SUPPLEMENT TO JEWISH ACTION MAGAZINE
THE NCSY MAGAZINE
C E L E B R A T I N G
T H E
AN N E
SAMS O N
NCSY CITIES AND REGIONAL LEADERSHIP NCSY is the international youth movement of the OU.
Livingston, NJ Marlboro, NJ Rabbi Jonah Lerner Rabbi Chaim Neiditch Manalapan, NJ Millburn, NJ Dr. Michael 404.486.8787 Elman, Chair email@example.com Montclair, NJ Morristown, NJ 410.358.6279 atlanta.ncsy.org Ocean Township, NJ firstname.lastname@example.org Paramus, NJ atlanticseaboard. Atlanta, GA Passaic, NJ ncsy.org Alpharetta, GA Randolph, NJ Buckhead, GA Teaneck, NJ Baltimore, MD Chamblee, GA Twin Rivers, NJ Columbia, MD Duluth, GA West Orange, NJ Germantown, MD Dunwoody, GA Gaithersburg, MD Johns Creek, GA NEW YORK Olney, MD Marietta, GA Potomac, MD Milton, GA Rina Emerson Sandy Spring, MD Roswell, GA Kenny Sicklick, Chair Silver Spring, MD Sandy Springs, GA 516.569.6279 Towson, MD email@example.com Cherry Hill, NJ MIDWEST newyork.ncsy.org Allentown, PA Harrisburg, PA Rabbi Donny Bronx, NY Huntingdon Valley, PA Schwartz Brooklyn, NY Lancaster, PA Ari Shabat, Chair Cedarhurst, NY Philadelphia, PA 847.677.6279 Commack, NY Lower Merion, PA firstname.lastname@example.org East Meadow, NY Wilkes-Barre, PA midwest.ncsy.org Great Neck, NY Richmond, VA Hewlett, NY Norfolk, VA Des Moines, IA Inwood, NY Virginia Beach, VA Buffalo Grove, IL Lawrence, NY Chicago, IL Long Beach, NY CANADA Glenview, IL Manhattan, NY Northbrook, IL Merrick, NY Rabbi Glenn Black Skokie, IL Oceanside, NY Larry Zeifman, Chair Indianapolis, IN Plainview, NY 905.761.6279 South Bend, IN Port Washington, NY email@example.com Kansas City, KS Queens, NY canada.ncsy.org Overland Park,KS Rockland, NY St. Louis, MO Roslyn, NY Calgary, AB Winnipeg, MB Staten Island, NY Edmonton, AB Minneapolis, MN Stony Brook, NY Vancouver, BC Omaha, NE Westchester, NY Victoria, BC Memphis, TN West Hempstead, NY Hamilton, ON Nashville, TN Woodmere, NY Kitchener-Waterloo, ON Milwaukee, WI King City, ON SOUTHERN Kingston, ON NEW ENGLAND London, ON Todd Cohn Ottawa, ON Devora Weinstock David Wolf, Toronto, ON Joyce Wertheimer, Board Chair Montreal, QC Chair 1-866-887-5788 646.459.5175 firstname.lastname@example.org CENTRAL EAST newengland@ southern.ncsy.org ncsy.org Rabbi Tzali Freedman newengland.ncsy.org Little Rock, AK Judge Daniel Birmingham, AL Butler, Chair New Haven, CT Aventura, FL 248.557.6279 Stamford, CT Bal Harbour, FL email@example.com West Hartford, CT Boca Raton, FL centraleast.ncsy.org Westport, CT Coral Springs, FL Brighton, MA Hollywood, FL Windsor, ON Brookline, MA Jacksonville, FL Ann Arbor, MI Longmeadow, MA Kendall, FL Bloomfield Hills, MI Newton, MA Orlando, FL Farmington Hills, MI Sharon, MA Miami Beach, FL Huntington Woods, MI Waltham, MA North Miami Oak Park, MI Providence, RI Beach, FL Southfield, MI Palm Beach, FL West Bloomfield, MI NEW JERSEY Parkland, FL Akron, OH Tampa, FL Canton, OH Rabbi Ethan Katz Savannah, GA Cincinnati, OH Dr. Murray Charlotte, NC Cleveland, OH Leben, Chair Charleston, SC Columbus, OH 201.862.0250 Dayton, OH firstname.lastname@example.org Myrtle Beach, SC Nashville, TN Solon, OH newjersey.ncsy.org Toledo, OH SOUTHWEST Youngstown, OH East Brunswick, NJ Pittsburgh, PA Englishtown, NJ Rabbi Gershon Meisel Elizabeth, NJ 310.623.7630 Fair Lawn, NJ Southwest@ncsy.org Freehold, NJ southwest.ncsy.org Hackensack, NJ Highland Park, NJ Hightstown, NJ
EXECUTIVE LEADERSHIP Rabbi Micah Greenland............International Director, NCSY Keevy Fried...................................Associate International Director, NCSY Rabbi Moshe Benovitz..............Managing Director, NCSY Rina Emerson...............................Managing Director, NCSY & CEO, NY 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
INTERNATIONAL STAFF Jon Ackerman..............................Associate Director of NCSY Alumni Baila Bacharach...........................Data Analyst Rabbi Dovid Bashevkin.............Director of Education Tess Blaustein..............................Summer Recruitment Associate Nicole Chermak.........................NCSY Alumni Connection Associate Yoni Colman...............................Director, Staff Learning and Training David Cutler..................................Director of NCSY Summer Shira Epstein.................................NCSY Alumni Connections Associate Alyssa Goldwater......................Executive Assistant to International Director Daniel Gordon............................Associate National Director of Development Dan Hazony...................................Director of Data and Evaluation Victoria Kalmanowitz.................NCSY Alumni Connections Associate Rabbi Yehoshua Kohl...............Special Projects Coordinator Jeffrey Korbman........................ Director of Development Rabbi Israel Lashak....................Senior Educator Rabbi Yehoshua Marchuck......Director of NCSY Alumni Amy Mauskopf.............................Director of Logistics, NCSY Summer Andres Moncayo.........................Graphic Designer Rabbi Menachem Nissel..........Senior Educator Rachel Olson................................Educational Content Manager & Designer Rabbi Ari Rockoff........................Director of Leadership Development DY Rubin.........................................Education Associate Adam Rudich...............................Director of Operations and Finance Racheli Schwartz........................Summer Programs Associate Devorah Schwartzman.............Leadership Development Associate Avi Sebbag..................................Summer Recruitment Associate Saadia Simon..............................Senior Systems and Data Analyst Elliot Tanzman..............................Director of NCSY Summer Recruitment Josh Weinberg.............................Creative Director
SUMMER LEADERSHIP 4G Euro...........................................Shira Kronenberg BILT...................................................Rabbi Michael Goldman Camp Maor..................................Sari Kahn Camp Sports.................................Rabbi Jon Green Euro ICE..........................................Jeremy Goldfeder GIVE.................................................Erin Stiebel GIVE West......................................Leah Moskovich Israel ID...........................................Rabbi Yoni Pollock JOLT.................................................Rabbi Eli Zians JOLT Israel ................................. Rabbi Dr. Noam Weinberg JSU GO ....................................... Rabbi Chaim Neiditch Kollel................................................Rabbi Moshe Benovitz Michlelet.........................................Rivka Yudin Next Step: Israel Internships...Malkie & Tzvi Hametz Rescue Israel................................Moshe Zharnest ReSurf Israel..................................Oran Bendelstein The Anne Samson:
TJJ..................................................Rabbi Barry Goldfischer TJJ Ambassadors......................CM and Chaim Gerson TJJ AP...........................................Marc Fein
ON THE COVER: The Anne Samson Jerusalem Journey (TJJ) celebrated it’s twentieth anniversary this past summer. Read about it’s past, present and future in this special edition.
SPECIAL THANKS TO
Anna Linton Avinoam Teplow-Phipps Tova Stulman
Micha Gordon Israel Odesser Michael Sohn
UPSTATE NY Devora Weinstock Dr. David Hurwitz, Chair 646.459.5175 email@example.com upstate.ncsy.org Albany, NY Binghamton, NY Buffalo, NY Catskills District, NY Mount Kisco, NY Rochester, NY Schenectady, NY Syracuse, NY
WEST COAST Rabbi Derek Gormin Dr. Moshe Benarroch, Chair 310.229.9000 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 Martin Lebovich 011.54.911.6802.5854 email@example.com
CHILE Michael Bengio 011.56.99.186.5575 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
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ITâ€™S NOT TOO EARLY TO SIGN UP FOR ONE OF NCSYâ€™S INCREDIBLE SUMMER PROGRAMS REGISTER TODAY AT SUMMER.NCSY.ORG OR CALL 212-613-8168 4G EURO
Travel through Europe on this once in a lifetime all-girls Euro trip. See Europe though the lens of Jewish eyes and visit cities across Europe before heading to Israel.
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 of the USA.
ISRAEL IN DEPTH
Israel ID takes boys and girls on an inspirational and exhilarating journey through the land of Israel.
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.
JOLT Israel is for highly-motivated teens looking for a unique leadership experience. The culmination of the summer will be 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.
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.
Learn CPR, bleeding control, and how to be a First Responder! Volunteer on an ambulance, and learn how Hatzhalah's state of the art dispatch center operates in Israel.
Travel and see Israel through the eyes of the locals and connect to your homeland on a whole new level. Be a part of ReSurf, mentor Israel's youth on this social entrepreneurship surfing
adventure! No previous surfing experience is required! 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
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. THE ANNE SAMSON
TJJ AMBASSADORS POLAND
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 FOR SUMMER 2019 GIVE EAST
Join this all-girls program for post 7th & 8th grade girls that focuses on volunteering and giving back to organizations across the East Coast. Travel from NYC to West Virginia, Virginia, Tennessee, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina and have a fun and fulfilling summer with great girls and advisors.
NCSY Thailand takes you into the heart of the local culture; to the must see tourist sights and then off the beaten track to where tourists never go. After 10 days in Thailand, the trip concludes with two and a half weeks in Israel where participants will visit popular cities and sites including Jerusalem, Safed, Eilat and Tiberias. FALL 2018 3
TABLE OF CONTENTS 12 16
DIRECTOR’S MESSAGE Heroes Hall of Fame: A message from NCSY’s International Director, Rabbi Micah Greenland.
CHAIRMAN’S MESSAGE Mr. Avi Katz on the power of the unified community.
LESSONS FROM THE FIELD 08 Keevy Fried, NCSY’s Associate International Director, discusses NCSY’s newest semicha initiative.
09 10 12
ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE Jeffrey Korbman, NCSY’s Director of Development, illustrates different types of donor recognition. . THE PERFECTION OF IMPERFECTION NCSY Managing Director and NY NCSY CEO, Rina Emerson, on the importance of modeling healthy attitudes towards failure. SUMMER SNAPSHOTS Snapshots from NCSY Summer’s biggest and best summer yet.
YOM NCSY 2018 16 Highlights from an epic night that celebrates NCSY Summer and
all that we do.
SNAPSHOTS 18 ACOMMUNITY look back at this year’s regional fundraisers. SPRING AWAKENING 20 Highlights from NCSY’s Spring Regionals.
INTO ACTION 22 AJUMPING look back at this year’s Jewish Unity Mentoring Program (JUMP) boardroom finals.
CHESED ACROSS THE COUNTRY 23 NCSYers across the globe give back to their communities and beyond.
RIDING FOR INSPIRATION 24 Bike NCSY raises money for teens going on Israel gap-year programs.
RISING STAR Meet Jonathan Malove, NCSY’s incoming National Board Teen President.
JUDAISM UNCOVERED 30 Atlantic Seaboard NCSYer, Amber Loose, discovers her Jewish roots and runs with it.
TJJ@20: TWENTY YEARS OF THE ANNE SAMSON TJJ 32 Celebrating the twentieth anniversary of NCSY’s premier summer program for public-school teens.
TJJ@20: REMEMBERING ANNE SAMSON A”H 34 Reflecting on the magnificent legacy of Anne Samson a”h. TJJ@20: MAN ON A MISSION 36 How Rabbi Barry Goldfischer shaped The Anne Samson TJJ over the past twenty years.
TJJ@20: A TWENTY YEAR JOURNEY 38 TJJ’s impact still lingers on twenty years later for first-year
participant, Mo Lidsky.
TJJ@20: COMING FULL CIRCLE 40 How Netanya Stein went from being a TJJ participant to a TJJ advisor.
AS A TEEN: RABBI AARON RAKEFFET-ROTHKOFF 42 NCSY Director of Education, Rabbi Dovid Bashevkin, sits with Rabbi Aaron Rakeffet-Rothkoff to discuss his teenage years.
HIGHLIGHTS 45 Happenings around the NCSY World.
THE GRAND EQUATION 50 Rabbi Moshe Benovitz on rebalancing our religious equation.
By Rabbi Micah Greenland, International Director King David. Sara Schenirer. Sandy Koufax. Rabbi Akiva. Raoul Wallenberg. What is the common thread? Within the world of NCSY, there is a well-known educational program, one that has been featured on numerous NCSY Summer programs and in virtually every NCSY region, entitled the “Heroes Hall of Fame.” The brainchild many years ago of our current Managing Director Rabbi Moshe Benovitz, the program is organized as a series of museum exhibits that come to life. Each exhibit features a different Jewish hero, and through a vignette from each of their lives, highlights one aspect of what makes them worthy of emulating. Given thousands of years of Jewish history, and no shortage of heroes to choose from, identifying which individuals to highlight is itself no simple undertaking. The small and diverse representative sample listed at the opening to this article is the group featured in most versions of this educational program. Without question, hundreds of others could have been considered for inclusion and were excluded. Indeed, as with many actual, real-life “halls of fame,” the need to pare the group can be seen as both a challenge and a feature of such initiatives.
At the risk of upsetting some readers, I’d like to further narrow the selection down to just a single person. There is one Jewish hero that stands out to me as especially deserving of inclusion in a “Heroes of NCSY” Hall of Fame: Rabbi Akiva. The outline of his story – humble upbringing, illiterate in Torah subjects until age 40, rapid ascent as a Torah giant and teacher to thousands thanks to the unbending support of his wife Rachel, and torturous death at the hands of the Romans - is well known. Nonetheless, we often fail to adequately focus on some of the most important and pertinent lessons embodied by Rabbi Akiva’s life, and the degree to which they are relevant today. The state of American Orthodox Jewry today is one of significant paradox. Despite the prevalence in our community of an unprecedented level of formal Jewish education, both among children and even amongst adults through shiurim and chavrusa learning, there is an underlying spiritual complacency that is discouraging. Pursuit of a Jewish day school education is blessedly nearly ubiquitous amongst Orthodox families. But rather than being seen as a starting place for a family’s spiritual pursuits, it is seen as the stopping point. The mindset among so many in our community is one of “I have arrived” or “I am doing just fine, thank you.” It’s not one of yearning, of striving, of exerting effort to make meaningful spiritual growth a lifelong pursuit. Spiritual striving – genuinely adopting a mindset of “I am here to grow – and growth is lifelong” – is painfully rare. We should all be seeking to build and strengthen a relationship with the Master of the Universe, in which Shabbos and tefillah are truly meaningful. I lament that we live in the generation of “good enough” when it comes to our spirituality. At the same time, I am very much encouraged by the role that NCSY plays in addressing this challenge.
Rabbi Micah Greenland addresses over 2500 NCSYers, supporters and friends at this year’s Yom NCSY in Latrun.
NCSY is, in many ways, an antidote to those ails. As you’ll read in the pages ahead, in NCSY you’ll find a public school teen, wide-eyed at their first
experience keeping Shabbos, wondering out loud how they can replicate that feeling in the weeks ahead. And at the same time, a yeshiva day school student, inspired by the freshness with which his public school peers approach Judaism, resolves to approach his own observance with renewed passion. In the summer, on NCSY Kollel and NCSY Michlelet, we mainstream public school teens alongside yeshiva high school students as part of NCSY’s groundbreaking mechina program. The net result? Each comes out inspired, and each is committed to the value of pursuing spiritual growth and learning on an ongoing basis. Searching for the right role model to shake us out of our spiritual malaise? Look no further than our Hall of Famer Rabbi Akiva. We know about the significant journey on which he embarked at age forty, and that is inspiration enough. But imagine Rabbi Akiva at 50, or at 55! It would have been so easy for him to be satisfied at his accomplishments thus far, and to retire with a sense of satisfaction with his accomplishment. But Rabbi Akiva’s determination to view his growth as a lifelong pursuit, to never rest on his laurels, is what we have to thank for the legacy of Torah scholarship and spiritual sacrifice that he left behind. As we enter Rosh Hashanah, we will soon hear the shofar blasts reverberate, in the words of Maimonides, with the message of “awaken, sleepy ones, from your slumber.” And as we read about Rabbi Akiva along with the ten rabbinic martyrs during the mussaf liturgy on Yom Kippur, let us remember that we have a genuine hero worth emulating, one who maintained his commitment to growth no matter how difficult the circumstances. L’shana tovah – it should be an uplifting and growth-filled year for all of us.
Rabbi Micah Greenland
By Avi Katz, National Youth Commision Chairman, OU The last days of Moshe Rabbeinu’s life were spent in a remarkable fashion. In an incredible flurry of history, morality, advice and personal reflection—this peerless Jewish leader provided his people, as well as future generations, a guidebook for developing and deepening a personal relationship with Hashem. With a bitter and not-so-sweet tone, he reminded those assembled how he had fervently prayed, hundreds of times, for the opportunity to enter into Eretz Yisrael. So intense were his requests, that Hashem in effect said enough— stop asking—your dream will not be realized. As if that were not shocking enough for Moshe, he was then instructed to climb Har Nevo and look at the land in all directions. At the surface, this would seem to add insult to injury. It is bad enough to be rejected—but to then be commanded to glimpse at what could have been seems, dare we say, cruel. A profound insight from Rabbi Efrem Goldberg offers us a completely different framework to more deeply process this dramatic encounter. His approach places its emphasis on the request to look in all four directions. Upon closer analysis, this is puzzling. Why should Moshe look “mizracha”— eastward—away from Israel after all, his goal was the Promised Land and not the lands beyond the Jordan River? Rabbi Goldberg suggests that the command to look east, was in fact, words of chizuk for Moshe. In essence, Hashem was telling Moshe: “While you may not be able to reach your ultimate dream, please do not forget to look back—to the journey. Look at what you have accomplished, look how far you have come.” What a powerful opportunity for each of us—to pause—and look back on our own progress over the past year and be strengthened by the growth we have
made. At the same time, and unlike Moshe, we G-d-willing, still have the opportunity to make it to the Promised Land—to see our dreams and hopes fulfilled. This message of retrospection and resolve for the future lies at the core of the NCSY journey as we look back with immense satisfaction at the incredible growth in the quality and quantity of NCSY’s impact. Four years ago, a strategic planning process was undertaken by senior NCSY leadership which culminated in the 2020 Strategic Plan. This ambitious proposition established defined objectives for teens reached and impacted with a goal of dramatically increasing the number of participants on NCSY’s summer programs. More specifically, there was a stated objective of meaningfully growing the number of public school teens going to Israel for the summer as well as their gap years.
memories from this past summer— to see and read the stories that can only happen with NCSY: first times for lighting Shabbos candles, wearing tefilin, learning with a chavrusa and on and on. Lives were truly impacted and the trajectory for continued growth remains. And so, we should indeed look back with a sense of chizuk on what has been accomplished even as we gaze fervently toward an, as yet, unreached Promised Land. With your continued support, NCSY will continue to bring Jews of all backgrounds closer as we stand together as one—kulanu k’echad. We pray that the power of the tzibbur will accomplish what no individual seemingly can. “Barchenu Avinu kulanu k’echad”— together as one — may we all be zoche to “ohr panecha’’ the awesome light of the Shechina speedily in our days.
Thankfully, we can look back and take pride in the success of this mission. As one example, this summer, I had the privilege to witness the sheer majesty and intensity of Yom NCSY, where 2500 attendees came together to celebrate the high point of an incredible summer. What made the evening particularly joyful was the seamless fusion of Jews from all walks of life. In an increasingly polarized world, the feeling of unity and closeness as we all sang “Am Yisrael Chai” was particularly moving. I would encourage you to spend a few minutes revisiting some of the Avi Katz is the founder and CEO of Agam Capital Management. Prior to founding Agam, Mr. Katz was a partner at Apollo Management where he was responsible for managing over $2 billion in alternative assets. Prior to that time, he was a partner at Och-Ziff Freidheim and, in total, has more than 24 years of experience investing in the capital markets. Mr. Katz has held many leadership positions in the financial and not-for-profit sectors and is currently the National Chairman of NCSY and a member of the OU Executive Committee. He lives in Teaneck, New Jersey with his wife Becky and their four children.
A wise man once told me that when you teach words of Torah, inspire others spiritually, and transform the lives of those you encounter, it must come from within yourself. The more Torah knowledge and the stronger the connection you have to Hashem, the more you’ll be able to impact others. If your proverbial cup is full, you’ll be able to give it over to others. Two years ago, the Orthodox Union and NCSY introduced a way for the “cups’” of NCSY professionals to overflow with Torah. Envisioned by the aforementioned wise man, NCSY senior educator Rabbi Yisrael Lashak, and created under the auspices of Rabbi Yerachmiel Fried, Dean of the Dallas Area Torah Association (DATA), the NCSY Semicha Program was created. Rabbi Yerachmiel Fried is a noted scholar and acclaimed author, and received his rabbinical training from world-acclaimed Torah leader and scholar, Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt”l. Rabbi Fried himself grew up less connected to his roots and became inspired to pursue the richness of Jewish heritage and Torah observance through NCSY and others. Being part of this special program for the past two years, along with 14 other NCSY professionals from North and South America, has been invigorating, exciting and challenging. I believe it has developed me further as a ben Torah, a sophisticated thinker and decisor in (several) halachik areas, and has helped me continue to grow as a true eved Hashem. But, going back to a formal learning structure, with sources, shiurim, and tests after many years of informal learning, challenged me in ways I didn’t expect, and made me think about practical ways it has affected me, my perspective, and how it could be applied to life and our work at NCSY: CONSISTENCY IS KEY: When learning a challenging topic and balancing many different Rabbinic opinions, the ability to have a constant and consistent grasp is essential. 8
One cannot miss a night of learning and think that he can jump back into the sea of halachik analysis without missing a beat. It’s complicated and complex, and only through learning on a regular schedule, using every minute of that time to its fullest, and keeping a clear focus on what is being grappled with, can one truly learn the sugya appropriately. Imagine getting into an intense, deep and meaningful conversation with someone, juggling lots of moving pieces, and then taking a break for several days. You wouldn’t accomplish a whole lot and both parties would probably be quite frustrated. When you start something, make sure to stay on it and in it. Whether a deep conversation or an intense thought, consistency is key to moving forward. In NCSY we are about constant and consistent relationship building, deep meaningful conversations and being there for every teen, always. PAIRING WITH A PARTNER: Learning with a chavrusah, a study partner, is extremely beneficial. Aside for making sure you show up because someone is waiting for you, a chavrusah keeps one’s mind focused on the learning, sharpens reasoning powers, develops ideas into words and organizes thoughts into logical arguments. It imparts precision and clarity into notions that would otherwise remain vague. Having a life-chavrusah will only strengthen your convictions and allow you to grow as a thoughtful and emotional individual in incredible ways. In NCSY, our staff and advisors serve as chavrusahs for teens in all aspects of life. We are there for them, we learn with them, grow with them and deal with life’s tribulations with them. At the same time, we challenge them and push them to articulate their thoughts and develop clear, coherent and logical convictions. Doing this leads to responsible teens, and ultimately sensible adults.
ARE YOU SMARTER THAN A 5TH GRADER When we started learning about heating and warming foods on Shabbos, I was convinced that it would be simple as I had grown up in an observant home observing these halachos my entire life. After beginning to delve into this topic, I realized that while I had been keeping the halacha, my understanding of it was probably at the level of a 6th or 7th grader, the age when I had first learned these laws. But why do I need to understand it more complexly as long as I keep it? We become more sophisticated as we age and an elementary understanding of all aspects of our life won’t satisfy us as we begin to question and wonder why we actually do what we do. It is worthwhile to dig deeper, think harder and learn the relevant reasons behind why Hashem created the Torah and Halacha as he did. Doing so will ultimately lead us to more meaningful and transformational acts, and a deeper relationship with our religion and G-d. In NCSY, it’s not just good enough to do a mitzvah, but our staff and advisors spend time helping teens understand why they are doing certain mitzvos. Growth must happen at every point in life. As living, breathing, and thinking Jews, let’s all take it upon ourselves this year to grow in ways we never imagined and to do it with a conviction that our cups will be overflowing with Torah, inspiration, and desire to transform our lives and the lives of others.
Rabbis Derek Gormin, Keevy Fried and Yehuda Maryles learning at this year’s two day Semicha Summit for NCSY staff in Dallas, Texas.
Jeffrey Korbman, NCSY National Director of Development
One of the most important, and undervalued, dimensions of philanthropy is how organizations express gratitude after a gift is made. Thank you letters, for example, are often sent late and rely on cliché’s. This column will share several real-life examples of well written thank you letters. Well-crafted letters, it should be noted, must be sent within 2-3 weeks of a gift. The prose must be well-written, and short. Finally, taking a cue from Yaakov Avinu who shared a unique blessing with each of his sons, a good thank you letter specifically articulates donor impact. Each issue we will highlight a different letter of appreciation to a donor. The letters are real and the thank you is sincere. Why are we sharing these? We want to highlight for our readers the different avenues to get involved in NCSY. Different people contribute in different ways. But, instead of showing the contributions, we want to share our appreciation. This letter was written to a donor for our new Kollel Mechina Program, for public school teens participating on NCSY Summer’s Kollel program. Many donors like giving to established programs and time-tested initiatives. Others, though, like investing in new beginnings. Kollel Mechina is a new program - just beginning - that provides an amazing experience for teens on their new path of studying Torah.
By Rina Emerson, Managing Director, NCSY and CEO, NY NCSY When I think about the heroes that I looked up to when I was younger, one constant comes to mind: perfection. These individuals - whether they were that counselor in camp who everyone loved and wanted to be like, an actor who performed brilliantly on the big screen, or that special teacher in school whose class just felt different and more fun - they were all perfect. They knew just what to say, what to wear and how to act in each and every circumstance. It reinforced for me a notion that leaders were a special class of people, and unlike most of us, they simply never made mistakes. Ever. But, as I grew older, I realized that the world was slightly more complex. I began to recognize the innate human frailty that we all have within us, and I realized that to be perfect was, in fact, not to be real. Our Torah is radical in that it identifies the mistakes of our ancestral giants, and deliberately creates a narrative that is based on the truth of human imperfections. Why sully the reputation of Adam and Chava by mentioning the snake and the eitz ha’daas? Why critique Noach on his choice to plant a vineyard and drink after emerging from the ark? Why debate Avraham Avinu’s mistakes in how he presented Sarah in their travels? Do we really need to be reminded over and over that Moshe Rabbeinu hit when he should have spoken? Obviously, telling the real story of our Jewish heroes was an intended goal of the Torah. But why? There is a well-known letter by Rav Yitzchak Hutner zt”l, the famed Rosh Yeshiva of Chaim Berlin, that helps us understand. A student wrote with despair about how he had lost his way in his learning and spiritual growth: “I will never forget the desire that I once had to succeed and to climb ‘from strength to strength,’ but now, my hope is lost.” Rav Hutner would have none of it. He replied to his student that we often tend to focus only on the successes of those around us: A failing that many of us suffer from is that when we consider the aspects of perfection of our sages, we focus on the ultimate level of their attainments. We discuss how they are complete in this 10
or that area while omitting mention of the inner struggles that had previously raged within them. A listener would get the impression that these individuals came out of the hand of their Creator in full-blown form. Everyone is awed at the purity of speech of the Chofetz Chaim zt”l, considering it a miraculous phenomenon. But who knows of the battles, struggles and obstacles, the slumps and regressions that the Chofetz Chaim encountered in his war with the yetzer horah? There are many such examples, to which a discerning individual as yourself can certainly apply the rule. The result of this failing is that when an ambitious young man of spirit and enthusiasm meets obstacles, falls and slumps, he imagines himself as unworthy of being planted in the house of Hashem. Instead, Rav Hutner advised his talmid to “lose battles but win wars,” that there is real value in the struggle of the day to day, and that ultimately, it is that struggle that allows us to attain our larger goals. Finally, Rav Hutner concludes with a powerful lesson from the words of Shlomo Hamelech: “The wisest of all men has said: ‘A just man falls seven times and rises again’ (Mishlei 24:16). Fools believe the intent of this verse is to teach us something remarkable – that the just-man has fallen seven times and yet he rises. But the knowledgeable are aware that the essence of the tzaddik’s rising again is by way of his seven falls.” This powerful lesson of the value of our struggles and failures is on particularly clear display during these days of introspection. The Jewish concept of teshuva is really the ultimate manifestation of learning from failure. We take the time, to reflect on where we stand, our own cheshbon hanefesh, a personal state of the union of sorts. What a powerful lesson for us, not only as Jews, but as we strive to become better and more impactful leaders. The question “what would have to be true for me to embrace failure as a means of growth?” can also be asked in our institutional contexts: “What would have to be true for our organizations to embrace failure as a means of growth?” As leaders, when we model healthy attitudes towards failure, we affect change that can ripple throughout our organizations and communities. A few
suggestions: 1) NO ONE’S PERFECT Too often, leaders are paralyzed by the assumed expectations that they must be perfect. Being open about our own struggles, and more importantly, how we have learned from them, reinforces the notion that everyone experiences failure, and it makes it more acceptable among our employees, followers and colleagues. 2) IT’S NATURAL Leaders should consider how they characterize failure. Is it something catastrophic? Or is it simply an opportunity to collect feedback and learn for the next round? Organizations that can create a culture around the latter benefit from more people taking risks and thinking creatively, unencumbered by the fear of failure. 3) OWN IT When I say: “I made a mistake,” I am owning the problem. No finger pointing, no excuses. How powerful would it be for all of us to be so transparent about failure? When a leader takes responsibility for a problem, they model the distinctly Jewish values of responsibility, areivut and honesty to everyone in their orbit. As we jump into the Yamim Noraim season, with more than a little fear and trepidation, let us be comforted by Hashem’s message that the solution is not far off – “the matter is very near to you” (Devarim 30:11). In fact, it was always right here.
MAJOR EVENTS AROUND NCSY
SUMMER SNAPSHOTS Snapshots from NCSY Summer’s biggest and best summer yet.
YOM NCSY 2018 16 Highlights from an epic night that celebrates NCSY Summer and all that we do.
SNAPSHOTS 18 ACOMMUNITY look back at this year’s regional fundraisers. SPRING AWAKENING 20 Highlights from NCSY’s Spring Regionals. INTO ACTION 22 AJUMPING look back at this year’s Jewish Unity Mentoring Program (JUMP) boardroom finals.
CHESED ACROSS THE COUNTRY 23 NCSYers across the globe give back to their communities and beyond.
RIDING FOR INSPIRATION 24 Bike NCSY raises money for teens going on Israel gap-year programs.
NCSYers on Israel ID express their spray paint-creativity in Spray Paint Alley this past summer in Tel Aviv.
Girls on Michlelet’s first ever mechina program for public school girls with the mechina program’s director, Mrs. Leora Lesher (back row, fourth from left.)
Dina Baron, Yonina Grauer and Hannah Greenberg (L-R) pick oranges with ‘Food Forward’ for the needy in Los Angeles, CA this past summer on GIVE West.
Edward Kaplan and Shlomo Allouche from Edmonton, Alberta ride camels in the Negev on The Anne Samson Jerusalem Journey.
Clowning around! Girls on NCSY GIVE volunteer at Hadassah Ein Kerem Medical Center as medical clowns.
The Anne Samson TJJ Ambassadors Poland, led by an Israeli flag, march through the memorial of the Belzec Death Camp.
David Silverman, Ephraim Warso, Yaakov Rosenberg, Yoshi Mahony and Rory Meyerson enjoy learning, competitve sports and leagues this summer on NCSY Kollel in Beit Meir, Israel.
Dylan Vermeire pauses for a moment of prayer at the Kotel this past summer on TJJ Bus 5.
Participants on Atlanta NCSYâ€™s first-year summer trip, JSU GO, celebrate the bat mitzvah of Maya Schecter, one of five participants who celebrated their bar/bat mitzvah for the first time this summer.
Ariel Bandarizadeh learns the art of being a Jewish scribe in Tzfat this summer on TJJ. FALL 2018
Good vibes for members of one of NCSY Summer’s newest social action programs, ReSurf Israel.
Sara Weiss, Lexi Alpert, Jamie Beer and Adeena Schwerd pose with campers while running a ten-day camp for Israeli children in Chispin this summer on JOLT Israel.
Girls warm up during dance rehearsal at NCSY’s all-girls performing arts camp, Camp Maor, in Pocanoes, PA this past summer.
Koby Hartman, Ron Weiss and Allie Kreda enjoy a Talmudic experience in Kfar Kedem on The Anne Samson TJJ this past summer.
Eliana Scheiner, Chani Wolovitz, Roni Kahan and Sophie Chervitz prepare land for planting at Oz V’Gaon this summer on GIVE.
Batya Jasper, Rachel Frisch and Avigail Schiff (L-R) train on ambulances with Hatzalah on one of NCSY Summer’s newest programs, Rescue Israel.
After traveling through Poland for a week, running a Jewish camp in the Austrian Alps for unaffiliated German Jewish youth, NCSY JOLT finally makes it to Jerusalem for a sunrise davening this past summer.
Advisor Jason Blatt assists TJJer Justin Stepensky as he puts on tefillin in Kfar HaNokdim this past summer on The Anne Samson TJJ.
Yael Genauer, Bella Rennert, Tzippy Neuman, Nechama Green, Arielle Chemtov, Kayla Goldberg and Ella Erlbaum (L-R) ride segways this summer on 4G Euro, NCSY Summer’s all-girl Euro trip.
Jesse Rosenblum of Cleveland, Ohio makes the catch this summer on NCSY’s Camp Sports in Baltimore, Maryland.
As Tisha B’Av comes to an end this past summer in Jerusalem, NCSY Kollel leads thousands of gatherers at the ‘Kumzitz of the World’ in the Old City at the Kotel. FALL 2018
Great Neck NCSY director, DJ Jon Zar (DJZJ) kicks off the evening with songs of celebration.
Old friends reunite as all NCSY Summer programs unite together at this yearâ€™s Yom NCSY in Yad LaShiryon, Latrun.
NCSYers from across nineteen programs unite in Latrun to celebrate summer, Israel, and of course, NCSY. Pictured here are teens from across the Central East region.
The Anne Samson TJJ Bus 3 are in the house! Raquel Kabilo from Hewlett, NY waves her bus flag proudly.
Rabbi Yehoshua Marchuck catches up with NCSY Alumni, Esther Seif and Ziesel Rosenberg, now serving in the Israel Defense Forces.
Girls on NCSY Summer’s GIVE having a blast at this year’s big event.
OU and NCSY leadership meet with former member of Knesset and incoming chairman of the Jewish Agency, Isaac Herzog, who came to speak to NCSY supporters.
Elliot Tanzman kicks off the night as this year’s Master of Ceremonies.
Rabbi Barry Goldfischer, director of The Anne Samson Jerusalem Journey, is honored for his twenty years of service and leadership. This summer TJJ celebrated it’s twentieth anniversary.
Jewish music sensations, Eitan and Shlomo Katz, entertain the crowd of 2,500+ well into the night at this year’s Yom NCSY. FALL 2018
PITTSBURGH Central East NCSY Youth commission chair, the Honorable Dan Butler & Dr. Nina Butler together with the new Pittsburgh Rosh Kollel, Rabbi Doniel Schon, at the annual NCSY Sizzler. For more than 25 years, the Butler family has been hosting this premier community event that attracts a sold out crowd of young and old from throughout the entire community.
GREATER WASHINGTON Atlantic Seaboard NCSY hosts “The Q,” an interactive trivia extravaganza, this past May. Pictured here are NCSY supporters Jennifer Udler and Melissa Goldberg (L-R).
TORONTO Canada NCSY CEO, Rabbi Glenn Black, poses with Jason Berman, host of Canada NCSY’s Exclusive Gourmet Experience. The evening of fine dining raised funds for Canada NCSY’s programming and scholarships.
TORONTO NCSY’s 17th Annual Kishka Klassic Golf Tournament at Copper Creek was a sold out success. Pictured here are participants Shmuel Zimmerman, Abe Wellman, Eli Karp and Ben Bakst.
PHILADELPHIA NCSY’s alumni spanning over 10 years, came together over CHILE NCSY Chile ran a very successful crowd-funding campaign wine and cheese to learn about Philadelphia NCSY programing and to raise funds throughout the month of June, partnering with over 100 new for summer scholarships. donors in support of teen programming in Chile.
DALLAS Dallas NCSYers Jonathan Sebbag, Simcha Malina, Lieb Malina and Jonah Eber (L-R) pose for a photo at Points for Peace, a teen-run basketball tournament to raise funds for families affected by terrorism.
TEANECK, NJ This year’s Bergen County Scholarship Breakfast helped raise significant funds to help subsidize Israel programs for NJ NCSYers. Pictured here are one of the honorees, Joy and Barry Sklar and family, with NJ Regional Director Rabbi Ethan Katz.
MONTREAL, QUEBEC NCSY Montreal held its spring campaign at the Montreal Lighting & Hardware showroom. The community heard from Disney animator, Saul Blinkoff, as he shared the story of his Jewish journey in Hollywood. Pictured here (L-R) are Devorah Abenhaim, Mindy Zobin, Rabbi Glenn Black, Saul Blinkoff, Rochel Schecter and the evening’s host, Andree Naimer. FALL 2018
NEW JERSEY: NJ NCSY’s Regional Board hold the havdalah candles at this year’s Spring Regional in Stamford, CT.
ATLANTIC SEABOARD Over 250 teens came together from across the Atlantic Seaboard for the annual Spring Conclave in Danbury, CT.
NEW ENGLAND New England NCSY seniors with their gifts at Spring Regional on Memorial Day Weekend, at Camp Raninu, Honesdale, PA.
UPSTATE Har Sinai NCSY pride was in full display at the annual Upstate NCSY banquet at Camp Raninu, Honesdale, PA this past spring.
SOUTHERN Southern NCSY teen leaders gather for the final havdalah of the year at this year’s Spring Regional.
TORONTO More than 100 NCSYers from Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa came to the lovely Pinestone Resort in Haliburton, ON this past May for Spring Regional Convention.
GREATER ATLANTA Teens light Shabbos candles as they prepare to observe Shabbos for the first time at Greater Atlanta’s Regional Convention.
MIDWEST Over 100 participants had an amazing time at Midwest CANADA Canada NCSY on their March Break Road Trip Shabbaton spend time NCSY 4G’s Spring Shabbaton this past April. Due to heavy demand, learning at Yeshiva University and site seeing in New York City. the 4G chapter hosted a second annual Shabbaton with Rabbi Menachem Nissel as the inspiring guest speaker who focused on the theme of “Spring 4Ward with 4G.”
MIDWEST Midwest NCSY inducts the 2018-2019 teen regional board at the Spring Regional Shabbaton over Memorial Day Weekend. Back row, L-R: Sammy Hunt, Jesse Ernstein. Front row, L-R: Maxine Kalika, Shayna Kahane, Sabrina Axelrod, Taliah Soleymani, Nechama Heit, Batsheva Gubin, Chase Beyer and Vika Bekker. FALL 2018
JUMP (Jewish Unity Mentoring Program) is the NCSY National Leadership Program that trains and empowers high school students from day schools across the United States to become the leaders of tomorrow. JUMP participants are given the tools and training to make positive changes in their schools and communities, while broadening their understanding of local and global issues facing the Jewish people today. Whether it be awareness, fundraising for charity, Israel advocacy or social action, JUMP puts teens in the driver’s seat, giving students the skills needed to be positive forces in their Jewish communities. The annual competition begins with
a leadership conference in early November where teams are given the year’s challenges. The top five schools were invited to the Boardroom Finals in May held at Orthodox Union headquarters in downtown Manhattan. This Years JUMP Boardroom Finalists:
• DRS Yeshiva High School for Boys, Woodmere, NY - Winner • Stella K. Abraham High School for Girls, Hewlett Bay Park, NY • Midreshet Shalhevet High School for Girls, Valley Stream, NY • Hebrew Academy of Nassau County, Nassau County, NY • Hebrew Academy of Montreal, Canada
This year’s winning JUMP team from the Davis Renov Stahler Yeshiva High School for Boys pose with the JUMP championship trophy.
The Hebrew Academy of Montreal JUMP team.
“NCSY JUMP gave us the ability to learn what it means to be a Jewish leader and to see the impact Jewish leaders have on the greater Jewish community. Our JUMP team was able to make an impact, both in our school and in our community at large, and without NCSY giving us this platform to impact and make change, so many of us may have never taken the jump on our own. Thank you for this amazing opportunity.” Yaakov Fuchs
Captain, DRS JUMP Team
Girls from the SKA JUMP team present their executive summary before the judges at the Orthodox Union Headquarters this past March in New York.
JUMP judge, Phil Rosen, commends teams on their exceptional efforts before announcing the winner at this year’s competition.
Allen Fagin, Yossi Prager, Heather Kaminetsky, Phil Rosen, Tami Radinsky and Wayne Green served as judges and rigorously questioned teams to understand the scope, creativity and replicability of their programs.
NEW JERSEY Over 60 teens from NJ NCSY went on three different chesed missions to Puerto Rico. The teens volunteered with a number of organizations including PR4PR, an organization run by Mr. Henry Orlinsky of Teaneck, NJ. PR4PR is dedicated to helping local youths, providing after school programming, summer camps and much more.
GREATER ATLANTA Teens from across the Greater Atlanta region learned in their JSU clubs about the importance of charity, while simultaneously packing food bags with messages of hope for the local homeless.
MIDWEST Chicagoland and Northshore NCSY partnered with Maot Chitim of Chicago to pack food packages for families across the Chicago region. NCSYers helped pack and load the packages into delivery cars which were then sent to more than 20,000 local residents.
ATLANTIC SEABOARD Atlantic Seaboard JSU teens visited the residents of Atrium Village, an assisted living home in Baltimore. Teens made masks for Purim, played games, and even made their own tea bags with residents!
WEST COAST West Coast NCSY teamed up with 45 girls from YULA High School for a Day of Chesed. The girls packed over 6,000 pounds of produce which was sent to local shelters and smaller food banks. FALL 2018
Bike NCSY took the Hudson Valley by storm for its second year, bringing over 130 riders from across the country together for one purpose: to raise scholarship money for NCSY teens to spend a gap year in Israel, and to have fun while doing it. As the morning sun spread its warmth over the Hudson Valley, riders arrived in droves, filling Congregation Schomre Israel’s vast parking lot from brim to brim with the cyclists from Seattle to the Tri-State, who’d been training and fundraising for months leading up to this day. The early birds and intrepid riders who were undertaking the 100 mile route arrived first, davening Shacharit, and helping themselves to a hearty breakfast, fueling up for the journey ahead. More and more Bike NCSY riders arrived; those riding 75, 55, 33, and 15 miles alike packed the synagogue’s hall, many with their families, starting the second and third minyanim, donning their blue and orange jerseys and taking photos of the moments just before launching into 24
the ride. Each person took their own pace, and their own path, to create the perfect ride. Many riders stopped for photos along the beautiful scenic countryside of Upstate New York, and other riders like Binny Steinig of Teaneck, NJ, took advantage of the rest stations to refuel and check in with fellow riders. Binny shared that “it was really cool going to pit stops and seeing NCSYers volunteering and giving out kosher food to our riders. Seeing the teens volunteering, knowing that the funds I raised were going to them and scores of others like them, made my ride so meaningful.” Nicole Chermak of Seaford, NY, who rode alongside her father this year, was inspired by how many different types of people came together for the ride: “Everywhere we rode, we saw Bike NCSY blue and orange jerseys. It was like a little community within this larger ride, where even if we didn’t know each other, we would wave and cheer each other on.”
As riders made their way to the Festival Finish they were greeted by the delicious smell of fresh BBQ, celebratory photos, and a finishing medal to mark their accomplishment. Riders relaxed, refueled, and shared stories of their Bike NCSY journey, while enjoying the scenic area around them. Reflecting on the day, Yael Parkoff of Denver, CO, shared that “being part of Bike NCSY was an empowering experience; it was an opportunity for me, and all the other riders to stretch our fundraising muscles, bike and give more teens the opportunity to learn in Israel. It was so incredible!” Now that the medals have been hung and the photos shared, we’re ready for next year. Keep an eye out for updates on Bike NCSY 2019, and don’t miss your chance to join the ride! To learn more and see how you can get involved with Bike NCSY 2019, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Young Israel Of Plainview team and Rabbi Yehoshua Marchuck celebrate Matthew Hildebrandâ€™s winning of the Grand Raffle Prizeâ€” a specialized fact carbon model bicycle.
Miriam Borenstein, Chanina Judas and Deena Borenstein fuel up at breakfast for the big day.
Avi Kamionski, Rabbi Yehoshua Marchuck, and Shneur Nathan sport their medals and buttons at the Festival Finish.
Aryeh Margolin is all smiles as he rides across the Walkway over the Hudson.
In 2018, Bike NCSY saw double Engelberg power with Jack & Gila riding together for a great cause!
Tamar Moskowitz geared up with her sister, Rochie Moskowitz to make a real impact in Bike NCSY 2018.
Shneur Nathan rode 55 miles in support of Bike NCSY, smiling the whole way through.
BAKING & BIKING A RECIPE FOR SUCCESS
The story of how cookies melted their way into the heart of Bike NCSY starts with Nachi Lieberstein, and even further, with his father, Meir. Meir became involved with NCSY as a teenager living on Long Island. Later, he became an advisor and remained connected with NCSY ever since. When Bike NCSY came to fruition in 2017, Meir was certain he had to ride. This year, Meir signed up to ride for his second year and his son, Nachi, saddled up and wanted to join in too. As the father and son duo trained, they discussed how to go about fundraising. Being the independent twelve year old that Nachi is, he insisted that he reach his fundraising goal on his own. He began making phone calls to friends and family members. After exhausting all possible sponsorship avenues, Nachi was determined to close the gap between the remainder of his goal and the sponsorships he had already received. And so the Bike NCSY Bake Sales began. Nachi decided to combine his talent for baking with his love for biking. Upon returning from school, Nachi would head straight for the kitchen where he would bake a fresh
Nachi and his family pose with the trophy he recieved for going above and beyond for Bike NCSY.
batch of chocolate chip cookies and prepared homemade lemonade, before whisking off to the corner to set up his stand. There, he sat with warm, fresh baked cookies bringing him closer to his goal. When Nachi saw that he had great success with his first sale, he couldnâ€™t resist the opportunity to have another sale and so just a few days later, he broadened the variety to brownies,
chocolate chip cookies and fresh lemonade. To his delight, Nachi not only reached, but surpassed his goal. He and his father successfully rode the 15-mile route with their family cheering them along the way. At the Festival Finish, Nachi was presented with an award for most creative fundraising technique. We canâ€™t wait to see what the Lieberstein team bake up for Bike NCSY 2019!
NCSY is the international youth movement of the OU.
Thank you to all our sponsors Junee
In Memory of Nechemia ben Yisreal HaLevi Donated by Friends of the Epstein Family
PROFILES OF THE PEOPLE AND PLACES THAT MATTER
RISING STAR 28 Meet Jonathan Malove, NCSY’s incoming National Board Teen President.
JUDAISM UNCOVERED 30 Atlantic Seaboard NCSYer, Amber Loose,
discovers her Jewish roots and runs with it.
TWENTY YEARS OF THE ANNE 32 TJJ@20: SAMSON TJJ
Celebrating the twentieth anniversary of NCSY’s premier summer program for public-school teens.
TJJ@20: REMEMBERING ANNE SAMSON A”H 34 Reflecting on the magnificent legacy of Anne Samson a”h.
TJJ@20: MAN ON A MISSION 36 How Rabbi Barry Goldfischer shaped The Anne Samson TJJ over the past twenty years.
TJJ@20: A TWENTY YEAR JOURNEY 38 TJJ’s impact still lingers on twenty years later for first-year participant, Mo Lidsky.
TJJ@20: COMING FULL CIRCLE 40 How Netanya Stein went from being a TJJ participant to a TJJ advisor.
A TEEN: RABBI AARON RAKEFFET42 AS ROTHKOFF
NCSY Director of Education, Rabbi Dovid Bashevkin, sits with Rabbi Aaron RakeffetRothkoff to discuss his teenage years.
s the incoming National Board president of NCSY, Jonathan Malove, 17, fulfills a journey that started years earlier, way before he was a freshman at one of the largest public high schools in Florida. “I was raised shomer Shabbat and shomer kashrut, and I also attended Ben Gamla, a charter school in Hollywood that taught Hebrew, so I knew a lot about Judaism,” explained Jonathan. “But when I was in third grade, my parents got divorced, and Jewish observance fell by the wayside.” Still, Jonathan’s passion for Yiddishket remained present and when he discovered NCSY’s The Anne Samson Jerusalem Journey program for public school students, he decided to participate so he could visit Israel for the first time. He attended TJJ the summer of 2016, just after finishing ninth grade. “That summer changed my life, and that trip ignited a burning fire within my soul for serious religious growth,” said Jonathan, who speaks with a mature understanding of his “pintele Yid” and a sincerity that belies his young age. “I loved the advisors on the program, the education offered, and the teens, all of whom were really growth-oriented, who were on the program. it felt like a real family. I also loved being in Israel.” Joanthan also recognizes that he may have had more exposure than other TJJ bus participants, most of whom did not have the basic Jewish foundation with which Jonathan was equipped. Jonathan threw himself back into a more serious level of Jewish observance. “I knew I wouldn’t be able to sustain the growth I experienced that summer back at my school, so I broached the topic of switching to a Jewish high school with my parents,” said Jonathan. “They were
both very supportive and I applied to the Rabbi Alexander S. Gross Hebrew Academy in Miami Beach (RASG).” While a student at RASG, Jonathan quickly acclimated to regular Torah learning and an observant Jewish environment. In fact, his parents loved the Jewish growth their son was seeking, they joined Jonathan on his journey toward greater adherence to Jewish law and tradition. Jonathan remained involved with NCSY and his TJJ friends, and earned a position on the Hollywood NCSY chapter board, and then the regional board. He helped run the Jewish educational programming on Shabbatonim and other NCSY events. He also spent a year as a TJJ mentor under the guidance of Avi Warman, Director of the TJJ Experience and TJJ Relationship Specialist. Because Southern Florida has such a large presence of TJJ alumni, they have become their own special population with unique programming and follow-up, of which Jonathan is an instrumental part. Avi had gotten to know Jonathan when he oversaw the TJJ bus in 2016, and knew right away Jonathan was a special teen. “Jonathan wakes up every day thinking of how he can help the Jewish people in his immediate vicinity and in the greater Jewish community,” said Avi. “In all the growth that he experiences, he doesn’t want to leave anyone behind, and he is always thinking of how to create a pipeline for others to start or continue their involvement with NCSY and religious growth.” It is perhaps this trait, more than any other, that helped propel Jonathan to his new post as National Board president of NCSY. “I’m excited to assume this new
Jonathan learns this past summer with his NCSY Kollel rebbi, Rabbi Mordechai Burg, on his second straight summer in Beit Meir, Israel.
Jonathan prays at sunrise atop Har Tzfachot in Eilat on TJJ in 2016.
post and help the National Board of NCSY reach its full potential and create as many opportunities as possible for teens to learn and grow,” said Jonathan. “NCSY gave me the biggest gift in the world, which is my connection to Judaism and Hashem. Serving as National Board president will help me give back to the organization by positivley impacting Klal Yisrael and help Jewish teens all over the country delve back into their roots and develop a stronger connection to and love for Hashem and His Torah.” Jonathan, who spent the past two summers learning Torah and experiencing Israel on NCSY Kollel, knows he wants to spend a year learning Torah in Israel after he graduates RASG. And after that? He’s unsure of his professional plans, but Avi Warman has an idea. “I am confident that Jonathan will continue his involvement with NCSY by returning as a staff member one day,” he said. “He’s a natural-born outreach worker and he truly feels a responsibility to help his fellow brothers and sisters reach their full potential. That kind of thing can’t be faked, and he is already such a partner to us in this sacred work of connecting teens to their Jewish journeys.” FALL 2018
rowing up in Silver Spring, Maryland, Amber Loose, 18, didn’t observe much about religion – any kind of religion. While her mother was Jewish, and her father, Catholic, neither parent emphasized either religion or its traditions, and Amber was raised completely secular. In fact, Amber didn’t even know she or her mother were Jewish until she found a telling piece of evidence in the garage while spring cleaning last year. “I found a box of letters from my grandmother to my mother explaining some of her family history and the fact that she was Jewish,” said Amber. “Some of the letters were written in Hebrew, which I recognized from things that my friend, Aviva, had brought to class.” “Class” was taekwondo and Aviva was Aviva Miller, a native of Silver Spring who had been involved with NCSY since she was in 9th grade. Aviva was homeschooled while Amber attended a local public school, and both girls trained at the same taekwondo studio in town. When Amber told Aviva of the letters she had found in her garage and expressed a budding interest in learning more about Judaism, Aviva immediately invited her to come along to an NCSY barbecue. “I thought Amber’s discovery of her Judaism was one of the craziest stories I had ever heard,” said Aviva, 17. “She had so many questions for me in the beginning, about things like Shabbat and Kashrut, and I wanted her to have a space in which she could really delve into Jewish learning. I knew right away that she had to attend an NCSY event.” She attended a barbecue, a couple of Latte & Learn classes, as well as onegs in the community. Amber remembers attending her first NCSY event, that barbecue in Potomac, Maryland run by Rabbi Aryeh Wielgus, the Greater Washington JSU Coordinator at the time. “The event was unlike anything I had previously experienced, but I liked it immediately,” said Amber. “I found a community right away in which I felt comfortable.” As for Rabbi Wielgus, he recalls being immediately struck by Amber’s background. “When she rolled into the BBQ and casually told me how she got there, I thought it was the coolest story I had ever heard,” he said. “She was interested in learning as much about Judaism as possible before she went away to college.” As Amber learned more about Judaism, she began taking on small, personal traditions, such as keeping Shabbat in some small way or refraining from eating bacon. She accompanied Aviva to other community events, like the local Sukkah hop. At the same time,
Amber had to temper her newfound exploration with respect for her mother, who was warily supportive of Amber but remained steadfast in her own beliefs. Amber also attended some Latte & Learn classes and a couple of NCSY onegs. When Aviva told Amber about NCSY’s The Jerusalem Journey, a four-week summer program in Israel for public high school students, Amber knew she wanted to explore Jewish learning in the holiest of places. “I wanted to go on TJJ because I wanted to learn more about Judaism and what we, as the Jewish people, stand for,” said Amber. Rabbi Wielgus, who oversaw the TJJ trip on which Amber went, grew more inspired as he watched her journey towards Judaism grow deeper with every passing day. “Throughout the entire summer, Amber was always the TJJer wanting to experience more, to learn more, and to ask more questions,” Rabbi Wielgus recalled. “When we visited the Kotel soon after landing in Israel, I
introduced its meaning for a minute or two, and then everyone went off to do their own thing there. Amber came over to me right away and asked me to help her say a prayer, as she had never really had a chance to learn how to do so. That really set the tone for her whole trip, which was to keep searching for more ways to add meaning to her experience.” “The best part about TJJ was having a safe and open-minded environment in which to ask questions and learn more,” recounted Amber. “I especially loved visiting Tzfat because it has so much history and meaning that really spoke to me.” Amber just recently moved to Wisconsin to attend the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, and she already plans to become involved with an emerging Jewish group on campus. Aviva and Amber are also tentatively making plans to go on Birthright together this winter and to continue both of their Jewish journeys in Israel for ten more days.
Amber and her advisor Shosh Ginzburg complete the Ein Ovdat hike this past summer on The Anne Samson Jerusalem Journey. FALL 2018
he Anne Samson Jerusalem Journey (or TJJ as it is commonly known), NCSY’s premier summer program for public school teens, celebrated its 20th anniversary this past summer. For two decades, TJJ has been bringing public school students to Israel for a fun, educational and inspirational four-week trip to explore their homeland and connect to their Jewish identity. Back in 1998, TJJ recruited 35 teens for its inaugural summer. “We were trailblazers, since this was the first program created exclusively for public school kids,” said Rabbi Barry Goldfischer, the founding director of TJJ, 32
who has worked on the program since its inception. “The first year, we ran TJJ like an NCSY Shabbaton, with lots of fun and spirituality. Our goal was to see some kind of tangible growth.” “We understood that it was revolutionary, and they told us it couldn’t be done,” recalled Rabbi Steven Burg, former international director of NCSY and current CEO of Aish HaTorah, who directed TJJ for the first few years with Rabbi Goldfischer. “But we always had a vision and believed it would succeed.” Few could have envisioned that twenty years later, TJJ would have touched the lives of more than 4,000
teenagers and counting. “TJJ changed my life,” said Mo Lidsky, an alumnus from the first year. “Those four weeks shifted my perspective on who I was, and what I thought about religion and the Jewish people.” After TJJ, Lidsky transferred from his public school in Cleveland to MTA and went on to attend Yeshivat Sha’alvim and Yeshiva University. Lidsky is just one of thousands of alumni for whom TJJ had a life-long impact. A 2015 study by Steven M. Cohen of Hebrew Union College found that 92% of alumni still feel emotionally attached to Israel and 95% say it’s important for them to marry a Jew.
The program’s growth and success can be partly attributed to its affordability, thanks to substantial subsidies from the Orthodox Union, charitable foundations and individual donors. In 2014, The Jerusalem Journey was renamed The Anne Samson Jerusalem Journey. “Lee Samson’s vision and generous philanthropy in memory of his beloved wife Anne, has enabled thousands of unaffiliated public school students to connect with their Jewish heritage through an incomparable Israel experience,” said Allen Fagin, executive vice president of the Orthodox Union. This past summer, TJJ programs had 14 buses in total, with over 400 teens having a transformative summer as they learned more about their Jewish roots and culture by interfacing with the history, people and land of Israel. “I expect that in a few years, we’ll have 20 buses before doubling the size of the program,” said David Cutler, director of
NCSY Summer programs. NCSY also offers The Anne Samson TJJ Ambassadors, a trip that combines touring, leadership training and Israel advocacy. Another spin-off is The Anne Samson TJJ Ambassadors Poland, which allows TJJ alumni to discover Jewish history in Poland before touring Israel through the lens of Jewish leadership and social action. A festive celebration to mark TJJ’s 20th year took place in Israel on July 25 at Yom NCSY, a highlight of the summer when nearly three thousand people from all of NCSY’s summer programs gathered for a concert and fun-filled night of music and inspiration. TJJ staff, advisors and alumni from throughout the program’s history were invited to join the celebration, and TJJ’s leadership were honored for their work. “We are extremely proud of the fantastic work that TJJ does, inspiring thousands of teens to connect with Judaism and our homeland,” said
Moishe Bane, OU President. “The impact of TJJ summer trips is incalculable, and will surely bear fruit for many generations to come.” “NCSY, and TJJ in particular, has been so successful at educating the next generation of Jewish leaders, and we look forward to celebrating this milestone,” added Rabbi Micah Greenland, International Director of NCSY. NCSY also established the TJJ Founders Scholarship in honor of Rabbi Barry Goldfischer. As a one-time crowdfunding campaign, the goal was to raise $20,000, which would provide a full scholarship for one TJJ participant for the next 5 years. “Nobody has given more of themselves to TJJ, or any other NCSY program, than Rabbi Goldfischer, so it’s wonderful that the scholarship is named in his honor,” said Rabbi Moshe Benovitz, managing director of NCSY. With his warm and engaging personality, he has impacted so many over the years, both TJJ alumni and advisors alike. “Rabbi Goldfischer has been an enormous role model for me,” said Adele Lerner, a 2012 alumna of TJJ Ambassadors. “He is a giant in Torah and education, and yet, carries himself with complete humility and gives endlessly to anyone he meets. He has inspired me to go above and beyond as an NCSY advisor and a teacher.” To learn more about TJJ and its impact over the last twenty years, visit: tjjat20.com
Lee Samson launched the first summer camp under NCSY auspices, Camp NCSY West, with Anne providing the camp’s neshamah, the soothing touch, that turned a summer camp into a family. Lee is in the dark polo in the far left and Anne is next to him. Photo taken in 1975.
hen 175 teenagers ended up in the hospital with food poisoning at a West Coast NCSY event subsequently dubbed the “Malibu Malady Madness,” Anne Samson, a”h, stayed with them at the infirmary. She refused to have the event canceled. When the cook quit erev Shabbat at another NCSY event, Anne took over the kitchen and prepared to feed 250 campers and staff. Baby in tow, she recruited family members to help. When three feet of snow unexpectedly blanketed the area before a Lake Tahoe Regional Shabbaton, Anne was there to comfort anxious NCSYers while staff members hastily adjusted the program. A pillar of sanity. A big sister. A mentor. A teacher. A dreamer. A leader. Anne, in her role as wife to West Coast NCSY Regional Director Lee Samson, made sure the NCSY show would go on. Although she appeared to be a quiet woman, Anne, who died unexpectedly in August 2013, was strong, supportive and always available 34
for a positive word of advice—crucial elements in a teenager’s life. As the founding first lady of West Coast NCSY, Anne Samson was its neshamah. And in this role, she set the bar of excellence for all future spouses of NCSY directors across North America and inspired countless teenagers. Born in a displaced persons’ camp in Salzburg, Austria, in 1947, Anne Katz moved to Los Angeles with her parents in 1949. As the eldest of three siblings and only daughter of Holocaust survivors, Anne was strongly influenced by the solid Jewish values in her home. With a strong belief in the Jewish connection to Israel, members of the Katz family were proud Religious Zionists. Anne became involved in Bnei Akiva at a young age, attending its Camp Moshava in the summer. There she met Lee, whom she married when they were both nineteen years old. Early in their marriage, Anne worked as a secretary at UCLA as Lee studied full time and took a part-
time position as the youth advisor of Congregation Beth Jacob in Beverly Hills. “I knew he was a dreamer, that he had a vision, and that he was really a go-getter,” Anne reminisced in a tribute video shown at the 2014 Ben Zakkai Honor Society’s NCSY National Scholarship Dinner, where the OU and NCSY honored Anne’s legacy. In time, word spread of the successful Beth Jacob youth program and during a visit to California, Rabbi Pinchas Stolper, the then-national director of NCSY, approached Lee to join the NCSY family. Lee became the founder and the first full-time regional director of West Coast NCSY. Anne and Lee lived, breathed, traveled and dreamed NCSY. Together, the Samsons grew the region from its founding Shalom Tzion chapter of Beverly Hills to one that spanned a quarter of the North American continent, from Anchorage, Alaska to Phoenix, Arizona and from Edmonton, Alberta to San Diego, California.
The Samsons lived modestly, and Anne worked tirelessly to raise their three children Dani, Aliza and Tali while helping to support the family with her salary. Somehow, she also found countless hours to mentor the teens that flocked to her for guidance and validation. She listened to them; she strengthened them. When NCSYers weren’t at a Shabbaton, half a dozen could be found spending Shabbat at the Samson home, known for its beautiful singing and Anne’s delicious home-cooked food. “In the Jewish home, the Jewish mother cooks,” she is quoted as saying in the video. “A Jewish mother has to make sure that her husband and children are well-fed; that’s just how we are.” Anne played much more than a supporting role to her husband. She was a full partner and a model of how one could be simultaneously cool, elegant, observant and fun. “She was explaining to these young women that Judaism can be joyous—the warmth of Shabbat and the singing on Shabbat,” Lee recalled about his wife. “Opening our home and giving to other people is what made Anne Anne. Hachnasat orchim was a big part of our life.” Within two years, the new region was acclaimed “Region of the Year” at the NCSY National Convention. The first tentative summer seminar with Yeshiva University in 1969 in Tacoma, Washington, led to a sense of bigger and better events—climaxing in ten-day programs over winter break in Malibu and Catalina in 1972 and 1973. When dozens of public school students began to consider a yeshivah education, Lee played a major role in creating two yeshivah high schools on the West Coast that catered to NCSY participants. The Samsons often used part of their salary to pay tuition for NCSYers. When finances were tight, it was Anne who insisted they continue, and was willing to take additional jobs to fund the tuitions.
When conventions and week-long winter seminars were not enough, Lee took the bold step of launching the first summer camp under NCSY auspices, Camp NCSY West. For five summers, Lee willed the camp into existence, providing hundreds of teens and preteens with a life-transforming experience. Anne provided the camp’s neshamah, the soothing touch, the contagious love for Am Yisrael, Torat Yisrael and Eretz Yisrael that turned a summer camp into a family. “The Samsons were pioneers and remarkable visionaries,” reflected Allen I. Fagin, executive vice president of the OU and former OU Youth Commission chairman. “While Lee and Anne Samson could have chosen many fields of endeavor, they made a choice, one that profoundly impacted the lives of countless teens from all over the West Coast and beyond. They were the first to accept professional leadership positions in NCSY and created a model that has served as a template for so much of NCSY’s subsequent activity.” Lee and Anne moved on from their professional roles in NCSY in the early 1980s, yet remained involved with the OU and NCSY. Their roles in Jewish communities across North America and Israel expanded and they become benefactors of institutions and philanthropists. Yet the bonds Anne forged during those formative
NCSY years continued to grow and the families she nurtured continued to reach out to her for advice. Many of her NCSYers went on to become leaders within the community; for some, she was their only link to Judaism. In 1995, Lee Samson was honored at the first Ben Zakkai Honor Society’s NCSY National Scholarship Dinner. Dr. David and Vivian Luchins, close friends of the Samsons who have chaired the event since its inception, felt that Anne should be included as an honoree that evening as well. “We called Anne to ask if we might add her and she quickly declined,” they remembered. “She told us, ‘It’s Lee’s night; I work behind the scenes.’” Anne’s death left a void in so many lives. Unaware of the full impact his wife had on the young women of NCSY, Lee was surprised to receive so many letters after the tragic accident that claimed Anne’s life. In the tribute video and journal at the dinner honoring Anne, many recalled Anne’s selflessness, including Melanie Rechnitz, who first met the Samsons in 1979. Upon Melanie’s marriage, Anne and Lee hosted one of her sheva berachot. “Anne was working full time and she stayed up the whole night cooking,” Melanie remembered. “And she cooked it all with love.” “She never said a bad word about anyone,” wrote Marilyn Sohacheski in the journal. “She listened without interrupting, loved without condition and was always ready to help anyone or any cause that required her effort.” At the dinner, the OU inaugurated the Anne Samson Memorial Scholarship, which will provide Jewish youth with little or no Jewish background lifechanging experiences through NCSY programs. Additionally, NCSY renamed its most popular summer program for public school students in her memory, now The Anne Samson Jerusalem Journey. May her memory be a blessing. This article by Batya Rosner was originally featured in Jewish Action’s Winter 2014 edition.
n honor of the 20th anniversary of The Anne Samson Jerusalem Journey, NCSY established the TJJ Founders Scholarship in honor of Rabbi Barry Goldfischer, a $20,000 fund which will provide a full scholarship for one TJJ participant for the next 5 years. “This scholarship is really crucial and meaningful because TJJ is subsidized at half the price for those who can’t afford to pay for a summer program,” said David Cutler, director of NCSY Summer. “Rabbi Goldfischer created TJJ and really connects with these teens, so it’s fitting that the scholarship is named in his honor. He exemplifies leadership and tolerance, and for a rabbi to reach these kids and inspire them year after year, - it’s a personal sacrifice and a testament to what he believes in.” As the founding director of TJJ, Rabbi Goldfischer has worked on the program every year since its inception in 1998. Over the last two decades, TJJ has touched more than 4,000 lives and counting, largely thanks to Rabbi Goldfischer. It’s his exceptionally warm and engaging personality that draws people in, including teenagers, advisors, staff members and rabbis alike. “Barry’s strength is his sense of humor along with his Torah,” said Rabbi Steven Burg, former international director of NCSY and current CEO of Aish HaTorah, who directed TJJ for the first few years with Rabbi Goldfischer. “There is nobody funnier or more charismatic than Barry, but at the same time, he’s also a serious talmid chacham with lots of Torah to share.” For Rabbi Goldfischer, TJJ is a true labor of love. Every summer brings a new group of teens thirsting for Torah knowledge, growth, fun and inspiration, and he is happy to provide it all. A personal highlight of each summer is a special visit to the Kotel. “TJJ has a kumzitz by the Kotel on the last night of the trip,” he said. “Teens talk about the way they’re going to infuse their life with Jewish practice, and it’s incredible.”
As the founding director of TJJ, Rabbi Goldfischer has worked on the program every year since its inception in 1998. But the most rewarding part of his job isn’t even part of the trip – it’s seeing how the TJJers grow in their Judaism afterwards, and how they slowly integrate what they learned on TJJ into their lives back home. “It’s amazing that 30 to 40 percent of TJJ alumni decide to attend seminaries and yeshivas in Israel after high school,” said Rabbi Goldfischer, who works at a posthigh school seminary in Israel called Machon Maayan that caters to TJJ graduates. “I’m so proud of the kids who choose a college campus based on Jewish life there, when they play active roles at Hillel and go on to become leaders in the Jewish community. The biggest nachas for me is when TJJ graduates come back to be advisors, because they are the greatest examples for the teens.” One of those examples is Julia Siegel. After meeting Rabbi Goldfischer on TJJ in 2008, she attended Machon Maayan and decided to dedicate her career to Jewish nonprofit work; she staffed TJJ for three summers and worked for Southern NCSY for seven years. “I have been inspired by Rabbi Goldfischer’s energy and passion for Judaism, along with his ability to bring stories from our Jewish narrative to life,” she said. “He cares deeply about each individual he interacts with, and has been a great resource for me during my TJJ staffing years and beyond.” Others are inspired by Rabbi Goldfischer’s unique ability to form meaningful connections with everyone he encounters. “Not only does Rabbi Goldfischer possess the intellectual requisites of wisdom, insight, and knowledge, but he also has a mastery of ‘emotional intelligence,’ and thus possesses the innate ability to connect with people on a deep and genuine interpersonal level,” said Jonathan Teitelbaum, who worked
with Rabbi Goldfischer as an advisor on TJJ Ambassadors from 2010-2012. “Everybody with whom he interacts is immediately taken in by his warmth, sensitivity, and humor. Through this gift of being the quintessential ‘people person,’ Rabbi G has connected with people of all ages and backgrounds and has impacted the lives of so many. To this day, I continue to employ the educational, social, and leadership skills and tactics that I learned from him in all of my professional and personal endeavors. This new scholarship will enable even more public school teens to go on TJJ, as the program continues to strive for new heights. “For every one of the kids on TJJ, there are hundreds more who could benefit from the same program,” said Rabbi Moshe Benovitz, managing director of NCSY. Rabbi Goldfischer added: “We’d like to significantly expand TJJ by opening up many more buses, and partnering with NCSY to move into the JSU [Jewish Student Union] world.” If anybody can do that, it’s certainly him. “Barry dedicates his heart and soul to TJJ,” said Yossi Stechler, whose generous support and fundraising efforts helped TJJ gain traction in its early years. “When he teaches and speaks to the kids, his deep love of Israel comes across. He’s always thinking about how to improve TJJ and get the best advisors, and he continues to inspire generations of young people year after year.”
Rabbi Barry Goldfischer putting tefillin on a TJJ participant in 1998. FALL 2018
t all started with a kippah. Back in 1998, when Mo Lidsky was 14, he decided to wear a kippah to his public school in Cleveland. Though unaffiliated, the Ukranian-born teen felt an inexplicable desire to express his Jewish pride. “The decision to wear that kippah really made my life miserable,” Mo recalled. “I became involved in a world of negative sentiments towards Jews, and I lost most of my friends on the wrestling team.” He was motivated to write an essay about the experience and was awarded a grant from the Jewish Federation to go to Israel. As fate would have it, a new NCSY program was being launched that summer called The Jerusalem Journey (TJJ), specifically for public school students. Mo immediately signed up. “I wasn’t religious and I said to myself, ‘Why are you doing this?’ I was looking for some medium to connect with myself and my Judaism.”
A scene from Mo and Naomi’s wedding.
On TJJ, he found that connection and so much more. “TJJ changed my life,” said Mo. “Those four weeks shifted my perspective on who I was, and what I thought about religion and the Jewish people.”
traditions,” Mo said. “I didn’t feel like some lonely public school kid — I felt like I was part of the Jewish community. That’s when I realized that this was way bigger than me and my little kippah, and for all those reasons I knew I wasn’t going to give it up.”
But the change didn’t take place overnight. In fact, Rabbi Steven Burg, who co-founded TJJ together with Rabbi Barry Goldfischer, thought he had failed to reach Mo. “Despite my best efforts, I feared that Mo was going back to Cleveland exactly as he had arrived,” Rabbi Burg recounted. But he was wrong.
Earlier in the summer, Mo had met Rabbi Moshe Benovitz, the head of NCSY Kollel, another one of NCSY’s summer programs, who was also teaching at Yeshiva University’s high school, MTA, at the time. “If you ever want to go a Jewish school, come to MTA,” Rabbi Benovitz had said. “We even have a wrestling team.”
“It wasn’t one moment that I can point to, but over the summer, I came to appreciate the land of Israel, the people of Israel, Shabbos, and Jewish
To everyone’s surprise, Mo took him up on that offer after the summer. He caught a bus to New York and found his way to MTA a week before school
started, without applying and with no money for tuition. With NCSY’s help, he enrolled with a scholarship and was soon thriving on both the wrestling team and in the Beit Midrash. Mo learned in NCSY Kollel for two summers, and was President of NCSY’s National Board in his senior year. He joined Rabbi Benovitz’s shiur at MTA and credits him for serving as an inspirational role model “and having a massive impact on my life during those years.” Mo went on to attend Yeshivat Sha’alvim in Israel, followed by Yeshiva University for college, where he started a non-profit foundation called The Helping Jew to provide scholarships for kids from the former Soviet Union to attend Hebrew day schools. He also volunteered as an NCSY advisor and assistant regional director. Mo later moved to Canada, where he continued to make a difference in the lives of others, teaching for NCSY’s Torah High, and serving as National Director of Canadian Operations for YU. Today, Mo lives in Toronto with his wife, Naomi, and their five children. He is CEO of Prime Quadrant, an investment research firm as well as sits on the boards of several non-profits, and he has written three books on philanthropy and investment trends.
Mo, an alumna from the first year of TJJ, with his wife, Naomi, and their five children.
“It’s hard to believe that it’s been 20 years since I was on TJJ, but I’m so grateful that I was able to have that incredible experience,” Mo added. “That summer gave my Jewish identity a relevance I could never have gotten anywhere else and that still holds true today.”
our weeks can change a life. Just ask Netanya Stein.
Growing up in West Caldwell, New Jersey, Netanya never felt a connection to her Judaism. As a Conservative Jew in public school, religion was an insignificant part of Netanya’s life. But all that changed in 2011. After finishing 9th grade, she was looking for summer plans and stumbled upon The Anne Samson Jerusalem Journey booth at a JCC fair. After initially being drawn in by a recruiter’s intriguing South African accent, she decided on a whim to go on TJJ. It would turn out to be the most transformative summer of her life. “That short four-week trip would begin the process of my religious journey,” Netanya recalled. “It was my first time exposed to Orthodox Judaism in a positive way, and it was a game-changer for me.” After TJJ, Netanya soon became a regular at New Jersey NCSY Shabbatons, Latte & Learns, onegs, Yarchei Kallah, and any other events where she could continue to learn from her mentors and advisors. The following summer, she attended NCSY’s all-girl chesed program, GIVE Israel, and a year later joined NCSY’s JOLT leadership program for the summer. “Every time I went on an NCSY Summer program, I was further inspired to do more,” said Stein. As much as she was growing on a personal level, her remarkable journey of Jewish growth and commitment was an inspiration to others as well. In 2013, while on JOLT, she was honored in front of thousands at Yom NCSY, and given an $1,800 scholarship in recognition of how far she had come on her religious journey.
It’s an incredible experience to come back as an advisor on TJJ,” she said. “My favorite part of the program is showing kids the positive side to Judaism and how it’s fun. It’s not about making kids religious — it’s about showing them the beautiful parts of Judaism, and how Judaism can enhance your life in a positive way.
“I can honestly say that being Jewish is now not only my religion, but it’s my way of life, and that never would have been the case if it weren’t for NCSY,” she said at Yom NCSY in 2013. After high school, Netanya attended Tiferet, a seminary in Israel, for a year and a half. This past May, she graduated from Stern College for Women, and this past summer she served as an advisor on TJJ, for the second year in a row.
Learning with a camper on TJJ this past summer, Netanya’s story comes full circle.
One especially poignant memory Netanya has from last summer is when one of her TJJers asked to borrow her siddur so she could daven with it at the Kotel – the very same inscribed siddur she had received from her own TJJ advisor, Aliza English, and still uses to this day. “It was so special to give over my siddur to her,” Netanya said. “Not many advisors are TJJ alumni, so I can really relate to my TJJers’ experiences and connect with them on a deeper level.” Netanya still shares a close relationship with many of her advisors, who she knows she can always count on, no matter how many years have passed since TJJ. “Netanya has an incredible sense of humor and loves adventure, but it was the conversations we had outside of the structured programs that showed her passionate interest in Judaism,” said Aliza, her TJJ advisor. “After TJJ, she got increasingly involved in NJ NCSY and was constantly striving to grow. Now, she has come full-circle as an advisor, staffing TJJ for other public-school teens who were just like her seven years ago.” Netanya is truly grateful for NCSY and all she has gained over the years.
Netanya (left) on The Jerusalem Journey in 2011.
“If NCSY has taught me one thing, it’s to never underestimate your potential – you have no idea the things you’re capable of doing and the goals you can achieve,” she said. “NCSY helped me find my Jewish identity, and if not for TJJ, I wouldn’t be who I am today.” FALL 2018
NCSY Director of Education, Rabbi Dovid Bashevkin, sits with Rabbi Aaron Rakeffet-Rothkoff, beloved and renowned lecturer and author who serves as Professor of Rabbinic Literature at Yeshiva University’s Caroline and Joseph S. Gruss Institute in Jerusalem, to discuss Rabbi Rakeffet’s teenage years. RABBI DOVID BASHEVKIN: Rabbi Rakeffet, thank you so much for joining us. I wanted to speak to you about your teenage years. What were you like as a teenager? RAV AARON RAKEFFET: Let’s begin at the beginning. My grandparents on both sides came to America around the turn of the 20th century, so I’m a third generation American. My grandparents came as teenagers, married here, lived on the East Side, and later moved up to Harlem where my parents were born. From Harlem they moved to the Bronx where I was born. My father spent his formative years growing up on Washington Avenue. It was about five blocks further north from where I grew up. Now, I happened to wind up in the only yeshiva day school in the Bronx at that time, which by great fortune happened to be four blocks from my house: Yeshivat Rabbeinu Yisrael Salanter. My background on both sides, family roots, are gedolei Yisrael. On one side of my grandparents, Shabbat fell away but kashrut remained. On the other side, they were never michalel Shabbos but they had no way of passing it on to their children.
I started public school and I was a wild kid in first grade. The teacher would always send for my mother and finally told her in desperation, your son has a Jewish head, these are Catholic, Irish, Italian kids - what they take a week to learn, he learns in an hour. He’s bored. Send him to the parochial school which is near here. Beginning second grade, I’m in Yeshiva Rabbeinu Yisrael Salanter. I can tell you as a result of that decision, in my own family, blood relatives, there are now hundreds who are shomrei Torah and mitzvot. And among students, probably in the tens of thousands who are in the classroom, the army, Russia, yutorah.org. It’s amazing how one little decision, how it can affect eternity. However, nothing could compare to my high school years which became the most formative four years of my life. They had an impact on every word I teach, every word I’ve written, every joke I’ve told, every tear that has left the eyes on my face. This is something you can’t duplicate today. I lived on Washington Avenue. I got on the 36 bus for 20 minutes, and got off on Amsterdam Avenue. I walked a few blocks and entered what you call today the main academic center. In my day, that was the main yeshiva. Suddenly everything is in Yiddish. The Rabbeim are all European and here I am, an American kid. I had heard Yiddish in my youth, obviously. In the Bronx, even the African-Americans spoke Yiddish. Of course, Yiddish became I would say my native Torah language. In the classroom when I break into a commotion, I break into Yiddish. More than that, knowing Yiddish was min ha’shamayim later when I worked for the Mossad. My wife and I worked for the Mossad in Russia in the beginning of 1980. You have to remember, in every city outside of Moscow and Leningrad, the native language of the Jews was Yiddish. That was a tremendous tool, the ability to relate to them. More than that, I got to know my Rebbeim very well. My whole life centered around the yeshiva. I loved learning, I loved study. Many of them lived in the Bronx. I was a ben bayit, got to know them. I also
got to know that in the various yeshivas that they came from, there were tensions between them. Telshe didn’t exactly look up to a Mirrer. A Mirrer didn’t look up to a Telshe. I came to understand why my Rabbeim had a little bit - I would use the word enmity - towards other yeshivot and their whole attitude towards the one rebbe in YU who was Hungarian. And I cannot repeat what they would call him behind his back. RDB: Whisper it. RAR: A groisa hundt. I can tell you that he was the only one who knew how to pasken. And I’ve given 101 different lectures on why the Litvishe yeshivas don’t know how to pasken. Even the Rav who bidieved had to pasken when he was a rav in Boston - there’s no comparison from the Rav to Rav Moshe. Rav Moshe knows how to pasken because he never studied in a famous Litvishe yeshiva. That was one aspect that you don’t have today. The second aspect which is a result of the times - today, you talk about the Holocaust. We didn’t have to talk about
the Holocaust because we lived it every minute. Many of our classmates were Holocaust survivors. The Shoah was real. I looked at my Rebbeim, they didn’t belong in the Bronx. It was sad. Hitler killed 6 million, destroyed the lives of another 5 million. There’s one Rebbe of mine that I’m going to bring back to the world in my next volume, which is already finished but it will take many months to put together for publication - Rakafot Aharon: Chelek Daled - he was a man uprooted. He would have been Telshe Rosh Yeshiva, came to YU. Rabbi Revel brought him in he remained for 33 years -- the most frustrated individual in the world. The only one of my Rebbeim who conquered America was the Rav. Europe is gone, either you replenish it, or Torah is lost. And then there was something else which you can’t reproduce today: the state of Israel. I still remember in Salanter in 1947 the Rebbeim listening to radios in the hallway and they thought it partitioned. Grown men started to cry. You can’t reproduce that today. We have a state. We all went to Bnei Akiva, and there I had a very charismatic madrich who I interacted with for the rest of his life. My wife and I, Libby and Meir Kahane. RDB: He was your madrich in Bnei Akiva? RAR: Not only was he my madrich, later he was Rosh and I was Sgan Rosh. And if anyone had the ability to make Eretz Yisrael real – that it should be tangible - it was Meir. RDB: Rav Kahane was able to do that? RAR: He was fabulous. And I laugh at the world. You know I’ve published on the two volumes Libby his widow has published, and I’ve published reviews. The last few I was attacked on the Jewish Action. I’m not a total Kahanite. There are certain areas I disagree. To me, you have to work within the law because the minute we go beyond the law every Jew will shoot the other Jew because we are consumed -- each one of us is convinced we know the truth. RDB: But he was a big influence when you were a teenager? RAR: And all my life. But you have to balance your understanding of him. RDB: Did you read Jake Sasson’s article on the Seforim Blog going through the Herzog Archives – it has an interesting letter from Rav Kahane? RAR: Who quoted that essay in public on Sunday and gave out copies?! RDB: Who was my chavrusa when I was in YU? RAR: Who was Jake Sasson’s Rebbe? RDB: Who was his chavrusa? RAR: Virtual Rebbe. You’re looking at him. RDB: I know. We learned Kesubos together.
RAR: Kol Hakavod. I’m learning Ketuvot now, actually. I’m going through Shas. Send my best regards. So with Meir, we remained quite close. First of all, I was at the engagement party. Libby was all of 17. RDB: Rav Meir Kahane’s wife was 17 when he got married? RAR: When she got engaged. She was 18 at the wedding. Otherwise, they would have needed a court order. But I want to say a little bit more about my high school years. I was basically unique in the class. Why? Kids couldn’t believe it. Most of the kids as I said were either survivors or came from families that ran away in the 30s and only a handful of American kids. My father and Hank Greenberg grew up around the corner from each other. My father z”l was born in 1910. Hank Greenberg was born in 1911. They played sandlot baseball together in Crotona Park. So, you understand in that era that your father knows baseball, your father saw Babe Ruth play, Lou Gehrig play, kids looked at me, wow! And you see this too, baseball had a hold upon us. It’s not like today. Today, I reach Gruss very early. I daven at the first minyan, very early, 5:30, and right from shul I go to Gruss because I have 2-3 hours where no one can bother me. I work on whatever I have to do - some correspondences, xeroxing, sources, etc. I go early and turn on the computer and one of the things I do is go to the NY Yankees website, but that’s me. I wander around the halls and I see kids from Torat Shraga.They’re watching sports and I ask what are you watching? Basketball. Football. LIVE! Sometimes it’s live sometimes they have a subscription. My time baseball had a tremendous hold on us. Nothing else. And I can tell you two stories. You’ve heard of Rav Chanoch Fischman zt”l? If you knew Rav Chanoch, you don’t need any Jewish philosophy book. Talmid muvhak of Reb Yerucham. He introduced me to mussar. I was a ben bayit by Reb Chanoch. His eldest son, Heshy z”l, was a few years younger than me. One day it was probably during the summer, I come home and I say to Rav Chanoch I turned your son into an American. I took him to Yankee stadium. The other story is sad, it’s what I referred to before with Hitler. Rav Volk in college was my last Rebbe before the Rav. It’s opening day at Yankee stadium and this kid Izzy Sheinfeld, a wealthy kid, had a portable radio! They had just come out that week so he’s sitting in back and he’s listening to the game. When we davened Mincha already we saw Boston-0 Yankees-1. We had two and a half - three innings on the board. We davened Mincha and evidently someone snitched to Rav Volk that we were listening to the game. So, the next day we come into shiur, Rav Volk is sitting there and we can see he’s angry. He takes attendance, opens the Gemara and shuts the Gemara and says, ‘In a yeshiva un d’bachorim a norishkeit un baseball unisht klerin da shiur’ – he was upset
that we were listening to the game. And he walked out. One second later, Mr. Abrams walks in - it was arranged - suspends the whole class. Now in honor of Mr. Abrams, he really felt bad, he understood these are American kids. So, he said, ‘Gentlemen, I will give you an eitzah tova. Write a letter of apology and everyone should sign it and I’ll give it to Rabbi Volk.’ So, the next day we were back to normal, but this captures it. Let me say something else about high school. A moment in time that influences my eternity was Chanuka time. I was learning with my chavrusa. I was a matmid, masmid as we say in Yiddish. We only had morning classes in yeshiva, in the afternoon there were no classes. So, I’m sitting and learning, a few people in the Beis Medresh, the Harry Fischel Beis Medresh, and in walks Rabbi Soloveitchik. We knew who he was. He comes over to our table and asks, ‘Boys, can you help me?’ We said, ‘Rabbi Soloveitchik, whatever you want.’ We walk out into the hallway and there’s this old lady standing there, and he says, ‘This is my mother. Can you pick up some stuff from Associated, the kosher market?’ He gives us a list and on it --ten boxes of matzah! We’re amazed, it’s Chanuka time. So, we each take five boxes. Ray takes five, I take five and we’re walking her back to Amsterdam Avenue to the apartment. When we arrive, we ask the Rebbetzin, ‘Un shuldig (trans: excuse me) it’s Chanuka nisht Pesach - why do you need matzah?’ And the Rebbetzin spoke to us about chadash. We didn’t entirely understand. But just look at the zchut we had to help the Rav’s mother, Rav Moshe Soloveitchik’s wife, the daughter of Rav Elye Pruzhaner, the daughter-in-law of Rav Chaim Brisker, the first cousin to Reb Moshe Feinstein. Later we learned what chadash was. RDB: She knew back then? RAR: She was makpid back then. The Rav was matir neder in Boston. Reb Aharon was more sophisticated already. He brought up bread and put it in the freezer. There was no freezer then and she bought the matzah. So, you see this was an experience. RDB: Part of what we look to convey in this series is advice for contemporary teens. What advice would you give teens nowadays? RAR: What’s important, critical, is two messages that must be conveyed to young people. If they don’t have these two messages, they will not understand what Yiddishkeit is about. One message, which is the most difficult one to convey, is the uniqueness of being a Jew. One sees the general world, Trump, Clinton, Obama, Western civilization, the Queen of England. Religion is personal. He is a Jew as a yachid, and he’s part of Klal Yisrael, Am Yisrael. In one with the other. If you can convey that message, that it’s more than yourself, this is the start of becoming a Torah Jew. The Western World is against us. You. Here. Now.
As long as you don’t throw rocks in someone else’s window you’re a good person. Doesn’t make you a good Jew. That’s one message. The other message of course is the harder one - the Rav’s darshanut - “Al hatzadikkim, al hachassidim.” The Rav asked in his hesped for Rav Chaim Heller, why you would add an adjective - pileitat sofereihem? Why not vi’al ha’soferim? Suddenly there are adjectives. And the Rav hit a grand slam homerun. In every generation, young people, some of them want to be tzadikim, chassidim, zikeinim - tanai kodim l’maaseh. But there has to be a remnant of the previous generation to guide you, and this is a rebbe. And what makes a rebbe into a rebbe is that with your rebbe, you have to feel one hand is stretched out to yesteryear and the other hand is stretched out to tomorrow. If we don’t inculcate that feeling in our talmidim, we have no tomorrow. That’s the heart of Torah, the secret of Torah. We are different. It’s not Western values. This is Torah values and this becomes critical for the classroom. RDB: What did you struggle with as a teenager? It sounds like you were surrounded by incredible Rabbanim, you were a stellar student. Maybe you didn’t struggle at all. In an earlier interview maybe you can guess who - I asked our guest if he had any struggles as a teenager and he said no.
then four, then six… So did you know you were going to get married in your teenage years? RAR: I wouldn’t say we knew we were going to get married. RDB: Was there what we call nowadays “drama.” Meaning histrionics. You know, when things are getting emotional, ups, downs - did you have that in your relationship or was it kind of smooth sailing? RAR: No, it was not smooth sailing, but that doesn’t really affect this. Malka’s parents thought I wasn’t good enough for her. RDB: Because I’m trying to get the picture, not just of the world from your eyes as a teenager, but you as a teenager. I’m trying to pull it out, very gently. RAR: No, I’ll tell you what. My drama was Lakewood. RDB: And what was the struggle? RAR: I wanted to stay. RDB: Your parents opposed it? RAR: Right. Read my book Washington.
RAR: It was Heshy. We grew up together. No, we had no difficulties. RDB: Who was your guess?
RDB: But for our audience, I mean obviously if I could include the whole Washington I would, but I’m not going to get the copyright.
RAR: Heshy Schachter. RDB: Yea, you knew right away! RAR: We grew up together. He was my brother’s chavruta. He is two years younger than I am. What can I say? We struggled about Eretz Yisrael, about aliyah. RDB: But as an individual, as a teenager? Teenage years are so volatile, no?
RAR: No, just take out what you need. That my parents wanted me to go to college. They were American people. A kid without college!?! RDB: But you were close with your parents as a teenager?
RAR: Struggled about a girlfriend maybe.
RAR: I was as close as any kid in my time. We didn’t have these teenage problems. Today, kids find fault with their parents. That didn’t exist in my time.
RDB: Did you know your wife as a teenager?
RDB: Why do you think not?
RAR:: Sure. From Bnei Akiva.
RAR: We were more humble.
RDB: Can I ask how old you were when you guys met?
RDB:You loved baseball as a teenager, did you have other interests? Comedy, television, movies?
RAR: You should not - 17 and 15. I was her madrich.
RAR: There was very little television. Milton Berle. Milton Berle I liked.
RDB: Ohhh. RAR: You didn’t read my book Washington?!
RDB: Any books that had a big influence on you? Aside from Torah works, obviously.
RDB: I read it once, but I have to chazer the whole thing. I have a chazara schedule. Every six months or so, I go through it. It’s like Shas Cohen. So, I do like two pages a day,
RAR: There was once book I read that I never wrote down the name and I so regret it. Doc Shapiro gave me a book to read, a memoir - I always loved memoirs. Some Jew, Polish
chassidish Jew, came to America made it big on 7th Ave. You know what that was? The clothing industry before China. And he writes about his youth and how he was 18 and he met the woman he married under the chuppah. She was 17, it was a shidduch. Never met her before, and he said it was the greatest blessing that G-d gave him. And I often feel, and I’ve said it in class more than once, that the shidduch system was more reliable than what we have today. Much less divorce. I know what you’re going to tell me: they didn’t get divorced then. Bologna. I claim the shidduch system where families knew each other for dorei dorot -- it worked. Alright, I’m not stupid enough to think I can bring it back but it’s not anything to laugh at. RDB: So aside from the two things that you said, and maybe we’ll finish up with this: The internet has changed so much of the way we interact and presents so many challenges. What would you tell a teenager who is struggling with all of this? RAR: Everyone claims that there are more challenges today and with the internet and this and that. I’ll tell you, when I get home today I’m going to kiss the mezuzah, my wife, and the TV screen. And 200 soldiers would jump up! Kiss the television?! The TV screen brought back Russian Jewry to the Jewish people. Everyone in Russia had to have a TV, a color TV. Your labor union bought it for you. You paid back a rubel a year for 100 years. Why did they want everyone to have it? Propaganda. You had to know what Russian TV was like under the communists. But before the Six Day War, the three-week waiting period, the TV news showed how the Arabs were going to destroy the Jewish nation. They showed the Jewish boys and girls in trenches in Jerusalem, and the Jews all over Russia, I write about this in my book. They saw their cousins, their brothers, their sisters, it awakened them. I kissed the TV. Today, I kiss the computer. The Torah contained in the computer is unbelievable. I give shiur, maybe there are 15 people in the room, there may be 15,000 people listening! I can’t walk daled amot in any city in the world without being accosted by people who stare at me. Oh, I don’t even want to tell you what beracha they’ve made when they see me. They touch me, it’s unbelievable. Oy, there’s murder, and violence, pornography. You want to stop driving? We killed people. By the way, the Karlin Stoliner Rebbe quoted me on this. I once told him that I’m demonstrating not against the computer - I’m demonstrating against driving! 30 million people have been killed since cars have been invented. So, you have to tell a kid, look - the secret of life is b’charta b’chaim. You’re always going to have choices and we want to instill you with the ability, the confidence, the understanding, the commitment, to make the proper choice.
HAPPENINGS FROM AROUND THE NCSY UNIVERSE
Rabbi Jonah Lerner, Regional Director 410.358.6279 // email@example.com atlanticseaboard.ncsy.org
Kard” to encourage teens to choose more Kosher options when eating out. Several restaurants have agreed to offer discounts to the teens who present the Kosher Kard upon paying for their order. The card looks very impressive and will hopefully catch on to more of Montreal’s delicious restaurant options!
Mordi Spero - firstname.lastname@example.org
Rabbi Gavry Mandel -email@example.com
BALTIMORE BAT MITZVAH
TORONTO TORAH HIGH FRIDAY NIGHT DINNER EXPERIENCE
Baltimore NCSY hosted Sonya Leikin’s Bat Mitzvah celebration on May 24, 2018. Sonya, a 16 year old teen from Baltimore, had never experienced her Bat Mitvzah. Sonya first walked into NCSY at the Baltimore JSU opening BBQ her freshman year, and never looked back. Lighting candles after Shabbatons was the first step, signing up for TJJ and a month in Israel was next, and it only made sense that this part of her Jewish Journey should follow as well. To prepare for her Bat Mitzvah, Sonya learned every week with her advisor, Batsheva Schecter, in order to give over an inspirational Dvar Torah on Parshat Naso.
Rabbi Aryeh Wielgus - firstname.lastname@example.org
April was the month for the Torah High Community Family Shabbat Dinner Experiences. Dinners were held at the Village Shul and at the BAYT shuls and collectively there were over 600 Torah High and host families. Before Shabbat, guests took part in a fun Shabbat related art project, and then lit Shabbat candles together. Both dinners were enjoyed with delicious food and wine and an inspiring guest speaker. The Village Shul enjoyed words from Rabbi Aryeh Pamensky, and Charlie Harary was the guest speaker at the BAYT. NCSY would like to thank community leaders Mitch and Paula Silverstein and Doctors Michael and Tara Bloom for sponsoring these incredible events.
SHAVUOT OF INSPIRATION
Greater Washington, MD
Shavuot in Potomac has become a yearly highlight for the community, and this year did not disappoint! The holiday included delicious yom tov meals feeding approximately 200 teens, all night learning programs that had to be stopped for Shacharit, and inspiring singing that has become the trademark of our onegs. And of course, the beautiful community wide BBQ on the last day of Yom Tov. The NCSYers did an amazing job leading the community in bringing heaven down to earth for another amazing three day chag!
Philadelphia, PA Rabbi Yitz Levi - email@example.com Lea Bekhar - firstname.lastname@example.org
SENATOR BEN CARDIN PROGRAM
Over 70 teens participated in this years Senator Ben Cardin Program in three different locations across the Philadelphia area (up from 14 teens the previous year!) With teens coming together from ten different schools to learn about various Jewish topics, to hear from community members about their professional experiences and to appreciate how Torah applies to their everyday lives.
Richmond, VA Ariella Sherman -email@example.com
RICHMOND NCSY IS EXPANDING THROUGH THE ROOF!
Richmond’s program exploded this year by adding two new JSU clubs, quadrupling the attendance at Latte, and having teen Evan Gravitt being accepted to an Israeli program to finish off his high school years!
CANADA Rabbi Glenn Black, CEO 905.761.6279 // firstname.lastname@example.org canada.ncsy.org
Montreal, QC Mindy Zobin - email@example.com
The Montreal student board launched the “Kosher 46
Rabbi Ariel Wilchfort - firstname.lastname@example.org
YOM HAATZMAUT CELEBRATION AND END OF YEAR CELEBRATION
NCSYers partook in a festive Yom Haatzmaut celebration, handing out cotton candy, and Vancouver Torah High students celebrated the last day of the school year by joining together to go go-karting.
CENTRAL EAST Rabbi Tzali Freedman, Regional Director 888.471.4514 // email@example.com centraleast.ncsy.org
Columbus, OH Rabbi Dovid Kimche - firstname.lastname@example.org
Columbus NCSY returned to Cincinnati for the annual joint-Chapter Shabbaton. Over 70 teens enjoyed a fantastic mini-Shabbaton, full with meals, Onegs, learning, and great spirit. Already looking forward to next year’s Shabbaton!
Detroit, MI Rabbi Dovid Lichtig - email@example.com
DETROIT AT SPRING REGIONALS
Detroit NCSY walked away with two out of the three top awards at Regional Convention 2018. Becky Benezra and Molly Yarbrough were awarded the highest honors with the coveted NCSYers of the Year. Both plan on taking a Gap Year in Israel next year with Becky attending Sha’alvim for Women and Molly attending Tiferet.
Pittsburgh, PA Rabbi Chaim Strassman - firstname.lastname@example.org
A TREMENDOUS YEAR FOR PITT NCSY
Pittsburgh NCSY capped off a tremendous year of learning and chesed with a Summer Carnival and Passing the Torch! The highlight of the carnival was the dunk tank! We are so excited for the new Chapter Board!
GREATER ATLANTA Rabbi Chaim Neiditch, Regional Director 404.486.8787 // email@example.com atlanta.ncsy.org
Atlanta, GA GRADUATION INSPIRATION
For the eighth time, Rabbi Chaim Neiditch, Regional Director, was selected to be the guest speaker at a Public High School Graduation. This year, he was a keynote speaker at the Centennial High School Graduation. Rabbi Neiditch addressed the graduating class, their families, and school faculty of Centennial High School about planning for success, learning from failures, and the importance of family. Daniel Sandfelder, JSU president of Centennial High School, wore his yarmulke to graduation to demonstrate how much he gained from JSU and to inspire others.
JEWISH STUDENT UNION’S TEEN CHALLAH BAKE
Over 600 teens participated in the Jewish Student Union’s Teen Challah Bake. Our Regional Director, Rabbi Chaim Neiditch, taught teens the biblical origins of challah, the deeper meaning behind this well-known mitzvah, and the relevance of this mitzvah in the teens’ daily lives. The participants each made their own challah to take home and share with their families.
MIDWEST Rabbi Donny Schwartz, Regional Director 847.677.6279 // firstname.lastname@example.org midwest.ncsy.org
Chicago, IL Levi Zeffren - email@example.com
CHICAGOLAND FIRST RESPONDERS
Things have been incredibly exciting in Chicagoland NCSY this year. We sent 16 people on TJJ this summer and have done more chesed events this year than ever before. In May, our chapter got together to bake cookies for the local Fire and Police departments in celebration and appreciation of our first responders. We also revived our Jr. NCSY Chapter this year and brought nearly a full bus to Jr. Spring Regional, all thanks to our NCSY Board.
Kansas City, KS Rabbi Nati Stern — firstname.lastname@example.org
KC JERUSALEM DAY
In honor of the US Embassy opening in Jerusalem, the Governor of Kansas, Dr. Jeff Colyer, declared May 14th, 2018 as Jerusalem Day. The Governor recognizes and honors the historical, religious, and cultural importance of Jerusalem. Rabbi Nati Stern from had the opportunity to commemorate this important day with the Governor and other community leaders.
Memphis, TN Jamie Gibber — email@example.com
MEMPHIS ROCK CLIMBING
To end off the year, Memphis Jr. NCSY went to a local rock climbing facility, Memphis Rox. It was enjoyed by all: teens, high school advisors, and parents alike (one parent even joined in on our event!). We are looking forward to more exciting events for our Jr. NCSYers next year.
St. Louis, MO
Rabbi Yudi Riesel - firstname.lastname@example.org
Rabbi Mike Rovinsky - email@example.com Sam Zitin - firstname.lastname@example.org
HUGE LEADERSHIP IN A SMALL TOWN
ST LOUIS SHAVUATON:
St. Louis NCSY welcomed regional advisers to town to help with our annual Shavuos mini Shabbaton programming. Programs included all night learning tracks for both boys and girls with community Rabbis and advisers, a late night BBQ, Shabbos oneg and boardgaming as well as a Melava Malka. Over 40 Jr and Sr NCSYers participated over the course of the Chag.
Minneapolis, MN Rabbi Tzvi Kupfer - email@example.com Mindy Daitchman - firstname.lastname@example.org
Within weeks of announcing registration, all spots were filled for the 2nd year partnership between Minneapolis JSU/NCSY and JWRP. Minneapolis Associate City Director, Mindy Daitchman, will be leading the group of JSU moms as they head off to Israel on a heavily subsidized trip of touring and growth. Registrants are excited about the trip and are already enthusiastic about involving their children in NCSY and JSU programming. 3 teens from last year’s partner trip are registered for NCSY’s TJJ this summer .
North Shore, IL
Rabbi Yaakov Cohen - email@example.com
NORTH SHORE SIX FLAGS DAY:
On Sunday, April 22nd, the North Shore Chapter ran a trip to Six Flags Great America. At Six Flags, we broke up into several groups and spent the entire day on exciting rides, playing fun games, and watching amazing shows. We all met back up at night to daven and eat our delicious pizza dinner.
South Bend, IN Akiva Gutnicki - firstname.lastname@example.org
SOUTH BEND SHABBAT SHABANG
South Bend NCSY continued this year with its monthly Shabbat Shabangs with the great Midwest NCSY advisors, spirituality, and fun. Some of the Saturday nights highlights included laser tag, escape rooms, and ice skating, to name a few.
NEW ENGLAND Devora Weinstock, Regional Director 646.459.5175// email@example.com newengland.ncsy.org
On Pesach the Providence chapter board had a very productive meeting to brainstorm and plan for their upcoming April Roadshow, which they were very excited about. Unfortunately, the Providence advisors had some car trouble and had to make a pit stop in New Haven for Shabbat, but the NCSYers made sure that the show still went on — they still had a delicious Chinese food dinner and kumzitz in the park on Shabbat afternoon. Providence leadership is especially on display as their own Menucha Krinsky was elected president of the New England Regional Board, and Jack Goodman is serving on NCSY National Board!
Sharon, MA Myriam Cohen - firstname.lastname@example.org
SHARON SPRING CHAPTER SHABBATON
On the weekend of May 4th-5th, the Sharon chapter, with the help of four advisors, held a full weekend of programming including a Friday Night Dinner, Oneg and Seudat Shlishit. After dinner at the shul, the Young Israel of Sharon, the group headed to the home of Rabbi Noah Cheses , for an Oneg full of Torah Trivia and other games, as well as snacks and singing. A spirited Seudat Shlishit at the home of NCSYer Deena Karger was the highlight of the Shabbos!
HANDS-ON LEARNING WITH BROOKLINE NCSY
Brookline NCSY teamed up with Maimonides School and the Young Israel of Brookline to put together a tikkun leil Shavuot that encompassed learning, BBQ, and s’mores. After learning about the halakhot of cooking--specifically BBQ’ing--on Yom Tov, the teens cooked up hamburgers and hot dogs for the entire Young Israel crowd. They finished off the night by making delicious s’mores before heading into Shacharit.
Highland Park Rabbi Shmulie Greene –email@example.com
BUILD YOUR OWN BURGER
On June 17, 2018, the Highland Park NCSY chapter reflected on the successes of the past ear over personalized burgers, hand crafted by each person there. Friends wished one another a great summer, celebrated the amazing year that had just finished, and geared up for another wonderful year to come.
Metro West, NJ Jennifer Romanoff –firstname.lastname@example.org
JWRP COOKING DEMO
Metro West NCSY held a Shavuot cooking demo with Miriam Pascal the ‘Overtime Cook’ for women that went and are going on the NCSY JWRP trip, women from the community, and teen girls. Before beginning the cooking demo, as a group they all learned about why we customarily eat dairy on Shavuot, infusing the cooking with new meaning in addition to the delicious taste!
Rabbi Reuven Lebovitz –email@example.com
Yaakov Faratci - firstname.lastname@example.org
8TH GRADE SHABBATON
TALENTED TEENS LEAD PAINT NIGHT!
Stamford NCSY had its first ever teen paint night! Twenty teens joined together to learn how to paint and create their own masterpieces after a most memorable chapter Shabbaton. What made the event so beautiful is the bridge it built between the teens in the community who are in public school and those in a Jewish high school who usually don’t cross paths. The painting was led by Stamford JSU’s own, Tamar Frydman, and the mocktail bar was created by senior Natalie Schlover.
West Hartford, CT Devorah Lustig, email@example.com
COMMUNITY-WIDE SHAVUOT PROGRAMS
NCSY West Hartford enjoyed an uplifting Shavoaton this Shavuot. Starting with a Friday night meal at the Young Israel the teens joined together with advisors and friends. The first night of Shavuot, NCSY joined together with USY and JTConnect for an Up All Night Shavuot program. The night was jam packed with learning sessions, barbecuing at 2 AM, food art, Ask the Rabbi, and engaging fun filled activities.
Boston, MA Rabbi Yudi Riesel - firstname.lastname@example.org
empowering rebuilding trip and studied Jewish texts connected to Jewish service learning.
NEW JERSEY Rabbi Ethan Katz, Regional Director 201.862.0250 // email@example.com newjersey.ncsy.org
Freehold, NJ: Rabbi Shmulie Greene –firstname.lastname@example.org
BIOTECHNOLOGY HIGH SCHOOL JSU
The Biotech JSU is a teen empowered club that specifically organizes trips to the NJ shore in order to help rebuild houses that were destroyed or damaged by hurricane Sandy and haven’t been rebuilt since. On March 18, 2018, a group of teens participated in an
NJ NCSY ran their first ever 8th grade only Shabbaton in Teaneck. Over 50 eight graders from across NJ got to experience an NCSY shabbaton for the first time. All participants of the Shabbaton had a wonderful experience and are excited to become NCSYers this upcoming year. The Shabbaton culminated with an awesome snow tubing event on Saturday night.
West Orange, NJ Alex Herman –email@example.com
ALL-NIGHT SHAVUOT LEARNING
West Orange NCSY had a successful all-night learning program on Shavuot night. They started off the night gathering together over a bunch of delicious food and eased their way into learning sessions with our amazing advisors. Each advisor had a time slot and prepared a lesson to give to the teens. Everyone was engaged in the learning and was excited to be there!
NEW YORK Rina Emerson, CEO firstname.lastname@example.org // email@example.com newyork.ncsy.org
NY NCSY BREAK TJJ RECORD
This July 4th, New York NCSY sent two full busses of public school teens to TJJ this summer, breaking all previous records. The NCSY Fellowship program, including an all-new videoconference class, NY NCSY scholarships and a partnership with synagogue scholarship funds allowed these teens to have the Jewish summer experience of their lives. NY NCSY is looking forward to continuing the journey that TJJ has started for them by engaging the teens in the TJJ follow up programs throughout the year.
Brooklyn, NY Nechama Kamelhar - firstname.lastname@example.org Rabbi Moish Zucker - email@example.com
COMMEMORATING YOM HAZIKARON WITH CHAYALIM
GREATER MIAMI LAG B’OMER
The Five Towns, NY
In commemoration of Yom Hazikaron, Brooklyn Public School clubs got a chance to hear from Chayalim, about their losses of family and friends They spoke about the sacrifices and the void they have from the missing friends and family. These sacrifices were made not only for medinat yisrael but for Klal Yisroel as a whole, a sacrifice for Jewish people to have a homeland.
Greater Miami NCSY also held a Lag Baomer bonfire for all chapters. Over 50 teens joined the chapter! Along with roasting hot dogs and marshmallow’s, teens partook in personal story telling followed by a Kumzits. Last but not least, they had a Hawaiian themed end of the year Latte and Learn bash with over 60 teens! We are looking forward to seeing what new and exciting programming will happen next in Greater Miami NCSY!
Yossi Schwartz- firstname.lastname@example.org
AY Cohen - email@example.com
YOM HA’ATZMAUT CELEBRATION IS A HIT
SUMMER JAX FNL SHABBATON
Five Towns NCSY teamed up with the local Yachad chapter for a Yom Ha’atzmaut party. The teens heard from an IDF soldier originally from the Five Towns about what it’s like to serve in the Israeli army and competed in an Israeli themed cupcake war.
Manhattan, NY Ziona Isaacs - IsaacsZ@ncsy.org
MANHATTAN NCSY CAKE WARS
Rabbi Samy Soussan - firstname.lastname@example.org
Our annual NCSY Summer FNL Shabbaton was a smashing success! We had over 50 NCSY’ers join us for the weekend from Charlotte, Savannah, Myrtle Beach, Coral Springs, Boca Raton and, of course, J-ville! We also had a tremendous advisor team of Ariel Bugay, Avi Snyder, Elka Wiesenberg, Judd Eisenberg, Victoria Kalmanowitz, and Yisrael Weiss! The Shabbaton ended on a high note on Sunday morning with a spectacular end of the year banquet. The next NCSY JAX FNL Shabbaton will be held next winter! Stay tuned!
Manhattan NCSY held their first annual Cake Wars event! Five teams of teens had a lot of fun creating beautiful cakes and enjoyed a festive dinner together. The cakes were judged by a special guest star on their presentation, creativity, and connection to the Chag Purim theme. The teens had a great time and are looking forward to what’s to come in Manhattan NCSY!
Coral Springs, FL Shmuel Barak - email@example.com
CORAL SPRINGS BBQ
The Coral Springs and Boca Raton Chapters came together for an incredible brotherly BBQ on the Boca Raton beach here in South Florida. Meaningful growth stories about each individual teen were shared as the sun went down. Speeches on the weekly Torah portion were given as well by some of the teen leaders from each respective chapter, which no doubt was deeply soul inspiring. We ended the night with a ton of laughs and all around fun while playing team sports. Everyone had a great time!
EMTZA NCSY Jason Segelbaum- firstname.lastname@example.org
EMTZA SPRING REGIONAL SHABBATON CLIMBED HIGH
Emtza NCSY was once again excited to return to South Miami with 70 participants for their Spring Regional Shabbaton. Despite having a maximum of 50 for this event, the South Miami community was incredibly welcoming to our additional participants. The Shabbaton will be long remembered for many reasons including: insanely amazing Shabbat ruach, exciting rock climbing motzei Shabbat, and a very special thanks and farewell to our senior advisors.
Greater Miami, FL Rachel Brecher - email@example.com
HOUSTON AND SAN ANTONIO INTERCITY RETREAT
Houston and San Antonio NCSY teens came together in April for the first Intercity Retreat. 50 teens joined the Retreat in Camp Allen for an inspirational Shabbaton in the woods. The NCSYers were hosted in tree house cabins and spent the most incredible weekend, connecting and growing with their friends and advisors in nature. They experienced an emotional ebbing, wishing farewell to Simcha Brick who will be moving from Houston to New Rochelle for this upcoming year. The Shabbaton ended with a beautiful hike and fishing in the forest.
Daniel Nabatian - firstname.lastname@example.org
San Antonio, TX
ORLANDO JSU FELLOWSHIP
Asher Gluck - email@example.com
Orlando JSU is lauunching a two part series of classes where teens learn about ethical dilemmas from a Jewish perspective and gain real life experience from Jewish Professionals.
Rabbi Eli Lob - firstname.lastname@example.org Todd Cohn, Executive Director 1-866-887-5788 // email@example.com southern.ncsy.org
Denver NCSY and AISH Denver have partnered to bring much-needed programming to their middle school student body. Happening on the Southeast side of Denver, NCSY has added additional programming such as a weekly Latte N’ Learning and monthly social events. Going into next year, Denver NCSY and AISH Denver plan to grow their partnership even more by adding more programming, including family Shabbatot.
For the first time Savannah NCSY partnered with BBYO teens. Teens gathered at Greenbriar Children’s Center to assist in cleaning rooms that serve children and teens that do not have a place to live. After cleaning for an hour and a half, teens were treated to Krispy Kreme donuts and then partook in conversation about the Mitzvah of doing Chessed led by Rabbi Lob, Savannah NCSY director, and Richard Epstein, BBYO Dixie Counsel President. The event created a beautiful feeling of partnership and achdus between the two organizations, with a mutual feeling that the partnership should continue to grow.
NCSY San Antonio ran their first ever JSP course this past spring with nearly 40 participants, 20 of which completed the course. The 12-week course was geared toward public school teens looking to explore their Judaism and featured exciting guest speakers. Those that completed the course were gifted a free trip to the West Coast to celebrate in style, on a jam-packed 4-day adventure, filled with Torah, great kosher food, and fantastic activities!
UPSTATE NEW YORK Devora Weinstock, Regional Coordinator 646.459.5175 // firstname.lastname@example.org upstate.ncsy.org
Albany, NY Shira Krinsky - email@example.com Yair Lichtman - firstname.lastname@example.org
REGIONAL YARCHEI KALLAH ROCKS ALBANY
Rabbi Gershon Meisel, Regional Director 972.934.9143 // email@example.com southwest.ncsy.org
Dallas, TX Rabbi Michel Lomner - firstname.lastname@example.org
FUNDRAISING PESACH CHEESE HIGHLIGHT
SAN ANTONIO NCSY RUNS ITS FIRST JEWISH SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM
Dallas NCSY hosted a successful wine and cheese event at the home of Tara and Adam Klein. With over 100 guests in attendance, acclaimed wine sommelier, Andrew Breskin, introduced a Pesach Seder wine pairing experience. A beautiful evening was had by all.
Denver, CO Yisrael Katz - email@example.com
DENVER NCSY OPENS ITS FIRST EMTZA
Albany hosted an amazing Regional Yarchei Kallah for the rest of Upstate NCSY, with the theme of Big Questions. Advisors and staff prepared Chaburot tackling nine big questions, chosen to be especially relevant and inspiring. The Shabbaton also featured an independent Seder learning program with seven lucky NCSYers winning a raffle to bring home one of the Seforim the teens explored in 1-on-1 Chavrusas. A fun and creative Walmart Party contest rounded out the weekend.
Catskills, NY Devora Weinstock - firstname.lastname@example.org
CATSKILLS MAKES A COMEBACK
Teens from our Catskills chapter have made a reappearance at our Regional Shabbatons, bringing that ruach and excitement back to their small towns.
Several local events and Shabbat programming over the year have been great successes, especially an allgirls bowling event, that even a blizzard could not shut down!
Mt. Kisco, NY Devora Weinstock - email@example.com
MT. KISCO LATTE-N-LEARN
A great example of the incredible dedication of our Har Sinai advisors are the monthly Mt Kisco Latte-n-Learns spearheaded by teens and consistently run by some amazing advisors. We’re looking forward to seeing even more from this great group of teens as they plan for a second year of programming!
Rochester, NY Sarah Gold - firstname.lastname@example.org
ROCHESTER NCSY IS GROWING
Rochester has seen terrific growth over the course of the year, with great attendance at JSU and a Rochester representative even making it to National Board! Shavuot in Rochester was a huge success, with a game show, swag, and lots of quality time with advisors.
WEST COAST Rabbi Derek Gormin, Regional Director 310.229.9000 // email@example.com westcoast.ncsy.org
Los Angeles, CA - City firstname.lastname@example.org
GROWING JSU’S SOARJSU CLUBS
Growing JSU’s SoarJSU clubs at LACES and Hamilton High Schools amongst others are thriving with standing room only! Hamilton High School in Los Angeles has over 80 teens in attendance each week, and the LACES High School has over 40 teens each week growing by the week. We are happy to report on our continued powerful partnerships with two local day schools, Shalhevet High School and YULA Girls working to offer Chessed programs, Tefilah and Lunch N’ Learn experiencing, adding the exciting environment on campus. We are thankful to the faculty and administration for our partnership and look forward to continuing to strengthen and inspire our people together.
Los Angeles, CA - Valley Shane Dreher - email@example.com
BOOST IN 4G PROGRAMMING
Over the last few months LA-Valley has been focusing on some much needed 4G (For Girls) programming. We had the first ever 4G shabbaton with a few other West Coast chapters and ran special holiday learning. The future of 4G in the valley is very bright. LA Valley’s North Hollywood JSU had an exciting field trip to the Skirball center. The teens enjoyed a day out of school learning about Jewish Life in America. Everyone had a great time and can’t wait to do it again next year!
NorCal, CA Rabbi Akiva Naiman - firstname.lastname@example.org
NORCAL NCSY REFLECTS ON A GREAT YEAR
The NorCal NCSY Chapter started off the year strong with a Limo Scavenger Hunt throughout the city of San Francisco, having fun and doing chesed along the way!
Now in July, we can look back at seven Shabbatons, amazing social events, online Israel Advocacy, Skiing, JSU clubs, Tie Dying shirts for teens in Rwanda, AIPAC Policy Conference, Clothing and Food Drive for Santa Rosa fire victims, learning partnerships... the list goes on and on! What an inspiring and impactful year! This year NorCal NCSY has interacted with 2588 teens (419 unique teens at 187 different events)!
San Diego, CA Rabbi Jacob Rupp - email@example.com
AN UNFORGETTABLE YEAR
San Diego closed off the year by choosing a committed and excited new Board, creating some amazing media to commemorate the year and hosting a well-attended “send off BBQ” for the many San Diego students going on Israel trips this summer. Nethaniel, a San Diego chapter board member says: “My favorite part of NCSY is West Coast Regional where I can meet all the teens from across the West Coast.”
Silicon Valley, CA Devora Simon, firstname.lastname@example.org
SILICON VALLEY NCSY HOSTS INSPIRATIONAL SHABBATON
Silicon Valley NCSY hosted the very first all-girls Regional 4G Shabbaton this spring. Shabbat was spent together with local hosts from the Palo Alto community and was packed with fun and educational programming. The group bonded and over the 36 hours spent together it was amazing to see new friendships grow amongst the teens. For many, the traditional NCSY Shabbaton and Havdalah was a first and many highlighted that as one of the most impactful moments of the Shabbaton. Coming off an inspirational Shabbaton and Saturday night program, Sunday was spent touring the many sights and attractions of the nearby San Francisco. Silicon Valley NCSY is wrapping up its first amazing year of programming!
Las Vegas, NV Rabbi Yehuda Maryles - email@example.com
AN UNFORGETTABLE SHABBATON
In April, the Las Vegas Chapter teens participated in their final and most unforgettable Shabbaton of the year. The teens were privileged and honored to hear from Scholar in Residence Rabbi Israel Lashak. Rabbi Lashak infused the Shabbaton with laughs, deep thought, inspiration, and spirituality. The shabbaton was hosted by Ahavas Torah Center community in Henderson NV. On this beautiful and final Shabbat, many teens voluntarily unplugged from their many devices for 24 hours and spent quality time with Jewish friends from all across the Las Vegas Valley.
Chelsea Rosenberg - firstname.lastname@example.org
ARIZONA JSU Arizona JSU clubs continued to thrive and grow with over 600 public school students participating! This year marked a tremendous growth and advancement for our programs in the realm of encouraging our teen’s Jewish connection. Through our bi-weekly Shabbat events and weekly learning and social programs, teens have developed a deeper connection to the greater Phoenix Jewish community. The impact of JSU is evident by this year’s tremendous turnout of 23 Arizona teens heading to Israel for the summer. The majority of whom will attend our incredible TJJ (The Anne Samson’s Jerusalem Journey) program.
Portland, OR Meira Spivak - email@example.com Doovie Jacoby - firstname.lastname@example.org
OREGON NCSY WINS THE COVETED WEST COAST CHAPTER OF THE YEAR AWARD West Coast NCSY Chapter of the Year! Oregon NCSY won the coveted West Coast Chapter of the Year award! Each year, Oregon NCSY joins up with 9 other chapters for an unforgettably fun and inspiring weekend with friends from across the west coast. What a meaningful way to close out an amazing year at NCSY!
Orange County, CA Carol Mirkin - Mirkinc@ncsy.org
LATTE N’ LEARNING BECOMES THE “TALK OF THE TOWN.” “So are you coming to Thursday night LNL?” These are words you’ll often hear if you walk through halls of Tarbut V’Torah (a Jewish Day School) in Irvine. Thursday night NCSY’s Latte N’ Learning (LNL) has become the “talk of the town.” The LNL events started off with just a few devoted teens coming each week. Thanks to constant recruitment by Elliot and Ilan Berdy and the rest of the incredible Irvine Chapter Board we now have 35-45 teens coming each week!
CHILE Michael Bengio, Regional Director 011.56.99.186.5575 // email@example.com chile.ncsy.org
Santiago, Chile Alan Geni - firstname.lastname@example.org
CROWD FUNDING FOR CHILE During the month of June, NCSY Chile underwent a crowd funding campaign, looking for new partners that can support the various programs that are going on in Chile, in a financially tough year. The campaign was a little different than usual, since we weren’t looking for big donations from few people. We were looking to reach as many people as possible, that could become “NCSY Chile Partners” supporting us with a lower fee, but a monthly fee. It was a new idea, but a very successful one: more than one hundred people became partners of NCSY Chile starting from 25 USD a month. Some people even got together with friends to reach the minimum of 25 USD a month.
ISRAEL Rabbi Yosef Ginsberg 054-9538225 // email@example.com Rabbi Michael Kahn 052-5085091 // firstname.lastname@example.org israel.ncsy.org
EFRAT SHABBATON NCSY Israel hosted our largest Shabbaton in our program’s history in Efrat. 82 NCSYers and Advisors came together for our Kickoff Shabbaton which highlighted guest speakers Rabbi Shlomo Katz and Rabbi Shlomo Kimche. The Shabbaton education highlighted various Jewish heroes in ancient and modern times. Shabbat closed with a musical Havdalah in the fields of Gush Etzion led by Avi Schmell.
BY RABBI MOSHE BENOVITZ Much of modern forensic science is based on the simple premise that in any interaction between two bodies, there is an exchange. A carpet or article of clothing will change its physical identity when placed in contact with a person, and that change will be defined by the unique history and physical identity of the person in question. (Or so they say on CSI.) In a world of seemingly endless combinations and collaborations, this principle ought to hold true in some dramatic and remarkable ways. Particularly for Jews who embrace elements of the modern world and proudly practice their heritage on the world stage, there is a vital understanding here. The equation goes something like this: If our Jewish system of lifestyle and values truly means something and truly matters, then when it touches another significant entity there will be some degree of transference and impact. The affected body will not be the same after the encounter. Torah + (Anything) = A different version of (Anything). As simple and obvious as that may seem, its practical application reveals a rather serious flaw in the modern religious paradigm. Somehow, too often, this transfer and impact gets lost. Our Godly values and the world they inhabit orbit around one another, cautiously and delicately. The exchange is less than subtle, approaching nonexistent. The Torah ethos first defers, then demurs. It does not impose its will or change its subject. It remains, perhaps, unsoiled, but also tragically less relevant. An example. I am a sports fan and an immigrant to the wondrous land of Israel. As such, I have taken in the local basketball and soccer scene and enjoyed those outings with my family. However, visits to these stadiums and arenas often leave me confused and a bit frustrated. This is especially true at contests hosted by Hapoel Jerusalem. On the one hand, the games are more 50
than ok. The Israel Basketball League boasts talented players and enthusiastic fan bases. In Jerusalem, the team plays in a sparkling new arena that is professional and first class in every way. But there is always a point when a spectator must wonder, is this the way it is supposed to be? Is this what the equation is supposed to produce? Basketball + Jerusalem = Basketball like anywhere else? To avoid distraction from issues pertaining to modern Israeli politics or the ideological underpinnings of secular Zionism, perhaps we can take the same example closer to (temporary) home. When our schools or synagogues create sports leagues for local youth, what is the end result? And what is the vision and goal? What does yeshiva + basketball yield? What is it supposed to look like? These depictions of Jewish sport are clearly just examples, albeit resonant ones, of this phenomenon. We can, and must, ask the same questions about virtually every scenario when our halakhic system or value set finds itself coinciding with a foreign object. I have long marveled at the great sanctification of God’s name attributed to Senator Joseph Lieberman. Senator Lieberman has never seemed to be merely the moral conscience of the US Senate who happened to be a Jew. Leaving all politics aside, he was a prime positive example of what this equation can look like. Observant Judaism + Legislator = a legislator with integrity and a clear ethical code. This challenge will define our childrens’ experiences on a college campus and provide context to the myriad of challenges and opportunities presented to us in the contemporary workplace. While this may be an oversimplification of the religious struggle for modern man, it is surely true that this is a subtext to our inclination towards more assimilated life. It is not clear how often our community wants the equation to
end differently. A Jew + Netflix =Netflix. A Jew + Facebook = Facebook. A Jew + Discrimination and bigotry remains the same discrimination and bigotry. It is easier to see the problem than to devise the solution. But this is too critical an issue to be ignored. The very awareness of the question should allow for serious thought and debate and the creation of innovative and invigorating answers. To return to the original example, I am not aware of anyone who knows exactly what the Israel Basketball League should look like. Some would argue that it shouldn’t exist. Others would be content with a league in which no games are played on Shabbos, kosher franks are served at the concession stands, and evening prayers echo through the concourses at halftime. Neither of these approaches seem to fulfill the strongest ambitions of the equation. We may not be sure of what does, but it is a conversation that is long overdue and can propel us further as a people. And there are steps to take that are clearer to us if we adopt this approach to our pursuits outside of the study hall and prayer sessions. We can reexamine and realign our leisure time and viewing habits, our professional protocols and our family dinners. Because beyond the specific examples, there remains a more general dilemma. Do we enjoy the confidence in our Torah and its statutes to allow it to inform on all of our pursuits? This review is a critical element to our personal process of repentance. Our equations need to be balanced and our sums checked again. When something of the divine strikes through our lives, it must leave an impression. Rabbi Moshe Benovitz, an NCSY alumnus, is the managing director of NCSY and the director of NCSY Kollel. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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.