with a Jewish identity, and so I went to Hebrew school for a short time and I asked for a bar mitzvah when I saw some friends of mine in middle school preparing for theirs,” said Peter, now a 16-year-old junior. “But I never really knew why I was doing any of these things – the bar mitzvah was really just a big party rather than some kind of religious marker with deep meaning behind it.” When Peter started attending Jewish culture club meetings, he discovered a warm and receptive Jewish teacher and mentor in Rabbi Arieh Friedner, City Director of Cleveland NCSY, who ran the meetings and taught Jewish themes and lessons over kosher pizza. Still, those monthly meetings were only for 20-30 minutes and it wasn’t until Rabbi Friedner encouraged Peter to attend NCSY’s The Jerusalem Journey (TJJ) summer program for public school students that Peter found true inspiration. “He was totally transformed by that trip to Israel,” said Rabbi Friedner. 32 IGNITE // THE NCSY MAGAZINE It takes a village to raise a child, and for me and Peter, NCSY is that village. -Janet Century Peter’s Mom TJJ participants toured everywhere from the Golan Heights to Eilat, including visits to archeological digs, the Kotel, the Dead Sea and Tzfat. They spent hours upon hours bonding with their NCSY advisors and with each other, forming relationships as they explored their Jewish identities. Peter was hooked. At the end of the four-week trip, Rabbi Friedner presented Peter with a beautiful custom-made set of tefillin, for it was clear to everyone that Peter had experienced a transformative summer in Israel, one that would stay with him upon his return to school in the US. After returning from Israel, Peter began putting on his tefillin every day, as well as wearing tzitzit and a kippah to school – where he is the only one to do so. He has also spent nearly every Shabbat with Rabbi Friedner and his family at their home in University Heights. Rabbi Friedner extended an open invitation to Peter, who lives with his mother Janet in Cleveland Heights. Peter said, “Since I’ve spent so much time at Rabbi Friedner’s house, I’ve come to meet a lot of the Jewish students involved in NCSY. Being surrounded by people who just want to help you grow and be as good as you can be is one of the most powerful things there is.” Rabbi Friedner explains, “Peter epitomizes the total package of what we try to accomplish with NCSY. We have so many different programs and modules to engage teens and educate and inspire them about Judaism, from Jewish culture clubs to Shabbatons to TJJ and one-on-one learning. Peter has taken advantage of so many NCSY programs and we are so proud of what he has achieved today.” As for his plans after graduation, Peter would like to go to a yeshiva for a year. “I think it’s really important to get that solid foundation, which sets the tone for the rest of my life,” he said. Peter’s mother Janet remarked, “It takes a village to raise a child, and for me and Peter, NCSY is that village, that support system that instills leadership skills and personal development in my son. I am just in awe of his complete transformation.” PHOTO: JANET CENTURY PHOTOGRAPHY Rabbi Tzali Freedman, Regional Director of Central East NCSY, noted that “Peter has unusual charm and a genuine thirst for Torah. Undoubtedly, he will continue to grow and be a leader in our community.” Peter attended NCSY’s International Yarchei Kallah convention in Connecticut in late December and regularly participates in NCSY activities and learning sessions. Peter’s NCSY friends and Rabbi Arieh Friedner cheer him on during one of his varsity hockey games. PA S S O V E R 2 012 33 Greater Washington NCSY, under new leadership, reaps high dividends! By: Jessica Leader transformation under Rabbi Nissim in such a short period of time and we know he will continue to keep building on his accomplishments and reach more teens.” Believe it or not, Washington D.C. is booming. The economy is steadily growing, thanks to generous donations. The job market is increasing. And most importantly, the population is higher than it’s been in years and is only seeing more and more growth. No, this may not actually be the national progress report, but it is a reality for the Greater Washington chapter of NCSY’s Atlantic Seaboard Region. The numbers don’t lie: In 2009, the national Latte & Learning program was one of a few NCSY events in Greater Washington with about 10 participants showing up each week. Now, the Thursday night program regularly attracts crowds of 60-70 students. Twenty-five teens, at most, used to attend Regional Shabbatons. At the most recent Shabbaton, 85 NCSYers signed up. Three years ago, only one teen attended an NCSY summer program. This year, 24 teens went to Israel on NCSY programs and two attended NCSY’s Camp Sports. While only two NCSY Jewish culture clubs (after-school clubs where Jewish kids can participate in Jewish programming) existed three years ago, Rabbi Nissim helped create five more clubs, with an average of 40 students each. When Greater Washington Director Rabbi Nissim Levin, or “Rabbi Nissim” as he is commonly known, came to the D.C. area three years ago, the chapter was shaky at best. Four directors breezed through the suffering chapter in five years. Staff members were sparse. And kids just didn’t seem interested. But where many people saw a moot effort towards resuscitation, Rabbi Nissim saw opportunity. Thanks to the extraordinary efforts of Rabbi Nissim, his wife Adina and fantastic teen leadership, Greater Washington NCSY has gone through a complete transformation. Rabbi Nissim’s impact has extended to the shuls and institutions of the community-at-large as well. “Rabbi Nissim Levin and NCSY have done wonders for our teen and youth programing. Our teens love him and learn so much from his teen shiurim,” said Rabbi Nissan Antine, Associate Rabbi and Director of Education at Beth Sholom Congregation & Talmud Torah. “He is a wonderful role model with an amazing ability to inspire teens to be more excited about Judaism.” Rabbi Jonah Lerner, Regional Director of Atlantic Seaboard NCSY, proudly exclaims that “Greater Washington NCSY is a jewel in the Region. It has been amazing to witness its Tzvia Melman and Shoshana Moss from Yeshiva of Greater Washington volunteer at a soup kitchen while on GIVE (Girls Israel Volunteer Experience), one of NCSY’s Summer Programs. 34 PHOTO: WWW.BENJICHEIRIF.COM Restructuring was just one part of Rabbi Nissim’s agenda. The heart of the chapter really lies in newly created programs and events. In the last three years, Rabbi Nissim created Lunch & Learn programs at two prominent Jewish schools in Rockville, MD: Melvin J. Berman Hebrew Academy (MJBHA), a modern Orthodox school, and Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School (JDS), an egalitarian school. A leadership program called JUMP also began this year at MJBHA. JUMP, which stands for Jewish Unity Mentoring Program, is an extension of a program created by New York NCSY. During the program, students participate IGNITE // THE NCSY MAGAZINE PHOTO: WWW.KRUTER.COM “I’ve had real meaning in my life for the past two years, something not many of my peers can truly say about themselves,” says Chapter President Abraham Shalom, a senior at Northwood High School in Silver Spring, MD. Although Rabbi Nissim himself is responsible for many of the changes, he refuses to take credit for the community’s new-found enthusiasm. “I think that the growth, besides for all our efforts, is due to our wonderful teen leaders. They are the ones who really transformed the programs,” said Rabbi Nissim. ” The teen leaders feel similar humility. Abraham Shalom, a senior at Northwood High School in Silver Spring, MD, was so inspired by his NCSY experience last year that he became Chapter President. “I became more religious in every respect,” Abraham said. “I’ve had real meaning in my life for the past two years, something not many of my peers can truly say about themselves.” Another participant, Yaacov Adler, a junior at JDS, expressed a similar sentiment. “I went from wearing my tzizit very carefully tucked in [under my clothes] to wearing them out. I am now proud of my Judaism.” Renee Wasco, a sophomore at Northwood High School and NCSY teen board member, echoed similar sentiments. “NCSY has changed not only my view of my own life, but how I view other people,” she said. Teens from Greater Washington and Rabbi Nissim Levin at the National JUMP Seminar discuss what looming issues face the Jewish community at large. PA S S O V E R 2 012 These participants represent just some of the inspirational stories the chapter has cultivated in the last few years. However, Greater Washington is already taking the next steps toward further development. This year, NCSY is excited to bring the Senator Ben Cardin Jewish Scholars Program to Greater Washington. Already active in Baltimore, this program pairs promising teens with community mentors. Participants learn with community members, hear from guest speakers and eventually lobby on Capitol Hill for Jewish causes. Parents and community members are also appreciative of what NCSY is accomplishing. “My husband and I come from non-observant backgrounds and believe it is important to reach out to the kids so they have a connection with Judaism. NCSY does that in a very friendly, informative, fun and non-threatening way,” said Janet and Mark Zuckerman of Potomac, MD. Even with the exponential growth, Rabbi Nissim wants to make one thing clear: it’s not about a quota. “We are just looking to connect as many kids as we can,” Rabbi Nissim said. “At least 20,000 Jewish teenagers live in the Greater Washington area, yet no youth group comes close to engaging that number. Our goal is to engage the more than 12,000 teens that are not yet involved.” TO LEARN MORE OR GET INVOLVED IN GREATER WASHINGTON NCSY, PLEASE CONTACT RABBI NISSIM LEVIN AT LEVINN@NCSY.ORG OR 301.651.7468. Greater Washington NCSY Director Rabbi Nissim Levin (right) helps a student put on tefillin on The Jerusalem Journey (TJJ), NCSY’s subsidized Israel trip for public school students. PHOTO: WWW.BENJICHEIRIF.COM in leadership challenges that relate to Israel advocacy, social action and Jewish outreach. The program was an immediate success at MJBHA; students raised over $800 for Save a Child’s Heart, an Israeli-based international non-profit. 35 E R I P S S IN N E E T R U O Y ! 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O N R E REGIST mer.com m ncsysu OUR-4-YOU 36 -888-T or caIllG1N I T E // THE NCSY MAGAZINE Happenings from around the NCSY universe 38 NCSY KOHELET JUMP TEAM RAISES $2,800 39 CHICAGO NCSY HEATS UP 40 NJ HOSTS PARENTING EVENT 43 SOUTHERN NCSY LIGHTS UP FACEBOOK 45 EMMY AWARD-WINNER SPEAKS IN NORCAL 49 ISRAELI TEENS MEET HEROIC FIREFIGHTERS pg pg pg pg pg pg The team from Philadelphia, PA, helps offset the cost of running a Shabbaton for public school students. The Senator Mark Kirk Israel Scholars Program is just one of the new programs launching in Chicago. Nearly 200 people turn out to hear “Teens and Spirituality: New Approaches for a New Generation.” A Facebook group called “iLight” spreads the message of Chanukah across the social network. NCSYers get the opportunity to hear from television writer and producer David Sacks. Teens pay tribute to the Israeli firefighters who fought the Carmel forest fire one year ago. ATLANTIC SEABOARD CANADA Rabbi Jonah Lerner, Regional Director 410.358.6279 firstname.lastname@example.org www.atsncsy.org Rabbi Leib Irons, Regional Director Rabbi Glenn Black, CEO 905.761.6279 email@example.com www.ncsy.ca Rabbi Rocky Caine firstname.lastname@example.org Ottawa, Ontario Bram Bregman email@example.com TOUR OF JEWISH OTTAWA Calgary, Alberta ATLANTIC SEABOARD NCSY HOLDS ITS LARGEST CONVENTION IN YEARS Zev Clement ZeevClement@gmail.com In mid-December, more than 280 teens (including 40 who attended The Jerusalem Journey this summer) came together from Greater Philadelphia, Baltimore, Greater Washington and Richmond, VA, to learn about the true secret of the survival of the Jewish people. Highlights included special guests Rabbi and Dr. Marwick of Congregation Shomrei Emunah in Baltimore and a beit medrash session on the halachic implications of choosing one life over another. CALGARY NCSY OFF TO A GREAT START Greater Washington Rabbi Nissim Levin firstname.lastname@example.org Please turn to page 34. Philadelphia, PA & Cherry Hill, NJ Rabbi Yitz Levi RabbiYitz@ncsy.org NCSY KOHELET JUMP TEAM RAISES OVER $2,800 IN FUNDRAISER The NCSY JUMP team from Kohelet Yeshiva High School raised $2,800 to help offset the cost of running a Shabbaton for public school teens in the area. The funds were raised through various events including an auction and a bake sale. Since Zev Clement arrived from Jerusalem just a few months ago, Calgary NCSY has seen a boom in its programming as more and more teens are getting involved in NCSY programing such as Latte & Learning and weekly social events. Fifteen committed students have joined the local Jewish culture club and local Jewish day school students have requested a bi-weekly program for them as well. Vancouver, British Columbia Rabbi Samuel Ross email@example.com NEW ERA OF VANCOUVER NCSY SETS RECORDS NCSY Ottawa ran a Jewish tour of Ottawa, which included a tour of Loblaws Kosher Supermarket (given by the head of the Vaad HaKashrus, with an explanation of how kashrus works today); a game called “Race for the Food” to sort food brought to the kosher food bank (and understand how the food bank functions); and an informative session about an innovative Jewish-Somali mentorship program through the Jewish Family Services. Toronto, Ontario Rabbi Shmuel and Elana Soroka firstname.lastname@example.org JEWISH BUSINESS NETWORK TAKES OFF IN TORONTO Thirty students are currently enrolled in the Jewish Business Network (JBN) program, which aims to build a strong network of Jewish high school business students within the larger Jewish community. This is achieved by offering Jewish teens the opportunity to network with other business students and to be mentored by business lay-leaders in the community. Now under the leadership of Vancouver City Director Rabbi Samuel Ross and Rafi Allman, a popular advisor who is assisting as Youth Director, more than 150 teens have become involved locally. Additionally, Western Canada flew 25 teens (its largest group ever) across the continent to International Yarchei Kallah and sent a record number 30+ teens on the Seattle Shabbaton. Ottawa teens take in New York City over Thanksgiving weekend. The trip was part of Canada NCSY’s annual New York Shabbaton. 38 IGNITE // THE NCSY MAGAZINE CENTRAL EAST Rabbi Tzali Freedman, Regional Director 888.471.4514 email@example.com www.ncsyce.com Chicago, IL Yehuda Polstein firstname.lastname@example.org CHICAGO NCSY HEATS UP WITH FIVE WEEKLY LEARNING PROGRAMS Cincinnati, OH Rabbi Pinchas Landis RabbiLandis@gmail.com GROWTH IN CINCINNATI NCSY EXPLODES Cincinnati NCSY has seen unprecedented growth this year. NCSYers from the area went on the Regional Kickoff for the first time ever; twice the number of teens participated in Fall Shabbaton compared to the prior year; and five times the number of teens attended this year’s International Yarchei Kallah. Detroit, MI Rabbi Dovid Lichtig email@example.com The Melvin I. Eisenberg Torah High, a joint program of the Associated Talmud Torah (ATT) and Midwest NCSY, has been heating up the Greater Chicago area with more than 100 NCSYers participating in five weekly learning programs. Their newest program is The Senator Mark Kirk Israel Scholars Program, which is based on the national Jewish Scholars Program. The program pairs students with local lay-leaders for a series of 12 learning sessions related to Israel, its ethics and values and the practical implications of those concepts. Participants also have an opportunity to meet with a variety of experts including Illinois U.S. Senator Mark Kirk. The program is off to a great start and has attracted many young leaders interested in learning more about Israel and its values. DETROIT BRINGS JEWISH SCHOLARS PROGRAM TO ITS CITY As part of NCSY’s growing national Jewish Scholars Program, 18 young men and women joined the largest Partners in Torah in the country. The program requires a commitment of one-hour weekly Torah study sessions for a semester with a community layleader. Additionally, they deepen their relationship with their mentor and enjoy one-on-one learning as they delve deeper into Torah sources. Cleveland, OH Rabbi Arieh Friedner firstname.lastname@example.org CLEVELAND TEENS WIN AWARDS AT YARCHEI KALLAH At this year’s Yarchei Kallah on the East Coast, two of the 15 Cleveland teens in attendance won second and third place in a prestigious d’var Torah/public speaking competition. Congratulations to Israel Heger of Fuchs Mizrachi School and Adam Wexler of Beachwood High School! Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL), a leading voice for American-Israel issues, is the namesake of Midwest NCSY’s new Senator Mark Kirk Israel Scholars Program. MIDWEST Rabbi Micha Greenland, Regional Director 847.677.6279 email@example.com www.midwestncsy.org Moshe Isenberg Isenbergm@ncsy.org MORE THAN 225 TEENS FROM ACROSS THE MIDWEST JOINED TOGETHER FOR A SHABBATON AND SKI WEEKEND Midwest NCSY’s Winter Conclave 2011 featured Israeli Sergeant Benjamin Anthony, a mind-blowing multi media presentation on IMAGE, a full-blown carnival (complete with a live monkey), great skiing and a super hero-themed banquet. Jessica Bokor, an NCSYer from Skokie, shared, “Thank you for helping me learn more about myself and find strength in myself that I never believed I could have.” PA S S O V E R 2 012 Indianapolis, IN Kansas City, KS Sam Zitin firstname.lastname@example.org Hillel Goldstein email@example.com NCSYERS BUILD EDIBLE SUKKOT MORE THAN 80 TEENS ATTEND PROGRAMS ON SIMCHAT TORAH WEEKEND Earlier this year, Jewish teens got the chance to build their very own model sukkot from various edible materials (graham crackers, icing, pretzel sticks and candy). The activity gave them the chance to gain a deeper understanding of the laws of Sukkot while having fun. Joined by advisors from New York, 87 teens attended five different events throughout the weekend, including a special Latte & Learning in the sukkah, dancing with the Torahs, and a Friday night dinner and oneg. 39 Stamford, CT Josh Munk firstname.lastname@example.org STAMFORD NCSY CONTINUES TO GROW Stamford NCSY continues to grow – Latte N’ Learning has become a popular program and two vans filled with teens were sent to Regionals (last year we had trouble filling one car!). NEW JERSEY Northshore teens at Dinner and Learning where they enjoy free shwarma and falafel while they engage in thoughtprovoking discussions led by advisors and community members. Memphis, TN Marc Lennon email@example.com 45 NCSYERS GATHER FOR FRIDAY NIGHT ONEG IN MEMPHIS In early-December, 45 NCSYers gathered with the Israeli Kollel Torah Mitzion for a Shabbat meal at the Baron Hirsch Synagogue. The evening was filled with divrei Torah, delicious food and beautiful singing all night long. Rabbi Yaakov Glasser, Regional Director 201.862.0250 firstname.lastname@example.org www.njncsy.com Northshore, IL Rabbi Dovid Cofnas email@example.com Avigayil Strulowitz firstname.lastname@example.org DINNER N’ LEARNING CONTINUES TO INSPIRE Every Monday night, teens from Jewish day school and public school get together at Mizrahi Grill in Highland Park for their weekly dose of “Dinner N’ Learning.” The teens enjoy free shwarma and falafel while they engage in thought-provoking discussions led by advisors and community members. Minneapolis, MN Rabbi Tzvi Kupfer & Mrs. Bella Smith email@example.com MORE THAN 20 MINNEAPOLIS TEENS ENJOY AWESOME CHANUKAH PARTY NCSYers enjoyed a delicious dinner, dreidel competition, gift exchange and a loud game of Jewperdy at this year’s Chanukah party. As a direct result of the party, two new teens signed up for the Midwest Regional Conclave Shabbaton. NEW ENGLAND Rabbi Shmuel Miller, Regional Director 617.332.6279 firstname.lastname@example.org www.newengland.ncsy.org NEW ENGLAND CELEBRATES FIFTY YEARS OF SUCCESS New England NCSY joyfully celebrated their 50th anniversary on Sunday, February 12. The uplifting and enjoyable evening took place at the Hilton Boston Logan Airport and was a great success. The evening featured the engaging Charlie Harary as well as a special performance for women by the comedic actress Marion Hermes-Fine. Teaneck, NJ Rael and Aliza Blumenthal TEANECK HOSTS TJJ REUNION SHABBATON Rael and Aliza Blumenthal, City Directors of the Teaneck branch of NCSY, spent their summer leading a group of 42 public school teens on a tour of Israel. “The Jerusalem Journey (TJJ) is a program aimed exclusively at public school students who have a very limited background,” explained Rael. “Many of them have not had a bar or bat-mitzvah and have never been to Israel. This trip provides a kick start into understanding what Judaism is all about.” At their recent reunion Shabbaton, participants enjoyed Friday night dinner at local families followed by an Oneg at the home of Shimmie & Alissa Horn. Over the weekend, the group heard from 9/11 survivor Martin Fineberg speak about appreciating life’s gifts and from sports and celebrity agent David Fishoff, who told the enthralled audience that they can be successful without giving up their Jewish lifestyle. They were welcomed to the community by Rabbis Shalom Baum and Steven Pruzansky. HUGE TURNOUT FOR FIRST EVER NCSY PARENTING EVENING Almost 200 people turned up at Congregation Bnai Yeshurun in Teaneck to hear a roster of leading speakers and educators discuss “Teens and Spirituality: New Approaches for a New Generation.” The program consisted of five workshops followed by a Keynote Address by Rabbi Dr. Jonathan Rosenblatt, Senior Rabbi of the Riverdale Jewish Center. After an introduction by Rabbi Steven Burg, International Director of NCSY, Rabbi Yaakov Glasser, New Jersey Regional Director, spoke about the challenges facing today’s observant teens. Other presenters included Rabbi Larry Rothwachs, Senior Rabbi of Congregation Beth Aaron; Lauren Roth, Marriage & Parenting Therapist; Rabbi Eliezer Rubin, Principal of Rae Kushner Yeshiva High School; Mrs. CB Neugroschl, Head of Yeshiva University High School for Girls and Rabbi Daniel Price, Associate Dean of The Rosenbaum Yeshiva of North Jersey. Sessions were videotaped and are available on www.ncsy.org. 40 IGNITE // THE NCSY MAGAZINE Monmouth County, NJ Highland Park, NJ Shoresh NCSY Ariel and Yardena Bannett Ari Neuman Willie Roth email@example.com MONMOUTH COUNTY NCSY HELPS PUT THE SIMCHA IN SIMCHAT TORAH NCSY BEGINS MONTHLY ONEG/ MELAVA MALKA IN HIGHLAND PARK Ariel and Yardena Bannett, directors of NCSY Monmouth County, hosted nearly 40 teens from all different backgrounds at their home over the three-day Simchat Torah yom tov. The teens took a leading role in making the Simchat Torah dancing at the local synagogue incredibly energetic and enjoyable. Highland Park NCSY has recently started an oneg/ melava malka program at different homes each month. The program attracts 15-30 teens from local public and day schools to hang out, play pool, sing and discuss Jewish values. Highland Park NCSY Director Ari Neuman shared, “We had a lively conversation about Israel’s decision to free Palestinian terrorists for captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. It was beautiful that both sides heard the points of their counterparts and appreciated the complexity of the dilemma.” West Orange, NJ Dov and Leah Carpe NCSY HIRES NEW DIRECTORS FOR WEST ORANGE Dov and Leah Carpe, NCSY’s new City Directors, have started to re-energize the West Orange area with their great personalities and caring demeanor. Dov’s original song this Chanukah, “Spread the Light,” with his band The Avoda, was a hit with his NCSYers. “Building a connection with these teens is so important, but first we need to break down the barriers that are between us,” says Dov. “One of the tools I use is music.” Fair Lawn, NJ Etan & Kayla Bluman and Miriam Apter OVER 90 YESHIVA HIGH SCHOOL BOYS EXPERIENCE WEEKEND OF TORAH AND RUACH This past Thanksgiving weekend, Shoresh NCSY, together with YU’s Torah Learning Network (TLN), held a Shabbaton in Congregation Bnai Yeshurun (Teaneck, NJ) for over 90 high school boys from the NY tri-state area. Throughout the weekend, participants learned with madrichim and heard from Torah personalities. Some of the highlights included a flag football tournament, an inspirational tisch with the legendary Rabbi Yisrael Kaminetsky of NCSY Kollel and DRS Yeshiva, and an amazing concert by Eitan Katz on motzei Shabbat. Everyone left the Shabbaton on a high after the exhilarating weekend. FAIR LAWN NCSY CONTINUES ANNUAL SUKKAH BUILDING SERVICE The day after Yom Kippur, Fair Lawn NCSY gathered together to build a record 11 sukkot for the Fair Lawn community. The funds raised help support local programming. This year, NCSY offered a new service: taking the sukkot down after Sukkot as well. Shoresh NCSY had a competitive flag football tournament over Thanksgiving weekend. The tournament was part of Shoresh NCSY’s Shabbaton in Teaneck, NJ. PA S S O V E R 2 012 41 20TH ANNUAL NCSY CHINESE AUCTION BENEFITS JEWISH PUBLIC SCHOOL TEENS NY JEWISH CULTURE CLUBS CRAFT HAND-PAINTED MENORAH New York NCSY wanted to do something really big for Chanukah – literally. Under the direction of Rabbi Yossi Schwartz, North Shore NCSY Director, and Aryeh Smith, Mid-Island NCSY Director, they decided to build a huge wooden menorah, which was engineered by Adam Jerozalem. Starting a month before Chanukah, 6-foot planks of wood were brought to the various clubs throughout New York (Lawrence, Oceanside, Rolsyn, Great Neck North and South, Midwood, Madison, RFK, Long Beach and Francis Lewis to name a few). The students painted and decorated each branch of the menorah and the talented Mrs. Nancy Nesenoff applied the finishing touches. The parts were transported to NCSY’s International Yarchei Kallah in Stamford, CT, where they were assembled in record time to form the largest hand-painted menorah in NCSY (and possibly world) history! The result was breathtaking. The menorah symbolizes the amazing unity that is the trademark of NCSY and Yarchei Kallah. The New York NCSY Chinese Auction was a huge success. Funds were raised from all over the world to benefit Jewish public school teens across New York. All proceeds go directly to funding Jewish programming and summer program scholarships for motivated NCSYers who will experience Israel for the first time this summer. We would like to congratulate all of this year’s winners! Manhattan, NY Shimon Littman and Efron Sturmwind NEW YORK NCSY TAKES MANHATTAN NCSY in Manhattan represents a burgeoning entity in the midst of the exciting world of NYC. Making a push into the metropolitan area, they have programs flourishing and are expanding on both the east and west sides of the city. They host a variety of weekly programs including Jewish culture clubs and Latte & Learnings. They lead intellectual debates on Jewish issues at the Upper West Side Latte & Learning and discuss the Jewish perspective on current events. Whatever the topic or venue, NCSY is filling Manhattan teens with pride in their Jewish heritage. Staten Island, NY Rena Berkovits STATEN ISLAND NCSYERS SPEARHEAD A GRASS-ROOTS SUKKAH-BUILDING PROJECT RAISING $1,000 NEW YORK Rabbi Aryeh Lightstone, Regional Director 516.569.6279 firstname.lastname@example.org www.newyork.ncsy.org AN INSPIRATIONAL NY NCSY WINTER REGIONAL SHABBATON NY NCSY hosted 500 people at its Winter Regional Shabbaton at the Stamford Plaza Hotel in early December. Highlights included “The App Store – Choose Your Own,” which featured various sessions with different perspectives on stories from Tanach, and a panel of NCSYers sharing their stirring stories about why they chose to live a passion filled life committed to Jewish values. NY NCSY INTRODUCES ONLINE LEARNING EXPERIENCE SAGE, an education initiative of New York NCSY, has partnered with Aleph Beta Institute to provide a unique online learning experience for high school juniors and seniors and college students across North America. SAGE students can discover their roots and experience the excitement of their Jewish heritage while earning high school and college credits. 42 NEW YORK JEWISH CULTURE CLUB MEETS ONE OF THEIR OWN Russel Leventhal, an officer in the Israeli army, visited Jewish culture clubs across New York to share his inspirational message to teens: If you want to do something special for the Jewish people, you can overcome all the obstacles and you will live with pride every day of your life. This past year, Sukkot 5772, the Staten Island chapter of New York NCSY decided to run a unique fundraiser – a sukkah-building project. They advertised in shuls and kosher restaurants, and created a Facebook event recruiting teens to help build them. Staten Island Chapter President and RTMA senior Aryeh Snyder handled phone calls and coordinated appointments, while he and over a dozen other teens from Staten Island and Brooklyn, including district board members Arielle Fuchs and Mendy Eisenberg, gave up many hours to build sukkot. The NCSYers spent long days and nights building 12 different sukkot and donated all of the money they raised, including their tips, to New York NCSY. They were shocked and proud that they raised $1,000 and had quite a lot of fun in the process. NCSY JUMP HOLDS ITS LARGEST SEMINAR YET New York NCSY held its annual National JUMP Leadership Seminar on Oct. 30-31, 2011, at the Stamford Plaza Hotel. The comprehensive twoday Seminar hosted more than 100 yeshiva day school students from across the country and presented them with the third annual JUMP Challenge. After returning to their schools, they competed in four challenges: a chesed event, a Torah education event, a fundraiser and an Israel advocacy initiative in their communities. Through these projects, JUMP strives to empower the future leaders of the Jewish community. IGNITE // THE NCSY MAGAZINE SOUTHERN Todd Cohn, Executive Director 1-866-887-5788 Southern@ncsy.org www.southern.ncsy.com Rabbi Ben Gonsher Gonsherb@ncsy.org RABBI BURG, INTL. DIRECTOR OF NCSY, SCHOLAR-IN-RESIDENCE WEEKEND AT BRS Boca Raton Synagogue (BRS) welcomed Rabbi Steven Burg, International Director of NCSY, on November 18 as part of its NCSY scholar-inresidence weekend. On Friday night, Rabbi Burg inspired over 100 teens at an oneg hosted by Rabbi Efrem Goldberg. Shabbat morning, Rabbi Burg delivered a sermon to the congregation and that afternoon, moderated a question-and-answer panel with three Southern Region NCSYers. Attendees were invited to ask the teens questions and to hear their perspectives on challenges and opportunities facing American Jewish teens today. COMMUNITY WIDE MELAVA MALKA SPONSORED BY THE DAVID BENSMIHEN FOUNDATION NCSY partners, donors and friends gathered Saturday evening, November 19, at the grand opening Euro Fusion for NCSY’s first communitywide melava malka. Generously sponsored by the David Bensmihen Foundation, the evening was designed to raise NCSY’s profile and to introduce parents, grandparents, community partners and others to NCSY’s outreach efforts. Aside from a short presentation from NCSY’s International Director Rabbi Steven Burg and Host Committee Chair Gila Stern, the evening was spent mingling among friends, meeting some of Southern NCSY’s Regional Board members and learning about the current programs offered for teenagers in the Region. HAHN FAMILY WEEKEND OF ADVENTURE The annual Hahn Family Weekend of Adventure was held in North Miami Beach on January 13-15 and was sponsored by Dr. Elliot and Mrs. Lillian Hahn in memory of his parents, Erna and Ludwig Hahn, z”l. Over 125 participants spent a warm Shabbat together at Shaaray Tefilah, hosted by the North Miami Beach community. On Sunday, the group took a trip to Island of Adventure at Universal Studios where they got to meet up with friends from Savannah and Jacksonville NCSY. SOUTHERN NCSY LIGHTS UP FACEBOOK WITH iLIGHT FOR CHANUKAH This past Chanukah, Southern NCSY took Facebook by storm when they created iLight – a Facebook group where NCSY teens and staff joined together after lighting the menorah each night of Chanukah to share their light. With the group peaking at over 650 members, 278 pictures and videos were shared. Photos included participants with their lit menorah, unique menorahs and other Chanukah activities. A video guest appearance by Jewish music superstar Yaakov Shwekey was also posted. Additionally, NCSYers and advisors posted nightly Chanukah divrei Torah and informative fun facts about Chanukah. The majority of iLight participants were from South Florida, although others joined in from places such as New York, California, Israel and even Panama. Participants had the option of signing up for reminders by text or email, and an iLight app for Androids was created. “Our goal was to unite the teens in our Region by celebrating every night of Chanukah together. During the time of year when feelings of Jewish identity and Jewish pride peak, we hope that we inspired our teens to join the rest of the Region and the Jewish people in lighting the menorah this Chanukah,” said Karen Steinberg, Associate Director of Programming for Southern NCSY. PA S S O V E R 2 012 43 Teens at Northview HS in Atlanta, GA, celebrate Chanukah by decorating their own dreidels. Atlanta, GA Rabbi Chaim Neiditch email@example.com 14 ATLANTA HIGH SCHOOLS CELEBRATE CHANUKAH This holiday season, Jewish culture clubs across Greater Atlanta were busy with Chanukah activities and celebrations. The halls of 14 public high schools were filled with the aroma of sizzling latkes, made by more than 400 teens who attended Rabbi Neiditch’s festive club meetings. Students celebrated by decorating wooden dreidels, making edible menorahs and organizing dreidel tournaments to win chocolate gelt. Teens also learned the story of Chanukah and the laws of lighting the menorah, and participated in discussions about the significance of miracles in our lives. For many teens, this was their sole celebration of Chanukah this year. Yeshiva Atlanta’s NCSY JUMP team visited some public school clubs with Rabbi Neiditch to help teach teens about Chanukah. Mutually beneficial, these meetings have been enlightening and transformative for both groups of teens. Savannah, GA Rabbi Eli Lob firstname.lastname@example.org SAVANNAH SETTLES IN Savannah is a happening place with seven weekly programs including Sunday Interactive Class, Monday iLearn Savannah, Wednesday iLearn Savannah Girls and Jewish classes meeting four times a week at Benedictine Military School. Each week ends with a bang at the NCSY Minyan and Kiddush including delicious cholent. Girls hang out 44 at our NBA (No Boys Allowed) seudah shlishit and everyone rocks away with Saturday night rock band action! In December, more than 50 Jr. NCSYers from South Florida, Jacksonville, and Savannah had an awesome time bonding with each other at Bnai Brith Jacob Synagogue in Savannah for Southern Junior Regional Convention. Middle school preteens had a blast playing on-site laser tag, dancing up a storm with a huge Dance Dance Revolution system, watching crazy Chanukah clips and stuffing themselves with endless Krispy Kreme doughnuts – a truly memorable experience for all. Coral Springs/Parkland, FL MEET THE NEWEST SOUTHERN NCSY CHAPTER: CORAL SPRINGS/ PARKLAND Southern Region’s newest chapter is the Coral Springs/Parkland chapter. The chapter draws 15 or more teens to its weekly Iced Latte & Learning at Yo-Le’s where participants find an ‘aha’ moment in every lesson. This gateway into Judaism shows each student that we should take pride in our Jewish identities. Hollywood, FL Aventura, FL Bari Girnun email@example.com Rabbi Joe Goldglantz firstname.lastname@example.org NCSY INAUGURATES NEW CHAPTER IN AVENTURA Aventura NCSY kicked off the year with a movie night on the beach and has only been growing since. The chapter has brought together teens from North Miami, Bal Harbour, the Bay Harbour Islands, Sunny Isles and many other satellite communities in the North Miami area. They’ve extended their reach to over 100 new teens and began Jewish culture clubs at new schools within the area. Aventura NCSY also enjoys Iced Latte & Learning where more than 30 teens meet weekly to enjoy smoothies and lessons from the parsha. The Aventura chapter also completed the designs for the first-ever Southern Region aron kodesh, unveiled at Winter Regional. IGNITE FORMER NCSYER RETURNS TO HOLLYWOOD TO EXPAND NCSY Bari Girnun, a native Floridian and former NCSYer and advisor, has returned to Florida to continue and open six new Jewish culture clubs in Broward County. This is in addition to the Thursday night Iced Latte & Learning in Hollywood. Teens from these six clubs continue their involvement by regularly attending Latte & Learning, Regional events and Shabbatons, and Shabbat meals at the Girnuns’ home. // THE NCSY MAGAZINE Jacksonville, FL Rabbi Shaya Hauptman email@example.com JACKSONVILLE CONTINUES STEADY STREAM OF ACTIVITY NCSY Jax launched the year with a comprehensive calendar. The chapter started a regularly scheduled Latte & Learning at a local coffee shop. There have been three Friday Night Lights Shabbatons to date, for which some of the top advisors have been flown in. There have also been three major chapter trips and events on all the holidays. The Torah High program has doubled in size and meets weekly on Wednesday nights for an hour and a half to learn about the weekly Torah portion, the laws of practical living and Jewish thought. Kendall, FL Rabbi Yossi Klugman firstname.lastname@example.org KENDALL CHAPTER EXPANDS OVER THE PAST FEW MONTHS The year started off with a Sukkah party dubbed Burgers by the Bergers’ because it was hosted at the Sukkah of Karen & Martin Berger. Simchat Torah activities were then held at the Young Israel of Kendall. On Chanukah, teens enjoyed a Chanukah party at the Young Israel replete with a scavenger hunt and pin the torch. Jewish culture clubs at the three major high schools in Kendall have been rocking with over 250 participants combined. Kendall teens also enjoy bi-monthly Latte & Learnings at Starbucks where they discuss intriguing Jewish and worldly topics. Palm Beach, FL Didy Waks email@example.com PALM BEACH NCSY UNDERGOES A COMPLETE MAKEOVER Palm Beach NCSY is undergoing a makeover under the new leadership of Devorah and Didy Waks who joined the team this past summer and are already enjoying success. From a sensational Sukkot party to a fantastic Chanukah bonfire celebration, the holidays in Palm Beach were hopping! They’ve also launched Friday Night Lights, with the first program attended by many local teens. Along with Latte & Learning, Didy and Devorah plan to continue developing NCSY’s activities in Palm Beach County, attracting more teens than ever before. Charleston, SC Jason Daniels firstname.lastname@example.org CHARLESTON NCSY PLANS EXPANSION Charleston NCSY got off to a strong start this past August. A weekly Jewish culture club was started in Porter Gaud High School and has more than 15 students who regularly attend. In addition, there are numerous classes, sukkah building and, of course, a huge Chanukah party that brought 30 kids from around the community to the home of Charleston NCSY director Jason Daniels for songs and latkes. There are plans to start three more clubs in Ashley Hall High School, Academic Magnet High School and The School of the Arts in the next few months. PA S S O V E R 2 012 SOUTHWEST ROCHESTER LAUNCHES CHUMASH AND CHUMMUS Rabbi Yisroel Lashak, Regional Director 972.934.9143 email@example.com www.southwestncsy.org The Rochester chapter has introduced a new learning program this year called Chum and Chum (Chumash and Chummus). The NCSYers learn Chumash with Rabbi Avi Mamon and enjoy tasty treats at the same time. SOUTHWEST NCSY ALUMNI TRAVEL TO COSTA RICA A group of 16 alumni traveled to San Jose to visit the Jewish community during the week of December 25-30. There, they studied the Seven Days of Creation and Ecology & Judaism. As part of the trip, the group went white water rafting, ziplining and walked on canopies 200 meters above ground to see the rain forests and volcanoes erupt. Additionally, they snorkeled in the Manuel Antonio National Park, which is considered one of the five most beautiful places in the world by National Geographic. CHAPTER BOARDS OF DALLAS, HOUSTON AND SAN ANTONIO JOURNEY TO CALIFORNIA On Dec 20-23, Southwest NCSY took 20 teens from the boards of Dallas, Houston and San Antonio to California for a leadership-training seminar. The teens learned about Chanukah, leadership and organization. They also got to explore Disneyland and California Adventure Park near Los Angeles. COMEDY NIGHT DRAWS CROWDS AND LAUGHS On November 20, Southwest NCSY ran their Evening of Laughs Comedy Night at the Dallas Improv. This year, the event featured comedian Dan Naturman. The night drew 200 people for an evening of appreciation for NCSY and Southwest’s Director, Rabbi Israel Lashak. UPSTATE NEW YORK Marc Fein, Regional Director 718.216.6445 firstname.lastname@example.org www.upstatencsy.org BUFFALO CHAPTER HOSTS NEW JERSEY NCSYERS Twelve New Jersey NCSYers, together with their Assistant Regional Director Rabbi Ethan Katz, spent the Shabbat of November 18 in Buffalo, NY, with the Upstate NY NCSYers. The group stayed together at a hotel and davenned and had meals at Young Israel of Greater Buffalo. It was a weekend full of learning, games and meeting new people from different religious backgrounds. FALL CONVENTION – LEARNING ABOUT DIVERSITY Over 80 NCSYers from across Upstate New York joined together in Rochester for Fall Convention on November 11-13. The NCSYers learned about diversity in Judaism and heard about the different backgrounds of their advisors and fellow NCSYers. WEST COAST Rabbi Effie Goldberg, Executive Director Solly Hess, Regional Director 310.229.9000 email@example.com www.westcoastncsy.com East Bay, Northern CA Akiva Naiman firstname.lastname@example.org EMMY AWARD-WINNER DAVID SACKS SPEAKS TO NORCAL NCSYERS The NCSYers of NorCal East, South and West had the opportunity to hear from television writer and producer David Sacks on the topic of “Living Jewish in Hollywood.” Mr. Sacks spoke about Chanukah and the light that each person brings into the world (even on a Nickelodeon TV set!). Afterwards, everyone got a chance to ask questions and take a picture with him. MOUNT KISCO NCSYERS GIVE ON THE DAY OF THANKS Teens in Mount Kisco continued their annual tradition of packing food packages for Neighbors Link, a local center that assists Latino immigrants. The teens assembled the packages and delivered them directly to the families, giving them an opportunity to meet those they were helping. ALBANY PREPARES FOR CHANUKAH Albany chapter members joined together with chapter advisor Yishai Cohen for their monthly Latte N’ Learning and learned all about the mitzvot and halachot of Chanukah, covering the who, what, when and where. Emmy Award-winning TV writer and producer David Sacks with Tal Garner, Berkeley High NCSYer, after a discussion on “Living Jewish in Hollywood.” 45 Seventy-five teens representing close to fifteen Jewish culture clubs joined in a weekend focused on leadership training and spreading the love of Israel in clubs throughout the West Coast. Los Angeles, CA South Bay Area, Northern CA Las Vegas, NV Avi Spiegel email@example.com Baruch Noy firstname.lastname@example.org R’ Yehuda Maryles LasVegasNCSY@gmail.com TOGETHER WITH YACHAD, PIZZA WORLD BECOMES CITY NCSY’S WORLD SOUTH BAY LEAPS FORWARD LAS VEGAS NCSY HOSTS LEADERSHIP SHABBATON On the first Monday night of every month, NCSY and Yachad team up for Dinner N’ Learning. It is truly a sight to see, as it literally takes over the local pizza shop. NCSYers engage with Yachad members in conversation, eat dinner and share words of Torah with each other. 46 South Bay NCSY continues its uphill ascent, with its clubs in the South Bay area almost doubling in size and a new Jewish culture club in Palo Alto High School. More clubs are on the way with continued excitement and buzz building constantly. Additionally, this year has seen two new weekly programs open: Latte N’ Learning in Palo Alto and Dinner N’ Learning in San Jose. Public school teens get a taste of Jewish learning in a comfortable, inviting way. IGNITE NCSY recently held their 2nd Annual Leadership Shabbaton for Jewish culture clubs in Las Vegas. Seventy-five officers representing close to fifteen clubs joined in a weekend focused on leadership training and spreading the love of Israel in clubs throughout the West Coast. “We far surpassed the goal of the weekend by introducing our club leadership to a Shabbat experience, demonstrating the art of informal (hands-on) education, as well as strengthening their Jewish pride to continue their tremendous efforts,” said Rabbi Yehuda Maryles, Director of Las Vegas NCSY. // THE NCSY MAGAZINE Phoenix, AZ Shmuli Josephson email@example.com PHOENIX NCSY NOW HAS OVER 100 TEENS INVOLVED WEEKLY Jewish teens in the valley now have many opportunities both in and out of school to connect and be inspired through NCSY. Our Jewish culture clubs in high schools have taken off with a bang, with new clubs at Brophy and Desert Mountain in addition to current clubs at Chaparral and Horizon. Activities include: guest speakers from organizations such as AIPAC, Israel advocacy training, candy apple making for Rosh Hashana and doughnut making for Chanukah. Join us on Facebook: facebook.com/phoenixncsy Oregon and SW Washington Meira Spivak firstname.lastname@example.org EUGENE NCSY SEES RECORD ATTENDANCE AND STARTS NEW CLUBS With Tehila Derfler back in full force, NCSY’s Jewish culture clubs have been stronger than ever. The club at South High School has seen a huge increase in attendance from last year. Even more exciting is that there are now two clubs in Eugene – one in South and one in Sheldon. SUCCESS OF JEWISH DRIVERS ED MEASURED BY STUDENT’S FEEDBACK NCSY has partnered with the Oregon Driver Training Institute to create a discounted Drivers Ed course for Jewish teens. The students enjoy pizza while participating in engaging interactive discussions on the Jewish view of topics related to safety and body image; in addition to the weekly three-hour driving lecture and required driving hours. The first term of Jewish Drivers Education is off to a terrific start, with the students thrilled to be a part of the class. 98% of students said they are happy to take this program with other Jews and would like to hear about future learning opportunities. Seattle, WA Ari & Jessica Hoffman email@example.com SEATTLE SHABBATON AKA SEATTLE CON HOSTS OVER 175 TEENS On November 11-13th, More than 175 teens from Seattle, Portland and Vancouver came together for an amazing weekend in Seattle. Joined by impressive speakers such as Mark Kligman, an MLB player agent, Dr. David Luchins from Touro’s Lander Colleges, and representatives from schools in Israel, teens enjoyed an inspiring weekend in Seward Park. With a Saturday night event of indoor beach volleyball at the Sandbox and an epic breakfast by Eli Varon, teens left Seattle saying it was the best Shabbaton they had ever been on. San Francisco, CA Mike Donovan firstname.lastname@example.org SAN FRANCISCO NCSY’S AMAZING KICKOFF EVENT More than 30 Bay Area NCSYers came out for an “Amazing Kickoff” event based on the television show “The Amazing Race.” Teens had to decipher clues, which took them around downtown San Francisco. Obstacles included a human pyramid, navigating the MUNI transit system and a zip line. The finish line was at beautiful Crissy Fields next to the majestic Golden Gate Bridge. Additionally, two more Jewish culture clubs started this year with Hillsdale High in San Mateo attracting the largest attendance with more than 50 students. San Diego, CA Adam Simon email@example.com CLOWNING AROUND IN SAN DIEGO Teens from around San Diego & La Jolla have enrolled in NCSY’s Medical Clown program. Medical clowning has been shown to help heal patients using the power of hope and humor. It continues to be endorsed by numerous studies in Israel. With their new skills, teens will participate in and plan many chesed activities! Students at Horizon High School’s Jewish culture club in Scottsdale, Arizona, enjoy pizza and educational activities led by Arizona Director Shmuli Josephson. PA S S O V E R 2 012 47 Chile NCSY now reaches nearly 100 Jewish teens every week under the leadership of Michael Bengio. The Valley, CA Derek and Sarah Leah Gormin firstname.lastname@example.org STUDENTS WRITE LETTERS THANKING AMERICAN SOLDIERS This year, West Coast’s Jewish culture clubs started an “Appreciate Freedom Drive.” Students across the West Coast have been actively fulfilling pledges to appreciate our many freedoms in America. Students have written hundreds of letters to active-duty American soldiers stationed both locally and abroad expressing their appreciation for their service and doing their part to not take our freedom for granted. Many student letters expressed their deep thanks for specifically defending our freedom of religion and the ability to be openly Jewish in America. Some students included pictures of our Chanukah parties with quotes saying “thank you for this” and “we’re able to learn about our heritage and have fun because of you, thank you so much!” We would like to express our deepest gratitude to our American soldiers. FULL MOON HIKE TEACHES TEENS ABOUT TEAMWORK CHILE GERMANY Michael Bengio, Director 011.56.99.186.5575 email@example.com Anna Segal, Director 011.49.30.440.10160 firstname.lastname@example.org NCSY CHILE EXPANDS TO FOUR WEEKLY PROGRAMS SUMMER CAMP IN AUSTRIAN ALPS NCSY Chile now has four weekly programs that teach nearly 100 Jewish teens every week. The four weekly programs are made of different study groups: “NCSundaY,” “NCSY Mikes,” “NCSY Tuesday” and “NCSwhY??” Every week, NCSYers get to hang out, eat pizza and enjoy entertaining sessions of Torah learning. NCSY TNUATÍ BECOMES INTEGRAL TO NCSY CHILE The program is in charge of organizing, teaching and running the Jewish programs for the most important youth movements in Chile. NCSY Chile injects all the Torah content given to these students on a weekly basis. There are over 100 Jewish 9th and 10th graders participating in NCSY Tnuatí and are regularly learning Torah. Am Echad, NCSY’s partner program in Germany, once again joined forces with the JOLT program in running a phenomenal summer camp for 30 kids from all over Germany. The JOLT group prepared and executed programs, fun activities and taught Hebrew through one-on-one sessions. Most importantly, the JOLT teens inspired the campers with their open and warm personalities, ruach and commitment to Judaism. Busy with making new friendships, exploring Judaism, hiking, rafting, playing sports and learning Hebrew, 10 exciting days in the gorgeous Austrian Alps flew by too quickly. The inspirational highlight of camp was Shabbat, starting with the JOLTer Noah Michael’s performance of Kabbalat Shabbat and ending with the entire camp ecstatically singing and dancing at seudah shlishit to Rabbi Zak’s unique tune of modeh ani. The connection between the campers and the JOLTers is still strong to this day. On December 10th, 2011, NCSY ran an event with the local wildlife refuge. Tree People is a nonprofit organization that creates a sustainable future for Los Angeles. At the Full Moon Valley, NCSY took a guided tour through the Hollywood forest. The students learned to rely on each other for sight through the dark trails and to cooperate by traveling down steep hills. They gained a deep sense of togetherness and grew as a team. 48 IGNITE // THE NCSY MAGAZINE ISRAEL Rabbi Yisroel Goren, Director 02.566.7787 email@example.com www.ouisrael.org NCSY Makom Balev is active in the periphery and development towns of Israel with the objective of inspiring the youth and strengthening their connection to Judaism, religious Zionism and Israel. Israeli teens with Baza Nevava, a blind runner who will be representing Israel in the 2012 Olympics. 2012 OLYMPIC RUNNER INSPIRES ISRAELI TEENS OVER CHANUKAH Over 60 teens from the Jack E. Gindi Oraita Club in Ariel, Israel, were privileged to hear from Baza Nevava, a passionate speaker and inspiring runner who will be competing in the 2012 London Olympics representing Israel. Although impressive in itself, it is even more amazing because Baza was born (and still is) blind. He made aliyah from Ethiopia at the age of seven and has been living his dream ever since. He told the teens, “I have always tried to open any closed door and push through any difficulty, tapping into my inner strength.” Baza discussed the importance of working as a team and never giving up hope. He received a standing ovation after his mesmerizing story. Internalizing the message, the teens distributed hundreds of doughnuts, bringing the Chanukah spirit to the wider community. This incredible evening could not have taken place without the generous donation of Sy and Rochelle Kraut. A HEROIC JOURNEY FOR ISRAELI TEENS To commemorate the first anniversary of the Carmel forest fire, the OU’s Jack E. Gindi Oraita program followed the heroic journey of the Israeli firefighters. Hundreds of youth from all over the country went to different fire stations to meet with brave firefighters. In response to the violent culture that many youth are surrounded by, the firefighters spoke about the importance of giving, self-sacrifice and heroism. The youth were privileged to meet with the firefighters and to hear about their experiences dealing with the fire. One teenager remarked, “This was the first time in my life that I felt I had something to offer and not just receive.” One group went to visit an air force base where they met with a squadron commander who shared his experiences and even did a few drills. The youth were inspired by Master Sergeant Oz Cohen who told them to believe in themselves and even invited them to become part of his base when they join the army. PA S S O V E R 2 012 An Oraita teen in Israel learns how to be a firefighter. The trip was run to meet the heroic Israeli firefighters who fought the Carmel forest fire. 49 Rabbi Moshe Benovitz DO PASSION AND EXTREMISM NECESSARILY GO HAND IN HAND? One could say that Rand McNally was in the right place at the right time. Enthusiasm ignores nuance, and intense commitment defies limitations. Today, Rand McNally is one of the world’s leaders in mapmaking. In the late 1800s however, the company was a struggling printing operation in downtown Chicago. Rand and McNally were immigrants trying to make a buck by providing quality invitations, fliers and posters to the populace. On the side, as rail travel and freight increased in the US, they began to dabble in timetables and route descriptions for the local trains. Moderation is not only desirable because of the way it controls pace of growth. Often, less is more for no other reason than less is right and true. Rav Adin Steinzaltz writes of emes – truth – and practical emes. While it may be axiomatic that the smallest distance between two points is a straight line, it is not always constructive to calculate and plot strategy based on that rule. A point in my living room may be merely inches away from a destination in my kitchen. But if a wall separates those two points, then the direct, short, straight line ceases to be the preferred route to travel. A more circuitous path through open space would be far more efficient. Likewise in religious pursuits, there are myriad factors that need to be considered and integrated into the Torah lifestyle. Single-minded pursuit of particular ideals, without proper regard for consequences, could be devastating. Balance and restraint can still be pursued with vigor and unwavering allegiance. For anyone in the business of inspiration and passion, there is a similar progression. The magic of a Shabbaton or other successful NCSY programs is the combustion engine. Extraordinary energy and enthusiasm are generated, and the power promises limitless potential. But the goal is to provide something more than the odd spectacle of funny cars or drag racing. Those awesome speeds are unsustainable and often dangerous. A trip that does not end in a crash or a burnout is rare. Our road maps must contain two limiting forces. First, the passion and excitement must be channeled and guided. The energy must be focused and directed. This is achieved through a balance of emotion and intellect, and is a shared responsibility of the NCSYers and their mentors. Specific, realistic goals and accomplishments are indicators of responsible inspiration. The second element is more subtle and, sadly, less common. A rational road map for growth must allow for passion that is not conflated with extremism. Too often, moderation is the exclusive domain of the unmotivated. 50 This is easier said than done. As a community, it too often seems that the more we consider and the more we juggle, the more our vitality dims. It is easy to believe that only an untainted and unbridled enthusiasm can fuel authentic religious behavior and fervor. Sadly, many role models of moderation and poise are unappealing to our youth and newly-religious for their visible lack of vitality and joy. As teachers, advisors and leaders, it is incumbent upon us to reclaim passion and verve from the extremists, and to insist that it is also the rightful trademark of a more thoughtful and restrained Judaism. The miracle of ignition should never be taken for granted. Even a single individual’s inspiration is cause for celebration and awe. Yet our mission must not end with the turning of a key or the animation of a dormant soul. We can help direct and guide the original burst of energy into a sustained force of light and good. RABBI MOSHE BENOVITZ, AN NCSY ALUMNUS, IS THE DEAN OF NCSY SUMMER PROGRAMS AND THE DIRECTOR OF NCSY KOLLEL. HE IS ALSO A REBBE AT REISHIT YERUSHALAYIM IN ISRAEL. HE CAN BE REACHED AT BENOVITZM@NCSY.ORG IGNITE // THE NCSY MAGAZINE PHOTO: WWW.KRUTER.COM And then the automobile came along. Private cars had a profound impact on many diverse corners of the US economy. But surely high on that list is the transformation it stimulated for Rand McNally. Suddenly, everyone wanted and needed a map, and Rand McNally jumped in to fill that need. They even played an instrumental role in the numbering and signage systems still used by drivers and navigators in the US today. Surely, the company’s meteoric rise was due to a combination of ingenuity, perseverance and the aforementioned timing. But ultimately, their success boiled down to a simple reality: Ignition is great, but sooner or later people need to figure out where exactly it is they want to go. Today, 99 % percent of NCSYers marry Jewish. What about tommorrow? NCSY has been around for decades, enriching Jewish teenagers’ lives, enhancing their Torah observance and fighting assimilation and intermarriage. Parents and grandparents, through a bequest in your will you can help assure that when this couple’s children are ready for NCSY, NCSY will be ready for them – keeping them Jewish and guiding them spiritually to the chupah. To put NCSY/OU in your will, please contact Rina Emerson at 212.613.8110. Inspiring the Jewish Future for Decades to Come PA S S O V E R 2 012 51 Union of Orthodox Jewish Cong of America 11 Broadway, 12th Floor New York, NY 10004 “I commend NCSY for the work they do to instill in Jewish youth throughout Ohio the importance of giving back and developing leadership skills. The values these teens learn from NCSY will last a lifetime.” - SENATOR ROB PORTMAN (R-OH) “I am so impressed with the way NCSY helps young people connect with their history and religious culture. Rather than making it something ancient to be studied, NCSY helps Jewish teens to see their heritage as something relevant to be lived.” - CONGRESSMAN TED DEUTCH (D-FL) “I am very impressed with the work of NCSY, and even more impressed with the professional and idealistic staff of the organization. Few organizations could match or rival their dedication to succeed for such a higher purpose. NCSY is not only impacting lives, but generations.” - LORI PALATNIK Author, International Speaker and Media Personality Founding Director of The Jewish Women’s Renaissance Project “Together, NCSY and Jewish day schools build the foundation of our vibrant Jewish future. While day schools stimulate the mind and engage with the heart of our tradition, NCSY ignites children’s souls, connecting them to lifelong friends and cherished mentors. In tandem, these two essential partners connect children to communities of meaning and nurture and develop our Jewish leaders of tomorrow.” - AMY KATZ Executive Director of Partnership for Excellence in Jewish Education (PEJE)