NCSY CITIES AND REGIONAL LEADERSHIP NCSY is the international youth movement of the OU.
ATLANTIC SEABOARD Rabbi Jonah Lerner Dr. Michael Elman, Chair 410.358.6279 email@example.com atlanticseaboard. ncsy.org
EXECUTIVE LEADERSHIP Rabbi Micah Greenland............ International Director, NCSY Keevy Fried................................... Associate International Director, NCSY Rabbi Moshe Benovitz.............. Managing Director, NCSY Mark (Moishe) Bane................... President, OU Howard Tzvi Friedman.............Board of Directors Chair, OU Avi Katz.........................................National Youth Commission Chairman, OU Allen Fagin..................................... Executive Vice President, OU Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb....... Executive Vice President, Emeritus, OU Rabbi Steven Weil....................... Senior Managing Director, OU Shlomo Schwartz........................ Chief Financial Officer / Chief Administrative Officer, OU Arnold Gerson............................Chief Institutional Advancement Officer, OU Rabbi Lenny Bessler.................. Chief Human Resources Officer, OU Dr. Sam Davidovics.................... Chief Information Officer, OU Gary Magder................................. Director of Digital Media Marketing, OU
Baltimore, MD Columbia, MD Germantown, MD Gaithersburg, MD Olney, MD Potomac, MD Sandy Spring, MD Silver Spring, MD Towson, MD Cherry Hill, NJ Allentown, PA Harrisburg, PA Huntingdon Valley, PA Lancaster, PA Philadelphia, PA Lower Merion, PA Wilkes-Barre, PA Richmond, VA Norfolk, VA Virginia Beach, VA
INTERNATIONAL STAFF Rabbi Dovid Bashevkin............ Director of Education Sari Borenstein............................ Summer Programs Associate Nicole Chermak.........................NCSY Alumni Connections Associate Yoni Colman...............................Director of Organizational Innovation and Professional Advancement, NCSY Summer David Cutler.................................. Director of NCSY Summer Shayna Feiger.............................Summer Programs Associate Rachel First................................... Educational Content Manager & Designer Jen Goldman................................ Assistant Director of NCSY Summer Alyssa Goldwater......................Executive Assistant to International Director Dan Hazony................................... Director of Data and Evaluation Rabbi Yehoshua Kohl...............Special Projects Coordinator Jeffrey Korbman........................ Director of Development Rabbi Israel Lashak.................... Senior Educator Rabbi Yehoshua Marchuck..... Director of Alumni Amy Mauskopf............................. Summer Programs Associate, Director of Logistics Andres Moncayo......................... Graphic Designer Tali Newman............................Leadership Development Associate Rabbi Menachem Nissel..........Senior Educator Ayelet Prero..................................Administrative Associate Rabbi Ari Rockoff........................Director of Leadership Development DY Rubin.........................................Data & Evaluations Coordinator Adam Rudich...............................Director of Operations and Finance Saadia Simon..............................Systems Support Manager Debbie Stone............................... Associate Director of Education Elliot Tanzman.............................. Director of NCSY Summer Recruitment Josh Weinberg............................. Director of Marketing
CANADA Rabbi Glenn Black Larry Zeifman, Chair 905.761.6279 firstname.lastname@example.org canada.ncsy.org
CENTRAL EAST Rabbi Tzali Freedman Judge Daniel Butler, Chair 888.471.4514 email@example.com centraleast.ncsy.org
BILT................................................... Rabbi Yudi Riesel Bnos Kanfei................................ Chani Naiman Camp Maor................................. Sari Kahn Camp Sports................................. Rabbi Jon Green Euro ICE.......................................... Rabbi Israel Lashak GIVE................................................. Erin Cooper Stiebel GIVE West...................................... Leah Moskovich Israel ID........................................... Yoni Pollock JOLT................................................. Rabbi Eli Zians JOLT Israel ................................. Rabbi Dr. Noam Weinberg Kanfei .......................................... Rabbi Benzion Scheinfeld Kollel................................................ Rabbi Moshe Benovitz Michlelet......................................... Rivka Yudin Next Step: Israel Internships.. Adam Simon The Anne Samson: TJJ..........Rabbi Barry Goldfischer TJJA........CM and Chaim Gerson TJJAP......Marc Fein
ON THE COVER: Central East NCSYER, Gabby Iskhakova, having a blast at this year’s NCSY Yarchei Kallah in Somerset, NJ. PHOTO: ETAN VANN
Calgary, AB Edmonton, AB Vancouver, BC Victoria, BC Hamilton, ON Kitchener-Waterloo, ON King City, ON Kingston, ON London, ON Ottawa, ON Toronto, ON Montreal, QC
Windsor, ON Ann Arbor, MI Bloomfield Hills, MI Farmington Hills, MI Huntington Woods, MI Oak Park, MI Southfield, MI West Bloomfield, MI Akron, OH Canton, OH Cincinnati, OH Cleveland, OH Columbus, OH Dayton, OH Solon, OH Toledo, OH Youngstown, OH Pittsburgh, PA
GREATER ATLANTA Rabbi Chaim Neiditch 404.486.8787 firstname.lastname@example.org atlanta.ncsy.org
Atlanta, GA Alpharetta, GA Buckhead, GA Chamblee, GA Duluth, GA Dunwoody, GA Johns Creek, GA Marietta, GA Milton, GA Roswell, GA Sandy Springs, GA
Randolph, NJ Teaneck, NJ Twin Rivers, NJ West Orange, NJ
Bronx, NY Brooklyn, NY Cedarhurst, NY Commack, NY East Meadow, NY Great Neck, NY Hewlett, NY Inwood, NY Lawrence, NY Long Beach, NY Manhattan, NY Merrick, NY Oceanside, NY Plainview, NY Port Washington, NY Queens, NY Roslyn, NY Staten Island, NY Stony Brook, NY Westchester, NY West Hempstead, NY Woodmere, NY
Rabbi Donny Schwartz Shosh Friedman Ari Shabat, Chair 847.677.6279 email@example.com midwest.ncsy.org Des Moines, IA Buffalo Grove, IL Chicago, IL Glenview, IL Northbrook, IL Skokie, IL Indianapolis, IN South Bend, IN Kansas City, KS Overland Park,KS St. Louis, MO Winnipeg, MB Minneapolis, MN Omaha, NE Memphis, TN Nashville, TN Milwaukee, WI
NEW YORK Kenny Sicklick, Chair 516.569.6279 firstname.lastname@example.org newyork.ncsy.org
SOUTHERN Todd Cohn Tammy Attias, Board Chair Saby Behar, Campaign Chair 1-866-887-5788 email@example.com southern.ncsy.org
Rabbi Simon Taylor Joyce Wertheimer, Chair 617.332.6279 newengland@ Little Rock, AK ncsy.org Birmingham, AL newengland.ncsy.org Aventura, FL Bal Harbour, FL New Haven, CT Boca Raton, FL Stamford, CT Coral Springs, FL West Hartford, CT Hollywood, FL Brookline, MA Jacksonville, FL Framingham, MA Kendall, FL Lexington, MA Orlando, FL Marlborough, MA Miami Beach, FL Newton, MA North Miami Sharon, MA Beach, FL Waltham, MA Palm Beach, FL Providence, RI Parkland, FL Tampa, FL NEW JERSEY Savannah, GA Charlotte, NC Rabbi Ethan Katz Charleston, SC Dr. Murray Myrtle Beach, SC Leben, Chair Nashville, TN 201.862.0250 firstname.lastname@example.org SOUTHWEST newjersey.ncsy.org Rabbi Gershon Meisel East Brunswick, NJ 972.934.9143 Englishtown, NJ email@example.com Fair Lawn, NJ southwest.ncsy.org Freehold, NJ Freehold Boro, NJ Denver, CO Hackensack, NJ Dallas, TX Highland Park, NJ Houston, TX Hightstown, NJ San Antonio, TX Livingston, NJ Marlboro, NJ UPSTATE NY Manalapan, NJ Millburn, NJ Devora Weinstock Montclair, NJ 646.459.5175 Northern Highlands, NJ
SPECIAL THANKS TO
Jennifer Goldman Avinoam Teplow-Phipps Tova Ross Fran Zelenetz
Matilda Abramov Dovid Bashevkin Aliza English Israel Odesser Michael Sohn
firstname.lastname@example.org upstate.ncsy.org Albany, NY Binghamton, NY Buffalo, NY Catskills District, NY Mount Kisco, NY Rochester, NY Schenectady, NY Syracuse, NY
WEST COAST Rina Emerson Dr. Moshe Benarroch, Chair 310.229.9000 email@example.com westcoast.ncsy.org Phoenix, AZ Scottsdale, AZ Berkeley, CA Beverly Hills, CA Calabasas, CA Cupertino, CA Irvine, CA La Jolla, CA Los Angeles, CA North Hollywood, CA Oakland, CA Palo Alto, CA Piedmont, CA Sacramento, CA San Diego, CA San Francisco, CA San Jose, CA San Mateo, CA Santa Monica, CA Saratoga, CA Sunnyvale, CA Thousand Oaks, CA West Hills, CA Woodland Hills, CA Woodside, CA Las Vegas, NV Eugene, OR Portland, OR Mercer Island, WA Seattle, WA
ARGENTINA Rabbi Marcelo Krawiec Martin Lebovich 011.54.911.6802.5854 firstname.lastname@example.org
CHILE Michael Bengio 011.56.99.186.5575 email@example.com
GERMANY Anna Segal 011.49.30.440.10160 firstname.lastname@example.org
ISRAEL Rabbi Yosef Ginsberg Rabbi Michael Kahn 054-953-8225 052-508-5091 email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org israel.ncsy.org
NCSY International Headquarters 11 Broadway New York, NY 10004 Phone: 212.613.8233 Email: email@example.com Web: www.ncsy.org Facebook: www.facebook.com/myncsy Twitter: @ncsy YouTube: www.youtube.com/myncsy Instagram: www.instagram.com/myncsy
IT’S NOT TOO LATE TO SIGN UP
FOR ONE OF NCSY’S INCREDIBLE SUMMER PROGRAMS
REGISTER TODAY AT SUMMER.NCSY.ORG OR CALL 1-888-TOUR-4-YOU BILT
Boys Israel Leadership Training (BILT) is a leadership program for boys looking to challenge themselves and have an incredible adventure through the land of Israel.
Located in the Pocono Mountains, Camp Maor is for girls entering 5th- 10th grade who are interested in exploring their passion for the performing arts.
Camp Sports focuses on recreational and highly competitive sports leagues in Baltimore, MD, combined with rigorous Torah learning and outstanding trips.
Euro ICE brings Jewish history to life by exploring Budapest, Prague and Vienna, lands full of rich Jewish culture and history. This co-ed trip culminates in Israel by visiting all the popular sites.
Girls Israel Volunteer Experience (GIVE) is for exceptional high school girls looking to experience Judaism through the art of giving back in Israel.
GIVE West provides a select group of girls with a fun and meaningful summer by giving back to communities across the West Coast.
ISRAEL IN DEPTH
Israel In Depth takes boys and girls on an inspirational and exhilarating journey through the land of Israel.
THE ANNE SAMSON TJJ AMBASSADORS POLAND
Jewish Overseas Leadership Training (JOLT) is for teens who want to become leaders. Past participants have described their JOLT experience in Poland, Denmark and Israel as having a transformational impact on their Jewish identity.
On The Anne Samson TJJ Ambassadors Poland (TJJ AP) program, public school teens spend a week in Poland before traveling to Israel and touring the land through the lens of Jewish history.
NEW PROGRAMS SUMMER 2017
JOLT Israel is for highly-motivated teens looking for a unique leadership experience. The culmination of the summer will be JOLT Israel running a camp for Israeli children whose siblings have cancer.
NCSY Kollel is an unforgettable summer experience for boys in Israel with interactive learning, intense sports and great trips.
Michlelet is an extraordinary program for teenage girls looking to spend their summer in a productive way by learning Torah, doing chesed and touring Israel.
KANFEI (Co-ed) & BNOS KANFEI (Girls)
See the world like never before. Teens get in touch with their inner beauty and spirituality through experiencing the splendor of the world - with visits to New Zealand, Australia and Hawaii.
NEXT STEP INTERNSHIPS
Next Step aims to give teens a real workplace experience through highly sought after internships while working in one of the most innovative countries of the world - Israel.
THE ANNE SAMSON JERUSALEM JOURNEY (TJJ)
The Anne Samson Jerusalem Journey (TJJ) is the most affordable Israel trip for public school teens. Teens tour Israel and develop an appreciation for its history and their Jewish heritage.
THE ANNE SAMSON TJJ AMBASSADORS
The Anne Samson TJJ Ambassadors program takes public school teens to the best sights in Israel while they participate in social action, political advocacy and high-level Torah study.
NCSY is the international youth movement of the Orthodox Union.
TABLE OF CONTENTS DIRECTOR’S MESSAGE Decelerating to Drive Success: A message from NCSY’s International Director, Rabbi Micah Greenland.
FACES IN THE CROWD Meet Yoni Colman Find out why Lisa and Ed Pantiliat support NCSY.
CHAIRMAN’S MESSAGE 07 Mr. Avi Katz and the charge of Dayenu. TEEN PRESIDENT MESSAGE 08 International Teen President, JJ Kampf, reflects on making the
most of his opportunities with NCSY.
QUESTIONS ON THE GROUND Keevy Fried, NCSY’s Associate International Director, discusses three steps towards inspiration.
COMMUNITY SNAPSHOTS A look back at this year’s regional fundraisers.
CHESED ACROSS THE COUNTRY NCSYers across the globe give back to their communities and beyond.
STAYING WARM IN THE WINTER 16 Highlights from NCSY Winter Regionals.
KALLAH 18 AYARCHEI recap of NCSY’s winter break Torah-learning extravaganza for public school teens.
ON THE FRONT LINES OF INSPIRATION 20 Jewish Student Union clubs and what they’ve been up to.
22 NCSY’S STAFFCON INNOVATION CHALLENGE THE 22ND ANNUAL BEN ZAKKAI HONOR SOCIETY DINNER 24 Looking back at this year’s annual dinner honoring NCSY’s best
DIVING IN Mory Gould goes for gold in his Judaism and his diving.
THE CANDLE BURNS ON 28 Allison Gorokhovsky relects on her NCSY journey coming full circle. TRUDEAU 30 ANATE change in planes, a life mission realized. A (SOUTHERN) CHARMED LIFE 32 Nava Senior’s journey from reluctant NCSYer to passionate Torah teacher.
BRIDGING THE GAP 34 Central East NCSYers Head to Israel for a Gap Year. JUST FOR KIDS 36 ANOT once unique-to-teens Israel experience is extended to their parents.
AS A TEEN: RABBI HERSHEL SCHACHTER 38 NCSY Director of Education, Rabbi Dovid Bashevkin, sits with Rabbi Hershel Schachter to discuss his teenage years.
40 THE NCSY “JUST ONE” HAGGADAH NEW NCSY SIDDUR PREPARES TO LAUNCH 42 NCSY teams up with Koren Publishers to release all new NCSY Siddur for teens.
HIGHLIGHTS 43 Happenings around the NCSY World. EDUCATION AND THE ECHO CHAMBER 50 Rabbi Moshe Benovitz
By Rabbi Micah Greenland, International Director
By almost any traditional measure of athleticism, professional basketball player James Harden is far from extraordinary. Sure, compared to most of us in the general population, he is extraordinarily physically gifted. But relative to his teammates on the Houston Rockets or his rivals around the National Basketball Association, he is merely average: average height, average strength, average wingspan, average speed, average jumping ability. A recent article in the Wall Street Journal (by Ben Cohen, February 10, 2017) noted this point exactly, exclaiming “there is almost nothing about his physical makeup that seems exceptional.” In fact, Marcus Elliot, founder and director of the Peak Performance Project, which analyzes the biomechanics of athletes, studied Harden and observed: “by all the traditional performance metrics that we track, he’s pretty pedestrian.” And yet, Harden is universally acknowledged to be a phenomenal player. He is one of the top scorers in the league, has earned All-Star recognition five times, and was even voted by his peers in the Players Association as the 2015 Most Valuable Player.
Rabbi Micah Greenland leading the public menorah lighting this past December at NCSY’s National Yarchei Kallah in Somerset, NJ.
How does someone so remarkably average accomplish things that are so decidedly exceptional? It turns out, there is something unique about Harden’s athletic abilities, though not anything that most talent evaluators would measure. His hidden advantage? Deceleration. Harden is the fastest in sports at slowing down. He has an unparalleled ability to stop while moving at full-speed, allowing opposing players to run past him, and then step back with enough separation between himself and his defender to put up an uncontested jump shot. This capacity to decelerate quickly before the taking further action is a trait that can serve us well in our spiritual lives as well. Three times each day, as we prepare to recite the amidah, the paramount prayer in each of our daily services, we begin by taking three steps back, followed by three steps forward. The esteemed Iraqi sage Rabbi Yosef Chaim, author of the Ben Ish Chai, ascribes significance not only to the steps forward – those taken as we approach G-d to begin our silent prayer to Him – but also to the three steps back (see Ben Ish Chai, Parshat Beshalach 3). There are valuable analogies to our professional lives, and in Jewish communal work as well. As valuable as it may seem to adopt a “pedal-tothe-metal” type work ethic, constantly pushing to achieve and accomplish, the ability to decelerate is often even more advantageous. As an organization develops, it is critical to pause and reflect, and to identify strategic opportunities for growth and greater impact. This deceleration may come at the momentary expense of continued advancement, yet it is vital to the organization’s success and ability to achieve its mission. In NCSY, our leadership gathers a minimum of three times annually for such pause-and-reflect opportunities. The entire NCSY professional staff from across North America and from
around the world assembles each fall for StaffCon; the Regional Directors and National Leadership convene in the winter for Senior Directors Conference; and the full summer programs team, including over 200 program directors and advisors, gather together in May for four days of training and development at the Summer Programs Training Weekend. It is not a simple matter to decelerate the intensive programmatic schedule that each of those NCSY senior leaders is otherwise engaged in during those months. Yet, it is unquestionably a key element of what makes NCSY so successful. We recognize that our capacity to impact the lives of Jewish teens hinges on the talent and dedication of our staff. As such, NCSY as an organization invests in our people as much as we can, and our Director of Leadership Development, Rabbi Ari Rockoff, focuses on that mission with his full attention. Whether it is developing volunteer advisors to better relate to teens or preparing NCSY City Directors to become Regional Directors or national leaders, we are all focused on the value of slowing down to reflect, strategize, and gain skills, before picking up greater steam to accomplish more for the Jewish people. With that in mind, the next time you watch James Harden dribble aggressively through the lane, only to stop on a dime and shoot an open jumper, remember the importance of that deceleration. It may not only be the key to his basketball prowess, but a vital skill for each of us to develop as we strive to constantly grow spiritually and in our communal impact as well. With Torah Blessings,
Rabbi Micah Greenland
QUESTIONS WITH QUESTIONS FOR
LISA AND ED PANTILIAT NCSY SUPPORTERS
Eddie and Lisa Pantiliat live in Scottsdale, Arizona with their four children. Eddie is the senior partner of Hymson, Goldstein, Pantiliat and Lohr while Lisa is a former teacher and volunteers with many Jewish organizations.
Leading the way with NCSY Summer’s newest organizational approach and mindset might seem like a whole lot of work, but for Yoni Colman, it’s another great way to pursue excellence. Yoni first got involved with NCSY professionally over 10 years ago. “My wife (then fiancé) called me up because they needed someone to play guitar at the closing banquet at Spring Regional Shabbaton. I had no idea what I was walking into!” recounts Yoni. “There was a certain type of positive energy in that room and I was really intrigued. Naturally, I had to explore it.” Thus began Yoni’s exploration of NCSY. As a teacher, recruiter, marketing director, and eventually Managing Director of Torah High, NCSY Canada’s accredited after school program, Yoni began to experience the importance of the work through the lens of community building. “Torah High was so important in my growth because I got to really learn and experiment with cutting edge ideas and methodologies - no one was doing what we were!” reflects Yoni. Yoni led the organization in a number of vital partnerships that provided innovative programming that increased outreach, including March of the Living, Camp Northland Bnai Brith, and even pairing with the largest provider of online credit courses to create the first online accredited Jewish high school, JVhighschool.com. When he assumed the leadership position of Managing Director of NCSY Canada, the innovation continued. “We’re an organization of people, for people, and by people. So we just made sure that our products and approach were all people focused!” reflects Yoni, on the growth of the Canada region. On his recent transition to the National NCSY Summer team, Yoni exclaims, “NCSY Summer is particularly important because we are able to deliver unique impact for our campers; experiences in the summer space are a vital Jewish identity opportunity – that’s why I joined!” Yoni is no stranger to NCSY Summer, having led The Anne Samson Jerusalem Journey (TJJ) a number of times and most recently piloting an upgraded summer field management system for mentorship and leadership in real time. Colman, who has been with NCSY since 2007, shares one of his favorite professional lessons: giving. “What makes our people great is that they are always looking to improve the lives of others. It’s humbling to be able to enjoy what one does while being inspired by the giving nature of one’s peers at the same time,” explains Colman. “Giving to others in a way that makes their lives better, or in service of that goal, reflects well on the inspirational work we pursue; I consider myself very lucky to be a part of that”. Yoni is married to Eli and they have three children, Shua, 7, Maya, 4, and Nava, 2. All of them have enjoyed participating in a Shabbaton or Summer Program, and are looking forward to continuing to do so.
HOW DID YOU FIRST HEAR ABOUT NCSY? I was briefly introduced to NCSY in Los Angeles in 1980 while attending Hillel Hebrew Academy. It wasn’t until about 7 years ago, in 2010, that there was no longer an Orthodox Youth Group in Phoenix. We had one here previously but by the time our kids were approaching the age where they would benefit from NCSY, it was no longer. We contacted Rabbi Effie Goldberg, then the West Coast Regional Director, to figure out how we could get NCSY back on the map. Within months we had a chapter forming, and slowly but surely we began to grow. Before we knew it, and with the commitment and enthusiasm of our director Shmuli Josephson, the JSU clubs and Wednesday evening Latte and Learn became the focus of NCSY Phoenix. WHY IS NCSY CRITICAL TO THE JEWISH COMMUNITY? NCSY is critical to the Jewish community because it provides teens who are either in day schools, secular private schools or public schools the opportunity to come together, explore, and be inspired by their Judaism. It is imperative for teens to be solidified in who they are as Jews so that they can connect to Torah and mitzvot, be strong for Israel, and understand the possibilities involved in leading a Torah lifestyle. This is the only way to combat assimilation in today’s world. NCSY strives to provide teens with this strength. WHAT MAKES NCSY UNIQUE IN YOUR OPINION? NCSY is unique in that its goal is to INSPIRE! Education is so real and the ruach that goes along with it is palpable. There is literally a summer program for every type of teen. Whether their goal is leadership, growth, connection to Israel or to find and visit Jewish places in other countries, teens come back having the best summer ever! It’s also unique in that regionwide conventions provide something for all. If davening doesn’t speak to you in the traditional sense, there are breakout sessions where educators and advisors can help teens understand and tap into something spiritual and meaningful. Education is the key to success and nothing compares to an NCSY ebbing and havdalah! HOW HAS NCSY IMPACTED YOU AND YOUR FAMILY? NCSY is an incredible organization that has inspired us to continue to reach out to others, to be motivated to grow in our learning and Yiddishkeit, and it has given our kids the opportunity to see the potential and positive energy we have when the Jewish people come together. Experiencing regional Shabbatonim together as a family was incredibly effective and uplifting. Two of our four children have participated in summer programs - BILT and JOLT Israel - and it clearly changed their lives. Hosting different meetings and Shabbos dinners in our home continues to bring our feeling of responsibility to NCSY and the greater Klal to life! WHAT MESSAGE DO YOU HAVE FOR OUR READERS? Our children need to be constantly surrounded by the right people and the right environment. Family and the home provide the nurturing element of a child’s life. School is the next influence along with their teachers, rebbeim and friends. Beyond that, and by the time they reach their teenage years, NCSY has the capability to give teens experiences that allow them to figure out who they are and what role Judaism can play in their lives. The NCSY family becomes their friends, their advisors and the NCSY staff are there to learn with them, grow with them, spend summers with them, and ultimately, help them become committed Jewish leaders.
By Avi Katz, National Youth Commision Chairman, OU sequencing and grouping of lines, the reader is made aware of the essential elements of a complete redemption. The release from bondage reflects the removal of suffering and limitation, which would indeed be enough on a physical level. On a spiritual level, however, so much more would be needed. The development of our awareness of divine intervention, the gift of Shabbos, the holy Torah, entering the land of Israel and, finally, the Beis Hamikdash itself—each of these ideals form the core of what it is to be a Jew. Through its escalating prose, Dayenu reaches its crescendo with the spiritual redemption of the Jewish people.
should never say ‘dayenu’—we should always strive to attain ever greater heights. Critically, it is only with a sense of lacking that a Jew can seek to continually draw closer to Hashem. With this thematic idea established, we can approach Dayenu as a question. We are, in effect, saying ‘dayenu’?— can we ever be fully satisfied with our religious growth? Certainly, an individual can, and should, take pride in accomplishments along the spiritual journey, but at the same time, we must not be satisfied and push ourselves to even loftier heights. The belief in this concept lays the foundation for the extraordinary passion, efforts and accomplishments of the incredibly talented NCSY staff. They have successfully turned the vision of the 2020 Strategic Plan into a reality. Record levels of teens reached, impacted, on summer programs and experiencing the holy land of Israel. It has been a truly remarkable sight to behold with countless tales of inspiration and heroic growth. With more than 24,000 teens meaningfully engaged by NCSY each year, one could certainly say ‘dayenu.’ Good job—look at all the impact and success.
Perhaps the most recognized song of the seder night—and usually a good indication for many that the matzah, marror and meal are on the way— Dayenu is both simplistically catchy and deeply complex. Its 15 lines reflect a step-by-step path of redemption from the cauldron of Egypt to the majestic heights of Har Ha’Bayis. At each stop, the singer is prompted to declare (up to 10 times depending on the tune!) — ‘Dayenu,’ loosely translated as, ‘it would have been enough.’
And yet, we seem to be saying at each point along the way—this level would suffice! Imagine our lives without Shabbos! Without Torah! Without Eretz Yisrael! Unthinkable. I believe one of the main goals in resolving this tension is the composer’s desire to force us to deeply understand, appreciate and embrace each of these essential Jewish elements. In a world seemingly spinning faster by the day, we are charged with the task of taking the time to profoundly engage with these elements of our spiritual identity.
With great humility, we seem to be declaring Hashem’s great love and care for the Jewish people despite our seeming lack of worthiness. Take us out of bondage in Egypt, that would have been enough! The flow of the song suggests that each successive step reflects a new and independent kindness bestowed upon us. On its own, the introduction of this emotion into the seder drama would make Dayenu a fitting and appropriate part of the Hagaddah.
On a different level, there is the concept of gratitude. When in our lives do we say “it’s enough”? On this plane, Chazal emphasize the dichotomy between our material and spiritual desires. Indeed, in the realm of physical desires and wants, we should train ourselves to say ‘dayenu.’ There are countless rabbinic statements elucidating the dangers of unbounded physical desire and the need to corral our animalistic drives. In our spiritual growth, however, we
With great insight, however, Jewish thinkers over the centuries have uncovered deep insights from within this remarkable text. By analyzing each step and creating structure around the
Avi Katz is a managing member of Agam Capital Management. Prior to that, he was a partner at Apollo Management where he was the portfolio manager of the Apollo Strategic Value Fund and Apollo Value Investment Fund. Previously, he held many leadership positions in the world of finance and in the broader Jewish community. Mr. Katz graduated from New York University with a BS in Accounting and Economics, and he is also a Chartered Financial Analyst. He lives in Teaneck, New Jersey, with his wife Becky and their four children.
At the same time, we ask ‘dayenu’? There is so much more to do! While proud of what we have achieved at NCSY—we can never be satisfied. We will continue to innovate and inspire and seek to engage each and every Jewish teen in a meaningful and impactful manner. We will strive to ensure the success of Jewish continuity. We look forward to the day of ultimate redemption, when together we can all say Dayenu!
PHOTO: TALYA ROGOFF
“I am not throwing away my shot.” When famous Broadway playwright Lin Manuel-Miranda sings these words, the world listens. Miranda is best known for his self-written Hamilton, which opened in late 2015. The play puts a modern spin on the life of Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, relaying early American politics with passion and excitement through fast-paced hiphop beats and unapologetically witty rhymes. But Hamilton hasn’t grossed $1.9 million per week over the past two years because of its wordplay alone. What makes the play so unique is the way that everyone can identify with its message of rising to the occasion and maximizing each opportunity to make the most possible impact. The phrase: “I am not throwing away my shot” is a running refrain throughout the musical, and its message is what has kept myself and so many others glued to the Hamilton soundtrack album since it was released. Quite fittingly, this proactive mindset has guided National Board’s teamwork 8
with the National NCSY Staff and the Orthodox Union, allowing us to pull off a staggering amount of meaningful programs and initiatives. Everyone involved in NCSY should get their own, personal shot to be a leader and make an impact. We have helped create a weekly parsha newsletter comprised of interactive content, divrei Torah from NCSYers, and interviews with prominent, nationallyrecognized Jewish educators. We worked to successfully execute our two annual Shabbatons - JUMP and Yarchei Kallah. On JUMP, National Board members led educational sessions on Shabbat and participated in team-building challenges throughout the leadership competition. This was our first weekend together, and we maximized our time by planning new programming, such as our #8DAYSOFSUMMER, a Chanukah summer programs social media push. As Shabbos ebbed away at Yarchei Kallah, I looked around at nearly four hundred NCSYers who, like Hamilton, refused to waste their precious opportunity. However, they weren’t drafting a Constitution. Instead, they were spending their winter
break learning Torah and developing meaningful relationships. This transformative experience inspired us to extend Torah learning beyond winter break and continue Yarchei Kallah by launching Sunday Night Live, a weekly dvar Torah broadcast on Facebook Live reaching NCSYers around the globe. During Pesach, we will read the story of Yetziat Mitzrayim, when Hashem gave the Jews the smallest window of opportunity to finally leave Egypt. Thankfully for us, they seized their moment, racing out of a miserable life of slavery without even waiting for their bread to rise. On Pesach, we learn that Alexander Hamilton wasn’t the first to take a chance that came his way, and if we keep making the most of the opportunities NCSY gives us, he won’t be the last. NCSYers, we are only just getting started. With your participation and enthusiasm, our programming will continue to thrive. I’ve been so lucky to work with an amazing team of National Board leaders and a dedicated National Staff. I can’t thank them enough for their contributions to the tremendous strides we have made this year.
JOIN BIKENCSY TO HELP SEND NCSY TEENS TO ISRAEL FOR A GAP YEAR OF TORAH STUDY AND GROWTH.
June 25, 2017
Discover Hudson Valley Ride: Poughkeepsie, NY
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NCSY is the international youth movement of the OU.
I recently changed up my daily commute to New York City and started taking the Long Island Rail Road. While I usually travel via the quiet Atlantic Terminal located in Brooklyn, occasionally I choose to travel through Penn Station, located in the heart of NYC. One of the advantages of that is bumping into lots of people - some traveling on the subway, some hopping on an Amtrak and others traveling on NJ Transit or the LIRR.
they cannot outsource the spiritual development of their child.
For a shmoozer like me, it’s great. I’m standing at the crossroads of the world and encounter people from my past and present. I don’t have Facebook or means of social media communication, so I converse with people the old fashioned way - real live conversations. In the few months that I’ve been stationed at Penn Station, I’ve “friended” a few dozen people, though I can’t really calculate my “likes.”
At NCSY we understand that parents are our partners and that we need a strong relationship with parents in order for teens to grow in their selfdiscovery, relationship with Hashem, and Jewish inspiration. We’ve begun offering NCSY-like programs for parents in various communities around North America to foster a complementary relationship and allow them to experience and take home the burst of NCSY inspiration. This hopefully translates into parents realizing the incredible role they have and how to partner with us, but more importantly, to take the lead in inspiring their teenage children.
After connecting with people that I haven’t spoken to in a while, updating each other on life, and they learn a little about what I am up to, I am often asked: “How do you inspire teens? How could I inspire my own teens?”
As a parent, YOU are THE key spiritual role model and mentor for your teen. This is not an optional choice, that’s the way it is. Ultimately, you are responsible for teaching and modeling to your teen what following Hashem means, and while shul, youth groups, schools etc. can be a support to that end, they are only that - support mechanisms.
These are loaded questions that can’t be answered in the twelve minutes I have until my train...but picture me in Penn Station, leaning against a wall, briefcase in hand, answering these complicated questions on one foot (and Hillel thought he had it hard!). This is usually how my answer goes:
2. BE GENUINE AND REAL IN YOUR SPIRITUAL JOURNEY: Are you yearning and striving for a relationship with Hashem that is thriving, dynamic and genuine? Guarantees can’t be made that your teen will follow in your footsteps, but expecting your teen to mature in his or her own faith while you are complacent in your own growth is a big mistake.
1. IT’S UP TO YOU: We pay a lot of money for our kids’ tuition and spend hours contemplating which schools to send our children to. Then there are youth groups and Shabbos programming, after school programming and summer programming. Despite all of these things, one must realize that
Get real with your relationship with Hashem, share your thoughts, struggles and hypocrisy with your entire family, and maybe then you can become a spiritual role model and pursue growth together.
NCSY is as successful as it is largely
because of our enormously talented and dedicated volunteer advisor base. It’s not just about the manpower, energy, and fun they provide, but our best advisors are those that continue to grow WITH the NCSYers. They are genuine, real and honest about what they faced as teens, their current spiritual struggles, and their quest for a more meaningful relationship with G-d. They are true role models for the teens. 3. MAKE YOUR JUDAISM EXPERIENTIAL: We are a people of a rich history and lots of significant experiences. Take advantage of opportunities to turn regular rituals into experiential ones, even if you think it’s a little goofy. The Pesach seder is experiential and is also bound to the mitzvah of “vi’higadeta li’vincha,” teaching and reliving the Pesach story with our children. It isn’t enough to simply learn the halachos or minhagim, but by enjoying oneself in an experiential type of way, one learns to love and appreciate what they are doing. This takes preparation, it takes practice, but like anything, when you put some work into it, the product is that much more meaningful. Just come to one NCSY Regional Shabbaton. Come witness NCSY Yarchei Kallah, our five-day Torah learning program for public school teens. Come see how much of a difference one chesed mission with NCSYers rebuilding destroyed homes in New Orleans can make. All of this is Judaism in action. At NCSY, we don’t just preach and teach Torah values, we go out and we live them. Yes, I’m originally from New York so I speak quickly and can relay all this info in just under 10 minutes. But alas, there are two things that never wait for you in life -- Shabbos and the LIRR -- and I have a train to catch.
MAJOR EVENTS AROUND NCSY
COMMUNITY SNAPSHOTS A look back at this year’s regional fundraisers. CHESED ACROSS THE COUNTRY NCSYers across the globe give back to their communities and beyond.
STAYING WARM IN THE WINTER 16 Highlights from NCSY Winter Regionals. KALLAH 18 AYARCHEI recap of NCSY’s winter break Torah-learning extravaganza for public school teens.
ON THE FRONT LINES OF INSPIRATION 20 Jewish Student Union clubs and what they’ve been up to.
22 NCSY’S STAFFCON INNOVATION CHALLENGE 22ND ANNUAL BEN ZAKKAI HONOR 24 THE SOCIETY DINNER Looking back at this year’s annual dinner honoring NCSY’s best and brightest.
TORONTO NCSY Canada hosts their 35th annual NCSY Concert in the Toronto Centre for the Arts. This year’s concert featured Israeli singing sensation, Gad Elbaz, and Jewish-American rapper, Nissim Black.
ATLANTIC SEABOARD Over 2000 attendees came together for Atlantic Seaboard NCSY’s 42nd Annual Isaac Taylor Jewish Music Festival on January 15, 2017 to show support of NCSY and hear the music of Simcha Leiner, Miami Boys Choir and Dovid Gabay. Pictured above (L-R) are Dr. Michael Elman, Rabbi Jonah Lerner, Matt Lewis, Sam and Donna Wach – this year’s Lifetime Dedication Awardees, and Lauren Gluck.
HOUSTON Houston NCSY hosted their First annual fundraiser, featuring world renown comedian Avi Lieberman, a former NCSY teen. The event sold out, with over 300 attendees joining in support of NCSY and honoring former Houston NCSY Chapter advisor Rabbi Mark Urkowitz. Pictured here are members of the Silverman family (L-R): Yoni and Rachel Fein, Carol Silverman, and Rachel and Richard Silverman.
WEST COAST Rabbi Micah Greenland, NCSY International Director, Rina Emerson, WC NCSY Regional Director, and Dr. Moshe Benarroch, WC NCSY Chairman present Rabbi Effie Goldberg and Dr. Josh Penn with awards at West Coast NCSY’s 162 Dinner on January 5th, 2017. More than 350 community members and friends gathered to celebrate the accomplishments of these two leaders. In their honor, NCSY 162 raised over $200,000 in scholarship dollars to send 162 West Coast teens on our most life-changing NCSY Summer programs!
MIDWEST Guest of Honor Rabbi Moshe Isenberg (L) is presented an award by NCSY International Director Rabbi Micah Greenland (C) and Midwest NCSY Regional Director Rabbi Donny Schwartz at this year’s Midwest NCSY’s Gala Banquet.
MIAMI Miami Beach NCSY recently hosted a fun-filled basketball tournament as a community event. Over 10 teams comprised of teens from various different backgrounds and schools throughout the local area came together at the Hebrew Academy Gymnasium in Miami Beach for a 3-on-3 tournament and 3-point shooting contest. The event attracted more than 15 new teens to NCSY. Participants saw that not only does NCSY promote Jewish social gatherings for teens in the Miami Beach area, but that physical fitness and taking care of one’s body is a great mitzvah too!
ISRAEL NCSY Israel Launched an eight-day “Shine the Light” fundraising campaign over Chanukah in an effort to match a $10,000 pledge. The goal was met and over $20,000 was raised to help expand scholarships and programming.
PITTSBURGH Sarah Hertzberg, Janet Anderson, and Rachel Luzer join many Pittsburgh NCSYers and supporters at this year’s The Q fundraiser.
NEW JERSEY City Director Jennifer Romanoff addresses the Metro West community at the chapter’s first annual Boutique Israeli Wine and Cheese fundraiser.
PORTLAND Over $155,000 was raised at Oregon NCSY's annual trivia game fundraiser, The Q. Pictured here (L-R) is the winning team: Len Berman, Nicole Payne, Iris and Ben Cox, Daniel and Alla Kaplan, and Pamela and Perry Miles. SPRING 2016
ATLANTA Above, JSU teens partner with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta to provide sick children with Jewish-themed presents. Here, teens at Johns Creek High School make sandwiches for Atlanta’s homeless after learning about the importance of tzedakah and the deep Jewish value of chesed.
UPSTATE NY Teens from Albany NCSY hold a pre-Rosh Hashana chesed event, packaging apples, honey and handwritten notes for the Jewish residents at the senior center.
MIDWEST Teens on Midwest NCSY’s Big Apple Adventure pack clothing for needy children at Yad Leah in New Jersey, amongst many other social action activities.
COLUMBUS, OH Columbus NCSY teams up with international chesed organization GIFT, to cook kosher meals for Jewish patients in local hospitals.
NEW JERSEY NJ NCSY partners with The Frisch School of Paramus, NJ taking 15 students to New Orleans, LA. The group put siding on a house with Habitat for Humanity, changed light bulbs with Green Light New Orleans, and spent Shabbos with the Anshei Sfard community of New Orleans.
BOCA RATON, FL NCSY Boca Raton Chapter launches ROOTS, a bi-weekly visit to a local old age home in Boca Raton. NCSYers come to share their experiences, build a relationship, and learn with and from the residents.
NEW ORLEANS, LA NCSY Summer takes ten day-school teens from across the country on a humanitarian mission of rebuilding and social action this past January in New Orleans.
HOUSTON, TX Houston NCSY hosts an amazing BBQ in support of the local Police. Over 200 people - adults, teens and children from across the Houston Community were in attendance.
VANCOUVER Live2Give participants meet at the start of the Paperclip Challenge at Richmond Mall, where they traded up a paperclip for Chanukah gifts for families in need in the Vancouver community. SPRING 2016
VANCOUVER Fun, friendship, spectacular scenery, world class skiing and ziplining for all NCSYers at Vancouver NCSY’s Whistler Shabbaton.
MIDWEST Forty-five teens spent the weekend touring NYC, volunteering and learning what it means to be a hero this past Presidents Day Weekend.
ISRAEL Forty-five NCSYers and Advisors came together for the unforgettable Gevurah Shabbaton in Modiin, Israel this past Chanukah.
WEST COAST NorCal NCSY had an inspiring Shabbaton in Berkeley learning what it means to be a “Jewish Warrior,” followed by a Saturday night activity challenging our inner physical warrior.
NEW ENGLAND Nechuma Kaufman, Shani Wolfson, Rebecca Stolarov, Tsippy Kilstein, Rachel Gilder (L-R) join over 250 teens and staff from 15 chapters in New England & Upstate NY at this years Winter Regional.
NEW YORK Teens gather to learn how to draw Mickey Mouse with Disney animator, Saul Blinkoff, on this year’s New York Winter Regional held in Stamford, CT.
UPSTATE NY Upstate teens bringing the ruach this past winter at a closing havdalah ceremony.
GREATER ATLANTA Above left, teens enjoy Atlanta Region’s Winter Regional Convention in Marietta, GA. On the right, Yaakov Cohen, Elya Rabinowitz, Aharon Weiden, Cody Kaplan, Yaakov Zeiger, Aden Dori, Leead Silverstone, and Talya Gartner have a blast at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter inside Universal Studios Islands of Adventure at Atlanta NCSY’s second Winter Regional Convention in Orlando.
SOUTHWEST 120 teens from Houston, Dallas, Denver and San Antonio gather on Southwest NCSY’s Winter Regional in Denver, Colorado.
DETROIT Rabbi Dovid Lichtig and teens from the Frankel Jewish Academy at the annual Detroit City Shabbaton.
NEW JERSEY Marissa Warshawsky and Emily Turner having a blast this past December in the Hudson Valley Resort and Spa at New Jersey NCSY’s Winter Regional. SPRING 2016
This past December, a record number 350 public school teens from across North and South America gathered to spend their winter break in Somerset, New Jersey at NCSY’s Yarchei Kallah. The premier five-day learning program connects public school teens to their Jewish heritage and is one of NCSY’s most anticipated and popular events. Traditional classroom learning is supplemented with group study, one-on-one chavrutot and late night discussions with teachers, advisors and fellow NCSYers. After a week of studying Torah and bonding, teens are imbued with a deep passion for learning about their heritage. Each year, the educational programming is centered around a specific text or theme and this year teens focused on studying Pirkei Avot, Jewish Ethics and the contemporary teens place in this timeless tradition. This year’s event coincided with the holiday of Chanukah. An opening video informed teens of recent arson attacks across Israel and encouraged teens to #FightFireWithFire by taking advantage
of the fiery inspiration that the five days of learning and fun would provide. To commemorate the Chanukah festivities, a public candle lighting ceremony took place each night, followed by smaller, more intimate regional lightings. Teen leaders from NCSY Summer programs were each honored with lighting one candle on behalf of all NCSYers present. This year featured a new optional nightly-mishmar program where teens were able to select different areas of learning that appealed to them. Each participant was given their own set of seforim, sponsored and subsidized by Koren Publishers, to aid in their study during and after the event. Thousands of dollars of prizes were raffled off for teens committed to the extra learning, adding to an already electric environment. The final night of #YK2016 coincided with New Year’s Eve and a Times Square themed New Year’s party brought the excitement of NYC straight to the NCSYers. With street performers, caricature artists and
National Teen President JJ Kampf holds the havdalah candle at the end of an inspirational Shabbos at #YK2016.
dancing to the music of NCSY’s own DJ ZJ, teens brought in the new year with an unbelievable energy. Shortly before the clock struck midnight, teens were privileged to hear words of inspiration and reflection from Marc Fein, Director of NCSY Summer’s Anne Samson TJJ Ambassadors Poland trip. “With this year Yarchei Kallah falling out both on Chanukah and the turn of the new year – it was an especially auspicious and remarkable time to highlight our teens commitment to continued Torah growth,” noted NCSY’s Director of Education, Rabbi Dovid Bashevkin. “Yarchei Kallah is truly a magnificent experience, with hundreds of teenagers learning Torah in a miniyeshiva type of environment,” said International NCSY Director, Rabbi Micah Greenland. “I have no doubt that Yarchei Kallah 2016 has made a profound difference in the lives of the teens who participated and in the lives of their families.”
Julia Silverman and Leanor Attar take home two of the top prizes at the final Yarchei Kallah raffle for teens who took on extra learning at this year’s event.
NCSYers getting ready for an uplifting Shabbat with a little pre-Shabbat Instagram.
Advisors and teens continue their learning well into the night.
Avi Warman kicks off the Chanukah edition Yarchei Kallah Olympics with the lighting of the torch.
Times Square comes to Somerset, NJ at the New Yearâ€™s Eve festivities this year at Yarchei Kallah.
Teens from New England region on the scene at #YK2016.
NCSYers meet with Gap Year representatives to explore post-high school Israel opportunities.
NCSYers are honored with lighting Chanukah candles each night at a public lighting ceremony.
Southwest NCSYers having a blast at #YK2016.
NCSY Chile take in the sites at their pre-Yarchei Kallah adventure in New York City.
Central East NCSYer, Joseph Yusobov, is the #YK2016 grand prize winner, taking home a complete set of Artscroll Shas.
Rabbi Dovid Bashevkin shows teens the Mesorah Tree, a tree that allowed teens to visualize how they and their teachers connect to the many generations of past Torah giants. SPRING 2016
Forty teens from Minneapolis, Saint Louis, Denver and Phoenix joined for the 2nd annual Midwest JSU trip in Scottsdale, Arizona. Seen here, teens enjoy the sights and inspiration atop Squaw Peak Mountain.
JSU was created as a forum for public school students to meet other Jewish teens while learning about their Jewish heritage in a fun and relaxed environment. During weekly or biweekly club meetings, teens learn and engage in Jewish topics, in addition to hearing about Jewish opportunities within their area.
JSU educators provide educational programming through interactive discussions, guest speakers and video presentations. Topics include Jewish holidays, Israel education, current events, leadership and anti-Semitism. While teens may initially come for the free food, they keep coming back to nourish their newfound interest in their
Karine Hen, Andrew Berger, Simcha Brick, Daniel Wachsberg and Max Felix (LR) explore their Judaism at one of Houstonâ€™s six JSU clubs.
Jewish identities. By going where students spend most of their day, JSU clubs successfully reach thousands of Jewish teens who otherwise might never have been exposed to their heritage and rich tradition.
Public school JSU teens venture to NYC with Atlantic Seaboard on the annual JSU Summit.
Minneapolis JSUers decorate fresh apples while learning about Rosh Hashana.
Students at American Heritage, a private school in Boca Raton, FL experience the holiday of Sukkot like never before with their very own traveling sukkah-mobile!
Teens from Coral Springs High in Coral Springs, FL paint the sidewalk (with school permission, of course) to advertise their schoolâ€™s newly established JSU club.
West Hartford JSUers kick off the year with a Meet & Greet BBQ.
Atlanta JSUers make personalized menorahs to celebrate Chanukah with their families.
More than 50 teens join the festive Chanukah celebrations at Allderdice High in Pittsburgh, PA. SPRING 2016
NCSY staff gather each year for a staff conference at which best practices and techniques are shared by staff with one another with hope to strengthen the organizational approach for the upcoming year. This past year’s StaffCon included a new and exciting program: The NCSY Innovation Challenge. NCSY staff
were given the opportunity to submit their most unique, engaging and impactful programs for review in one of four categories: Teen Programming, Parent Engagement, Fundraising and Future Program. From the over forty submissions from staff across the country, each entry was reviewed and twelve finalists were chosen to be displayed on Innovation Lane at this year’s conference. NCSY staff
and Senior members of the Orthodox Union were then able to vote for the most innovative idea in each category, awarding each winner a $500 cash prize. The goal of the challenge was to celebrate the innovative thinkers across the organization, as well as encourage NCSY staff to think outside the box about how new and innovative programming can help NCSY have both a stronger reach and presence in the regions.
Joey Bodner, recipient of the Enid and Harold Boxer Memorial Award, here with his family.
The 22nd annual Ben Zakkai Honor Society (BZHS) NCSY National Scholarship Reception took place on Sunday, January 29, 2017 at the Lincoln Square Synagogue in Manhattan, with close to 300 people in attendance. The dinner, chaired by Vivian and David Luchins, presented awards to longtime outstanding NCSY trailblazers. The dinner’s leading honorees were Dr. Marian Stoltz-Loike (Dean of Touro’s Lander College for Women) and Dr. John Loike (Professor of Bioethics at Columbia University) of Jamaica Estates, NY, honored with the Rebbetzin Ella 24
and Rabbi Aharon Soloveichik Memorial Award, and Joey Bodner of Teaneck, who received the Enid and Harold Boxer Memorial Award; Joan and Dr. Alan Weinstock of New Haven, CT, who received the Ezra Ben Zion Lightman Memorial Award; and Dr. Louis Cooper a”h of Silver Spring, MD, whose memory was honored with the Rebbetzin Elaine and Rabbi Pinchas Stolper Service Award. The dinner included a memorial tribute to Steven Billauer a”h.
Dinner co-chairman David Luchins explained, “The vitality and success of NCSY is largely a tribute to the devotion, dedication and passion that our inductees and honorees bring to every aspect of their personal and communal lives.”
The 2017 inductees for BZHS were Lillian Strauss Aharon of Boca Raton, FL, and Miriam Borenstein (who will be inducted on February 12 at the OU Israel Center). BZHS was founded in 1965 to recognize the achievements of NCSY alumni who have demonstrated personal Torah growth and the promise of future meaningful service to the Jewish people and the Orthodox community. The society raises critical funds to provide direct scholarships for NCSYers to continue their Jewish education after high school or to participate in various NCSY programs.
Lillian Stauss Aharon (L), one of the evening’s inductees, here with Karen Steinberg (R) at this year’s Ben Zakkai dinner.
PROFILES OF THE PEOPLE AND PLACES THAT MATTER
DIVING IN 26 Mory Gould goes for gold in his Judaism and his diving.
THE CANDLE BURNS ON 28 Allison Gorokhovsky relects on her NCSY journey coming full circle.
TRUDEAU 30 ANATE change in planes, a life mission realized. A (SOUTHERN) CHARMED LIFE 32 Nava Senior’s journey from reluctant NCSYer to passionate Torah teacher
BRIDGING THE GAP Central East NCSYers Head to Israel for a Gap Year.
NOT JUST FOR KIDS A once unique-to-teens Israel experience is extended to their parents.
AS A TEEN: RABBI HERSHEL SCHACHTER NCSY Director of Education, Rabbi Dovid Bashevkin, sits with Rabbi Hershel Schachter to discuss his teenage years.
THE NCSY “JUST ONE” HAGGADAH NEW NCSY SIDDUR PREPARES TO LAUNCH NCSY teams up with Koren Publishers to release all new NCSY Siddur for teens.
Not every serious high school athlete can prioritize his Judaism while pursuing his dreams of Olympic gold, but Mory Gould, 17—high school student, national competitive diver, and proud member of NCSY and JSU— wouldn’t have it any other way. Gould, who grew up in Potomac, Maryland, comes from a traditional family and attended an Orthodox day school. When he switched to Winston Churchill High School, he began attending the school’s weekly JSU club meetings, run by Rabbi Yudi Riesel, NCSY Director of Greater Washington, and Mordi Spero, who was the chapter advisor in Potomac before assuming his current role as JSU coordinator in Baltimore. “When I first started attending JSU meetings in my freshman year, I was maybe one of six students,” recalled Mory. “Now, as a senior, I’m one of 160 students who attend the meetings. I went and continued going because I loved the friendships I made there, and it felt like a real community was forming.” Mory also loved learning from Rabbi Riesel and Mordi. “I learned a lot about how to relay the message of Judaism to teens without a Jewish Day School background like I had from observing Rabbi Riesel at these meetings,” said Mory. “I saw how he was able to turn them on to the beauty of Judaism, and it really made an impression on me.” From these meetings, Mory began regularly attending onegs and Shabbat meals hosted at Rabbi Riesel’s home, as well as NCSY Shabbatons in Brooklyn, NY. “In this society, I feel like a lot of Jews try to hide their Judaism, and I felt proud by the fact that my friends and I wore kippahs proudly on these Shabbatons and were able to embrace displaying our pride in being Jews together,” said Mory. “It shows that we are stronger in numbers.”
Ethan Dalva, Mordi Spero and Mory Gould (L-R) at this year’s Atlantic Seaboard JSU Summit in New York City.
Mory also attended Latte and Learning sessions as often as his schedule allowed, which wasn’t always easy as his schedule is fuller than the average student at Churchill. As a competitive diver and member of the school’s prestigious Bulldog Swim & Diving team, Mory practices diving every school day for hours after his classes. Sometimes, Mory is diving from 1:30 in the afternoon through nearly 8:00 in the evening. “I was always interested in sports and I started playing around with diving in the summertime,” said Mory, who quickly showed a natural prowess for the art of diving and progressed from a club team to his school’s team and interest from college teams. He just recently signed a letter of intent to continue his diving career with Indiana University, where the diving team’s head coach pulls double-duty as the coach of the Olympic diving team. Mory hopes to make it to the Olympic trials in 2020. “What I like about diving, aside from the sport itself, is that the community of athletes is really kind and supportive,” explained Mory. “Training can be intense, but the atmosphere is such that we are all working toward a common goal to better ourselves. Nobody tries to get in your head and mess with you, because in diving, you worry about yourself. You can only work on yourself. You won’t see anybody try and sabotage your performance, like, say in figure skating. Diving is also pretty social as compared to swimming, because there’s a lot of waiting in line for your turn.” In accordance with his dedication to his athleticism, however, remains a yearning to be as Jewishly connected as possible. Mory attends an early shacharit minyan each morning before school starts, and he makes sure kosher food is accessible when he is on the road traveling for diving meets and competitions. He remains active in Churchill’s JSU club. “Mory’s commitment to Judaism is remarkable, but especially so as he pursues his dreams of Olympic gold in diving,” said Rabbi Yudi Riesel, NCSY Director of Greater Washington. “He
participates in as much NCSY and JSU programming as he is able to, because he gains a lot of inspiration to continue on his journey.” Mory recently went on the JSU Summit, a trip to New York over Martin Luther King Jr. Weekend with other JSU students to encourage them to further involve themselves with JSU programming beyond attending club meetings in school. “It was wonderful to have Mory participate because he was able to step up and take on a real leadership role on the summit,” said Mordi Spero. “Mory was able to have discussions with the teens on the bus, and set the tone of what it means to be a leader. He was someone we could trust to take charge and lead the way for everyone else.” Mory’s mother, Robin, has observed her son’s passion for diving and Judaism over the years and is immensely proud of his ability to deftly handle both with grace and skillfulness. “NCSY and JSU have given Mory his Jewish identity and a community after switching from Jewish day school at the end of 8th grade to a large public high school,” said Robin. “I think Mory has learned how to balance his Jewish life with the secular life, which is very important as he goes off to college soon. I am confident that, from the strong foundation he received in high school thanks to NCSY and JSU, he will search out Jewish life when he’s on his own.” Mory reports that he has already scoped out Jewish life on campus at Indiana, and plans to involve himself in the programming offered by Chabad, Hillel and other Jewish organizations and groups on campus. “I hope to be a role model to other students on campus and show them that it is possible to be a proud Modern Orthodox Jew and an athlete who competes at the national and, hopefully, Olympic levels,” said Mory. “I’m grateful that I have the spiritual and intellectual guidance of both Mordi and Rabbi Riesel, who have really impressed upon me the importance of connecting to G-d and working on being a better person. They have both helped me reach a new level of engagement with my Jewishness.” SPRING 2016
on. The only thing I knew was that I didn’t belong there. I felt weird. I felt disconnected from everything that was happening and I was scared. A girl came up to me and said, ‘Do you want me to say the bracha with you?’ The first thing out of my mouth was, ‘What’s a bracha?’ I had no clue. She explained it to me, and then word by word we said the beracha for lighting candles for Shabbos. And after we did it, she hugged me and said, ‘Promise me you’ll light every week. Promise me that you’ll keep this little mitzvah alive.’ So I went home the next week, and I thought, ‘Well, Sarah told me to light candles, I guess that’s what I’m going to be doing,’ and I took some candles that we had and I tried to light them. I tried probably ten tries to say the bracha right. No one had lit Shabbos candles in my family for four generations - it just wasn’t something you did, religion wasn’t something you did, let alone an Orthodox lifestyle, forget it. Transcribed from a video testimonial given by Allison after her NCSY Summer experience in 2016. The crazy thing about my story is that it really began without me knowing it. It began with some incredible people at NCSY taking a chance on a kid that really didn’t have anything going for her, didn’t have any religious background, any knowledge of Judaism, never had a bat mitzvah. I didn’t know what the five books of anything were. I knew nothing about that. But some really incredible people took me under their wing and said ‘I’ll be your guide, I’ll be your mentor.’ A year ago, I got onto a leadership Shabbaton, and then somehow made it onto board - I didn’t know what I was doing there. I didn’t know I would have to fight for what I believed in and what I did, but it was all a learning curve. A year ago, on that Leadership Shabbaton, it was Shabbos, and all the girls were about to light candles and I was standing in the corner and on the side. I didn’t know what was going
Allison at NCSY West Coast’s Yarchei Kallah in 2016.
The next week, I tried to light candles in my room and I didn’t realize, but my parents would be my biggest support and my biggest obstacle. They taught me that if you believe in something, you gotta fight for it, and I’ve been kind of fighting ever since. Every step of the way, it hasn’t been easy. I never thought I would go on JOLT this past summer, I never thought I’d have that kind of opportunity - to spend five weeks with the most incredible people, with the most studious people in the whole country going to Poland, Austria, and then Israel. And while Poland and Israel were incredible and absolutely magical, there is nothing like having my experience come full circle in Austria. We worked with forty kids that came from the same exact background as I did. They were Jewish - except they had no clue, or their families weren’t religious. Their backgrounds were so similar to mine. I felt really at home with them. It was our first Shabbat together with those kids, I’m about to light candles, and there’s this girl. Her name is Klea and she lives in Hamburg, Germany. She’s standing on the side, scared, the same way I was and I could tell because I had that same reaction a year ago. I came over and said, ‘Hey, do you want me to say the bracha with you?’ I think her reaction was the same as mine because she had no idea what I was talking about. But we lit candles that night and I felt, ‘Wow, this is what they mean when they say that NCSY inspires the Jewish future.’ If that was it, that would be cool. The crazy part came a week later. It was
No one had lit Shabbos candles in my family for four generations - it just wasn’t something you did
our second to last Shabbat together. Klea and I did not light together, but at dinner that night she came up to me and said, ‘Hey, by the way I lit candles.’ And as she’s walking away, for some reason I just said to her, ‘Wait! Promise me you’ll light every week’ - the same way Sarah had me promise her. She’s scared again, she comes to me and she says, ‘I can’t. My family is not religious. They won’t let me.’ Now, there wasn’t a single person other than me on JOLT that came from a non-religious family. I looked at her and I said – probably what was the most surprising thing she heard in a while – and I said, ‘Me too. And it’s ok. Because it’s your little mitzvah. So promise me you’ll light in Germay, and I’ll light in LA, and together we’ll welcome in Shabbos around the world.’ Every single week since we were together in Austria, she texts me after Shabbos is over and says, ‘I lit candles this Shabbos and I thought of you.’ It’s come full circle. It’s been a crazy ride, and it’s going to get even crazier because there’s so much more. There’s so much more to do and there’s so many more people to reach out to. But if NCSY was able to get this girl, me, out of the place I was and out of the girl who had no direction in life, who didn’t really know what she wanted, to the place where I am today, we can really accomplish anything.
Klea and Allison this past summer on NCSY Summer’s JOLT program. SPRING 2016
Look into the beit midrash on the uptown campus of Yeshiva University, and you will see scores of young men learning Torah together and grappling over ancient Jewish texts. Most of these students come from Orthodox Jewish households, or at least, have a solid background in Judaism. Only one of those students, Nate Trudeau, 21, is from Huntsville, Alabama, and was set to enlist in the U.S. Army just a few short years ago, until an interest in learning more about religious Judaism— with the guidance of NCSY—changed the course of his young life. As the son of an Israeli mother and a father who was born into a religious Christian family, but would later convert to Judaism, Nate’s family had settled in Huntsville and enjoyed a mostly secular lifestyle. They gathered for Shabbat dinner, but not before Nate and his sister performed in their high school marching band for Friday night football games. Tradition was reserved for military service: Nate’s grandfather served in the army, Nate’s father served in the army, and Nate too, was set to serve. But although he grew up with little in the way of Jewish tradition, Nate knew the secular lifestyle—which army service would almost certainly dictate— was not for him. “My entire life, I had this sincere desire to become more connected to more observant Judaism,” explained Nate. “When my mother got an e-mail from NCSY about the TJJ summer experience, my sister and I signed up right away for the summer after our freshman year.” Nate and his sister were grouped with teens from NCSY’s Southern region. “I loved everything about being a part of TJJ, from the daily davening to the availability of kosher food to being surrounded by so many Jewish peers for the first time in my life,” said Nate. “I felt really connected to Judaism and knew that an Orthodox Jewish lifestyle was definitely the direction in which I wanted to be heading.” When Nate returned home, though, there was no local NCSY presence, no Chabad, and no Orthodox synagogue. To maintain the momentum of TJJ, Nate had to travel to Florida and upstate Georgia for NCSY Shabbatons and programming, which he did as much as he was able. His sister also helped found a small JSU club in their public high school. The last Shabbaton of his high school career was set to take place in Tampa, FL right after his graduation. Nate didn’t have a flight there—so he drove, from Huntsville to Tampa, by himself, over the course of 15 long hours, during which he had plenty of time to think about his upcoming army service.
Nate dons tefillin while praying at a Southern NCSY Shabbaton during his senior year.
“I remember thinking, I can’t believe this is the last time I’m going to be able to get any connection with Judaism for a while, and I knew then, very strongly, that I did not want that to happen,” Nate recalled. As soon as the Shabbaton was over, he used the weeks before basic training was set to start to drive from Tampa to Miami and spend time with friends he had made through NCSY. When he returned home with just a few days to spare before being shipped off for training, he remembered he had a flight voucher that was set to expire during his army service. Somewhat impulsively, he used that voucher to fly to Baltimore to visit with one of his NCSY advisors, Ben Labovitz, and then he drove to New York to spend Shabbat with another advisor, Avi Warman. After taking the whole Shabbat to really ruminate on his future, Nate knew he needed to make a bold move. “I decided I needed to take action as soon as Shabbat was over to actualize my dream of going to yeshiva in Israel,” said Nate. With assistance from Rabbi Yehoshua Marchuck, NCSY’s Director of Alumni, Nate found a place at Derech, Ohr Somayach’s one-year post-high school program in Jerusalem. Just a few short weeks later, with Rabbi Marchuck’s help and a significant scholarship from the yeshiva, Nate flew to Israel. “Yeshiva was beyond anything I could have imagined,” said Nate. “I was certainly intimidated at first, but someone noticed that right away and approached me to learn Derech Hashem with him. From there, I learned more and more each day and worked hard to improve my Gemara skills and comprehension of halacha.” Nate admits his relationship with his parents was strained during his time at yeshiva. “I was skating on thin ice with them,” Nate said. But a trip home to lead his family’s Pesach seder helped start the thawing process. “My parents started seeing that my passion for observant Judaism wasn’t a bad thing,” he said. Though there were still touchy
moments, like when Nate insisted on returning to Ohr Somayach for Shana Bet, and when he pleaded his case for attending Yeshiva University as opposed to the University of Alabama, his parents eventually warmed to his line of thinking. Nate is currently a rising junior at YU’s Sy Syms School of Business and a proud member of YU’s Mechinah Program, where he is continuing to make progress in his Jewish learning and becoming increasingly advanced with his textual skills. “I couldn’t have asked for anything better than to be learning at YU, getting to go to a Jewish school in one of the greatest cities of the world,” said Nate proudly. “I have a lot of hakarat hatov to YU and to NCSY.” Incredibly, his parents too, have taken their own steps toward a more religious lifestyle. His father was recently assigned to the Pentagon and wears a yarmulke to work — “A rare sight at the Pentagon!” said Nate—and attends shiurim at a local Chabad in Fairfax, VA. He is planning to convert to Judaism again, this time under fully Orthodox auspices. Nate’s mother has partnered with people to learn Torah as part of Torah Mates and Partners in Torah, and Nate’s parents are planning to remake their kitchen into a kosher one. “People told me in the beginning that my parents would follow me, and I told those people that they didn’t know my parents,” said Nate. “Now, I look at where I am, and where they are, and I clearly recognize that Hashem took control of this entire process. I am grateful to NCSY for being the first agent of change for me and my Jewish journey.” Nate also remains involved in NCSY, currently working as an advisor in the New England Region. “Where I once thought I’d be serving in the military without much in the way of Jewish connection, I am instead enjoying growing and learning each day and now, as an advisor for NCSY, helping others do the same,” said Nate.
Among the young charges in the playgroup that Morah Nava Senior runs in her home in Atlanta, GA, is a son of Rabbi Chaim Neiditch, Regional Director of the Greater Atlanta Region NCSY. This might be an ordinary turn of events if not for the story behind it: Nava, who used to go by Jane, was a typically secular Jewish teenager headed for anything but a Torah lifestyle—until she became involved with NCSY, where she fell in love with Torah Judaism. That she now teaches Torah to one of Rabbi Neiditch’s children is a journey come full circle. That journey began decades ago when Nava’s parents, refuseniks from the former Soviet Union, applied for exit visas. After being denied for a year and a half, it wasn’t until Nava’s mother was pregnant with her that the family was unexpectedly allowed to leave. Eleven days after leaving their home in Riga, Lativa, Nava was born in a hospital in Rome. Six weeks later, the family 32
moved to the U.S., eventually settling in Charleston, South Carolina. While the family had Shabbat dinner and attended a Conservative shul Friday nights and high holidays during Nava’s childhood, her adolescence was filled with the usual trappings of secular America. Her high school babysitting jobs led her to babysit for the Lindenblatt family. At the time, Rabbi Chaim and Blimie Lindenblatt were the assistant rabbi and rebbetzin at Congregation Brith Shalom Beth Israel (BSBI), where they headed the minyan house congregation. “I showed up to Rabbi Lindenblatt’s house in my karate uniform, and he had a second-degree black belt at the time and we immediately connected on that mutual interest,” said Nava. “It was the first time I had met somebody Orthodox who I could relate to in a real way.” Rabbi Lindenblatt was planning for the annual BSBI Shabbaton in Myrtle Beach, and the shul decided to add a teen component to the annual
family event. Rabbi Neiditch was flown in to execute the teen program, and recruited Nava to attend. Though she was initially apprehensive, Nava agreed to attend the weekend and enjoyed her first Torah-observant Shabbat. Rabbi Neiditch began visiting Charleston on a regular basis to work with the teens there and build the momentum from that weekend. At Rabbi Lindenblatt’s encouragement, Nava began attending NCSY events here and there, but she admits she was too busy with extracurricular activities, clubs and camping on the weekends to really step up her involvement in a tangible way. With more free time in the summer, she decided to attend NCSY’s Israel Summer Experience after her junior year of high school, the cost of which was largely subsidized by Rabbi Lindenblatt and NCSY. “It was an entire month of Judaism, fun, and hiking across Israel, and it ignited a fire within me to learn more,” said Nava. That
program was also where she met two people who would turn out to be key in her life: Shoshana Newman, an NCSY advisor from Toronto, and Tal Senior, a fellow NCSYer from Toronto who would eventually become her husband, though he was just a friend when they first met. “Shoshana kept in touch with me after the summer throughout my senior year of high school,” said Nava, “and that made a big difference. I was a normal teen who had a lot of activities going on in school, and I didn’t think I really had time for NCSY. Shoshana kept in touch anyway and kept encouraging me to stay involved—and I did.” Halfway through her senior year, Shoshana flew in from Toronto to attend the Southern Regional Shabbaton in Atlanta, where NCSY threw a big kiddush for Nava on the occasion of her receiving a Hebrew name. Her new name was chosen for her by her advisors, who thought Nava—pretty and pleasant—best described Jane’s overall personality. “The experience at the Regional Shabbaton was so emotional and inspiring, and it was the first time I davened shemoneh esre in its entirety with Shoshana’s help,” said Nava. “After that, I was ready to commit more deeply to my heritage by learning more about what it means to be a Jew.” From that winter Regional Shabbaton, Nava flew to New Jersey to study at NCSY’s Yarchei Kallah program. “I remember thinking I’d emerge a rabbi after a week of intensive Torah study,” laughed Nava. “I wondered how you could learn Torah for that long. Clearly, that was my first introduction to serious Torah study.” After NCSY offered Nava a scholarship to learn Torah in Israel for a year, she studied at Michlelet Esther, which was then located on the Neve campus in Jerusalem. She stayed after that year to study at Neve, and then stayed another year. In her third year in Israel, while working as a madricha,
Shoshana—who still kept in touch with her—reached out and asked her if she was ready to begin dating. “Not yet,” answered Nava. “Well, get ready,” said Shoshana. Tal was coming to study Torah in Israel that summer, and Shoshana had a hunch that the two were meant to marry. “I remember laughing and thinking it was funny,” said Nava, “but clearly it was meant to be. I married my first official shidduch date.” After they met Tal, Nava’s parents— who had initially resisted her transition to frumkeit—came fully on board. “My parents had a lot of reservations about Orthodox Judaism, but once they met Tal, they weren’t afraid anymore,” said Nava proudly. “He is such a giving and warm person and everything they could want in a son-in-law.” Nava and Tal’s wedding in Charleston was made extra-special by the fact that there were a large group of excited NCSY teenagers who were attending an Orthodox Jewish wedding for the first time. Rabbi Neiditch had planned an NCSY Shabbaton in Charleston to coincide with the wedding, and teens came from all over the South including Jacksonville, Atlanta and Savannah, to celebrate this special occasion. “Nava is such a giving person, and she wanted to show teens the beauty of a traditionally Orthodox wedding and a couple starting their lives together on that beautiful note,” explained Rabbi Neiditch. “It was a spectacular sight to behold these teens dancing and celebrating with Nava and Tal, and I’ll never forget it.” Nava and Tal decided to make their home in Atlanta for its sizeable Jewish community and proximity to her family in Charleston. After she gave birth to their first child, the Atlanta community
turned out in droves to help fill the Seniors’ freezer with meals and offer any other kind of support they might need, even though the couple hadn’t lived there for long at that point. “People were reaching out in any way they could,” recalled Nava. “My parents were further softened to frumkeit once they saw the strength and warmth of the community.” Nava eventually set up a playgroup in her home, and, though there are now many options for educating children in the Atlanta Jewish community, the Neiditch family knew no other place would do for their children. In fact, the Lindenblatts, too, have sent their kids to Nava’s home school. “Nava is the most phenomenal morah any parent could ever want for their children,” said Rabbi Neiditch. Nava exudes authenticity, enthusiasm, and emunah, and builds up everyone around her and can’t help but spread excitement about Torah and mitzvos. My son comes home with so much joy for learning Torah, and that’s thanks to Nava’s unique ability.” Nava and Tal are now parents to six children, and they remain involved with NCSY, occasionally attending Shabbatons and stepping in when asked to model an example of a Torah home that exists thanks, in large part, to NCSY. “The main point I want to convey to those involved with NCSY is thank you and keep on building. I owe my love for Torah, meeting my husband, the learning I did in Israel, and our children growing up in a Torah home, to you,” said Nava. “While experiences like Shabbatons are important to NCSY’s efforts, it’s truly through the relationships and genuine persistence of people like the Lindenblatts, Rabbi Neiditch, and Shoshana Newman that I am where I am today.
Pictured here is Nava, her husband Tal, and their six beautiful children.
Most people in the Jewish community believe a year of study in Israel is an immensely impactful experience that often sets the tone for the rest of a young person’s adult life. Six teens from NCSY’s Central East Region: Britain Pilott of Burlington, Kentucky, Asya Tucker of Columbus, Ohio, Katie Dinner and Sydni Burg of Cleveland, Ohio, and Rachel Krasner and Joseph Yusobov of Detroit, Michigan, who all experienced the magic of the four-week The Anne Samson Jerusalem Journey (TJJ) summer program, decided to modify their posthigh schools plans thanks to both their TJJ and NCSY experiences and spend their upcoming gap year in collegeaccredited programs in Israel. “The goal of TJJ is to inspire passion in teens for Israel and Torah Judaism; however, the results of the trip can sometimes be hard to measure,” said Rabbi Tzali Freedman. While teens choosing to switch gears from heading 34
straight to college to pursuing a gap year in Israel in not uncommon, what is significant about this particular group is that this momentous decision is the result of a single summer program from a single region in a single year. Rabbi Freedman is quick to credit, in addition to the program itself, the critical followup invested by advisors and mentors from the trip. “If a teen has an amazing experience but does not integrate into their Jewish community, the potential, once so vivid can become nothing more than a fleeting memory,” continues Rabbi Freedman. “However, if you return from the summer a part of the community and keep that feeling alive, success is almost guaranteed.” In fact, a report commissioned by NCSY, “The Jewish Impact of The Anne Samson Jerusalem Journey (TJJ): Increasing Jewish Engagement among Conservative, Reform & NonDenominational Youth,” showed that
alumni of TJJ exhibit higher levels of engagement and Jewish identity than compatible young adults. The authors of the Reports, Professor Steven M. Cohen and Dr. Ezra Kopelowitz found that TJJ alumni were highly involved in Jewish activities, participating in Shabbat meals, attending Pesach Seders and fasting on Yom Kippur. In addition, an amazing 95% reported that marrying a Jew was important to them. Undoubtedly, a year of study in Israel goes a long way toward cementing this momentum of Jewish connection. It is also helpful when NCSY outreach professionals collaborate effectively with other local organizations to help entire families on their Jewish journeys. Rabbis Arieh Friedner and Menachem Tenenbaum, NCSY’s Cleveland Chapter Directors, along with Rabbi Arieh Friedner’s wife Elissa, developed a strong relationship with Jewish Family Experience (JFX)
based out of Cleveland. JFX began working with Katie Dinner and Sydni Burg preparing them for their bat mitzvot. From their JFX learning they became involved with NCSY and went on TJJ. Katie and Sydni have now made the choice to continue studying in Israel. Katie and Sydni were inspired together with their families in JFX. They discovered that NCSY offered them the next step on their Jewish journey,” said Rabbi Friedner. “Learning in Israel for them was the logical next step.” “It is exciting to see that through informal Jewish education, we can inspire entire families,” said Rabbi Friedner. “When you partner with organizations like JFX, trying to reach a whole family, you truly feel a part of a larger team where you positively impact more people. Jewish education is always more effective when you inspire both the teens and their parents.” Kim Farkas, Director of Mini-Mussar at JFX in Cleveland says, “JFX families are eager for their teens to have a broad community of teens who are in a Jewish growth mode. NCSY is a perfect model of this. For Rachel Krasner of Detroit, Michigan, it was her parents’ involvement with Aish that first ignited her own yearning for Jewish selfdiscovery. She became involved with NCSY programming and last summer, experiencing TJJ sealed her decision
to continue with a year of study in Israel before attending Northwestern University. “TJJ was such an incredible experience. It changed my mind about where I would spend my first year after high school,” Rachel explained. “TJJ was such a warm and welcoming Jewish environment that I felt right at home even though I was not observant at the time. Before TJJ, Israel was not even on my radar. Now, I am so much looking forward to taking the time to focus on my growth and explore Judaism in greater depth.” Joseph Yusobov’s TJJ experience also solidified his desire to further explore his Judaism. “I’m looking forward to learning so that I can answer other people’s questions about Judaism in the same way TJJ advisors did for me,” he explained. “I want to be able to help other Jews strengthen their Jewish connection. I believe a year of learning in Israel is the perfect way for me to be in a position to do so.” Rabbi Dovid Lichtig, Director of Detroit NCSY, has witnessed firsthand Joseph and Rachel’s initiative by joining NCSY programming and their subsequent participation on TJJ. He is thrilled by their decision to make Israel their home for the coming year. Their decision is also extremely inspiring to their peers as well. Making the bold decision to take a gap year in a college accredited Yeshiva
program in Israel is not an easy one for many students who are unfamiliar with the concept. To make the process within reach, Central East Region hosts a Gap Year Weekend that was attended this year by 33 yeshivot and seminaries from Israel, as well as Touro College and Yeshiva University. The weekend is like no other in the country as students have the opportunity to explore the many options offered from a wide spectrum of schools all in one weekend and under one roof. This past November, Central East’s Gap Year Weekend was attended by more than 150 students at the Young Israel of Beachwood. Students were so focused that even during the two hour break, the building was still buzzing with students and yeshiva representatives networking. “We travel to gap year events all around the country and see many different models but students who attend the Central East NCSY Gap Year weekend really get the best format to explore the many options available to them”, said Rabbi Kosowsky, Dean of Machon Maayan. For more than six decades, NCSY has been empowering teens through summer programs and a variety of local programming. The NCSY experience creates an educational and social environment that fosters passion for Torah Judaism as personified by these six teens.
Representatives from 33 different Israeli yeshivot and seminaries gather at this years Gap Year Weekend, hosted by Central East NCSY. SPRING 2016
When Deborah Gottesman of Toronto, CA, attended an information session on NCSY’s The Anne Samson Jerusalem Journey (TJJ) summer program in preparation for her son Ethan’s upcoming travels, she turned to her husband and said, “I would go on this trip if they offered it to adults.” Just a few short months later came the news Deborah had wished for, though she had done so in jest at the time: In partnership with the Jewish Women’s Renaissance Project (JWRP), NCSY Canada was leading a ten-day mission for Toronto-area moms of teens who had experienced TJJ and relayed that magic to their families upon their return. Led by Rina Deutsch, NCSY’s Jewish Family Experience Director, and Hennie Black, who has been informally involved with NCSY for over 20 years as the wife of Rabbi Glenn Black, CEO of NCSY Canada, 12 Jewish moms with varying levels of Jewish background took the trip of a lifetime this past November. For ten days, the women visited must-see sites such as the Dead Sea, Yad Vashem, the Kotel, Tsfat and spent a beautiful Shabbat dinner at the Inbal Hotel in 36
Jerusalem with 400 women who were also experiencing a ten-day mission to Israel through other trip organizers. Interspersed with these outings were classes on various subjects of Jewish learning, such as love and marriage in a Jewish perspective, the power of our words, and body and soul. “Only one of the women had never been to Israel prior to this trip, but we presented Israel in a whole new light to the ones who had visited before,” said Rina. “It was eye-opening for these women to see Orthodox people in a new light, and that we experience much of life in the same way they do.” “I love that the trip helps breaks down barriers between the more and less Jewishly observant women,” added Hennie. “We get to see that we have more commonalities than differences, and we focus on what unites us rather than on what divides us.” Indeed, Bev Aron, whose two teens are active in NCSY, said that while there were many memorable aspects of the trip, “Meeting so many stunning, vibrant, colorful and vivacious trip leaders and teachers blew the myth of the docile subservient Orthodox Jewish
woman right out the water for me.” Since she has returned from Israel, Bev reports that she is working hard to infuse Shabbat with the sense of calm she experienced during Shabbat on the mission, as guided by Rina and Hennie’s input. To maintain the momentum of the trip’s impact, the TJJ moms enjoy monthly get-togethers in Toronto, and many of the women have taken on additional Torah learning through NCSY educational programming for parents and opportunities for parent/child learning. “The new partnership between the JWRP and NCSY/TJJ for Moms is a winning formula,” said Hennie. “It is a perfect partnership as both organizations are driven by the same mission to inspire and empower Jewish moms and teens with core Jewish values, build a better Jewish tomorrow and change the world!” As for Deborah Gottesman, she loved the programming she had first heard about at her son’s information session, but found herself moved by surprisingly emotional moments she did not anticipate. “At the naming
ceremony for women from the former Soviet Union who had never received a Jewish name, I found myself bawling my eyes out we danced in the desert. It was a beautiful sight to behold.” She continued, “I’m glad my son,
Ethan, benefitted from his TJJ trip, and I’m grateful that the same opportunity was extended to moms like me. We both had experiences that far exceeded our expectations.” Thanks to the program’s success,
more TJJ moms from other NCSY regions across North America—and possibly dads, too—will have the chance to experience Israel in a uniquely TJJ manner through additional missions in the coming months.
A moving moment at the kotel for Andrea Streisfield.
Deborah Gottesman waves hello to the JWRP welcoming committee at Ben Gurion airport.
TJJ for Moms brings women from various levels of observance together to learn, grow, explore and enjoy.
TJJ for Moms at the giant challah bake where 400 women from across the globe joined in this special, woman’s mitzvah.
A visit to the Knesset and personal meeting with an MK (Member of Knesset) made for a great photo op.
TJJ for Moms offers parents of TJJ teens the chance to explore Judaism for themselves and connect in a meaningful way. SPRING 2016
NCSY Director of Education, Rabbi Dovid Bashevkin, sits with Rabbi Hershel Schachter to discuss Rabbi Schachter’s teenage years. RABBI DOVID BASHEVKIN (RDB): We would like to thank Rebbe for joining us. It means so much to me and to NCSY. We have been discussing the teenage experience with great Jewish leaders and I was wondering if Rebbe could share what it was like for him growing up as a teenager? RAV HERSHEL SCHACHTER: My father was an Orthodox Rabbi in different communities. My father was very learned and I always thought he was the biggest talmid chacham in the world until he once took me to Rabbi Soloveitchik’s yahrtzeit drasha when I was about eleven years old and I was so disappointed - I saw there was someone who knows how to learn better than my father! It was such
a let down. I was always brought up in a home of learning and a home of shemiras ha’mitzvos and the shul was always Orthodox. I never had any challenges. By the time I was Bar Mitzvah my family had moved to New York - I was originally born in Pennsylvania. September after I became bar mitzvah, I went to MTA, Yeshiva University’s high school, and it was great! Each one of the four years I had a wonderful rebbe. I remember the summer that I turned fourteen, after the first year of high school, my rebbe was Rabbi Moshe Dovid Tendler, and he sent a group of maybe 10-15 boys to go learn in Lakewood. It was a tiny little yeshiva then, with less than 100 people, and the whole group of us who learned in Lakewood thought this was never going to succeed so we went back to YU. After the summer in Lakewood, for the next three summers I learned in Brooklyn in the Mirrer Yeshiva. My parents could never afford to send me to camp. My vacations used to be that I would spend one summer by this aunt and uncle and one summer by the other aunt and uncle. I continued to learn in Yeshiva all of my years - it was very pleasant. I had good rebbeim every year but in my third year of high school, my rebbi told me that next year I should be put in Rav Soloveitchick’s shiur. Because I was so young and Rav Soloveitchik only gave shiur on Tuesday and Wednesday, they said I had to be in a shiur that met every day, but that I should go to Rabbi Soloveitchik’s shiur on Tuesday and Wednesday. That was fantastic, and I continued by Rav Soloveitchik for ten years, until after I got married. I had a very pleasant time. RDB: Some people who grow up in the house of a rabbi find it harder for them
because there are a lot of expectations. Why do you think you may not have had those difficulties? RHS: I don’t know. I never had any problems. They told me that Rabbi Yoel Schonfeld was once asked in public, does he find it difficult to be in the shadow of his father? He responded that he is not in the shadow of, but is in the sunshine of his father! Why does it have to be the shadow? I always got along with my father. In fact, in those years, when I was probably 16-17, my father would have me speak in shul before kerias haTorah every Shabbos morning. My father would give the drasha, but I would speak for 5-10 minutes to explain what the parsha was all about, what the Haftarah was all about.
bekius, that you cover a hundred blatt, just running through a Gemara and Rashi. We learned whenever we had extra time and we learned extra Gemara, so we learned the same pace that we learned in the morning. You learn the Tosafos, you learn once in a while a Rosh, and once in the while a Rashba. Rav Soloveitchik didn’t learn every Rashba and every Ramban. He learned Gemara, Rashi, Tosafos and the Rambam and once in a while a famous Ramban. So when we learned the extra sedarim it was also the same pace – we didn’t learn bekius. We would finish Shas five years later - no rush to finish Shas earlier. We weren’t interested in finishing in seven and a half years. You have your whole lifetime. RDB: What differences if any do you notice between teenagers when you were growing up and teenagers nowadays? Rabbi Schachter learning with teens on NCSY Summer’s Kollel program for high school boys in Israel. My father was breaking me in to speak in public. My father didn’t push me to go into the rabbinate – he had difficulties. I was planning after I finished college and learning in the kollel to go to law school because I had to make a living. I thought law is the closest thing to Gemara and I enjoyed studying Gemara. One of my chavrusas had gone to law school and he said that for those who learn Gemara, it’s a breeze. Rav Aharon Lichtenstein was the head of the kollel at the time and he heard that I was thinking of going to law school. He said to me, ‘It doesn’t make sense. If you’re not really interested in becoming a lawyer, you shouldn’t go to law school.’ ‘So what should I do?’ He said, ‘You can go into chinuch.’ ‘Where am I going to get a job?’ He said, ‘Stay on in the Yeshiva.’ At that time, all of the rebbeim were European and so he said that we’re going to have to hire Americans sooner or later. So that’s what happened. I stayed on in the Yeshiva, and they gave me a job. RDB: Is there one experience that stands out as being transformational in your ability to develop a relationship with learning Torah as a teenager? Where did that excitement come from? RHS: We were very fortunate. We heard Rabbi Soloveitchik’s shiurim. Those were eye-opening. He would just say the pasuk and we would say, ‘Oh, that’s what it means!’ He didn’t even translate it - he just paused, gave an inflection. We knew the Chumash, but we never realized that was what it meant; the way he would pause. He would say a Gemara and would just translate it and we would say, ‘Wow! That’s what it meant in the Gemara!?’ He was gevaldik, he was fantastic. He gave everybody an enjoyment in learning, everybody loved listening to him and
learning. Rav Soloveitchik at that time used to come from Boston on Tuesday morning. He used to give a shiur for two hours for the semicha students and two hours for the undergraduates. Then, on Tuesday night he used to give a shiur for the ba’al ha’batim in Moriah - a synagogue on Broadway and 80th. Wednesday morning he gave a shiur for two hours for the semicha students and two hours for the undergraduates. And he used to speak very quickly in Yiddish and wouldn’t repeat himself. We would be busy a whole week preparing for the next week’s shiur. We didn’t have any time to study anything else in the morning, we had to review or prepare for the shiur. But then I realized I had time at night! I was learning other things at night so I started going to both shiurim for a couple of years. He was fantastic. Everyone in the shiur was so excited. RDB: Outside of learning, did Rebbe have any interests or hobbies? RHS: Not really, not really. RDB: What advice would Rebbe give to teenagers nowadays – those who don’t necessarily have access to a Rabbi Soloveitchik? How can teenagers develop a relationship with learning? RHS: Learning has to be min ha’kal el ha’kavod, you have to start from easy things and graduate into more difficult things. I don’t think it makes sense to jump right away into Gemara. You always have to start with Chumash. You should read Chumash and Rashi for fifty years and then you’ll know what it says in the Chumash a little bit. When I was growing up, there was no such thing as learning
RHS: They’re different teenagers. You are talking about different people and I think now they’re more learned. The people that I see - the people in my shiur - are more learned than when I was their age. The people in the kollel now are more learned than we were when we were their age. A lot is, for the older boys, the fact that they introduced the system that they go to learn in Eretz Yisrael for a year or two or three after high school. When I was their age, the Medinah existed, but the system was not yet in place. None of us went to learn in Eretz Yisrael - we went straight from high school to college - but now that’s tremendous. Then when the boys come back from Eretz Yisrael it has an influence on their families and on the community. RDB: What advice would you give yourself as a teenager? Looking back now, what did you do well and what could you perhaps have done differently that would have helped the teenage you? RHS: I think that under the circumstances I did very well. There was an influence in the yeshiva at the time pushing all the boys to go to Lakewood. One of rebbeim kept on pushing me, and it’s a good thing I didn’t go. I think if I would have gone to Lakewood I would not have learned as much. Rav Aharon Kotler was only there on Shabbos. That summer when I was there, he lived in New York the whole week raising money for Chinuch Atzmai and for the yeshiva. He was only there on Shabbos and he gave a pilpul shiur. Rav Aharon Kotler didn’t guide the students and train them how to learn. Rabbi Soloveitchik, on the other hand, gave us hadracha, he trained us how to learn. It was a good thing I didn’t go to Lakewood - I would not have developed to the same extent that I did now.
Passover seems to be all about more. More cups of wine. More Matzah. More questions. In fact, we are told: – כל המרבה לספר ביציאת מצרים הרי זה משובחWhoever says more about the story of the redemption from Egypt is praiseworthy. The theme of this Haggadah, however, is less. In this Haggadah, we try to provide just one idea, sometimes accompanied by a reading or reflection, for each part of the Passover Seder.* We try to keep the ideas fairly simple and straightforward, avoiding long complex textual analysis. So, if Pesach is all about more, why would we emphasize less? Following World War II, a movement began in the art world, particularly in architecture, that was guided by the principle “less is more.” This minimalist movement eschewed ornate edifices and complex design in favor of sublime simplicity. Ad Reinhardt, a renowned New York painter, explained the ethos of the movement as follows: The more stuff in it, the busier the work of art, the worse it is. More is less. Less is more. The eye is a menace to clear sight. Less can be more when we avoid distraction, choosing instead to focus on what’s essential. Of course, we love the complex and intricate ideas found in so many Haggadahs, but we instead decided to go in a different direction. This Haggadah is best used to facilitate conversations and reflections based on your own thoughts and stories. We tried to keep our text “less” to inspire more conversation outside the page. The most important text of Passover is not the Haggadah, but the memories and traditions you create with your family at your Passover Seder. We hope that with a Haggadah focused on “less,” you will have a Passover Seder with “more.” *OK, some parts of this Haggadah might actually have more than one idea. Think of our “just one idea” theme as a 99¢ store. Some items in the store are more than 99¢! So even if we provide more than one thought for some parts of the Seder, the underlying theme – less is more – still holds true throughout. The NCSY Just One Haggadah is available online at education.ncsy.org or available in print at your local NCSY Regional office. 40
In a historic collaboration, NCSY and Koren Publishers have partnered together to produce the Magerman Edition of The Koren Aviv Weekday Siddur, an engaging and thoughtful siddur for the inquiring young person with weekday commentary. Two years in the making, Debbie Stone, Associate Director of Education for NCSY, co-authored the siddur commentary with Dr. Daniel Rose. It is the third in the Magerman Series of four siddurim published by Koren intended for students. “This very exciting, unique siddur is aimed primarily at middle schoolers, but high school kids will have solid use of it too,” explained Stone, who specializes in tefilla education and has written extensive curricula models and experiential workshops in this area, while working on her doctorate in education at YU’s Azrieli Graduate school of Education and Administration. “The educational vision Koren had for this was blended perfectly with what NCSY wanted to accomplish as well. With Koren as a partner, it presented NCSY the perfect opportunity to bring our vision to reality.” The vision of the Koren Aviv Siddur is built on the idea that teenagers are at the outset of a journey of self-definition and identity building, and that tefilla can be a vehicle for the achievement of these same goals. 42
Launched recently at the Prizma Day School conference and the YU Seforim Sale as an advanced printed volume, the Aviv Siddur will be released for the general public in May for the weekday Shachrit prayers. Since Shabbat and Yom Tov are such important educational opportunities for NCSY programs, it was vital for NCSY to have Shabbat and Yom Tov included for the NCSY teen audience. As such, Koren will publish two volumes, one for full weekday prayers - the Aviv Siddur - and another edition now in development that will also include Shabbat and Yom Tov prayers and commentary, which will be called the “NCSY Siddur,” due out before Rosh Hashanah. The educational series became more complex as it progressed for the age of its users. “Instead of staying with one siddur that falls apart as you get older, you graduate with the siddur as you get older,” said Stone. “It takes you from childhood to elementary to high school.” The Koren Children’s Siddur has no translations and is heavily illustrated while the Koren Youth Siddur has some brief translations, more sophisticated illustrations and lengthier quotes and stories. The Koren Aviv Siddur has no illustrations, but a photographic commentary, creating connections between the tefilla and the world around its user. It will function as a
bridge from the Youth Siddur to the Koren Ani Tefilla Siddur, intended for high school students and attractive for older students not yet ready for the heavier commentary approach. Various elements found in the series will be included in this siddur to ensure consistency and familiarity throughout the series, such as reflection questions, stories and quotes, icons to indicate the choreography of tefilla and highlighted texts linking the commentary to the tefilla text. An Educator’s Companion will also accompany the siddur in the future. “The current generation of adolescents has grown up in a rapidly and drastically changing society, making it even more difficult for adults to ‘speak their language,’” Rabbi Tzvi H. Weinreb writes in the Aviv Siddur’s foreword. “Fortunately, a new generation of educators has also come to the fore in recent decades. These educators have found the words, images, concepts and ideas to reach the youngsters with whom they work. Our authors typify such educators. This siddur is a demonstration of the pedagogical skill and impressive creativity of these master teachers…I suspect that with this and similar efforts we will begin to witness a revolution in the prayer lives of our youth.”
HAPPENINGS FROM AROUND THE NCSY UNIVERSE
ATLANTIC SEABOARD Rabbi Jonah Lerner, Regional Director 410.358.6279 // email@example.com atlanticseaboard.ncsy.org
Atlantic Seaboard JSU ran its 2nd annual JSU Summit. This year the region went for an amazing, fun-filled, two days in New York. On day one teens had a blast checking out Times Square, racing against the clock to escape the room, playing arcades in Dave and Busters, and being treated to a delicious dinner in Mr. Broadway. At night, the famous David Blatt performed a mind blowing mentalist show followed by a special Latte and Learning: Sushi Edition. Day 2 was more meaningful as the summit visited the 9/11 memorial and heard tremendous words of inspiration from regional director, Rabbi Jonah Lerner. The trip wrapped up with a special question and answer session from Mr. Allen Fagin, Executive Vice President of the OU, about the issues facing the Jewish people today. All of the participants came back excited to be a part of JSU and looking forward to the next JSU experience.
Greater Washington, MD Rabbi Yudi Riesel - firstname.lastname@example.org
CANADA Rabbi Glenn Black, CEO 905.761.6279 // email@example.com canada.ncsy.org
Mindy Zobin - firstname.lastname@example.org
NCSY MONTREAL BAT MITZVAH PROGRAM
The NCSY Montreal Bat Mitzvah Program has been an incredible experience for four fantastic girls! They have learned, lived and laughed about so much in Jewish life, and now feel more confident about their role in Jewish life. The girls will be celebrated with a dessert reception February 5, 2017, and are excited to continue their participation with NCSY.
Thornhill, ON Rabbi Josh Stein -email@example.com
LEARN N’ EARN: CHANUKAH EDITION
Greater Washington NCSY has had its best year yet! Opening the year with an Oneg of over 120 teens in attendance. However, what has transcended the numbers at our monthly Onegs has been our new Oneg model of ending the last hour breaking into Chavrusas with our amazing advisor team! Of course we serve sushi for those who participate in the learning!
Rabbi Yitz Levi - firstname.lastname@example.org Lea Bekhar - email@example.com
Rabbi Gavry Mandel -firstname.lastname@example.org
COMMUNITY BEIT MIDRASH
This January, the Community Beit Midrash program launched in Lower Merion. We were excited to lead a Mishmar where close to 25 teens came to learn in Kohelet. The next morning our star advisor, Shana Weiser, spoke Friday morning about the parsha. We enjoyed an Oneg at the Frankel family’s home where 50 teens came together to sing and hear words of inspiration by Yehuda Dicker. We finished our programing with a Pre Mincha learning at LMS and joining the community for Seudat Shlishit where we heard an amazing shiur by our role model and advisor, Jed Zaslow.
Vancouver, British Columbia Rabbi Samuel and Gila Ross - email@example.com
VANCOUVER - SOMETHING FOR YOU! Montreal, QC
Parental Guidance was required at the December 20th special Chanukah edition of Learn n’ Earn. Our regular programming was invaded as moms and dads joined their children and our staff in learning all about the holiday of Chanukah. However, in this case, roles were switched and parents became the students and their children taught them a special lesson on the holiday. Of course no Chanukah party is complete without latkes and sufganiyot!
BEST YEAR YET!
sorry.” We were pleased to have Disney animator Saul Blinkoff join us from Los Angeles on this Shabbaton and share with us all about being an Orthodox Jew in the entertainment industry.
THE NIAGARA FALLS SHABBATON
Niagara Falls was the perfect destination for almost 300 participants on our 2016 Kick-off Shabbaton this past October. With a trending hashtag #sorrynotsorry, students from Toronto, Thornhill, Hamilton, Montreal and Ottawa explored what it really means to ask for forgiveness and the awesome power of the words, “I’m
It has been an amazing few months for Vancouver NCSY. A mega 130 different Vancouver teens have enjoyed an NCSY Shabbaton already this school year! We have a nice mix of ongoing events; Torah High, Impact, LIVE2GIVE, Lunch and Learn, and lots of cutting edge social programming, such as our amazing Casino Night! Over 200 teens have participated already this year!
CENTRAL EAST Rabbi Tzali Freedman, Regional Director 888.471.4514 // firstname.lastname@example.org centraleast.ncsy.org
Cleveland, OH Rabbi Arieh Friedner - email@example.com
RECORD NUMBER OF TEENS TO SUMMER PROGRAMS
In the summer of 2017, NCSY hope to send 1,500 teens on Summer Programs from across America, Canada and Chile - to an array of amazing trips in Israel and Europe. This past summer, Cleveland set a new record of teens having a life changing experience with 39 Jewish teens! These teens from 9 different schools in Cleveland are highlighted by more than a dozen going on TJJ and half dozen going on TJJ Ambassadors Poland!
Columbus, OH Rabbi Dovid Kimche - firstname.lastname@example.org
COLUMBUS NCSY COOKS KOSHER HOSPITAL MEALS
BEN CARDIN IN CHERRY HILL
The Ben Cardin program in Cherry Hill has officially started and keeps on growing! Our 15 teens enjoy coming to learn about compelling Jewish topics and the importance of serving in our community. Their favorite part is hearing from the influential leaders in the fields of law, finance, government, medicine, and more, who come to speak and share their personal experiences of being a Torah observant Jew in their respective fields.
Richmond, VA Ariella Sherman -email@example.com
Teen Richmond Israel Program (TRIP) is a three-part series explaining how Israel became a state, why we should care, and how we can help. We had over 20 teens attend. 44
Vancouver NCSY teens bring out Shabbat with a ruach-filled havdalah at the annual Whistler Shabbaton this past January.
Columbus NCSY teamed up with international Chessed organization GIFT, and spent a Sunday morning giving back to the community. Over 30 teens came together to cook kosher meals for Jewish patients in local hospitals. Some teens learned how to cook, and some found out that they didn’t quite know how to cook! Over 300 hundred units of food were made and incredible fun was had by all!
RECORD NUMBERS AT MIDWEST NCSY’S 4G SHABBATON
Detroit, MI Rabbi Dovid Lichtig - firstname.lastname@example.org
DETROIT CITY SHABBATON ATTRACTS OVER 70 TEENS
In what has become a fixture in the teen calendar across Metro Detroit, the Detroit City Shabbaton hosted over 70 teens from across the spectrum of schools on December 9th. Teens from Berkley High, Bloomfield Hills High, the Frankel Jewish Academy and Farber Hebrew Day School came together for a weekend of fun and inspiration complete with acclaimed speakers and fantastic activities. Advisors flown in from New York and five star catered food completed the star studded line up.
Pittsburgh, PA Rabbi Ari Goldberg - email@example.com
PITTSBURGH CHAPTER SHABBATON
Over 50 people joined in for a spirited Shabbos filled with singing, education, delicious meals and awesome Central East NCSY advisors. The weekend came to a close with a lively NCSY Havdalah and a trip to SkyZone.
GREATER ATLANTA Rabbi Chaim Neiditch, Regional Director 404.486.8787 // firstname.lastname@example.org atlanta.ncsy.org
Atlanta, GA 54 TEENS EXPERIENCE FIRST SHABBOS
Set in a beautiful resort hotel in Orlando, FL, the Atlanta Region Winter Convention, turned out to be one of the best and most memorable conventions. Over Shabbat, teens enjoyed a variety of activities including educational sessions led by our outstanding advisory staff, ice-breakers, games, and a professional improv comedy show designed specifically for our group. Shabbat culminated in an inspiring havdalah service that included a moving story and powerful message by Rabbi Chaim Neiditch. 54 of the teens experienced their first Shabbos and many of the them were moved to share their own reflections about the weekend during the “Pass the Candle” program and had a chance to talk about their experience over Shabbat. On Saturday night everyone boarded the bus to Disney Springs, Orlando’s newest attraction. On Sunday morning, teens headed to Universal Studios Islands of Adventure including the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. It was a magical weekend that jump started many teens on their path to observance.
Dunwoody, GA THE LIGHT OF CHANUKAH
Excitement was in the air, as over 700 teens attended JSU club Chanukah gatherings in 14 Atlanta high schools around the city. With the smell of delicious latkes filling the air, Rabbi Neiditch led the proceedings at each of the dozen-plus meet ups. Aside from imparting the Chanukah stories, Rabbi Neiditch also
Midwest NCSY 4G at their winter regional this past December.
n December, 100 observant high school girls participated in Midwest NCSY’s annual “4G” (for girls) Shabbaton. The girls enjoyed traditional highlights of a regular NCSY shabbaton, and guest
relayed and reviewed the special laws of lighting the menorah. Each teen was given a free box of colored Chanukah candles and a free wooden menorah to decorate and personalize. Many teens reported including their families in home menorah lightings, some for the first time.
MIDWEST Rabbi Donny Schwartz, Regional Director 847.677.6279 // email@example.com midwest.ncsy.org
Chicago, IL Levi Zeffren - firstname.lastname@example.org See NCSY 4G mini story above.
Kansas City, KS
speaker Jackie Bitton enthralled the girls with her captivating classes. A Limo Road Rally in the snow on Saturday night was the perfect way to end off the weekend.
Night event, given by their very own Chapter Board Co-President, Yehudit Fleishhacker. The girls enjoyed a night of art, refreshments, and time with their advisor.
Minneapolis, MN Rabbi Tzvi Kupfer and Bella Smith - email@example.com
MINNEAPOLIS JSU PARTNERS WITH FEDERATION ISRAEL CENTER FOR EXCITING DNL
Around 35 teens joined for a fascinating discussion with Ethiopian Israeli Daniel Sahalo who was visiting Minneapolis marketing his Megemeria Jewelry Collection. Daniel shared the story of his families daring escape from Ethiopia and how they eventually arrived and rebuilt their lives in Israel .The dinner and Learn was available at no cost to teens due to a generous grant from Minneapolis Jewish Federation.
Rachel Prero - firstname.lastname@example.org
South Bend, IN
Ten Kansas City teens completed an eight-week course about Israel’s history and it’s complex relationship with their Palestinian neighbors and surrounding Arab countries. The teens were fully engaged during classes and asked excellent questions. As the weeks went on, teens paid more attention to Israel in the media and brought up current events during class. As the final piece of the program, the teens look forward to meeting with Senator Jerry Moran.
Akiva Gutnicki - email@example.com
SOUTH BEND NCSY SHABBAT SHABANG South Bend NCSY has brought Shabbat Shabang to the community this year. It has been met with excitement and rave reviews. The combination of having great advisors, fun outings, and Ruach has been growing each month.Many teenagers attend the monthly Shabbat Shabang and it has brought South Bend NCSY to a new level bringing a sense of family.
Memphis, TN Daniel Epstein - firstname.lastname@example.org
PAINT NIGHT IN MEMPHIS
The girls of Memphis NCSY had a Sunday night Paint
NEW ENGLAND Rabbi Simon Taylor, Regional Director 617.332.6279 // email@example.com
Brookline, MA Chanan Freilich, firstname.lastname@example.org
BROOKLINE GETS TOGETHER
35 teens from Brookline and the Greater Boston area gathered together for a Friday night dinner in the home of Rabbi David Hellman, rabbi of Young Israel of Brookline, with infectious ruach and beautiful singing shared by all. They learned about the fundamental importance of Tzelem Elokim and how it is definitional to our lives as human beings and as Jews.
Providence, RI Shira Krinsky - email@example.com
Providence NCSY hosted an inspiring roadshow in the first weekend of December. It was a weekend filled with learning, games, and of course, lots of food. A van of NCSYers from West Hartford came in for the weekend to add even more spirit, and really contributed to the amazing Shabbos, and enjoyed the warm Providence hospitality! The weekend came to a close with Glow-In-The-Dark Dodgeball and pizza making. Great fun was had by all and we can’t wait for the next one!
Sharon, MA firstname.lastname@example.org
It was an icy Friday night, one of the coldest of the year. We had an oneg planned and we just couldn’t bring ourselves to cancel it! We made our way over to our wonderful and generous host family not sure what to expect. Waiting to greet us was quite a large group of our local NCSY teens, chilling and enjoying the beautiful Friday night together with their friends. The table was set up with every candy, hot hors d’oeuvres, kugels and brownies cookies. The night turned out to be one of the warmest nights of the year filled with singing, sharing stories and enjoying each other’s company.
SOUTHERN Southern NCSY philanthropy interns with Leon Cooperman volunteering during the Southern NCSY phone-a-thon. newjersey.ncsy.org
Great Neck, NY
Rabbi Reuven Lebovitz - email@example.com
FNL & 4G
This year Teaneck NCSY launched two exciting new programs: Friday Night Lights and NCSY 4G.
Teaneck NCSY 4G is a brand new program for High School girls. We have amazing programs twice a month, including chessed events, Shabbat onegs, and fun social programs. Our 4G program is run by Ahuva Motechin.
Boca Raton, FL
NEW YORK Jon Ackerman, Managing Director 646.459.5149 // firstname.lastname@example.org newyork.ncsy.org
Brooklyn, NY Nechama Kamelhar - email@example.com Rabbi Moish Zucker - firstname.lastname@example.org
West Hartford, CT Devorah Lustig - email@example.com
West Hartford Chapter started off the year with a night of madness. Motzei Shabbat when one starts saying Selichot, NCSY west Hartford did just that. The night stared off with Make your own Pizza, Human Foosball, dancing and food. The night ended off with inspirational Musical Selichot. It left everyone on a high to carry with them through out the whole year.
NEW JERSEY Rabbi Ethan Katz, Regional Director 201.862.0250 // firstname.lastname@example.org
Great Neck had a Tu Bishvat seminar club-wide that discussed environmental importance and seeing G-d through the natural world. They did a dried fruit tasting and learned how to check dried fruit for bugs.
See mini story SOUTHERN
Sammy Aronson - email@example.com
Stamford NCSY had its Jr. NCSY Kickoff event at the PAL Rink in Westport CT! Thanks to Regional Board Member Sarah Smart for organizing and recruiting, and thanks to the Stamford NCSY chapter board for coming and showing support!
TU BISHVAT WITH GREAT NECK NCSY
Friday Night Lights (FNL) is a monthly program held at Congregation Keter Torah in Teaneck. Teens enjoy a Carlebach style davening, a delicious Shabbat dinner, play improv games, and take part in a very meaningful Tisch. Nearly ten advisors volunteer to help make the experience as meaningful as possible. Our FNL program is run by Rabbi David Schlusselberg.
Stamford, CT JR. NCSY SKATING KICKOFF
Jon Zar - firstname.lastname@example.org
BROOKLYN NCSY TAKES ON THE SHABBOS PROJECT!
Over 60 Brooklyn NCSY teens participated in the Shabbos Project. Friday night Parshas Lech Lecha, over 60 teens joined NCSY staff in Brooklyn for a Shabbos meal they wouldn’t forget. Chaim Deutsch and Rabbi Steven Burg both gave them inspiring words of Torah. Afterwards, a world renowned illusionist performed and had them sitting at the edge of their chairs. The teens all left eager to return to further programming with NCSY.
The Five Towns, NY Yossi Schwartz- email@example.com
FIVE TOWNS YESHIVA DAY SCHOOLS GET INVOLVED Rabbi Yossi Schwartz has started “Kiruv Clubs” in local Five Towns High Schools: SKA, and DRS where they discuss practical tips on how to do kiruv. In December, 10 girls from the SKA club joined him at the Lawrence High School JSU and helped run a Chanukah program, setting the stage for our club members to get involved with JSU and build stronger bridges between NCSY
Todd Cohn, Executive Director 1-866-887-5788 // firstname.lastname@example.org southern.ncsy.org
Rabbi Eli Zians - email@example.com South Palm Beach Director
ROOTS Under the guidance of R’ Eli Zians,the NCSY Boca Raton Chapter has launched ROOTS, a bi-weekly visit to a local old age home in Boca Raton. The program consists of students coming consistently to share their experiences, build a relationship, as well as learn with and from the residents. There is a weekly Shabbat prayer service that the NCSYers help run, as they sing with and spread joy to all those around them. The bonds and relationships that have been created will ensure the fluid transition of the generations for many years to come. The program is climaxing towards the end of the year with a video where the students interview the residents about their life and share how much they have gained from one another.
Coral Springs, FL Shmuel Barak - firstname.lastname@example.org
TJJ BIRTHDAY PARTY On December 5th we threw an awesome TJJ open house at our Coral Springs Latte and Learn. Not only was this one of the first times in NCSY history that Coral Springs has had a latte and learn, but this was the first time 25 NCSYers attended. The goal of the open house was to sign up a teen or two for TJJ. One of the potential teens also happened to be celebrating her birthday that day. This teen wanted to go on TJJ so badly that she asked her mother and father if she would be able to go on TJJ as a birthday present. Her parents quickly said yes which caused a domino effect and caused three other teens to instantly register that night with their parents permission.
EMTZA NCSY Jason Segelbaum- email@example.com
EMTZA WINTER NCSY SHABBATON - ALL MIDDLE SCHOOL ALL THE TIME
Beginning of December in South Florida means many things to many people. To NCSY it means a huge Winter Shabbaton for Middle Schoolers at Boca Raton Synagogue. Whether it was learning together, eating together, or davening together the participants had a incredible time. After Shabbos a trip to Skyzone where the students were able to show off their acrobatic skills was the right way to finish up an awesome event.
EMTZA NCSY SETTING THE BAR HIGH Skylake Emtza NCSY is once again showing everyone how to recruit for an event. With Shalev Peleg and Jason Segelbaum teaming up for the 16-17 year there was definitely much excitement. That excitement carried over to a record 107 middle school participants at a Limousine Scavenger Hunt. Fun was had by all whether it was at Aventura Mall, Publix, or even Petsmart the students had a great time with friends and advisors and set the table for a wonderful year of programming for Skylake.
up to a single Latte and Learning! Latte and Learning is a weekly event located in the kosher Dunkin Donuts in Hollywood,where students can go to eat donuts,drink coffee, and hear words of Torah from the Hollywood Chapter Board. Hollywood Latte and Learning is also know to bring guest speakers from various organizations such as Stand With Us.
Jacksonville, FL AY Cohen - firstname.lastname@example.org
See mini story below.
Miami Beach, FL MIAMI BEACH BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT
Rabbi Gershon Meisel, Regional Director 972.934.9143 // email@example.com southwest.ncsy.org
Miami Beach NCSY recently hosted a fun-filled basketball tournament as a community event. Over 10 teams comprised of teens from various different backgrounds and schools throughout the local area came together at the Hebrew Academy Gymnasium in Miami Beach for a 3-on-3 tournament and 3-point shooting contest. The event attracted more than 15 new teens to NCSY. Participants saw that not only does NCSY promote Jewish social gatherings for teens in the Miami Beach area, but that physical fitness and taking care of one’s body is a great mitzvah too!
BBQ WITH FIREFIGHTERS AND POLICE OFFICERS
Rabbi Eli Lob - firstname.lastname@example.org
Hollywood broke records with over 100 teens showing
In South Miami this year, public school students had the opportunity to learn high level torah content. The students came from JSU leadership from Coral Reef High school, Miami Palmetto High and Terra Environmental Research Institute. These sessions were based on Headlines for teens, Halachic debates of current events. This program was a huge success.
BREAKING RECORDS IN HOLLYWOOD
JSU BLOSSOMING IN SOUTH MIAMI
Adir Shimon - email@example.com
Eli Albert - firstname.lastname@example.org
Hollywood’s chesed event was LIT this year as we had over 15 firefighters come to a local Hollywood park for an outdoor barbecue! NCSYers along with the inspiring firefighters got together for amazing activities and amazing food! From teaching these firefighters new Hebrew and Jewish phrases to making colorful friendship bracelets, Hollywood definitely hosted an unforgettable event!
Daniel Nabatian - email@example.com
PRE-CHANUKAH INTERCHAPTER SHABBATON Over 50 pre-teens and teens from Jacksonville and Savannah had a blast at a pre-Chanukah inter-Chapter Shabbaton hosted in Savannah! Many teens stepped up to the plate and gained tremendously as they filled the role of being unbelievable Jr. advisors! Highlights included laser tag, arcades, and special sufganiyot dipping!
Rabbi Michel Lomner - firstname.lastname@example.org
DALLAS NCSY ESCAPES THE ROOM Over 25 Dallas NCSYers enjoyed a Shabbat Shebang at Rabbi Lomner’s house filled with inspiration and great food. After a riveting ebbing and emotional havdalah, the excited teens enjoyed the challenging escape rooms in Plano, TX.
Denver, CO Yisrael Katz - email@example.com
DENVER NCSY GROWING AT A RAPID PACE Within the first seven months of it’s existence, Denver NCSY has grown at a rapid pace. Starting with 40 NCSYers in August, Denver NCSY has added over 100 teens and many more programs. Along with the two Latte N’ Learnings a week, Denver NCSY has added a bi-weekly Beit Midrash night, a once a month Melva Malka, two Shabbat ShaBangs every month, and much more! Additionally, after sending 53 NCSYers to the Southwest NCSY Winter Regional Shabbaton,
JUNIOR NCSY IN JACKSONVILLE HAVING A BALL!
ur annual NCSY Winter FNL Shabbaton was a smashing success. From the trip to the basketball game on Saturday night to our emotional Havdalah everyone had a grand time. We over 30 NCSY’ers ranging from 5th grade all the way to 12th grade join us for the weekend. We also had our 5 amazing advisors: Daniel Geller, Akiva Taubenblat, Judd Eisenberg, Victoria Kalmanowitz, and Bari Sadler. The next NCSY JAX FNL Shabbaton will be held May 27, 2017.
Denver NCSY will be sending over 55 NCSYers to the Southwest NCSY Spring Regional Shabbaton. Denver NCSY is growing by leaps and bounds and we look forward to the amazing things that are yet to come.
HOUSTON BEGINS NEW PARENT/TEEN BETH MIDRASH NIGHT
Houston, TX Samy Soussan - firstname.lastname@example.org
HOUSTON BETH MIDRASH Houston NCSY began a new education project aimed at allowing teens to study bi-weekly in an open beit midrash environment. The program allows the teens to explore new areas of Torah that they would like to learn about. The teens meet in a local shul and are either paired with a chavruta, learn with a friend or an advisor on the phone, or even just pick up a book and learn. The atmosphere allows teens to gain a deeper appreciation and and be impacted while making it their own personal Torah! The program has attracted over 200 teens since the beginning and averages between 20 to 25 teens at each program.
San Antonio, TX Asher Gluck - email@example.com
NCSY SAN ANTONIO COMING ALIVE NCSY San Antonio has come alive, and is creating a buzz throughout the city. Jewish teens are starting to feel part of a community, reigniting their Jewish pride, and having a blast together. Some of the events held this year have included: Corn Maze, Fall Regional in Denver, Paintball, Spurs game, Sisters Sesh (Classes for girls), Beit Medrash Torah Chill (for boys), Super Bowl Party, and a Shabbat Shebang. Events are averaging over 20 teens per event.
UPSTATE NEW YORK Devora Weinstock, Regional Coordinator 646.459.5175 // firstname.lastname@example.org upstate.ncsy.org
Albany, NY Jeanette Goldstein - email@example.com
SNOW TUBING! The Albany chapter went snow tubing on a Saturday night, following an incredible chapter Shabbaton. Over forty people filled a bus to West Mountain, and enjoyed hanging out as they went up and down the mountain. They even got to enjoy some hot cocoa with marshmallows as they came in from the cold!
Buffalo, NY Devora Weinstock - firstname.lastname@example.org
ROCKING WINTER REGIONAL
Buffalo NCSY had an awesome winter event with a night out at laser tag! Teens came out for this teen-run event featuring snacks, an epic laser tag tournament and great chapter pride. Buffalo had it’s largest group ever at Winter Regional in Hartford, even though they had the longest trip!
Rabbi Aharoni Carmel head of school at Robert M Beren Academy in Houston, learning together with Shaked Carmel at Houston NCSY’s Parent and teen Beth Midrash Night.
afternoon hangout for Junior NCSYers. They also had the chance to join an inter-regional Shabbaton with Canada & Central East NCSY in Ohio!
WEST COAST Rina Emerson, Regional Director 310.229.9000 // email@example.com westcoast.ncsy.org
Los Angeles, CA Yosef Miller - firstname.lastname@example.org
PRIVATE INVITE ONLY NCSY/JSU started a new version of DNL (Dinner N’ Learning) to ensure more Torah is being taught. Instead of just having 25-30 teens showing up each week for a few minutes of Torah, City NCSY has a waiting list of teens, five of who get privately invited to dinner each Wednesday night. With a smaller crowd it is easier to sit around a table together and learn real Torah from the text! With guest teachers available for different types of students, we ensure that the content fits the group. We are hoping to make 2 siyumim by years end, one of Pirkei Avot and the other on Mishnayot Berachot!
NCSY CONNECTS’ BIRTHRIGHT ISRAEL FREE SPIRIT TRIP Lighting Chanukkah candles and experiencing Shabbat in Jerusalem with 50 new family members on the Birthright Israel Free Spirit NCSY Connect trip are memories that will never be forgotten. West Coast alumni 22-26 year olds traveled from the North to the South in Israel and became a strong family. Together we created a scholarship fund for public school teens for an NCSY summer program in honor of one of the soldiers that joined our groups cousin; twenty two year old IDF Lieutenant Shir Hajaj hy”d killed by terrorists in an attack on Jan. 8th in Jerusalem.
Rachel Hoffman - email@example.com
Ariella Weinstein - firstname.lastname@example.org
Junior NCSY in Rochester is really rocking! At the Winter Chapter Shabbaton, chapter board members organized tefillah workshops and a Shabbaton
AMERICAN NINJEW WARRIOR SHABBATON
The NorCal chapter had an inspiring Shabbaton in Berkeley learning what it means to be a “Jewish Warrior,” followed by a Saturday night activity challenging our inner physical warrior. We were joined by 35 amazing teens and 5 of our fantastic advisors!
SAN FRANCISCO FNL 38 NorCal teens spent an amazing Shabbos in San Francisco at Congregation Chevre Thillim followed by some bouncing fun at House of Air!
Las Vegas, NV Rabbi Yehuda Maryles - email@example.com
West Coast NCSY’s newest Chapter in Henderson, NV has doubled in size in the last six months. Nearly 50 public school teens are involved in Hendersons three Jewish High School Clubs, weekly Latte ‘n Learn, monthly chesed events, and Shabbat Experiences throughout the year. Henderson President, Gabby Rivera, and District Manager, Cameron Arato, have shown true leadership, working diligently to see the growth and continued success of the Henderson Chapter. Las Vegas NCSY welcomes long time NY NCSYer, Portland NCSY Adviser, and now Assistant Director of Las Vegas NCSY Bari Mitzman to the Las Vegas team. Her innovation, enthusiasm and dedication are already making a difference in the tremendous success of Las Vegas NCSY.
Shmuli Josephson - firstname.lastname@example.org
ARIZONA NCSY OPENS A 10TH JSU CLUB! JSU in Arizona has opened it’s tenth club at Shadow Mountain High school! The growth that Phoenix NCSY has experienced these past couple of years is truly awesome! Much of this great momentum can be attributed to our new talented Assistant director, Lakie Blech. Lakie and her family moved to Phoenix in August and in just a short time frame has brought a tremendous spirit and creative ideas to our clubs, programs and community. She is very well liked amongst the teens, most famous for her Zumba class.
all of them!
There is no doubt that 2017 will be beyond amazing, full of inspiration and unforgettable experiences!
On Sunday, January 29th, NY-based advisors from 12 regions came together for a day of professional development. Highlights included over 20 sessions focusing on advisor-related topics, a question & answers session with Rabbi Sobolofsky (Rosh Yeshiva at YU), time for regional meetings, advisor affinity tables over lunch, and guest appearances by NCSY staff from multiple regions in town for Ben Zakkai & Senior Directors Conference.
Doovie Jacoby - Doovie@ncsy.org
WINTER THEMED SHABBACATION
On the weekend of December 9th-10th, Oregon NCSY hosted its first ever winter themed Shabbacation! The students had an amazing time at our elegant restaurant themed Shabbat dinner, Shabbat lunch & board games, Saturday night ice skating, and Sunday skiing. It was a tremendous success with more than 35 unique teens attending various events over the weekend.
Carol Mirkin - Mirkinc@ncsy.org
CHODESH TOV! Every Rosh Chodesh, Seattle NCSY gets together on Chodesh Tov to learn about the coming month and do fun themed projects. On Rosh Chodesh Tevet, we learned about Asara B’Tevet and then packaged bags of supplies for homeless people. Everyone took them home to keep in their cars to distribute around Seattle. It was such a fun and inspiring night!
ISRAEL Rabbi Yosef Ginsberg 054-9538225 // email@example.com Rabbi Michael Kahn 052-5085091 // firstname.lastname@example.org israel.ncsy.org
GEVURAH SHABBATON IN MODIIN 45 NCSYers and Advisors came together for the NCSY Israel Gevurah Shabbaton in Modiin, highlighting the strength of the Jewish nation. The Shabbaton took place where the Chanukah story all began, we were excited to greet Chanukah together that Motzei Shabbat.
Eleven Broadway, 13th Fl New York, NY 10004 212.613.8233 // email@example.com ncsy.org
Michael Bengio, Regional Director 011.56.99.186.5575 // firstname.lastname@example.org chile.ncsy.org
SENIOR DIRECTORS CONFERENCE In a synergistic collaborative effort, this year’s Seniors Director Conference brought the established and immerging leadership of NCSY for three days of brainstorming, idea sharing and Torah learning. Led by the managing directors, this year’s SDC featured a regional chair, Rabbi Jonah Lerner, who added a unique regional perspective to the national cohort. Senior directors heard from an array of Torah personalities and management leaders, including Rabbi Yaakov Bender, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshiva Darchei Torah, Rabbi Zvi Sobolofsky, Rosh Yeshiva at Yeshiva University, and renowned speaker Charlie Harary.
NCSY & WAYFIND TEAM UP FOR DAY OF PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT WayFind is a company that works one-on-one with its client to develop a career plan. NCSY and WayFind teamed up this year to bring this career planning method to members of the NCSY world. They worked with members of our National Staff, as well as a select
Santiago, Chile Alan Geni - email@example.com
2016 is in the books now, and what better way to end it than a spectacular New York City trip with 16 of our most distinguished 12th graders. It all began with a few days of fun in the Brooklyn/Manhattan area, followed by NCSY’s best Shabbaton ever: Yarchei Kallah 2016/17. After that, Chile wasn’t ready to leave the party so we stayed a couple more days touring in New York. It was absolutely phenomenal. In March, we are going to start our new school year with our traditional “all you can eat Pizza & Sushi.” We are expecting to welcome more than 200 students, including the new 9th graders who are about to begin their 4 year journey with us, full of learning, experiences and amazing trips! We can’t wait to meet NCSY cohort gathers for WayFind career planning in NCSY Headquarters office.
THE NCSY BENCHER APP Dedicated in loving memory of Sami & Charlotte Rohr z"l by George and Pamela Rohr.
With over 100 recorded versions of your favorite Jewish songs for Shabbos, Yom Tov and the rest of the year. Music produced and recorded by Aryeh Kuntsler
FREE DOWNLOAD AVAILABLE TODAY NCSY is the international youth movement of the OU.
BY RABBI MOSHE BENOVITZ So, how do you like this article? Most every presenter and performer craves positive feedback. Whether it is wordless resonance or an explicit pat on the back, producers and providers of content like to know that their work has been well received. What does ideal feedback look like? What’s the reaction we seek when we teach or share? First, we should be vigilant of fool’s gold. Robust reactions and enthusiastic expressions are no indication of sincerity. Talk is cheap, and never cheaper than when offering perfunctory praise. When we graciously accept offered compliments, we would be wise to heed the frequency and shamelessness of our own polite yet disingenuous stated platitudes. More to the point, there is a strong case to be made for the most desirable feedback to be more contemplative, less expressive. A reflective silence (not to confused with dull indifference or catatonic boredom) can be the ultimate reaction to a moving presentation. Remarkably, this pendulum can swing even further. More and more, we find ourselves in an echo chamber of ideas. The culture of “likes” permeates most every interaction and experience. Agreement and consensus, which certainly have inherent value and usefulness, are pursued indiscriminately and considered as absolute necessities. (Don’t you agree?) But education must be more ambitious and aspire to a higher standard. The laws of physics present a noteworthy and instructive paradox. Motion and movement are curtailed by friction. Without tension and resistance, objects would progress indefinitely. However, when we consider a sprinter’s starting 50
block or a cartoon character’s comic attempt to accelerate on a sheet of ice, an opposite truth and an epiphany emerge. Without tension and resistance, we could never get going in the first place. Some of what we communicate is surely telling others what they already know or believe. These reminders and reinforcements are central components of formal and informal education, and fundamental to the world of Jewish law and commandment. But there must be more. Ideas can challenge, and “I never thought of that” can be the best compliment. Or perhaps second best. Considered disagreement can be an even more desirable outcome, particularly when accompanied with further thought and openness. Teachers and parents, instructors and artists, can never be content to tell others what the already know; we must be bold enough to offer them what they don’t. Our annual Passover pageant of transmission of Jewish history is described with various, seemingly synonymous, terms. Most prominently there is the “sippur”, or storytelling, and the “haggadah”, or reporting, that gives our seder night text its name. Many attempts have been made to identify the implication of each word. One suggestion contends that sippur is softer, simple, and less confrontational. It is simply retelling of narrative or facts. Haggadah portends friction. It won’t go down as easily, and may well encounter resistance. Both are part of our Pesach tradition, and both are obligations on our educational community. The current political and social climate is less than fully conducive for these kinds of ideal exchanges. We struggle to communicate difficult or discomforting ideas. Actually, we rarely even have
the opportunity to try. We associate with the like-minded and preach to the pre-selected choir. It’s not only in how we talk, but also in how - and to whom - we choose to listen. Far too often a positive assessment of a great talk or fabulous presentation is predicated on the affirmation of the audience’s cherished beliefs. Far too often a choice of teacher or mentor is based on the educator’s strict conformity to hastily and thoughtlessly pre-conceived notions. We appropriately lament the lack of civility and consideration in a world of diversity and conflicting outlooks. The art of respectful dissent and disagreement is perilously close to lost. But these ideals are not merely requisites for decorum and decency. They are the building blocks of the strongest of educational processes. They are how we learn and how we grow. Pirkei Avos teaches us to “turn and turn” our learning, in order to uncover its fullness and completeness. We are charged to consider and reconsider, to ask and ask again. To listen attentively and to respond with healthy skepticism. And then to listen again. To give as good as we get, and to challenge ourselves and others. So, I hope you are too busy reflecting to share with me your approval or disapproval. I hope you didn’t like this piece, but liked it more on second thought. That’s the friction of animation and inspiration.
Rabbi Moshe Benovitz, an NCSY alumnus, is the managing director of NCSY and the director of NCSY Kollel. He can be reached at benovitzm@ ncsy.org.
THE ANNE SAMSON
THE ANNE SAMSON
THE ANNE SAMSON
WHICH WILL YOU
BE WEARING THIS SUMMER? Find the right fit for you at summer.ncsy.org
NCSY is the international youth movement of the OU.