Page 1



Atlantic Seaboard

Allentown, PA Harrisburg, PA Huntingdon Valley, PA Lancaster, PA Philadelphia, PA Lower Merion, PA Wilkes-Barre, PA Baltimore, MD Columbia, MD Germantown, MD Gaithersburg, MD Olney, MD Potomac, MD Sandy Spring, MD Silver Spring, MD Towson, MD Cherry Hill, NJ Richmond, VA Norfolk, VA Virginia Beach, VA

West Coast

1,200 200 250 10,000 20,000 2,000

Number of cities in North America with active NCSYers Number of cities in North America with NCSY programming Number of public schools with NCSY Jewish culture clubs Number of teens that attended a shabbaton last year Number of teens that attended a Jewish culture club in public school last year Number of teens that spent their summer in Israel with NCSY last year


Number of teens that NCSY reaches every year!


Phoenix, AZ Scottsdale, AZ Berkeley, CA Beverly Hills, CA Calabasas, CA Cupertino, CA Irvine, 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 El Paso, TX

New York

Bronx, NY Brooklyn, NY Manhattan, NY Queens, NY Staten Island, NY Westchester, NY Cedarhurst, NY Commack, NY East Meadow, NY Great Neck, NY Hewlett, NY Inwood, NY Lawrence, NY Long Beach, NY Merrick, NY Oceanside, NY Plainview, NY Port Washington, NY Roslyn, NY Stony Brook, NY West Hempstead, NY Woodmere, NY

UpstateNewYork Albany, NY Amherest, NY Binghamton, NY Buffalo, NY Catskills District, NY Dewitt, NY Mount Kisco, NY Pitsford, NY Rochester, NY Schenectady, NY


Hamilton, ON Kitchener, ON London, ON Ottawa, ON Toronto, ON Windsor, ON Halifax, NC Montreal, QC


Northwest Calgary, AB Edmonton, AB Richmond, BC Vancouver, BC Portland, OR Eugene, OR Seattle, WA


Birmingham, AL Aventura, FL Bal Harbour, FL Fort Lauderdale, FL Highland Lakes, FL Hollywood, FL Jacksonville, FL Jupiter, FL Kendall, FL Miami Beach, FL North Miami Beach, FL Pinecrest, FL


Sunny Isles, FL Westin, FL Alpharetta, GA Atlanta, GA College Park, GA Doraville, GA Duluth, GA Dunwoody, GA East Cobb, GA Marietta, GA Norcross, GA Roswell, GA Sandy Springs, GA Savannah, GA Greensboro, NC Raleigh, NC Charleston, SC Myrtle Beach, SC Nashville, TN New Orleans, LA


Denver, CO Buffalo Grove, IL Chicago, IL Glenview, IL Northbrook, IL Skokie, IL Indianapolis, IN South Bend, IN Des Moines, IO Kansas City, KS Overland Park, KS St. Louis, MO Winniepeig, MB Mineapolis, MN Omaha, NB Memphis, TN Milwaukee, WI

New England New Haven, CT Stamford, CT West Hartford, CT Woodbridge, CT Brookline, MA Framingham, MA Lexington, MA

Natick, MA Newton, MA Peabody, MA Sharon, MA Springfield, MA Weston, MA New Jersey Allentown, PA Allendale, NJ Atlantic City, NJ Cherry Hill, NJ Colts Neck, NJ East Brunswick, NJ Elizabeth, NJ Englishtown, NJ Fair Lawn, NJ Hackensack, NJ Highland Park, NJ Highstown, NJ Lakewood, NJ Long Branch, NJ Malboro, NJ Manalapan, NJ Montclair, NJ Paramus, NJ Passaic, NJ Springfield, NJ Teaneck, NJ Twin Rivers, NJ West Orange, NJ Monsey, NY

Southwest Austin, TX Dallas, TX Fort Worth, TX Houston, TX McKinney, TX Richardson, TX San Antonio, TX

Central East Akron, OH Canton, OH Cincinnati, OH Cleveland, OH Columbus, OH Dayton, OH Toledo, OH Youngstown, OH Bloomfield Hills, MI Detroit, MI Farmington Hills, MI Oak Park, MI Southfield, MI West Bloomfield, MI Pittsburgh, PA


Acco Bat Yam Beit Shemesh Gederah Jerusalem Kiryat Gat Kiryat Malachi Ma’ale Adomim Nahariya Netanya Netivot Rechovot Ramle Sderot

South America

BueniousAires,Argentina Santiago, Chile

Germany Berlin Leipzeig


5......................... New Year’s: New Beginnings

Executive Leadership

Rabbi Steven Burg, International Director, NCSY Keevy Fried, Associate International Director, NCSY

6........................................Faces In The Crowd

18..................... From Transylvania to Teaneck

7....................Summer Programs: What’s New

20.........................Unexpected Circumstances

8............................................... Lost and Found

21............................... Growing Up Small Town

9.............................................BRIGHT LIGHTS

22.......................................Columbus Sets Sail

10............................... Leaping into Leadership

25.....................................A Tale of Twin Teens

12....................................... Yarchei Kallah 2011

26............................................... Eye on Alumni

14.........................................A Flood of Support

27 ............................................... HIGHLIGHTS

16..........................Shoresh NCSY Takes Root

35......................................The Light at the End

Summer Leadership

JosephStechler,NationalYouthCommissionChairman,OU Rabbi Steven Weil, Executive Vice President, OU Dr. Simcha Katz, President, OU David Frankel, Chief Operating Officer, OU Shlomo Schwartz, Chief Financial Officer, OU David Olivestone, Chief Communications Officer, OU

GIVE..................................... Erin Cooper ICE....................................... Rabbi Israel Lashak JOLT..................................... Rabbi Nahum Zak Kollel.................................... Rabbi Moshe Benovitz Michlelet............................... Rivkah Yudin SEG...................................... Yael Gelernter Shakespeare in Jerusalem.Yoni Coleman Camp Sports....................... Rabbi Jon Green TJJ & TJJ Ambassadors..... RabbiBenZionGoldfischer

National Leadership


Rabbi Dovid Bashevkin, Associate Director of Education Rabbi Moshe Benovitz, Dean of Summer Programs Rabbi Glenn Black, Director of Strategic Planning DavidCutler,DirectorofNCSYSummerPrograms&Finances Rabbi Dave Felsenthal, Director of Alumni Dan Hazony, Director of Information Systems RonitMeitlis-Hoffer,Asst.DirectorofProgramDevelopment,OU Jenni Richton, Associate Director of Special Projects Duvi Stahler, Director of Marketing

Regional Leadership

Atlantic Seaboard................ Rabbi Jonah Lerner Argentina............................. Rabbi Marcelo Krawiec Canada................................ Rabbi Leib Irons Central East......................... Rabbi Tzali Freedman Chile..................................... Michael Bengio Germany.............................. Josh Spinner Israel.................................... Rabbi Yisroel Goren Midwest................................ Rabbi Micah Greenland New England....................... Rabbi Yaakov Glasser New York............................. Rabbi Aryeh Lightstone Northwest............................ Rabbi Steven Berger Southern.............................. Todd Cohn Southwet.............................. Rabbi Israel Lashak Upstate NY.......................... Marc Fein West Coast.......................... Rabbi Effie Goldberg

P A S S O V E R 2 0 11



NCSY 11 Broadway New York, NY 10004

Phone: 212.613.8233 Email: Web: Facebook: Twitter: @ncsy YouTube:


Duvi Stahler

Art Direction & Layout Design 7 Studio

Ignite Editorial Staff

Jack Abramowitz Yakira Apfel Dalia Caplan Rabbi Yehuda Chanales: Tova Flancebaum Batya Graber Avital Moss Racheli Nayberg Elana Schwarzberg Olivia Wiznitzer

For regional contact information, visit or see the highlights section.






brings Judaism to local coffee shops and serves up Torah in a relaxed, inspirational and fun environment. By offering diverse speakers on current events and Jewish topics, Latte & Learning provides a unique opportunity for teens to ask questions, voice their opinions and connect with their Jewish heritage.




























Michael Bengio, Director






It wasn’t the first time NCSY said, “Turn New Year’s Eve

I shouldn’t be surprised. This is what NCSY does. We take

into Shabbos,” but it was probably the most moving.

the mundane and secular aspects of a teen’s life and we

encourage them to elevate these things into something holy.

I’ll back up.

You like sports? We have NCSY Summer Programs where

At the end of December, NCSY hosted its annual Yarchei Kallah, a week-long program for public school students

from across North America. This event is always a high

you can play sports all month, and learn Torah, too! You

like mochachino? We have Latte & Learning in coffee shops

across the continent. You like Facebook and YouTube? NCSY is there. You don’t have to give up everything you love to

point of the year for any member of the NCSY family,

enjoy it in an appropriate, Torah way.

since there’s very little that’s more inspirational than

seeing teens from Cleveland and Toronto and Baltimore

The Torah tells us “kedoshim tihiyu”, you shall be holy (Leviti-

and more take a week of their winter break and dedicate

cus 19:2). The Ramban

peers. This year, we did something different. We left

this means to elevate

it to Torah study with rebbeim, advisors and like-minded

there explains that

our hotel in Connecticut to spend Shabbos in Teaneck,

ourselves in that which

NJ. That way, the teens could experience an authentic

is permitted. It’s all too

Shabbos in a Shabbos-observant community, while the

easy to teach teens to

members of that community could draw inspiration from

avoid everything but

the sincerity and enthusiasm that the teens exude.

that doesn’t prepare

them for life. Rather,

Every so often, it happens that New Year’s Eve occurs

NCSY empowers teens

during Yarchei Kallah and this year, it was also Friday

night. As challenging as it is for a teen to choose studying Chumash and hearing shiurim over going skiing, throwing New Year’s Eve into the mix makes the decision to

by providing them with the skills to discern

the kodesh from the

chol, the holy from the

attend a little more difficult for many teens. Yes, Yarchei

mundane, and, where

Kallah is lots of fun, but so is New Year’s Eve, whether or

possible, to elevate the

not one pops a cork.

mundane to new spiritual levels.

We gathered in Bnai Yeshurun, one of the local shuls, for a

We didn’t tell the Yarchei Kallah participants to sing l’shana

were well aware that it was New Year’s Eve, but it hardly

were in a shul on Shabbos with their friends and role models

Friday night oneg full of socializing, stories and song. We affected us. The teens apparently felt otherwise.

haba. They did that themselves because they felt it. They

and they were inspired to ring in the new year by expressing

a love of HaKadosh Baruch Hu and a desire to be nearer to Him

The clock neared midnight and, not surprisingly, the

Yarchei Kallah attendees started counting down. “Three… two… one…” At the stroke of midnight, they cheered. They started singing and dancing. It was January 1,

in the rebuilt Beis HaMikdash. That they came to this point on their own is the magic of NCSY. I’ve never been prouder.

2011 and more than 200 public school students from

across North America were celebrating the new year in

a shul in New Jersey, dancing and singing “l’shana haba b’Yerushalayim” (“next year in Jerusalem”).

Rabbi Steven Burg

Just when you think you’ve seen it all.


P A S S O V E R 2 0 11





Why do you think people should support NCSY? February 12 at 8:13pm · Like

Sabrina Muldoon Because NCSY gives the opportunity for all levels of Jews to get together to learn from one another. It also allows those children in public schools like myself a real chance to embrace a side of their religion they may have never have had the chance to. February 12 at 8:17pm · Like  Nina Miriam Rothschild NCSY gives people the ability to step out of their shells and try new things within a safe setting. Everyone is energetic and looks forward to having a great time with each other and everyone is a part of a larger community that will help each other out. February 12 at 9:00pm · Like  Gary Sukienik People Need to support NCSY because the teenagers need to find their Judaism and since NCSY provides a fun environment to do so, the teens feel more connected to their religion and get to meet kids their own age that are Jewish! NCSY also gives some of these teens that cant pay the price in full a scholarship which makes it more affordable for teens in families with a low income. so all in all people need to support NCSY so the Children can be socially and spiritually connected! February 12 at 9:06pm · Like

The New Associate International Director of NCSY This is Keevy Fried: young, ambitious, and accomplished. In his short career at UJA-Federation, he raised nine million dollars, hosted a dinner for over 1,100 individuals, and formed relationships with some of the most well-respected financial industry executives. Just weeks ago, Keevy decided to take his infectious energy and prodigious skill to the NCSY front. “I wanted to play a pivotal role in confronting the largest problems facing the Jewish people - assimilation and intermarriage,” Keevy explained. Keevy fills a number of positions at NCSY, enabling him to impact on a variety of areas within the organization. He helps to manage the national office, facilitates strategic planning, functions as a liaison to the regions and, on the whole, implements vision and followthrough in various projects. Keevy previously spent four years as a development executive in the Wall Street & Financial Services Division at UJA-Federation of New York, where he managed the Investment Management Division and worked with various professionals to raise money for the organization. After being awarded the 2006 UJA-Federation of New York-Wiener Center Scholarship, Keevy obtained his Master’s degree in Social Work from Fordham University. With his impressive experience and qualifications, Keevy hopes to take NCSY even further in the fundraising world, and otherwise. “Inspiring and empowering the next generation and bringing them closer to Yiddishkeit is a tremendous mission,” Keevy says. “The passion that exudes from everyone in the NCSY world is exciting and contagious, and something that I want to be a part of.” By joining the ranks in his new position, Keevy wishes to reach out and affect an unsurpassed range of individuals - in great number, across demographics and with lasting impact.


for OU President DR. SIMCHA KATZ Q: At the end of your tenure, where would you like to see NCSY? A:TheMidrashinKohelesRabbahsaysthatapersonwhohas100wants

200; if he has 200, he wants 400. That’s not an admirable trait when we’re talkingaboutmaterialgoods,butIthinkit’saloftygoalwhenwe’retalking aboutJewishneshamas.NCSYisdoingatremendousjobatreachingJewish teens,butaslongasthereareyouthouttherestarvingforTorah,itwillnever be enough. If we reach 100 teens today, we have to try to reach 200 teens tomorrow.

Q: What most impresses you about NCSY? A:Thesincerity.EveryoneattheOUisenthusiasticabouttheirworkand

recognizes it as avodas hakodesh, but NCSY is unique when it comes to thelengthsthatpeoplewillgotocarryoutitsmissionsandgoals.Noother departmentoftheOUcouldgethundredsofvolunteersacrossthecontinentto bemoseirnefeshatallhoursofthedayandnightthewayNCSYadvisorsare when it comes to reaching Jewish teens.

Q: What message do you have for those who support NCSY? A: Kiruv (outreach) is a mitzvah for everyone, but not everyone has the

zechus to be an NCSY advisor. Just like we “buy in” to fulfill the mitzvah of writingaseferTorahbutthesoferdoestheactualwriting,supportingNCSY providesanopportunityforeveryonetohaveacheilekinthemitzvahofkiruv. AndIcan’tthinkofanythingthatpaysricherrewardsthanensuringthatthe nextgenerationhasasolidfoundationofsincere,dedicated,passionate young Jews.




SEG (Summer Experience for Girls) NCSYispleasedtointroducetheall-newSEG,undertheadministrationofDirectorMrs.Yael GelernterandAssistantDirectorMrs.MoniqueGross.YaelcurrentlyworksattheStellaK. AbrahamHighSchoolforGirls(SKA)inLongIslandinanumberofcapacities;Moniqueis currently a teacher at The Yeshiva of Central Queens (YCQ). OneofthechangesinSEGwillbetheleadershipandchesedcomponent.Manyofthelearning sessionswillcreateathemearoundtheconceptofteam-building,community-building,and whatitmeanstobealeader.WhilelearningandchesedarealargefocusofSEG,thefamous trips,sportsandothercampactivitieswillstillbeamajorpartofthesummerexperience.

ICE (Israel and Central Europe) TheICEitineraryhasbeenrevamped,updated,andexpanded-includinganewtriptoItaly. ParticipantswillhavetheopportunitytotourVenice,seetheItalianAlps,andvisittheFerrari factory.AfterItalycomesajourneytoIsrael,anexpeditioncompletewithsurfschool,rafting, andrappelling,aswellasahostofnewchesedopportunities,suchasworkingwithHatzalah and spending time with IDF soldiers.

JOLT (Jewish Overseas Leadership Training) Thissummer,NCSY’seliteleadershipprogramJOLTwillonceagainbespearheadedby RabbiNahumZak,RegionalDirectorofSouthernNCSY,andanextremelytalentedand focusedteamofstaff.Programparticipantswilldeveloptheirleadershipskillsaswellas theirperceptionoftherolesthatJewishheritageandthelandofIsraelplayindefining Jewishidentitytoday.TravelingfirsttoPoland,wheretheywillrevisitlifeofEuropean JewrybeforethewarandthedestructionoftheHolocaust,participantswillthentravel totheAustrianAlps,wheretheywillworktogetherwithLauderYeshurunFoundationto facilitateeducationalandengagingprogrammingforyoung,unaffiliatedGermanteens.The programwillthenconcludeinIsrael,wherereflectiononthepastweeks’experienceswillbe channeledtowardsformingagreaterappreciationandunderstandingofourJewishidentity, Torah responsibilities, and homeland.

Kollel NCSYSummerKollelinIsraelisapproachingits20-yearanniversaryofawesomefun, competitivesportsandmeaningfullearning.Summer2011offersabrandnewCITprogram, forteenswhohavecompletedtwelfthgrade.Thistrackwascreatedtomeetthegreat demandofNCSYerswhowishtotransitionfromcampersonthelife-alteringprogramto futuremadrichimandcontributors.Tiyuloptionshavebeenupdatedaswell,andadditional sports slots are being added to the daily schedule.

Camp Sports 2011isreadyforanothermemorablesummerofsports,trips,learning,andunparalleled barbecuesatCampSports.Enhancingtheexperienceistheoptionalfloorhockeyprogram andthereintroductionoftheDemolitionDerby.Additionally,thelearningprogramnowallows morefreedomforcamperstochoosewhattheyareinterestedinlearning,aswellasgreater incentives for learning.

TJJ (The Jerusalem Journey) & TJJ Ambassadors TJJandTJJAmbassadorshaveexpandedtoeightbusesthissummer,allowinghundredsof newpublicschoolteenstodiscoverIsrael.TJJwillonceagainhikebreathtakingtrails,dive intowaterfalls,kayakdowntheJordanRiver,rappeldownmountainsand,ofcourse,explore theancientandmodernhistoryoftheJewishpeoplethroughthelandofIsrael.TJJisalso introducingnewactivities,oneofwhichinvolvesconstructingraftsontheKinneretandracing to the sea’s center and back. In addition to learning about how to make the case for Israel and engaging in a week of traditionalbeitmidrashstudy,TJJAmbassadorswillrunacampforunderprivilegedIsraeli childrenintheNegev.TheywillalsoexploreIsrael’scontributionsinthetechnologicaland environmental arenas by touring Shai Agassi’s “Better Place” corporation.

Michlelet Thisyear’sMichleletboastsevenmoreclassesandteachersplusabroadenedhikingand outingschedule,inadditiontothetrademarkcreativechesedtripsandengagingactivities itprovidesyearafteryear.Michleletcontinuesinitsmissiontograntgirlsanenlightening, impacting, and life-changing summer.

GIVE (Girls’ Israel Volunteer Experience) NCSYGIVEislookingforwardtoanothergreatsummeroffriends,chesed,touringand learning.OnGIVE,extraordinaryhighschoolgirlsaregiventheopportunitytoexperience hands-onJudaismthroughtheartofgivingback.Thissummer,theyareaffordingthat opportunitytotwicetheamountofgirls,offeringtwobusesinsteadoftheusualone.GIVE allowsitsparticipantstoexperiencefirsthandwhatitmeanstobearesponsiblememberof the Jewish people. Natan Sharansky, Chairman of the Jewish Agency, Rabbi Avi Berman, Director of OU Israel, and Rabbi Zvi Sobolofsky, YU Rosh Yeshiva and NCSY Kollel Rebbe, share a laugh at Yom NCSY 2010 in Israel.

NCSY Summer Programs

BY THE NUMBERS Applicants through 3/15/10 = Applicants through 3/8/11 =

Learn more about NCSY Summer at

P A S S O V E R 2 0 11




513 630 7

War and ever since then I just don’t believe there’s a God.” I decided to drop the subject and continue on our stroll. When we finally returned to the nursing home, thoughts were running through my mind. “Should I do this? Should I not do this? I can’t do this.” Being the [nosy, annoying, crazy Persian] girl I am, I went to the front desk, asked for a piece of paper, and wrote NCSY GIVE, followed by my name and phone number. I walked up to Benjamin, looked him directly in the eye and said, “I know you’ve gone through many tragedies in your life and you have every reason to believe that there isn’t a God out there. But I also know that deep down inside, there’s a part of you that’s empty. You and I both know that this emptiness needs to be filled with Judaism.” I dropped the paper on his lap and walked away thinking, “Oh my gosh, Amanda, you just made the biggest fool of yourself.” By the end of summer, I completely forgot about this whole event. About three weeks after GIVE, I saw that I had a voicemail on my phone. The message was from Benjamin. He said: “Hi, Amanda. I don’t know if you remember me but this is Benjamin from the nursing home. I just wanted to tell you that what you said that day really got to me. Ever since then, I wear a kippa on my head and this coming Shabbos I will be going to my daughter’s house for the first time in sixteen years. Thank you for opening up my eyes and changing my life.” As I hung up the phone on the verge of tears, I could not stop jumping up and down.

A spirited sixteen-year-old takes on an atheist By: Amanda Esraelian This past summer, I was extremely blessed and fortunate to spend five weeks in the holy land of Israel. I had the summer of a lifetime doing chesed (act of loving kindness) with forty-five girls from all across North America on NCSY’s summer program GIVE (Girls’ Israel Volunteer Experience). This five-week experience allowed me to draw connections with the land and the people in ways I never thought possible.

That experience taught me something I will carry with me for the rest of my life: no matter who you are, you have the ability to change someone’s life. AMANDA ESRAELIAN, A SENIOR AT ROSLYN HIGH SCHOOL IN NEW YORK, IS THE INTERNATIONAL PRESIDENT OF NCSY.

One specific connection I made was with a 65-year-old wheelchair-bound man named Benjamin. I met Benjamin the first Friday we were in Israel, during a trip to a nursing home where we were paired up with a senior citizen for a short trip out. As we began our stroll, he immediately started opening up and telling me a lot about himself. He mentioned that he is divorced, that he has no relationship with his children, and that he is a heavy smoker. As we talked, I picked up on the fact that he seemed to be very well educated. At some point in the conversation, I decided to ask him about his religious views . Immediately, when bringing this up, I noticed a drastic change in Benjamin’s mood. He became very angry, and sternly said, “I’m an atheist. I don’t believe in God!” When I asked why, he responded by telling me, “I lost my best friends in the Yom Kippur





Major events around NCSY






YARCHEI KALLAH 2011 Teaneck plays weekend host to 200 public school students



A FLOOD OF SUPPORT NCSYers provide relief for Minnesotans in the wake of the Mississippi flood



SHORESH NCSY TAKES ROOT It’s all new, and it’s all boys - all year long

First JUMP Seminar Empowers Teens

Students from Weinbaum Yeshiva High School pose for a picture at the JUMP seminar.

In November 2010, 11 Jewish day schools participated in the first-ever NCSY JUMP Seminar, held at the Tarry-

town Hilton in NY. During the two-day seminar, teens had the opportunity to hear from Jewish communal leaders, including Rabbi Steven Weil, Executive Vice President of the Orthodox Union; Mr. Richard Joel, President of Yeshiva University; Rabbi Steven Burg, International Director of NCSY; Mr. Moishe Bane, Chairman of the OU Board of Governors; Rabbi Aryeh Lightstone, Regional Director of New York NCSY, and Rabbi Yaakov Glasser, Regional Director of New Jersey NCSY.

At the seminar, we learned an immense amount about leadership, thinking ‘outside the box,’ kiruv, the Jewish future and, above all, how we can make a difference.”

– Sarah Struhl, 11th grade, Weinbaum Yeshiva High School, Boca Raton, FL

Participating schools YESHIVA OF FLATBUSH Brooklyn, NY Weinbaum Yeshiva High School Boca Raton, FL Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy Kansas City, KS Davis Renov Stahler Yeshiva High School for Boys Woodmere, NY


Participants learn teamwork through blindfolded challenges.

Hebrew Academy of the Five Towns and Rockaway Lawerence, NY Hebrew Academy of Nassau County Uniondale, NY Rambam Mesitva Lawerence, NY Stella K. Abraham High School for Girls Hewlett Bay Park, NY



Kohlelet Foundation Torah Academy of Greater Philadelphia Philadelphia, PA Salanter Akiba Riverdale Academy Riverdale, NY Yeshiva University High School for Girls Queens, NY.


ProjectJUMPoffersyeshivaday school students the opportunitytobecomeleaderswhowill makeapositivechangeintheir immediatecommunities,while broadeningtheirunderstanding of the global issues facing the Jewishpeople.ThroughaJewish historicaleducationseriesand collaborative projects, JUMP effectively trains yeshiva day school students in a variety of leadership and management skills,challengingeachparticipant to hone his or her newlyacquiredskillsbystrategically planningandcompletingaseries of community-wide projects.

There’s a disheartening schism between those who need assistance, and those who not only can, but want, to give it – especially amongst high school teens. As Yaakov Hawk, a sophomore at DRS Yeshiva in Woodmere, NY, frankly puts it, “Nobody’s coming to schools and telling [us], ‘Oh, this is what you could do to give back to our community.’” So he founded Philanthropy for the Future, a non-profit organization, and tells people himself. Yaakov credits his motivation and success to his parents, active members in their local communities of West Hempstead and the Five Towns, and NCSY’s JUMP, a program that sends a leadership mentor into high schools. Himself a product of inspiration, Yaakov only hopes to pay it forward: “We just [want] to inspire people to take action, to inspire people to help.” It appears that Hawk is achieving his goal. After raising $300 for a widow and her three children, spearheading a fundraiser for breast cancer awareness that garnered $1,500, and running a two-week Haiti relief drive that reaped a “truckload of stuff,” Hawk has only begun. Philanthropy for the Future most recently traveled to the kosher Masbia Soup Kitchen in Brooklyn and spent most of Thanksgiving Day peeling 1,600 pounds of vegetables that were distributed to poor people in the Jewish community and ran a Purim bake sale. Philanthropy for the Future’s slogan, “Changing the way we give,” is evidently their mission statement as well. With a mailing list of 2,000 and an official 501(c)(3) incorporation in February, Yaakov Hawk has patently taken JUMP’s leadership message to heart.

YU President Richard Joel speaks to high school students about on-campus leadership.

DRS 10th grader Yaakov Hawk started his own non-profit organization with the help of NCSY’s JUMP program OU CEO Rabbi Steven Weill engages teens about Israel advocacy.

P A S S O V E R 2 0 11





This past December, 200 public school students gathered together for Yarchei Kallah at the Hilton in Stamford, CT. Yarchei Kallah is a week-long convention for public school students to devote time learning about their heritage. In prior years, the teens spent Shabbat at the hotel. However, this year, the teens spent Shabbat at Congregation Keter Torah in Teaneck, NJ.

Spending Shabbat with the NCSY kids was a great experience for me and my entire family. The kids were not only very excited to be there they were also interested in everything going on around them. It was great for my kids to meet 15, 16 and 17 year old public school kids who were interested in finding out more about Judaism. They were amazed that for some of these kids it was their first Shabbat. My family and I enjoyed the Shabbaton and can’t wait for them to come again soon.

“This year, instead of creating our own atmosphere for Shabbat, we wanted to expose the kids to a Shabbat-observant community,” said Rabbi Yaakov Glasser, Regional Director of New Jersey NCSY. “We wanted the Yarchei Kallah participants to meet community members outside of NCSY staff who embrace a Torah way of life. It demystifies what it means to be a Torah-observant Jew,” said Rabbi Glasser. However, the participants of Yarchei Kallah were not the only ones who benefited from the new Shabbat experience; the Teaneck community benefited as well. They were able to see how NCSY fulfills its mission. Other Orthodox teens residing in the community were able to experience how NCSY infuses teens with the enthusiasm of Yiddiskeit.

- MR. JONATHAN GELLIS President of Keter Torah (Roemer) Synagogue.





“Being Jewish is no longer just a statement of my religious affiliation but is a proclamation of my inner being and way of life.” “From the Rabbi shiurs to the chaburas to the shiur klalis, the amount of Torah knowledge I gained at Yarchei Kallah was tremendous.” -Mayla Boguslav, 12th grade, Advanced Math and Science Academy (AMSA), Worcester, MA

-Batsheva Honig, 10th grade, Walled Lake Northern High School, Detriot, MI

“I made new friends and reunited with my old ones, and enjoyed New Year’s Eve with them in a pleasant, wholesome environment. I left with a heart full of happiness, a fresh mind, and an exhilarated soul, looking forward to experiencing even more growth and life.” -Melissa Slyper, 11th grade, General Douglas MacArthur High School, Wantagh, NY

“I saw teens in tears during Havdalah, dancing and singing with a shine in their eyes, as their souls were fundamentally touched in a truly beautiful, meaningful, and permanent way that they would never forget.” -Judah Joseph, 11th grade, Cherry Hill High School East, Cherry Hill, NJ

“The environment in which we learned was calm and accepting since there were many kids who have never opened a Chumash.” -Allegra Beletskiy, 12th grade, Northwood High School, Silver Spring, MD

P A S S O V E R 2 0 11





Earlier this year, NCSY sent students to Minnesota to clean up areas ravaged by the flooding of the Mississippi River. Students from the Torah Academy of Bergen County (TABC), Teaneck Public High School, and Fairlawn Public High School joined NCSY Associate Regional Director Rabbi Ethan Katz and Rabbi Josh Kahn, Dean of student life at TABC, on a once-in a-lifetime Tikkun Olam experience.





After an orientation session by NECHAMA, the Jewish disaster relief organization that helped coordinate the trip, the students spent the day cleaning out the home of an 89 year old lady who hadn’t touched her belongings since her husband died 15 years earlier. Every room was piled high with garbage, papers and clothes, and after several hours of hard work, the house was restored to its previous condition. The lady thanked the group in tears. On Sunday, the group helped rip out the floorboards and walls of City Hall and of a restaurant that was destroyed by the flooding. A thankful old man who lived above the restaurant was able to have his heat restored as soon as the group finished their job. The brainchild of Rabbi Katz, the purpose of the trip is to help others who experience tragedies of such proportions, teaching NCSY students the valuable lessons of appreciation.

To sponsor a social action trip, please call Ronit at 212.613.8171

P A S S O V E R 2 0 11





Shoresh High School Interns ice skating with middle schoolers

NCSY’s newest program for boys rolls out in New Jersey and Long Island Over the course of the past few years, NCSY has been approached by parents, rabbis, and educators around the country with the request that it expand the model of its renowned NCSY Summer Kollel to include communitybased programs that provide programming, role models, and a Torah atmosphere for yeshiva teens. Only NCSY, they argued, could properly build a program that would inspire teens to develop their passion and commitment to Torah and mitzvot in a holistic way that extends outside the walls of their formal education institutions. Last year, NCSY began the realization of that dream with the launch of Shoresh NCSY. “At NCSY, we’re always looking for new ways to inspire our youth and to provide an environment where each person can feel comfortable,” NCSY International Director Rabbi Steven Burg stated. WIth the initiative from Rabbi Burg, and under the close guidance of Rabbi Moshe Benovitz, Director of NCSY Summer Kollel, and Rabbi Yaakov Glasser, Director of NJ NCSY, Shoresh has taken off.

hundred people together for a flag football tournament, this past Thanksgiving, and a Shabbos of Torah learning and inspiration. Beyond the events, students have developed relationships with madrichim and peers from other schools, cultivating a Shoresh community. Nomi Rotblatt, mother of a Teaneck Shoresh participant, shared that “Shoresh complements the formal education that my son receives at his yeshiva. The program provides structured, supervised events where my son can meet other boys his age from the community, hang out, have fun and learn from the advisors, who are wonderful role models for them.” This coming September, Shoresh looks forward to extending its programs to a Girls’ Division.

Shoresh is directed by Rabbi Yehuda Chanales, who also serves as a rebbe in the Torah Academy of Bergen Country (TABC) in Teaneck, NJ, and who previously worked to found other informal Torah educational programs as Yeshiva University’s Torah Leadership Network (TLN) and Camp Morasha’s Beit Midrash Program (BMP). With the additional help of enthusiastic parents, phenomenal madrichim and an exceptional group of students, Shoresh has been running programs for middle school and high school boys in Teaneck, Bergenfield (in New Jersey) and the Five Towns (in Long Island, New York). Middle school Shabbat onegs bring students from various schools together for divrei Torah, zemirot, food and fun. Trips include sports tournaments, New York City outings, paintball and more. This past summer, for the first time ever, close to one hundred teens participated in a meaningful Tisha B’Av program in Teaneck designed specifically for them. Additionally, Shoresh teamed up with Yeshiva Univeristy’s TLN to run a Shabbaton that brought over one


Shoresh middle school boys enjoying motzaei Shabbos with madrich Corey Fuchs.




Profiles of the people and places that matter



From Transylvania to Teaneck: One Teen’s Extraordinary Story One question, two conversions, and a thousand answers



Unexpected Circumstances Allie Kugler picks up the pieces with the help of NCSY



Growing Up Small Town A daughter’s involvement in NCSY alters this mother’s outlook on Orthodoxy



Columbus Sets Sail The youth group unites and witnesses tremendous positive change



A Tale of Twin Teens Meet Donyel and Nathan Meese



Eye on Alumni Matan Hazanov, NCSY alum and creator of the Jewish Business Network

From Transylvania to Teaneck: ONE TEEN’S EXTRAORDN I ARY STORY

By: Olivia Wiznitzer

Sitting at his desk in Hebrew school, facing a chart explaining the differences between the Orthodox, Conservative and Reform denominations, teen David Storfer tentatively raised his hand. He was about to ask the most important question of his life, a question he had asked before many times. The rabbi called on him. “Hypothetically speaking,” David began, “if somebody was converted in one denomination, would they necessarily be accepted by all Jewish dominations?” The rabbi thought for a moment. His answer was different from what David had been previously told, a flat-out “no” that left him simply turned him off. “Maybe not,” the teacher ventured, “because it might not have been done in accordance with halacha.” Born in Transylvania, Romania, David was adopted as a five-month-old baby by Jewish parents in Teaneck, New Jersey, living only four blocks away from the Teaneck NCSY office. He underwent a non-Orthodox conversion and attended a Jewish day school, where he “did not have the best of experiences with Judaism,” he shared. He chose to attend a public school over a Jewish high school, although his parents made this conditional upon his attending Hebrew school on Sundays. It was there that he met Rabbi Ely Allen, a Sephardi Orthodox rabbi with whom he eventually studied for his halachic conversion. In public school, David felt conflicted. “I knew that I wanted to be Jewish and I was very sure that there was one God,” he explained, “but the way I’d seen Judaism in practice, it wasn’t for me. So I looked for my own version of Judaism.” He demonstrated his identification publicly by choosing to wear a kippah in school on Jewish holidays, even though there was only one other person who did so. There was a club set up in school called the Israel Club run by a Jewish teacher who was updating students about Israel-related topics. David was interested and joined the club in order to “meet some other Jews.” NCSY got involved and transformed the club into a JSU (Jewish Student Union) club. NCSY advisors came to the school and brought pizza and soda while presenting interesting Jewish topics. David became president of the club in his sophomore year, organizing meetings and other events for the next three years. “I wasn’t big on doing Shabbatons or anything really with NCSY,” David explained. “When I was a freshman, I believed that playing video games on Shabbos was permitted because I’d been told it was okay by some of my Jewish friends. So that’s what we would do – play video games every Shabbos.” Then he found out that some of his Hebrew school friends were planning to attend a program called Latte & Learning. “I went and absolutely loved it the first time. Free coffee, five to ten minutes of Torah and hanging out with cool Jewish people!” he recalled fondly. Meeting frum teenagers who were “cool and fun but still


religious” was something that “completely changed my view on the Orthodox world.” David started attending NCSY Shabbatonim with the help of New Jersey NCSY Regional Director Rabbi Yaakov Glasser and Teaneck NCSY. He felt that he had found what he was looking for – “Judaism that made sense and made you a good person and that wasn’t based on money and keeping the holidays because that’s what your parents do.” David started to express his newfound religiosity by wearing a kippah all the time in public school and wearing

“MEETING FRUM TEENAGERS WHO WERE ‘COOL AND FUN BUT STILL RELIGIOUS’ WAS SOMETHING THAT “COMPLETELY CHANGED MY VIEW ON THE ORTHODOX WORLD’.” tzitzis on holidays and final exam days. “I also wore a gold Magen David Jewish chain I got for my brother’s engagement party,” he said. Since he was so obviously Jewish, the non-Jewish students and less-religious Jewish kids started asking him questions about Judaism. “Sometimes I wouldn’t know the answers so I started looking them up, talking to rabbis and really getting into learning in order to bridge the gap.” David’s parents welcomed his newfound commitment to Judaism with a mixture of support and resignation. Their two biological children, a boy and a girl, each older than David, had taken the same path not long before. The




who converts has a pure new soul that hasn’t done any sins and it’s special to get a bracha from them,” David explained. “That’s what made it feel real to me.”

difference was that David’s siblings had become more religious after they had moved out of the house, while David was doing so while still at home. It was difficult to explain why he couldn’t eat all the foods his parents cooked or why he preferred to be away for Shabbos, for instance. David’s brother had become more religious through college and is currently a Chabad rabbi opening a new yeshiva in Miami. David’s sister also became religious, keeping the mitzvos with great mesiras nefesh. “She’s an accountant and her accounting firm paid for her to go to Notre Dame for two summers,” David confided. “She was the only Jew there and she got kosher food flown in every day in double plastic wrappings and was able to take off for Shabbos.” David began his journey toward a halachic conversion with the help of Rabbi Glasser, Rabbi Steven Pruzansky of Congregation Bnai Yeshurun in Teaneck, and his Hebrew school rabbi, Rabbi Ely Allen. Rabbi Pruzansky set out a curriculum for David, which he studied very diligently. “We would meet with him every month or two to test his knowledge,” the Bnai Yeshurun leader explained. “The texts used varied, but the areas of study included the laws of Shabbos, kashrus, tefillah, yamim tovim, tzedaka, the other ethical obligations of the Jew, issues of tznius, tzitzis, along with a working knowledge of the basic story of the Torah, thus parshas hashavua. He needed to have familiarity with our story so that story can become his story as well. Jewish history is also taught. The texts are learned in a combination of English and Hebrew. We require geirim converts to have a working knowledge of Hebrew. They should be able to read it because we don’t want them to convert and have to rely on the English siddur.”

After completing his year of study and geirus, the question of where to study in Israel arose. A year ago, David had considered joining the Bar-Ilan Israel Experience program. Now at a different place in his life, Rabbi Glasser recommended the Derech program at Ohr Somayach. “We put him in a cab to Queens and sent him to meet with the representative,” Rabbi Glasser said, “and they hit it off right away.” David started yeshiva on August 17th and is having, in his words, “the best time of my life.” He happily recalls the Shabbos before he left America as a beautiful one where his parents “ordered from a Jewish catering place and we all had Shabbos together.” Now twenty, he recently made a siyum on the first mesechta of Makkos and plans to either stay for shana bet or attend Yeshiva University. “I for sure want to be an NCSY advisor when I do come back,” he said, just before excitedly telling me he had to go because Rabbi Glasser was visiting from the States and he wanted to see him. “My whole story is thanks to NCSY,” he concludes. “I wouldn’t be here without them.” Olivia Wiznitzer is the Associate Program Director at Alumni Connections. She works to build positive Jewish experiences with NCSY and JSU alumni on campus and beyond.

Rabbi Glasser fondly remembers a time when David was in his shul, helping baal habatim kasher keilim and also studying for geirus. “He came over to me and said he was stuck on a difficult section of Daniel,” Rabbi Glasser mentioned. “I told him I myself hadn’t learned Daniel! But we worked through it. David was very motivated.” “What impressed me about David,” Rabbi Pruzansky noted, “was that not only was he going through our program while in high school, but he was also working in one of the kosher restaurants in Bergen County. He was really putting in a full day. He is self-made and it’s a tribute to his dedication.” Rabbi Glasser echoes the sentiment, saying, “We did not make David Storfer frum. David Storfer made David Storfer frum. At the end of the day, it’s got to come from you.” It was finally time for the special day, which happened a few short days before the holiday of Shavuos. Since he was already circumcised, David had a ceremonial drop of blood removed in a hatafas dam bris. He answered the questions put to him and immersed in the mikvah. Then, water droplets beading on his hair, he beamed. He chose to take a name in addition to his own, “Daniel!” “My biological parents had named me Daniel,” he explained, “while my adoptive parents named me David. Now that I was finally becoming complete as a person, I wanted to put both those names together.” Excited to attend his friend’s wedding in Crown Heights later that evening, nothing felt real to him until his older brother, the Chabad rabbi, asked him for a blessing. “He told me that someone

P A S S O V E R 2 0 11





gionalBoard,wheresheisnowVicePresident ofJuniors.“NCSYhasreallybeenablessingfor Allie,withallthethingsshe’sgoingthrough,” saysStephanie.Allie’sfriendsonNCSYboard make sure she is taken care of, and that they are kept updated on her progress. “They all justcareaboutoneanothersomuch,andthe RegionalBoardhasbeensosupportiveofher, makingnotetocallorsendthingswhenshe’s out of town for treatments.” Her mother also relatedhowsomeRegionalBoardmembers wentsofarastocallStephanieherselftofind outAllie’sstatus.“Thisissomethingyou’dreally only find in NCSY, this level of involvement.”

rd n move forwaent e te a s lp e h NCSY ering accid after a life-alt

InthecoldwindsandsnowofAlbany, NewYork,thereisoneverynoticeable brightspot.ItisAllieKuglerandher contagioussmile.WhetherparticipatinginanNCSYTorah-learningsession, engagedataRegionalBoardmeeting,or welcomingsomeonenewtoNCSYforthe firsttime,thatinfectious,contagious grinisonherface.Seeingthatbright beam,youwouldneverguessthetrials behindit,herincredible,ongoingjourney,andhowNCSYhelpedthisteenager copewithalife-alteringaccident. RewindtotheSpringof2009.Alliewasanormalandhealthyteenager.Shehadjustfinished herfirstsemesteratAlbanyHighSchool,the local public school, with a 95 average. She wasagiftedstudentandagiftedathlete.She mastered Tae KwonDo,receiving a second degreeblackbelt,rantrackinherfirstyearof high school, and was an avid dancer. Then,oneday,everythingchanged. Alliereceivedamajorblowtoherhead,whichresulted in a concussion and a traumatic brain injury. Alliewasdevastated,andthesummerafterthe accidentwasextremelydifficult.“Iwasmoody andreallydown.Lighthurtmyhead,moving hurt, and I was tired a lot. I spent the entire summerinmyroom,inthedark,watchingmovies.Itwasawful.”Thedoctorswerenoncommittal about her improvement and return to schoolandactivities,addingtoherfrustration. Allie also faced anewsetofchallenges.She wasinperpetualpain,sincetheinjurycaused hertohaveconstantheadaches.Hermemory also suffered. “My short-term memory was damaged. It’s a bit better now, but I still have troublerememberingthings,andwhenitfirst [happened it was even worse].” The way her brainprocessedinformationchangedaswell. Allie could no longer learn at her familiar. Stephanie,Allie’smother,recalls,“Allieused to run track, come home, eat a snack, go to the dance studio, come home, study for 20 minutes, and ace her test the next day. She wasaquicklearner,anditcametohereasily. Now, we sit for hours studying the material.” Theinjurydamagedthewayinformationmoved throughherbrain,makingherlearningprocess muchslowerandmorelaborious.Thememory lossissuesdidnothelp.Stillintremendouspain andhermemorylosshurtingherlearningskills,


By: Dalia Caplan

Allie Kruger, right, with Emma Rugoff, at Upstate New York’s Winter Regional

Alliecouldonlyreturntoschoolpart-timethat September.Herafter-schoolextracurricular activitieswerenowreplacedwithdoctorsappointments. AlliehadattendedUpstateNewYorkJr.NCSY events,butstoppedgoingonceshereached high school. However, the injury left her with ahugevoid.Lackingthesociallifethatschool usuallyprovidedandonaquestformeaning after an accident changed her life, Allie was lost.WhenEstherTsvaygenbaum,theAlbany NCSYchapterpresidentatthetime(nowstudyinginMachonMa’ayaninIsrael)reachedoutto hertojoinNCSY,Alliedecidedtogiveitanother try. “Something just clicked. I really loved it. I reallylovedthewayitmademefeelconnected to people and to my Judaism.” Allie found an outlet where she could relate to other teens, embraceherheritage,andbeinvigoratedfrom theenergyandspiritualityofNCSY.Shealso found opportunities to encourage herself to grow:Allievolunteeredtospeakpubliclyatthe regionalLeadershipTrainingSeminar,even thoughitwasoutsideofhercomfortzone.The singingandtheTorahlearningwerethingsthat Alliecouldstilldo,takepleasurein,andderive strength from. And she did. Soon,AlliewasasheavilyinvolvedinNCSYas shewasable,gettingcaughtupineventsand eventuallyrunningforUpstateNewYorkRe-



InUpstateNewYorkNCSY,Allieisfamousfor herupbeatpersonality,hersunnysmile,and herconstantdesiretogrow.“Throughoutall herpersonalstrugglesAlliehascometoeach andeveryNCSYeventwithacharismaticsmile thatcanlightuptheroom.Heractualinability tofrownhasbeenajokeinHarSinai,butitalso gives deeper insight into the type of person Allieis,”addsHannahRestle,currentregional presidentandsenioratJohnJayHighSchool inMtKisco,NewYork.“Allie’scommitmentto NCSYhastrulybeenaninspirationtomeand tothewholeUpstateNewYorkregion.”Areal leader,Allieispopular,butsensitivetothose whomightbenew.“Shestrivestomakeevery conventioncomfortableforalltheparticipants and can be counted on to extend herself to those on the fringes of the circle,” says Marc Fein,RegionalDirectorofUpstateNewYork, NCSY.“Sheispopularandtreatseveryonewith respectandkindness.”DuringNCSYTorahlearningsessionsonconvention,sheisenthusiastic,andhereagerdesiretolearndespiteher challenges shines through. Infact,Allie’sdedicationtoNCSYhascarried overbeyondthetraditionalschool-yearprogramming.Hopefulthatherhealthwillpermit, shehasappliedtogoonTJJAmbassadors,an NCSYsummerprogramthattoursthelength andbreadthofIsrael.AccordingtoMarc,“Allie will create a cool, comfortable atmosphere onthetripandcreateanenvironmentwhere everyonewillcontribute.Shepossessesan emotionaldepthandmaturitythatwillenhance the tenor of the trip dramatically.” Alliestrivesforwardwiththeconfidencetoface herchallenges,herNCSYfriendsandregion solidlyatherside.Stephanie’swordsringtrue, “IalwayssaytoAllie,‘Thisishard.Thisisachallenge.Butyou’llhopefullyseeonedaythatyou will be able to take these life lessonslearned fromthisinjuryandusetheminapositiveway for yourself and to help others.” DALIA CAPLAN IS A PROGRAM ASSOCIATE FOR JSUANDCHAPTERCOORDINATORFORUPSTATE NEW YORK NCSY


three girls all go to public school, belong to a conservativesynagogueandattendTalmud Torahafterschool.ThisismyhappyJewishlife. But, recently we found even more....



s a little girl growing up in a small town in the northwestern corner of Illinois, I knew I wasJewishandIknewIwasdifferentfromall myfriends. Ihadnoideawhatwouldopenup formeonmyjourneytostrengthenmyJewish identity. Inthe1970sand80sSterling,Illinoiswasboth aliberatingandastiflingplacetogrowup. On the one hand, we were living in a safe, small town. Yet, on the other hand, there was no yiddishkeitandnogreaterJewishcommunity to be part of. My parents did a wonderful job withoursmallsynagogueandtheresourceswe had. Mymomtaughtushistory,Torahstories andmitzvot.Wheneversomeonecamethrough our town for a short period of time and knew hebrew, we learned from them. My mom is a verysmartwomanandknewthattheonething shecouldgiveuswasShabbateveryweek.My brothersandIknewthateveryFridaynight,we had to be home for candle lighting, Shabbat dinner and my mom’s challah. Those nights deeply resonated with me.

WorkingforNECHAMA-JewishResponseto Disaster,anon-profitorganizationthathelps floodandtornadovictimsrestoretheirhomes toalivableenvironment,Ireceivedacallabout threeyearsagofromRabbiEthanKatz,who representedanNCSYchapterfromNewJersey. RabbiKatzwantedtobringagroupofstudents to work with us. So, as with any other group, I tookcareofit;Iplannedtheexperienceforthe NCSYers.Thegroupultimatelyworkedwith NECHAMAintheaftermathofHurricaneIkein Texas. TheRabbicalledonceagain,wanting to work with us. At that time, I made some inquiriesaboutNCSYandIwastoldbyafriend, “ThisistheOrthodoxyouthgroup.” So,being the small-town Jew along with living in Minneapolisfor20years,Ihadtheinitialresponse of, “Oh those people.” Last fall, I found myself staffing the third disasterclean-upexperienceforRabbiKatz’s group,righthereinMinnesota.Iwasnervous, worried, overwhelmed [to meet them] but mostlyintimidatedbythesheerfactthatthey were mainly Orthodox. At the same time, my tenth-grade daughter, Hanah,wasinvitedtoanNCSYCholentand Chat.ShehaddabbledinUSYandBBYO,yet justwasn’tintriguedbythoseprograms.Inher firsteveningwithNCSY,shewascaptivatedby theNCSYers,thespeakeroftheeveningand theyouthdirector,RabbiTzviKupfer.Everyone wasinvitingandexcitedtohaveanewmember. Atthatpoint,shelearnedaboutTorahHighand started the following week.

HanahvolunteeredwithNECHAMAduringthe timethatRabbiKatzandhisgroupwereworking in Minnesota. Rabbi Katz and a student, PhilKatzfromNewJersey,spoketoherabout TJJandTJJAmbassadors.Shewasintrigued yet still unsure about the Orthodox aspect. AfterworkingwiththegroupfromNewJersey, afewmoreweeksofNCSYprogramming,CholentandChatsandTorahHigh,sheandIboth realizedthatbeingOrthodoxwasnotintimidatingatall.Infact,itistheopposite. Itisthemost inclusivegroupofJewswehaveevermet.We are part of the family. Mostofmyfriendsask,[“Howdoyoufeelthat HanahisinvolvedwithanOrthodoxgroup?Or ifshebecomesOrthodox?”]Myfirstresponse is to educate: NCSY is not there to “convert” HanahtoOrthodoxy.Mynextresponse,along with my husband’s, has never wavered. “If this is the right path for our daughter, then we support it.” She is happy, she has wonderful newfriends,sheisincluded,sheislearningin atotallydifferentenvironmentandlovingher Judaism. In short, she is part of the family! HanahhasnowbeenacceptedintotheTJJAmbassadorsprogramandwenttotheMidwest YarcheiKallah.Iamstudyingwithaneducator fromAishandIamplanningongoingtoIsrael inMaywithTAG-TheJewishWomen’sRenaissanceProject.ItisalongwayfromSterling,but my journey is far from being over. AmyCytronistheVolunteerCoordinator and Development Associate for NECHAMA – Jewish Response to Disaster. She lives in Minneapolis with her husband Todd and three daughters. Amy volunteers at her daughter’s schools, sits on the Youth Commission at her synagogue and currently serves on the board of directors of Herzl Camp.

IalsogivemymomfullcreditforunderstandingthatinformalJewisheducationwasjustas important.HersearchledhertoHerzlCampin Webster,Wisconsin,azionistcampbuiltona resortthatintheearly1900sdidnotallowJews ontheirproperty. Howironic! Ispent12summersthereandcurrentlyserveontheboardof directors. I am a past president of the Board. Inmyearlytwenties,ImovedtoMinneapolis because I wanted to have more Jewish resourcesformyselfandformyfuturefamily.Our

P A S S O V E R 2 0 11



Pictured above: Amy Cytron with her daughter Hanah



rmo f s n a The trof a once ation ed youth divid p... grou At Graeter’s Ice Cream Store in Columbus, Ohio, thirty Jewish teens sit together, laughing, joking and hanging out while discussing Torah. They come from many different backgrounds, ranging from students at Columbus Torah Academy (CTA), who are proud to be a part of NCSY to participants of other youth groups and unaffiliated public school students. Licking ice cream cones is just one way to introduce teens to a long-lasting appreciation and love for Judaism. The friendliness and warmth in this group marks a distinct change from a former elitist vibe that had crept in. Rabbi Jesse Boiangiu, Columbus City Director, has worked a transformation, although he gives most of the credit to his fantastic chapter board. “I have done almost no recruitment for the events,” he admits, “all I do is send out a group text.” He is proud of the reforms and changes that have been implemented, among them the creation of a board of parents and rabbis from the three main synagogues. “Working together,” he explains, “is the key to success.”

One of Rabbi Boiangiu’s spiritual successes is his Rosh Hashana minyan, which he ran for twenty public school teens. “They stayed in shul and listened to the entire shofar blowing,” he recounted, “and davening from beginning to end. Most of these kids wouldn’t have spent more than five minutes in shul otherwise.” On the practical side, increased organization is something parents particularly appreciate. “Every parent always knows where the buses [to take students to Regional] are going to be, what the costs are, and there’s a central place for forms and payments to be processed,” he said. The true achievement in Columbus is promoting the spirit of achdut between the different Jews in the community. No matter which school or which shul a teen attends, they all belong to one organization – NCSY. “Diversity in backgrounds,” remarked Rabbi Boiangiu, “is simply something that allows us to learn from one another. That kind of growth is necessary.” Now that it is out of its growing-pain stage, we look forward to seeing the heights that Columbus NCSY will reach! Columbus has always had a proud history with NCSY, but Rabbi Boiangiu has really ‘supercharged’ things in the past few years that he has been here. He has pulled together all the shul youth groups and is reaching out to dozens of public school students through his popular programs and bringing them closer to Yiddishkeit.” -Rabbi Naphtali Weisz, Beth Jacob Congregation





There is no question that the decision and the ability to hire a community NCSY director and to merge what for many decades was two chapters into one has made all of the difference in the success of Columbus NCSY. Rabbi Jesse Boiangiu has taken full advantage of this opportunity and created a successful critical mass. Under his dynamic leadership, we look forward to continued growth and success.” -Rabbi Howard Zack, Congregation Torat Emet

RABBI JESSE BOIANGIU, Columbus NCSY City Director Rabbi Jesse Boiangiu isn’t your typical New Yorker. Three years ago, the then-26year-old rabbi and his family ended their two-year stint in the Gruss kollel in Israel and moved to Columbus, Ohio. The move was hardly a decision made for want of better options; Rabbi Boiangiu, a graduate of YU’s Azrieli and semicha programs, had been offered multiple positions in the tri-state area, as well as other large cities. What drew him to Columbus, Ohio? The ability to make a pronounced impact. “We felt that Columbus was a place where every single day we were really making a difference - if we didn’t do it, no one else would,” he declared. The move wasn’t easy for Rabbi Boiangiu and his wife, who both grew up in Brooklyn, and were used to a plethora of kosher restaurants and other amenities offered by a large Jewish community. Retrieving a pizza pie for the Jewish Culture Club at the local public school, for instance, is a three-step process: heading to the supermarket to buy the pie, driving over to the sole Jewish day school to heat it up in their oven, and then transferring the hot food over to the public school. “If you want something to happen, you go do it yourself,” asserted Rabbi Boiangiu. “What keeps us going is the community support,” Rabbi Boiangiu confessed. “It’s waking up every day and watching Jewish teens choose to learn Torah with a partner over the phone, go to Israel or make life decisions with a commitment to Judaism in mind.”

P A S S O V E R 2 0 11





Working with Rabbi Boiangiu has been a pleasure from day one; his energy and belief in the success of our Jewish youth is empowering, and he and his rebbetzin are invaluable assets to the Columbus Jewish community. NCSY in Columbus is something that is crucial to nurturing Yiddishkeit in our young men and women, and I am looking forward to their only growing in beautiful ways!”

-Rabbi Chaim Yosef Ackerman, Congregation Ahavas Sholom


“During the last several years, NCSY in Columbus, OH has exploded. It has gone from being a small, sleepy chapter to a growing one, bursting with energy, excitement, learning and awesome activities. How did that happen? Three words: Rabbi Jesse Boiangiu. Rabbi Boiangiu and his wife, Chani, have electrified Columbus, Ohio with their contagious enthusiasm, warm hospitality, intense love of Yiddishkeit and creative ideas. They inspire kids from across the entire spectrum. Everyone is touched by their sincerity and dedication. Rabbi B., as Jesse is affectionately known, has unified the individual synagogue youth groups and brought a bold vision to the community. His formula goes something like this: authentic Torah values + learning + tons of fun + great food = engaged, happy kids. I can tell you that the formula works, especially when the “mathematician” is a dynamic Jewish educator like Rabbi Jesse Boiangiu. “

DAVID SCHOTTENSTEIN, Owner & CEO of Astor and Black Clothiers: “As an adult who can look back and remember NCSY, I have only fond memories of incredible experiences. From the Shabbatons to the events, I was very active in NCSY. I remember back in the day, NCSY was a pretty big part of my and my friends’ lives; every other weekend there was an event going on. It’s extremely important that we all support NCSY and make it part of our community life because if there is one organization that everyone feels comfortable to be a part of, it’s NCSY. There are literally people from all walks of life on every Shabbaton and every event and I can’t think of a better way to bring teenagers together, to encourage kids to connect with their roots, and to be excited to be Jewish than with NCSY.”

SAM COHEN, Senior, Bexley High School, Columbus, OH: “NCSY has been a springboard for my basic understanding and enthusiasm towards Judaism. Whether it is going to JSU and Latte & Learning a couple of times a week or learning Torah over the phone with one of my amazing NCSY advisors, there is no shortage of places or people to turn to with questions or curiosities. But NCSY has done so much more for me than to just simply answer my questions; it has shown me outlets to grow as a Jew for the rest of my life, such as the kollel in my community or taking a year off to spend in Israel. And, most importantly, NCSY has helped me to understand the importance of never losing my Jewish identity as I grow up and leave NCSY.”





By Donyel Meese

Spending all their time together didn’t mean they couldn’t be a part...of NCSY found time to meet halfway in Mea Shearim, a Jerusalem neighborhood, and catch up over an iced coffee or a frozen yogurt. After that summer, there was no turning back. Nathan and I both came back ready to dive headfirst back into NCSY-ready to dive back into the Latte & Learning, Torah-By-Phone, Shabbatons, and NCSY havdalahs. Our favorite part of these Shabbatons was always havdalah. As the sky grows darker and Shabbos slips away into the night, the band begins to play. And the speaker shares a few words, NCSYers fix their gazes upon different areas of the room; some of them wipe away escaped tears. Riveted, they all listen, diving into selfreflection and emotion. Havdalah is said. Lines of dancing NCSYers begin to take shape while the Regional Board gathers on stage, each holding a flickering candle. As hot wax drips onto their hands and sweat forms on their brows, this group dances tirelessly, savoring their last taste of Shabbos. NCSY instills a love of Shabbos, a longing for Shabbos, in everyone. While Shabbos may be long over by z’man standards, NCSYers still dance and sing the night away. Watching them, we found that there’s something extraordinarily unique about a tight-knit group of more than 300 high school students who really, truly care. After graduating from Columbus Torah Academy, we weren’t ready to give NCSY up. After talking with our Regional Director, Rabbi Bezalel “Tzali” Freedman, “NCSY Nexxus” was created; Nathan and I became a part of the Central East Region’s very first advisor-in-training program. We were thrilled to be so involved with the program, and even more thrilled to be able to do this together. This fantastic stepping stone from participant to advisor gave us the opportunity to have a more lasting impact on other NCSYers.

Twins Donyel and Nathan Meese


y twin brother and I were always inseparable. For 19 years, Nathan and I have done just about everything together from playing basketball and taking French lessons, to lifeguarding and finishing each other’s sentences -although we do try to avoid dressing to match. Just when we thought we had done it all, we found one more thing to add to the growing list: NCSY.

For most of the students who come on their first NCSY Shabbaton, it’s their first taste of Orthodox Judaism, it’s the first time that they sing Yedid Nefesh during a kumzits, the first time that they slip on a pair of tzitzit, the first time that they keep Shabbos. I take so much for granted, but when I see these kids work so hard on their Judaism, I’m reminded and inspired to put more effort and enthusiasm into my own Judaism. A simple question can turn into an hour-long discussion, a new commitment, and a lifelong understanding. Nathan and I have learned to pause, reconsider, and appreciate. We have both gained so much from our NCSYers, and hopefully we’ve given them something too.

On each Shabbaton, we enjoyed talking with friends and learning with advisors, and we look forward to everything else. “Everything else” includes the all-night ski trips, white water rafting, and NCSY Summer Programs. I spent my days in sunny Beit Shemesh on Michlelet, while he learned gemara on its companion program, NCSY Kollel. Separated by just 15 minutes, each of us thrived in our respective program. Surrounded by stunning views of the Israeli countryside, I took classes on halacha (Jewish law) and hashkafa (philosophy), listened to lectures from worldrenowned speakers, and spent my days hiking in Eilat and working with child victims of terror. Nathan learned well into the night on Kollel’s exciting post-maariv mishmar, and dominated on the basketball court when the 3-on-3 tournament rolled around. Yet every Friday, both of us still

P A S S O V E R 2 0 11






Matan Hazanov, Israeli-born but raised in Toronto, grew up in a non-observant but very proud Jewish home. He was first exposed to Jewish learning in JSU in his senior year at high school and quickly became the president of the organization. Always a proud Jew/Israeli, Matan never knew what it really meant to be Jewish until he started to learn with NCSY. NCSY gave him the confidence to continue his Jewish learning and involvement in university, where he became very involved with Israel advocacy in Hillel and eventually became the president, in which he represented 5000 Jews on campus. He is now a fourth year international business student at the Schulich School of Business at York University in Toronto. “Watching them, we found that there’s something extraordinarily unique about a tight-knit group of over 300 high school students who really, truly care.” Sometimes, twins go their separate ways when they go to college. Not the Meeses. We decided to continue on together at Ohio State University; both of us are on the pre-medicine track, but Nathan majors in engineering, while I major in journalism. Although we have entered the broader community of the college campus, our NCSY experiences remain a vibrant part of our passion for Judaism. While we may spend more afternoons talking with our physics lab partners than with our Tuesday night “Torah by Phone” partners, and while we might spend more time with people discussing “War and Peace” than “Guard Your Tongue”, both Nathan and I feel fervently connected to the Central East Region, its advisor staff, senior NCSYers, and middle school participants. A weekend of NCSY in Cleveland or Pittsburgh is a welcome break, physically as well as spiritually. While I still lose my voice after the random bursts of song during Shabbos lunch, and while I still want to collapse after dancing into the night, the electrifying speakers that fly around the world to be with us, and the memory of one hundred voices joined in a heartfelt Acheinu stay with me for weeks afterwards. Everything that we’ve learned, every experience we’ve been a part of, every person who has inspired us, we have brought with us. The inspiring energy that NCSY infuses into the lives of so many Jewish children across the country is what sparks us to sing and to cry, to absorb and to display, to feel so passionately about our heritage. And, believe it or not, that message is contagious.


With his love for the Jewish people and Judaism, as well as his desire to make the world a better place, Matan and two friends, Adam Renkosinski and Jordan Bizouati, created an organization called the Jewish Business Network in August of 2009. This move was inspired by a leadership trip to Poland and Israel by Aish HaTorah, which aims to teach Judaism to aspiring business people while developing them into leaders. The organization saw tremendous success in its first year, operating out of the Schulich School, which is ranked the #1 business school in Canada. It has quickly grown to include dozens of Jewish leaders on eight campuses in Canada in just one short year. The organization continues to flourish under his leadership and touts hundreds of involved members, learning about Jewish values in a business context and attempting to build a more ethical business world. Matan is also a serial entrepreneur who, with partners and by himself, has developed and launched businesses and is working on several projects. Matan takes time to learn almost every night and is growing in his Jewish observance. Matan aspires to eventually take time to go to yeshiva for long-term learning in order to become a more successful person (both in business and in his personal life). His goal is to develop a JBN on every major university campus in North America and expand it to include programming for high school students and young professionals.

To see more info about the Jewish Business Network, please visit:




Happenings from around the NCSY universe



Learn, Yearn, and Return: Gilad Shalit Teens launch “Learn for Gilad” initiative with resounding success



Baltimore Sells Out - In a Good Way Sell-out crowd as 1,600 attend concert for NCSY



Canada’s Fundraisers Raise the Bar NCSY teens raise $12,000 for Chai Lifeline



New Artists in New England Maccabeats perform at annual “Celebration”



Sleepless in Atlanta 250 teens from 23 high schools attend first-ever all-nighter



Zero to Eighty Jewish Culture Clubs open in Phoenix

NATIONAL Teens launch “Learn for Gilad” initiativewithresoundingsuccess NCSYersfromalloverAmericahavecometogetherto create“LearnforGilad”,aday-Sunday,April10th,2011 -committedsolelytolearningonbehalfofthecaptured Israelisoldier.Thisinitiative,conceived,organized,and promotedbyteens,hasalreadyimpelledover550people tosignupfortheevent.Inaccordancewiththeupcoming holidayofPesach,thetopicchosenforthefunctionis “freedom.”Teenwillbepartneredwithotherteensfrom otherregions.Astheevent’sFacebookpagestates,“As Jewishteenagers,itisvitalthatwe...keep[Gilad]inour thoughts and prayers.”

Over 20,000 people sign up for the Big Apple Giveaway

NCSY’s first annual Big Apple Giveaway was a huge success!ThepurposeoftheBigAppleGiveawaywasto createexcitementandbuzzaboutthefirstnationalNCSY ChineseAuction,whichwillraisefundstosupportNCSY programmingin2011,includingscholarshipsforpublic schoolteenstotraveltoIsrael.Thegiveawaywasfora two-night stay in NYC’s Grand Hyatt Hotel, a $3,000 shoppingspreeattheApplestoreinNewYorkCityand dinneratPrimeGrillrestaurant.Theluckywinnerwas formerNCSYadvisorIlanaNeufeld,fromNorthMiami Beach, Florida.

NCSY Chanukah video passes 200,000 views

The Maccabeats weren’t the only ones with video successoverChanukah.NCSY’sChanukahvideohadan astounding200,000hitsonYouTubeandwasshared over17,000timesonFacebook,makingChanukaheven morejoyousthisyear.ThevideofeaturedChanukah themedlyricssungbySix13tothreehitsongs.NCSY wasabletospreadthelightofChanukahbygettingNew YorkersofallstripestodancewhilewearingChanukahthemedt-shirts.Seethevideoonlineatwww.chanukah. and buy the single on iTunes.

NCSY launches fist-ever national auction

The first-ever nationwide NCSY auction, themed “Imagine”,washighlysuccessful.Theonlineauction, open from December 15, 2010 until March 8, 2011, featuredmanywonderfulprizes.Thegrandprizewasthe opportunitytocommissionaSeferTorahor$18,000cash. Theproceedsoftheauctionwillgotowardsscholarships for NCSY teens to travel to Israel and to create more dynamic and exciting programming.

BenZakkaiHonorSocietyreception raises $180,000 for scholarships

OnJanuary30th,280peopleattendedNCSY’sannual BenZakkaiAwardReceptionattheBohemianNational HallinNY;payingtributetototheremarkablelegacyof Dr.BernardLanderz”l.ThedinnerhonoredDr.Davidand VivianLuchinsofNYandRabbiZevandRivkahLeffof MoshavMattityahuinIsrael.Inaddition,Dr.Howardand BrendaRosenthalofKansasCitywerepresentedwith theEnidandHaroldBoxerMemorialAward.Lastly,four membersoftheNCSYfamilywereinductedintotheBen ZakkaiHonorSociety:AaronHornofEastWindsor,NJ; JessicaHoffmanofSeattle,WA;NoachKleinofSouthfield, MI;andRabbiMichaelRovinskyofSt.Louis,MO.TheBen ZakkaiReceptionraisesfundstoenableNCSYteensto attendNCSYSummerProgramsinNorthAmericaand Israel and to help aid them in continuing their Jewish education after high school.

Touro College and OU Announce Lander Scholarships for outstanding NCSY graduates

TouroCollegeannouncedthatitisofferingfull-tuition scholarshipstooutstandingNCSYgraduateswhochoose toattendoneofTouro’sLanderCollegesinNewYork City.Thescholarships,inmemoryofTouro’sFounding President Dr. Bernard Lander zt”l and his wife Sarah Rivkah,wereannouncedattheendofJanuarybyTouro PresidentandCEODr.AlanKadishandOrthodoxUnion PresidentDr.SimchaKatz.“Dr.Landeralwaysinsisted thatTouroofferscholarshipopportunitiestooutstanding NCSYleaders,”Dr.Kadishsaid.“Wehavepresentedover $2milliondollarsinsuchscholarshipsovertheyears, and it is only appropriate that these new, full-tuition scholarshipsbearDr.Lander’snameandthenameofhis beloved wife, Sarah Rivkah.”

JosephStechlernamedchairman of NCSY Youth Commission

OrthodoxUnionPresidentDr.SimchaKatzannounced theappointmentofJoseph(Yossi)Stechler,ofTeaneck, NJandZichronYaakov,Israel,tobeChairmanoftheOU’s NationalYouthCommission,whichoverseesNCSY.Mr. Stechler,presidentofStechler&Company,aninvestment firm,hashadalongpersonalinvolvementwithNCSY, includingseveraltermsasViceChairman.Hewrites, “IamhonoredtohavebeenappointedChairmanofthe NationalYouthCommissionofNCSY.Frommypersonal involvementinNCSYoverthepasttwodecades,Iknow that it is the largest and most effective organization servingJewishteensintheUnitedStatesandCanada,as well as youth programs in Israel and Latin America.

Joseph Bookman, a freshman at Beth Tifiloh in Baltimore learns with Jason Gelber of Inspiration Express during the 12 week Senator Ben Cardin Jewish Scholars Program, a program of Atlantic Seaboard NCSY.

ATLANTIC SEABOARD RabbiJonahLerner,RegionalDirector // 410.358.6279 // //

Over 250 teens attend largest winterregionalinyearsundernew leadershipofRabbiJonahLerner OnDecember9th,2010,AtlanticSeaboardNCSYwas proud to to host over 250 teens from Philadelphia, Baltimore, Greater Washington and Virgina for its WinterRegional,representingover65%growthfrom thepreviousyear.Teensfromallovertheseareascame togetherforaShabbosofinspirationintheRaddisonInn inPiscataway,NJ.Theteenshadablastastheylearned whatittakestobeatrueJewishhero.Withdeliciousfood providedbyHoffmanCateringandinspirationprovidedby theNCSYstaff,itwasaweekendeveryonewillremember foralifetime.Saturdaynight,theNCSYersenjoyedavideo scavengerhuntinTimesSquareandadeliciousdinnerat Mr. Broadway.

Sell-out crowd as 1,600 attend concert for NCSY

Despite the threat of a major snowstorm, Sunday, December26wasanamazingeveningasover1,600 peoplepackedthebeautifulsanctuaryofBethTfilohin Baltimore,MDforthe36thAnnualJewishMusicFestival featuringYaakovShwekeyandBaruchLevine.Theconcert inspiredallwhoattendedandeveryonesawfirsthandall thewonderfulworkthatNCSYdoesandhasbeendoingin Atlantic Seaboard for the past 50 years.

Senator Ben Cardin Jewish Scholars Program more than doubles in second year

With43participants(comparedto18lastyear)fromeight publicschools,theSenatorBenCardinJewishScholars Programlauncheditssecondyear.Theprogramprovides leadership training to teenagers passionate about combiningcommunityserviceandJewishvalues.The12 sessionsmergementorshipandengagingeducationby influentialleadersinthefieldsoflaw,finance,government andthenonprofitsectorwithhands-onadvocacyand leadershipopportunitiesinMarylandandWashington, DC.Thisyear,theprogramwillincludeanopportunityto attendalobbyingmissiontoWashington,DCattheend oftheprogram.TheSenatorBenCardinJewishScholars ProgramisajointventureofNCSY,JSU,andInspiration Express.

Greater Washington

Rabbi Nissim Levin //

NCSYSummerProgramsrecruitment reaches an all-time high

Thissummer,20teensareheadedtoIsrael(comparedto onelastyear)–13ofwhomhavealreadysignedupfor NCSY’sflagshipIsraelprogramforpublicschoolteens, The Jerusalem Journey. Rael Blumenthal leads a live “Latte & Learning” at the 2011 OU Convention. Convention attendees got to see firsthand one of NCSY’s flagship programs.





Ottawa, Ontario

Regional attendance more than triples in one year

GreaterWashingtonNCSYexperiencedunprecedented growthas85teensattendedthisyear’sWinterregional, upfrom25theyearbefore.Asteensareinspired,they bring their friends to participate - the best sign of all.

Bram Bregman //

FormerpresidentialadvisorGordon Zacks speaks at Latte & Learning

Over35publicschoolandyeshivadayschoolstudents wereprivilegedtohearaccomplishedbusinessman, author,andformerPresidentialAdvisorGordonZacks speakonthetopicofleadershipattheirweeklyLatte& Learning.Mondaynightshavebecomethefavoritenight oftheweekforteensinColumbusasNCSY’sweeklyLatte &Learningprogramhasexplodedwithoverthirtyteens attendingeachweek.Teensfromallbackgroundsand affiliationscometogethertodiscusspressingissuesand enjoy free ice cream, in place of coffee.

Philadelphia, PA

Rabbi Yitz Levi //

Philadelphia NCSY recruitment explodes

AsofFebruary,PhiladelphiaNCSYalreadyhas17teens fromfourdifferentpublicschoolssigneduptospendtheir summerinIsraelonTJJandTJJAmbassadors.Thisis largelyduetothehelpofAnnetteRosenfield,astudent fromLowerMorelandHighSchool,andRobHaarburger, themostrecentadditiontoouradvisorystaff.Additionally, Shabbatonattendanceincreasedfrom65to85teens from the previous year.

PhiladelphiaNCSYersruntheirown Latte&Learning;40teensshowup NCSYersinPhiladelphiarantheirownLatte&Learning programinCherryHill,NJ.Quiteimpressively,40teens showed up to discuss “Bettering the Jewish Nation.”

CANADA RabbiLeibIrons,RegionalDirector&RabbiGlennBlack,CEO// 905.761.6279 // //

Over 1,500 people attend NCSY Canada’s annual dinner

OnDec.13th,2010,over1,500peoplejoinedtogetherfor NCSYCanada’sannualdinnerattheTorontoCenterfor theArtshonoringJohn’sNoFrillsandNoFrillsOntario. The night’s entertainment was Eli Gerstner and The YeshivaBoysChior.Thehighlightoftheeveningwasa videooftwoNCSYalumni,SamanthaCrystalandMike Eisenberg,whoeachtoldtheirmovingstoryofgrowing upsecularwithverylittleJewishconnection.Theymetin NCSYand,aftergoingtoyeshiva,decidedtoeachgoon theirownwaysandgrowindividually.Thispastsummer, theybegandatingonceagainandaregettingmarried thiscomingJune.Everyonewasmovedtotearsbythe story.Theconcertwasasmashingsuccessanditplaysa significantroletowardscoveringthelargebudgetof3.5 million dollars.

Canada’s New York Shabbaton hostslargestgroupofteensyet 350teens,NCSYCanada’slargestgroupyet,attendedthe annualNewYorkShabbaton.Overthecourseoffourdays, theteensheardfromanarrayofillustriousspeakersona varietyoftopics:Mr.CharlieHarary,SergeantBenjamin Anthony,OUPresidentDr.SimonKatz,NewEngland RegionalDirectorRabbiShmuel,YouthCommission ChairmanMr.JosephStechler,andNCSY’sInternational Director Rabbi Steven Burg. The weekend was an unprecedented success.

Religious observance jumps among Impact participants

In the last six months, Impact has attracted over 250 teens,wholearnedforacombinedtotalofovermorethan 2991hours.ImpactisNCSY’sadvancedlearningprogram thatprovidesone-on-onelearningalongsideaseriesof lecturesandexperiencesfromTorahleaders.Further, morethanhalfoftheparticipantsreportedincreased Shabbatobservanceandmorethan85%attendedatleast oneobservance-relatedevent.Asoneparticipantsaid,“I havetakenuponmyselftheresponsibilitytokeepkashrut andShabbat,andnowIwearmodestclothingathome and at school.”

NCSY’s Jewish Culture Club at Sir Robert Borden High School spent two weeks building and handpainting a beautiful menorah. The menorah was lit in the school for Chanukah and was featured in the Ottawa Citizen, the largest newspaper in Ottawa.

Thornhill, Canada

Avi Levinson //

NCSY teens raise $12,000 for Chai Lifeline

Thisyear,twoteensoftheThornhillNCSYchapterboard andoneteenfromtheTorontoChapterboardraisedmore than$12,000forChaiLifeline.Oneofthefundraiserswasa basketballtournamentcalled“HoopsfortheKids”,which broughtout60teensfora3-on-3basketballtournament.

Thornhill NCSY shows hakarat hatovtolocalemergencyservices

TheThornhillOrangeCrew,anNCSYcommunityservice actionteam,decidedtoshowtheirhakarathatovtothe localemergencyservicesbypreparingaNewYear’sEve dinnerforthemenandwomenwhowouldnotbeable tospendtheoccasionwiththeirfamilies.Theyspentall daycookingforalmost100emergencypersonneland deliveredthefoodtotwofirehallsandonepolicestation. Theemergencypersonnelwereverytouchedanditwasa tremendous Kiddush Hashem.

CENTRAL EAST RabbiTzaliFreedman,RegionalDirector//888.471.4514// //

Yeshiva Fair Weekend answers 100 teens’ questions on post-high school life

TheCentralEastRegionhostedaYeshivaFairShabbaton on November 12-14, the first of its kind, at the Young IsraelofBeachwood.Twenty-fiveIsraeliyeshivotand seminaries,aswellasYU,Touro,Bar-IlanandHebrew University,wererepresentedattheweekend,informing andansweringthe100highschooljuniorsandseniors whoattended.TeensfromCleveland,Columbus,Detroit, Cincinnati,andChicagoexaminedtheideaofgoingto Israelfortheyearandconfrontedrealissuesthatarise inthetimespentabroad.Theproductiveweekendwas repletewithround-robins,workshops,anddiscussions that zeroed in on matters of prioritization, decision making, and planning for the future.


Cincinnati, OH

Rabbi Pinchas Landis //

NCSY relaunches in Cincinnati for the first time in years

Virtuallynon-existentforthepastfewyears,NCSY,under thenewleadershipofRabbiPinchasLandis,openedup twoJewishCultureClubslastyearinWalnutHillsand SycamoreHighSchool.Injustoneyear,theclubshave exploded with 50 students involved. Additionally, a weeklyLatte&LearningisheldatGraeter’sIceCream where15-25teenscometodiscussJewishtopicsand hang out.

Detroit, MI

Rabbi Dovid Lichtig //

Undernewleadership,DetroitNCSY kickoffBBQattractsover60teenagers

DetroitNCSYhadtheultimatejumpstarttotheyearwhen over60teenagersfromacrosstheprivateandpublic schoolspectrumgottogethertogrillhamburgersandget toknoweachotherandNCSY.Muchofthesuccessofthe eventcanbeattributedtonewcitydirector,RabbiDovid Lichtig,acharismaticrabbioriginallyfromEngland,who moved from Israel with his wife and family.

Pittsburgh, PA

Rabbi Ari Goldberg //

Jewish Culture Clubs attracts 100 teens on a regular basis

ClubshaveincludeddiscussionsaboutJewishcontinuity aswellashands-onprojectspertainingtoJewishholidays fromSuccahbuildingtoaTuB’Shvatsmoothie-making competition.

Over 125 people attend local fundraiser

Thispastyear,PittsburghNCSYhostedafundraiser thatshowcasedthesuccessesofPittsburghNCSYwhile raisingcriticalfundsforlocalprograms.NCSYerswere instrumental in planning and running the event.

Columbus, OH

Rabbi Jesse Boiangiu //

Schottensteinshostfirstannual BBQ fundraiser at their home

In September, David (CEO & Founder, Astor & Black ClothierCo.)andhiswifeEdaSchottensteinhostedthe first-everColumbusNCSYcommunityBBQattheirhome inordertoraisemoneyforweeklylocalprogramming andtoprovidescholarshipstoNCSYRegionalevents andSummerPrograms.SeniorsAaronPortmanfrom ColumbusTorahAcademy,andSamCohenfromBexley HighSchool,sharedtheirstoriesabouthowNCSYand

P A S S O V E R 2 0 11

JSUinColumbushaveinfluencedthemintheirlives.Mr. Schottenstein,whoisanNCSYalumnus,alsosharedsome ofhisownpositivememoriesofNCSYandencouraged the community to support it.



Newly appointed Detroit city director Rabbi Dovid Lichtig teaches a group of teens during Yarchei Kallah.



InresponsetothetragedyinTucson,MidwestNCSY producedavideowhichanswersthequestionofhowto liveourlivesinanoftencrazyworld.Thevideowassent outtohundredsofteensviaemailandFacebookaswellas ontheMidwestNCSYYouTubepage.Thefeedbackfrom thevideohasbeenoverwhelminglypositive,asviewers founditaninspiringwaytoframethetragedy.Midwest intendstocontinueproducingcutting-edgevideoswith relevantandinspirationalmessagesasaninnovativeway toreachouttonewteens,aswellascontinuetoconnect with those currently in the Midwest NCSY family.

Cleveland, OH

Rabbi Arieh Friedner //

Cleveland wins “best of the best” award

Thisyearhasbeenaparticularlymomentousyearfor NCSYinCleveland.ClevelandNCSYisthecurrentholder ofthe“ChapteroftheYear”awardgiveneveryyearatthe SpringAwardsBanquet.OnaNationallevel,citydirector RabbiAriehFriednerwasgiventhe“BestoftheBest” award at the annual staff conference.

Three major Shabbatons this year in Cleveland

ClevelandhasseenmanyspectacularShabbatonsthis year.Atthebeginningoftheyear,YoungIsraelofGreater ClevelandhostedtheYeshivaFairShabbaton,where morethan100teensfromtheentireRegiongatheredto discusstheirplansforpost-HighSchoolinIsraelandmeet withIsraelprograms.InFebruary,thelocalCleveland Skibatonsaw90localteensparticipateinanamazing oneg,lunchatGreenRoadSynagogue,andskitriptoMad RiverMountain.Finally,inMarchClevelandhostedthe RegionalShabbatonwhichsaw250teensbeinspiredby our trademark Shabbaton programming.

MIDWEST RabbiMichaGreenland,RegionalDirector//847.677.6279// //

Midwest NCSY raises $290,000 at annual banquet

Over 300 people attended Midwest NCSY’s annual banquet in December honoring Joey and Becky Zimmerman for their decades of service to NCSY. In addition,theZimmermans’sonanddaughter-in-law, RabbiZviandRachelZimmerman,receivedtheMidor L’dor Award in recognition of the next generation of NCSY’simpact.Thankstotheoutpouringofsupportfrom hundredsofChicagodonors,theeventraised$290,000 to sustain and expand critical NCSY programs.

Marc Lennon //

Closeto30MemphisNCSYerstravel toChicagoforMidwestConclave

27MemphisNCSYerstraveledtoChicagoaspartofa 333personShabbatonthatinspiredandcreatedgreat bonding among the group. While the skiing was fun, formingcloseconnectionswithadvisorsandcreatinga flagmarch-inforBanquetwerethehighlightsofthetrip. ConclavehasneverfailedincreatingrealpositiveJewish experiences for NCSYers of all backgrounds.

Buffalo Grove, IL

Indianapolis, IN

Frappatorah program draws more than 20 teens

NCSY scores a touchdown with Super Bowl party

Jenny Serle //

NCSYer Richard Bourque lights the Menorah at Midwest NCSY’s Annual Banquet.

Memphis, TN

Sam Zitin //

OncoldMondaynights,asizablecrowdofmorethan 20teenspacksintoStarbucksforwordsofinspiration,a warmlatte,andagreattimewiththeirfriends.Theteens discusstopicsthatchallengethemtoperceivecurrent eventsandmodern-dayissuesthroughtheprismofTorah knowledge.Evenaftertheprogramends,theystaylateto ask questions and chat.

StevensonHighSchoolJuniorDanielle Komsky honored at Conclave

After attending TJJ this summer, Danielle became motivated to learn more about her Jewish heritage. ShebeganlightingShabboscandleseveryweekand participating in Torah by Phone with an advisor. At Conclave, Danielle was recognized for her ongoing commitment to Jewish growth.

Kansas City, KS

Hillel Goldstein //

Kansas City NCSY selected for JUMP leadership challenge

KansasCityNCSY&HymanBrandHebrewAcademy (HBHA) were selected to join the JUMP Leadership ChallengeasNYNCSYtooktheprogramnational.Aftera two-daytriptoNYforthelaunchoftheprogram,theteam isbackinKansasCity,workinghardtoputtogetherafew greatprogramsandlookingforwardtopresentingthem to the judges.

Jewish Culture Clubs expand to three more schools

Local teens in Kansas City wanted to share their enthusiasmaboutJudaismwiththeirfriendsinschool. ThisbroughtaboutthecreationofJewishCultureClubs inthreenewschools:BlueValleyHigh,ShawneeMission East and Pembroke Hill. This is in addition to the four clubs that are currently being run. The new student clubleaders,MaiBonomo,FedericoZepeda,andMimi Starr,areworkinghardtorecruitnewmembersandare gettinggreatresultsincludingstudentscomingtoLatte &Learning,communityprogrammingandgoingonTJJ.

NCSYIndianapolishostedaSuperBowlpartyfor20 teensattheJCCTeenHouseforJunioraswellasSenior NCSYers.Manyofthekidsweren’tveryinterestedin thegame,buthadagreattimeplayingpingpong,pool, spendingtimewiththeirfriends,orevendiscussingthe week’s parsha!

Skokie, IL

Shosh Friedman //

35teensconnectwiththeirJudaism on Thanksgiving mini Shabbaton

TheShabbosofThanksgivingweekendwasfilledwith excitementas35teensfromtheChicagolandareaspent theweekendtogether,completewithsinging,delicious meals,davening,andlearning.Saturdaynight,thegroup headedouttoseethehystericalimprovgroupComedy Sportz, and wrapped up the weekend with a pizza MelavaMalka.WithanincrediblegroupofNCSYersand adedicatedstaffworkingtogether,theteenswereable tousetheirschoolvacationasawaytofurtherconnect to their Judaism.

Northbrook, IL

Rena Schwartz //

Weekly learning program quintuples in two years

TheNorthbrookNCSYchapter’sweeklylearningprogram hasgonefromfivepeopletwoyearsagotoaveraging25 peoplelastyearandthisyear.TakingplaceeveryMonday nightatMizrahiGrillresturaunt,NCSYprovidesincredible speakers and hot shawarma.

225teenshaveweekendofalifetime at annual Winter Conclave

InDecember,JewishteensfromacrosstheMidwest gatheredatEaglewoodResortforfiveincredibledaysof inspirationandfun.Theweekendincludedskiing,snowtubing,rollerskating,andathemedawardsbanquet. Thehighcalibereducationalprogramincludedfeatured speakerJudgeDannyButler,andShabbatconcluded witharuach-filledhavdalah.Over100teenshavealready joinedNCSY’sTorahbyPhoneprogramasadirectresult of their Conclave experience.

New England teens share a moment at “Celebration” with the Maccabeats.





Woodmere,andBrooklyn,NY.Inadditiontotheexciting and valuable prizes, participants were treated to a sensationalwineandchocolatetastingaswellasaninstant rafflefordinnerfortwoatPrimeGrill.Theoverwhelming generosityofpatronsallowedeacheveningtobeagreat success.Thereweremanyhappywinnersdeclaredatthe auction’sfinaledrawingonMarch8th,butthetrueauction winnersarethehundredsofJewishteenswhowillbenefit fromthemoneyraisedfromtheauctionviewingnights. NJ NCSY Scholarship Breakfast - from left to right: Rabbi Steven Burg (NCSY International Director), Rabbi Yaakov Glasser (NJ NCSY Regional Director), Rabbi Dovid Cofnas (NJ NCSY Director of Development), Honorees Jay Bloom, Lynn Bloom, Joey Bodner, Ruthy Bodner, Rabbi Moshe Benovitz, and Serena Benovitz.

St. Louis, MO

tefillin.Afterwards,theaudienceenjoyedanamazing performancebytheMaccabeats,withaspecialsong featuring Regional Director Rabbi Miller.


RegionalBoardlaunchesweekly video d’var Torah initiative


LeadershipdevelopmentisthedefininggoalinmostSt. LouisNCSYprograms.Thatwasthecasewhenover40 NCSYersandstaffcametogetherforamini-shabbaton completewiththeirfavoriteadvisorsfromChicagoand NY.TheShabbatonwasfilledwithinspiringsessions,a Carlebach-stylehavdalahbyRabbiGersheiMeiselanda limo road rally throughout St. Louis.

South Bend, Indiana

Rabbi Fred Nebel //

A Shabbaton returns to South Bend after 24 years

After24years,aShabbatonhasfinallyreturnedtoSouth Bend,Indiana.TheShabbatonbroughtteensfromall over the region and as one can imagine, it was much anticipated.TheSaturdaynighteventwascappedoffwith agreatroundoflasertagandthewildestbonfireyou’ve ever seen!

Minneapolis, MN

RabbiTzviKupfer&Mrs.BellaSmith //


NCSYMinneapolissignedonwithTorahHighCanadato beginanafter-schoolprogramforpublicschoolteens. The group of 10 high schoolers commit to meet with RabbisKupferandRosenthalonaweeklybasistolearn moreabouttheirJudaisminastructured,yetlaidback environmentandreceivehighschoolcreditsfordoingso.

Milwaukee, WI

NEW JERSEY RabbiYaakovGlasser,RegionalDirector//201.862.0250// //

Over250turnoutforNCSY’sAnnual BergenCountyScholarshipBreakfast

NCSY’sAnnualBergenCountyScholarshipBreakfasttook placeonJanuary2nd,2011atthehomeofShimmieand AlissaHorninTeaneck.NCSYChairman,JoeyBodner receivedanawardforhis25yearsofdedicatedservice. LynnandJayBloomreceivedtheCommunityLeadership Award,andSerenaandRabbiMosheBenovitzreceived theHarbotzasTorahAward.Theeventwasagreatsuccess andbroughtinmuch-neededfundsthatwillhelppayfor NCSY’smanyoutreachprogramsinBergenCounty.

New Jersey NCSY opens its 15th Jewish Culture Club

NewJerseyNCSYrecentlyopenedits15thJewishStudent Union(JSU)publicschoolclubinMilburnHigh(Linden, NJ).ThisrepresentsasignificantmilestoneforNCSYas MilburnHighisratedthenumberonepublicschoolinthe state of New Jersey.


Elisha Karan //

RabbiAryehLightstone,RegionalDirector//516.569.6279// //

Jr. NCSY Milwaukee kicks off the new year with mini Shabbaton in Glendale, WI

ThewarmandwelcomingcommunityofGlendalehosted over20kidsandstaffforan incredibleweekend.The Shabbatonwashostedbygenerousfamilies,andthere wasafridaynightoneg,guestspeakerandanincredible stretchHummerscavengerhuntactivityonSaturday night. For many of the attendants, it was their first NCSYexperienceandcertainlynottheirlast.Thesmall cityofGlendale,WIwillbehostingaRegionalSr.NCSY ShabbatonthisAprilandisgreatlyanticipatingMidwest NCSY’s arrival.

NEW ENGLAND RabbiShmuelMiller,RegionalDirector // 617.332.6279 // //

Maccabeats perform at annual Celebration

Thisyear,NewEnglandNCSY’sannualCelebration featuredtheMaccabeats.Theeveningbeganwithmoving testimonialsfromcurrentNCSYers,includingtheJewish journeyofAaronDavenport.Aaronisasixteen-year-old fromWarren,MA,whocelebratedhisbarmitzvahwith usatWinterRegional.Followinghisinspirationalwords, Rabbi Miller presented him with his very own pair of

P A S S O V E R 2 0 11

LastMay,regionalboardmemberstookonamonumental project.TheywantedaweeklydoseofNCSYintheform ofaweeklyvideod’varTorah.Everyweek,adifferent NCSYerpreparesavideod’varTorahanditissenttoover ahundredJewishteens.Togetyourweeklydose,search for“WeeklyD’vreiTorahfromNERNCSY”onFacebook.


NY NCSY launches collegeaccreditedJewishstudiesclasses for high school students

NYNCSYlaunchedanewprogram,knownasGesherTheJudaicScholarsInstitute(JSI),whichofferscollegeaccredited Jewish studies classes to talented and motivatedhighschoolstudents. Theprogram,which takesplaceatLongIslandUniversity’sC.W.Postcampus, isdirectedandtaughtbyRabbiDovidBashevkinunderthe guidanceofRabbiAryehLightstone,RegionalDirectorof NYNCSY.Thecoursesbeingofferedthroughtheprogram are “Jewish Mysticism and Hasidism” and “Jewish CultureinAmerica.” Aspartofthecourses,students canchoosetoparticipateinthe“MarchofTheLiving”in ordertofulfilltheirrequisitecoursehours.Fortheinitial tenstudentswhomwereaccepted,threecollegecredits willbeawardedforthecompletionofeachcourseand allwillundoubtedlywalkawaywitharicheducational experienceandanew,inspiredperspectiveonJewishlife.

40 NY NCSYers visit Albany

OnMarch1,40Jewishhighschoolstudentsofvarying backgroundsandaffiliationsparticipatedinadaytripto Albany,theNewYorkstatecapital.Bothyeshivadayschool andpublicschoolstudentsattendedtheall-dayprogram andhadtheopportunitytomeetwithavarietyofsenators andpoliticalleaders,tourtheNewYorkStateCapitol, sitinonaSenatesession,andhearfromaspeakerfrom theOrthodoxUnion’sInstituteforPublicAffairsatAlbany University.ThetripwasleadbyfiveNCSYstaffmembers includingTuliSkaist,theNorthshoreCoordinator.Skaist commented,“Thestudentswereempoweredbecause theyrecognizedtheimportanceoftheirinvolvementin politics,especiallybecauseoftheinfluencetheycanhave onissuesrelatingtoIsrael.”AftermeetingwithSenators JackMartinsandMartyGolden,thestudentsheardfrom SenateMajorityLeaderDeanSkelos,whoreiteratedthat youngJewishleadersshouldtakeeveryopportunityto get involved in politics.

NY NCSY hosts 100 public school teensoverPresident’sDayWeekend OnFebruary19th,NYNCSYhosted100publicschool teensfromNorthwestNCSYandJSU.ThisPresident’s WeekendShabbatonintroducedyoungleadersfromthe NewYorkareatotheirpeersfromOregon,Washington, andVancouver.TheNewYorkteensactedasguidesand hostsfortheirpeersandwelcomedthemtoNewYork foraninspiringShabbatontogether.RabbiStevenBurg addressedalloftheteensduringtheShabbatonand spokeabouttheimportanceofunityamongJewishyouth inNorthAmerica.DozensofteenskepttheirfirstShabbos andwereempoweredbythewarmthoftheLawrence community.

ProjectFrumwaybringsfreshness and fashion to modesty

450girlsfromNewYorkNCSYweregiventheopportunity to dress, express and impress on March 1st, 2011 in Lawrence,NY.ModelingRuchieGross’winningoutfit design,aswellasclothingfromsponsoringvendors, the girls explored what it means to dress in a tzanua fashion,understandingtheroomtzniusleavesforselfexpressionaswellasitsroleinpersonaldignity.Thenight openedwithsurpriseguestsingerShaindelAntelisanda speechfromCarolRhine,bothpresentationspoignantly addressingthechallengeoftzniustoday.Publicschool attendeesAmandaEsraeilianandPamelaGoldbergwere honoredatthefunction,recognizedforupholdingTorah valuesintestingenvironments.Theeventwashostedby CongregationBethShalom,directedbyCarolRhine,and maderealbygirlsfromBnotShulamithofLongIslandin Woodmere,HAFTRinCedarhurst,HANCinUniondale, ShalhevetHighSchoolforGirlsinNorthWoodmere,SKA inHewlettBayPark,CentralinQueensandpublicschools across the state.

NY NCSY auction viewing nights light up New York

NewYorkNCSYhostedsevenauctionviewingnights throughoutFebruaryandMarchinStamford,CT,and GreatNeck,WestHempstead,Cedarhurst,Lawrence,



Grey Aftor, a junior at Edward R. Murrow High School in Brooklyn, NY, shakes hands with Rav Ahron Schecter.


Brooklyn, NY


30 NCSYers volunteer at soup kitchen on Thanksgiving

OnThanksgivingday,about30NCSYersjoinedtogether in volunteering at Masbia, a soup kitchen located on ConeyIslandAve.inBrooklyn.SinceitwasThanksgiving day,thekitchenwasbusierthanusualandrequiredextra help.ThegroupofNCSYers,supervisedbyRabbiMoish ZuckerandMrs.NechamaKamelhar,learnedthatgiving canbefun.Apronon,peelerinhand,theteenspeeled for hours. Laughter was all you could hear as they sat togetherpeelingabout100poundsofcarrots.Thegroup washappytohavecomeandexperiencedchesedandfun in one setting.


Onacold,snowyJanuaryday,asmallgroupofBrooklyn andStatenIslandboyswenttoseeRavAhronSchechter, theRoshHaYeshivaofYeshivasRabbainuChaimBerlin. RavAhronmanagedtomaketimeinhisbusyschedule tomeetwiththegroupintheprivatestudyofhishome. RavAhronaskedeachboyhisnameandwherehegoes toschool,showinggreatinterestineachindividualreply. RavAhronwasintriguedbywhatmakesapublicschool studentwanttoattendtheJewishprogramingthatNCSY provides.TheRoshYeshiva’smainmessagewasabout not wasting our time in life and always using time for a purpose.Ashewarmlystated,“Don’twasteyourdays, because they won’t come back.”

NORTHWEST RabbiStephenBerger,RegionalDirector//604.736.7607// //

UniversitystudentsinAlberta.Althoughtheyexpected15 students,theywerepleasantlysurprisedwhen45showed up.

Edmonton, Alberta

Alan & Orna Richter //

First Jewish Culture Club opens in Edmonton as a result of record growth

NCSYEdmontonisgrowing!TheweeklyLatte&Learnings arereachingrecordpopularitywithaweeklyattendance of15-20coffee-andlearning-hungryhighschoolstudents. ThemomentumbuiltthroughLatte&Learninghaspushed ustostartthefirst-everEdmontonJSUatRossSheppard High School.

Vancouver, British Columbia Moe Mernick //

NCSY launches monthly youth minyan at Schara Tzedeck

TeensarenolongermerespectatorsinScharaTzedeck Synagogue’sShabbatService;rather,NCSYersnowhost amonthlyyouthminyantoenableteenstobecomeactive andengagedparticipantsintheShabbatprayerservice. Attracting 20-30 boys and girls, Vancouver NCSY is building today’s Jewish leaders.

Eugene, OR

Tehila Derfler //

First Eugene, OR Jewish Culture Club opens

Portland, OR

SouthEugeneHighSchoolstudentsElahSeidelandAlex BerensteinopenedupthefirsteverJewishCultureClub inEugene,Oregon.Upto30Jewishteensshowupona weekly basis for inspiration and free pizza.

Hebrew High opens in Portland


Meira Spivak //

Since there is no Jewish high school in Portland, this September,HebrewHighPDX(Portland’sairportcode) openedwith16studentsenrolled.Coursesaregiven onHebrewlanguageaswellasonJewishhistory.The studentsareextremelysupportiveoftheprogramand NCSY hopes to expand in the coming years.


Now in its third year, Portland NCSY and JSU hosted theirthirdannual“QEvent”attheendofJanuary.This year’s multi-media trivia game hosted well over 200 people,representinganincreaseof130%overlastyear’s attendance.

Seattle, WA

Ari & Jessica Hoffman //

SeattleTorahHighbecomesfirst fully-accreditedTorahHighintheUS

ToddCohn,ExecutiveDirector//305.940.6566//ncsysf@ //

First-EverCross-Denominational SummitforInformalTeenEngagement Professionals held in Miami ForthefirsttimeinMiamihistory,representativesfrom NCSY,JSU,BBYO,NFTY,USY,JCC,andsynagogues fromacrossMiami-Dadecountyassembledtodiscuss the challenges and opportunities facing the Jewish tomorrowandtofacilitategreatercollaborationamongst the professionals. Center for the Advancement of JewishEducation(CAJE)chairJoAnnePapirandJewish FederationofGreaterMiamiPastPresidentSabyBehar were ecstatic about the idea, first presented to them byRabbiBenGonsher,SouthernNCSY’sDirectorof Development“NCSY’senthusiasmtobuildbridgesand teardownfenceshasbeencontagious,”Beharshared.

FundraisingSuccessmagazinedubs RabbiBenGonshera“2010RisingStar”

SouthernNCSYDirectorofDevelopment,RabbiBen Gonsherwasselectedfrom55nomineesacrossthe countryasa“2010RisingStar.”Thishonorisgivento developmentprofessionalswhohavebeeninthefield forfewerthanfiveyears,yethaveshowntremendous potentialintheirnewroles.ToddCohn,ExecutiveDirector ofSouthernNCSY,waselatedbutnotsurprisedwhen Gonsherwasselected.“Ben’senthusiasmandenergyis contagious,”Cohnrelated,“sohehasbeenaperfectfitin ourNCSYculture.Hispassionfortheworkwedoisdeeprootedanditmanifestsineverythinghedoes.”Forthefull article, go to

NCSYers sit front row at Jewish Federation’s Summit to counter Israeli delegitimization NCSY had front row seats at the 1,200-person Israel summit in Miami and enjoyed learning from Natan Shransky,AlanDershowitz,theHonorableIrwinCotler andDr.MichaelOren.Afterthesummit,theteensgot togetherforpizzaandtostrategizeandplanvisitstotheir congresspeopleinordertoadvocateonbehalfofIsrael’s rights.

130NCSYersexperienceaversatile SouthernRegionWinterRegional

Over130teensfromacrossSouthernRegionspentan amazingShabbosinSavannah-homeofthefirstNCSY chapter,February18-20.TheShabbatontookoffwitha bang,Fridayspentplayingameangameofassassinas NCSYerstoureddowntownhistoricSavannah.Shabbos wasenjoyedwithCongregationBBJacob,featuring numerousspecialguests:RabbiWainstainofDerech, RabbiAhronGlazerofImadiatHebrewU,andNCSY NationalPresident,AmandaEsraelian.Themeaningful ShabbatonclosedwithaMelavaMalkathatincluded amini-concertwithProdEzra,Savannah’sownJewish Orthodoxrapartist,andBBQdinnerandminchapitstop en-route home.

Atlanta, GA

Rabbi Chaim Neiditch //

Over 500 teens attend festive Chanukah clubs

Thisholidayseason,JewishStudentUnionclubsacross greaterAtlantawerebusywithChanukahactivitiesand celebrations. The halls of 13 high schools were filled with the aroma of sizzling latkes made by more than 500teenswhoattendedRabbiNeiditch’sfestiveclub meetings.Studentscelebratedbydecoratingwooden dreidels,makingediblemenorahsandorganizingdreidel tournamentstowinchocolategelt.Teenslearnedthe storyofChanukahandthelawsoflightingthemenorah, andparticipatedindiscussionsaboutthesignificanceof miraclesinourlives.Formanyteens,thiswastheirsole celebration of Chanukah this year.

SeattleTorahHighbegantwoyearsagowithnocredits and no students; it is now up to 90 students and is the firstfully-accreditedTorahHighintheUS.Teensnotonly getcredit-theyalsomeetpeersfromacrosstheJewish spectrum in Seattle and now bring their friends from school to NCSY events.

Calgary, Alberta

Rabbi Samuel Ross //

Calgary NCSY inaugurates new program for university students; 23 sign up

Thisyear,CalgaryNCSYstartedMaimonides,aprogram forhighschoolgraduatesinCalgaryfortheiruniversity years.Theprogramoffersastipendtostudentswholearn Torahfortwohoursaweek.Amazingly,23studentshave alreadysignedupandareinvolvedinseriousTorahstudy. Thiswinter,sevenmembersofthegroupwentonIsrael trips,allofwhichallincludedalearningcomponent;many ofthestudentsexperienceyeshiva/seminarylifeforthe firsttime.Calgaryalsoranitsfirst-everShabbatonfor


Portland’s Q Fundraiser: From Left to Right - Shannon Benarroch, Ilana Paige, Leslie Alter, jonathan Glass, Sarah Glass, Chantal Rosenthal, Meira Spivak, Rabbi Chanan Spivak, Rabbi Binyamin Paige, and Steve Rosenberg.




Palm Beach, FL

Eli Casper //



RabbiEffieGoldberg,ExecutiveDirector//310.229.9000// //

Nearly 50 public school teens gather in Palm Beach SynagogueeverySundaymorningtolearnTorahforthree hours.“Igetapproachedbymynon-Jewishschoolmates whoaskmequestionsaboutJudaismandIwanttobeable toanswerthem,”saidNCSYerRebeccaLevine.Students receive a stipend at the end of the year-long course.

SOUTHWEST RabbiYisroelLashak,RegionalDirector//972.934.9143// //

TripsaboundinSouthwestasteens travel to Chicago and Colorado

Teens show off their decorated dreidels as part of Atlanta’s Chanukah celebrations.

250 teens from 23 high schools attend first-ever all-nighter

JSUandNCSYmadehistorythisNovemberbyhosting Atlanta’slargestovernightJewishteenevent.Heldat Andretti’sEntertainment,thefirst-everAll-Nighterdrew over250Atlantateensfrom23localhighschools.To startofftheevent,teensgatheredforamovinghavdalah ceremony,withwordsofinspirationfromRabbiNeiditch. Then,everyonehitthetrackforaJSUclubpresidents’ race on the go-karts. Teens stayed wide awake with activitiesincludingAndretti’sextremeropescourse,rock climbingwall,bowlingalleyandunlimited-accessarcade!

Savannah, GA

NCSYSouthwesthashadanamazingyearsofar.On December26-29,33teensfromDallasflewtoChicago foraspecialleadershipretreat.There,theteenslearned leadershipskillsandTorahfortwohoursadayandhad the opportunity to see some of the famous Chicago landmarks.Twoweekslater,15SanAntonioteenswere treatedtoaninspiringShabbatonwheretheywereable tolearnmoreandappreciatetheirJewishheritage.In February,NCSYteamedupwithAishHaTorahatUniversity ofTexasatAustinforanunforgettableShabbos.Theygot toseefirsthandwhatitmeanstobeacommittedJewona collegecampus.Finally,atthebeginningofMarch,NCSY istravellingoutwestforaskitripandShabbatoninWinter Park, Colorado.

UPSTATE NEW YORK MarcFein,RegionalDirector//585.615.7237//ncsyun@ncsy. org //

Leadership Training Seminar kicks off the year

Rabbi Eli Lob //

Savannah hosts six-chapter mega-Shabbaton at Bnai Brith Jacob Synagogue

TheJr.NCSYChaptersofAtlanta,BocaRaton,Charleston, Jacksonville,PalmBeachandSavannahcametogetherin SavannahforanunforgettableShabbaton.The54middle schoolersrockedthecity,creatinggreatmemoriesofan awesome weekend spent together.

Kendall, FL

Simcha Silverman //

70 teens + Yachad attend Kendall Shabbaton

Kendall, a small yet vibrant city, is the southernmost full-serviceJewishcommunityintheUS.Earlierthis year,itwasprivilegedtohost70teensandYachadfor aShabbatonattheYoungIsraelofKendall.Theteens enjoyed an uplifting and energetic Shabbos and are excited about future events in their area.

Boca Raton, FL

Yaakov Seligman //

Jr.highschoolstudentstravelup to 40 miles for Sundae Parsha

Once or twice a month, fifth through eighth graders gettogetheronSundaymorningtodiscusstheparsha, holidays,ethicalandthought-provokingissuesinlightof theJewishperspective,tomeetnewfriends,andtosee whocanmakethecraziesticecreamsundae!Students frommorethantendifferentpublicandprivateschools attendregularly,andthereisadifferentguestspeakerat almosteverymeeting.Speakershaveevencomefromas farastheLanderBeisMedrashL’TalmudinNYC,andsome participantstraveldistancesofalmost40mileseachway to attend.

ChapterandRegionalBoardsfromUpstateNYNCSY arrived in Syracuse to learn what it means to be a Jewishleader.Afternumerousintensestudysessions, experiential activities, and our famous d’var Torah workshop,the30teensreturnedhomepreparedtolead theirchaptersandregionforanothersuccessfulyear.

Fall convention inspires over 75 NCSYers,including25newmembers TeensfromacrossUpstateNYgatheredinRochester to learn about the Jewish response to adversity. An inspirationalweekendoflearning,dancing,andsinging ensued.Participantslearnedthatthetwomajorwaysto facechallengesarethroughthesupportofothersand finding hope in our Judaism.

Rochesterjuniorsprogramming engagesnextgenerationofNCSYers

Rochester’s biggest achievement this year could quitepossiblybethere-emergenceofJuniors.Witha dedicatedVicePresidentofJuniorsinthechapter,Maddy Rosenbaum,andanewandenthusiasticadvisorinShmuli Isaacs,JuniorNCSYhasbecomeanothercornerstoneof thechapter,asithasrecentlyreachedtheachievementof runningeventsfor15weeksstraight.Everyweek,teens in3rdto7thgradesgatheratCongregationBethSholom foractivitiesthattypicallyincludeareviewoftheparsha oftheweekandthatcriticalelementofanygettogether of kids - snack time.

Regional Board takes charge

Thisyear,WestCoastRegionalBoardhastrulybeen empoweredandtakeninitiative.Notonlyhavethese talentedyoungleadersastutelyutilizedLA’svolunteer resources,suchasTomcheiShabbosandYachad,tohelp othersinneed.Theyhavecreatedtheirowncampaignto helpothersaswell.Intheaftermathofthedevastating firesinIsrael,theVPofIsraelActionBatelDareycreated “SendUsSeeds,”acampaigndesignedtoinspireteensto aidinthereliefeffort.Inadditiontovolunteerservices,on anygivenweekday,onewillfindagroupofinquisitiveLA teensonaLunch&Learnwithoneoftheirtwopresidents, JudyGreenbaumandAdamMarkoff.Thesespeer-to-peer Lunch&Learnworkshopswerecreatedbythepresidents inordertofacilitateaconsistentteenmentoringprogram.

South Bay Area, Northern California

Baruch Noy //

30 junior high school students attend first Bay-wide Shabbaton JuniorNCSYersfromaroundtheBayjoinedtogether inwhatwasthefirstBay-wideJuniorsShabbaton.The event,hostedbytheSanFranciscocommunity,attracted 30middle-schoolers,withmanymoreitchingtoattend the next event.

“Friday Night Lights” returns to South Bay

FNL has returned to the South Bay, with new faces enjoyinganunforgettableShabbatexperience.FNLwill beheldonamonthlybasisandSouthBayhopestospread the fire of Shabbat to the multitudes who have not yet experienced its light.

Las Vegas, NV

R’ Yehuda Maryles //

Fiftypublicschoolteenscelebrate ChanukahintheirJewishCultureClub

OnthefirstnightofChanukah,theteenagersgatheredfor aChanukahGiftDriveorganizedbytheJewishStudent Union.TheseconddayofChanukah,studentsatthe LasVegasAcademywerepleasantlysurprisedwhenthe JewishStudentUnionbroughtsuppliesforstudentsto maketheirownmenorahsforthecelebrationofChanukah. “MyMomwillbesoproudwhensheseesthemenorah” saidafreshmanattheLasVegasAcademy.“Itwillbeour firsttimeeverlightingamenorahasafamily.”Thesixth night was the perfect time for a gala Chanukah party completewithlatkes,chocolateChanukahgelt,music videosandexcitinggames.Theeighthandfinalnight endedwithwithaWorldSeriesofDreidelcontest.The fundsraisedweredonatedtotheemergencyassistance effortsforthoseaffectedbytherecentwildfiresonthe Carmel.

Buffalo Chanukah party lights up the night

Lightingthemenorah,eatinglatkes,watchingamovie, hangingoutwithfriends,andalittleDisneymagic.Yes, theBuffaloNCSYChanukahPartywasasensational celebration. At 5:00, the guests arrived at the Levine household;everyonewasexcitedforwhatwasinstore. Surprisingly, there were many more NCSYers than expected;anastonishing25cameforthisexceptional event. Yali Cohen, a senior at Torah High School of San Diego, davens at San Diego’s THX Shabbaton.

P A S S O V E R 2 0 11





Closeto30JewishteensattendfirsteverShabbatonintheLasVegasValley. Jewish teens from Las Vegas joined with teens from Oakland,Irvine,LosAngeles,Arizona,PaloAltoandSan FranciscoforanunforgettableShabbat.Daveningtookon anewdimensionwithatefillahworkshopthatincluded meditation,hummingandevenscreamingasthegroup actuallylearnedprayer’strueamazingpower.OnSaturday night,theteensventuredtoSkyZoneforjumping,flipping, andairdodgeball,followedbylivemusicandfood.“For manyteensitwastheirfirstShabbat,”saidRabbiYehuda Maryles,DirectorofLasVegasNCSY.“Itdefinitelywon’t be their last.”

Phoenix, AZ

Shmuli Josephson //


Injustsevenshortmonths,NCSYwentfromhavingno presenceinPhoenix,Arizonatoopeningcultureclubsin threepublichighschools:Chaparral,HorizonandSunny Slope.ShmuliJosephson,whomovedtoScottsdale,AZ thisyearwithhiswifeandchild,couldnotbehappierwith thewaythingsaregoing.“Togofromseeingzeroteens to80teensonaweeklybasisisatestamenttothepower ofNCSYandthedeepdesiretheseteenshavetoconnect with their Jewish heritage,” Shmuli remarked.

East Bay, California

Eitan Esan //

25 NCSYers attend Ski Shabbaton at Lake Tahoe

25NCSYersspentanamazingandupliftingShabbatat LakeTahoe,wheretheybondedandrediscoveredtheir loveofJudaism.AfterShabbat,theteensskiedfortwo days at the world class resort.

Irvine, CA

Yosef Miller //

IrvineNCSYofficiallyhitsthemap UpuntilSeptember2010,therehadbeenafewdedicated peoplethattriedtosparksomethinginIrvine,butitnever reallystuck.WiththehelpoftheIrvineBethJacob,the Jewishcommunity,andtheJewishteens,Irvinenowhasa JewishCultureClubaswellasaweeklyLatte&Learning, wherekidsfromalloverOrangeCountycometosocialize withotherJewishteensandlearnabitofTorah.Lastyear, IrvinehadsixteensrepresentingitschapteronWest CoastRegional.Injustoneyear,thatnumbermorethan tripled;itsent22teenstothisyear’sWinterRegional.

Sacramento, California Julia Bailey //

NCSY raises money for West Coast Chai Lifeline

OnSunday,February6,SacramentoNCSYhostedaTaco andRaffleNighttobenefitalocalfamilywhosethreeyear-oldchildispartoftheChaiLifelinenetwork.The ideatohavethedinnercameaboutthroughweeklyLatte &LearningdiscussionsfocusingonJewishidentity,the themefromwinterregional.Theteenswantedtomakea differenceintheircommunityatlargeandtheychoseChai Lifelineasaworthycause.Whileguestswereenjoying Mexicanfood,NCSYerAshleyAltchekspokemovingly aboutherCampSimchaexperience.Studentssoldraffle tickets and tacos, raising over $300 for Chai Lifeline.

San Fransisco, CA

Mike Donovan //

CongregationAdathIsraelhostsJr. NCSY Shabbaton in San Fransisco MiddleschoolstudentsfromallovertheBayAreaand SacramentospentShabbosintheSunsetneighborhood ofSanFrancisco.ThehospitalityandwarmthoftheJewish communitywasfeltasCongregationAdathIsraelhosted theevent.ParticipantsenjoyedallmealsandShabbos programmingattheshulandmembersprovidedhousing forthe39kids.AfteranamazingNCSYstylehavdalah,the Shabbaton concluded with bowling and pizza.


Teens in Israel mark the end of an incredible Shabbat with havdallah.

San Diego, CA

Adam Simon //

80teensattendthirdannualTorah High Experience Shabbaton

SanDiegoNCSYrecentlyhostedmorethan80teensonits thirdannualTorahHighExperience(THX)Shabbaton.The THXShabbatonisuniqueontheWestCoastinthatitsmain focusislearningprimaryTorahsources,enablingtheteens tolookattheireverydaylivesthroughtheprismofTorah. Thisyear’sthemewasprayerandNCSYersexperienced workshopsfromSouthwestRegionalDirectorRabbi IsraelLashakandWestCoastadvisorMalkyWeil,andan in-depthShemonehEsreiworkshop,includingaspecial NCSY“ShemonehEsreiHelper”bookletcreatedby RabbiMattanErderandchapterdirectorAdamSimon.In additiontotheTorah,NCSYersalsohadplentyoffunwith anexclusiveconcertfromtheMoshavBand.Ofcourse,no Shabbatonwouldbecompletewithoutchesed;inhonor ofNJCD’sNorthAmericanInclusionMonth(NAIM),THX participantsvolunteeredwithspecial-needsteensfrom the Friendship Circle.

ARGENTINA RabbiMarceloKrawiec,Director//


NCSY Argentina has been in full swing this year with manyoutstandingprogramsgearedtowardsJewish youth.Takingadvantageofthebeautifullandscape,on November19,2010,NCSYranaShabbatonthatattracted 30 teens to the beach in Pinamar, Beunos Aries, at whichRabbiMarceloDanielKrawiecspoke.Apartfrom Shabbatonim,somehighlightsoftheyearhavebeen SushiNight,whereteensweretreatedtoastimulating debate on science and Judaism, and a widespread candle-lightingduringChanukahwhere50teenslit,many forthefirsttime.NCSYersalsohadtheuniquechanceto experienceJewishmeditationfirsthandduringaspecial evening with Rabbi Krawiec.

CHILE MichaelBengio,Director//

ChileNCSYnowinbothJewishschools and three youth movements

Over100kidslearnTorahthroughNCSYeveryweekin Chile,asNCSYisnowinbothJewishschoolsinthecountry andthreeofthefivedifferentyouthmovements.This year,forthefirsttime,NCSYChileisopeninganalumni program,wherestudentswhograduatedNCSYcanstay connectedtotheirJudaismwithweeklyadvancedTorah classes.TeenswhohadneverbeenexposedtoTorah learningrefertoNCSYChile’sclassesasthe“coolJudaic classes.”

NCSY Chile strengthens Jewish teens after anti-Semitic attack

NCSYhasmadeanexertedefforttostrengthenthehearts ofJewishteenstofightfortheirJewishidentityafterthe localschoolwasattackedbyanti-Semiticgraffiti.Forthe openingevent,NCSamuraY,alladvisorshadtheirNCSY



KimonoKarateoutfits.ThethemeofNCSamuraYwasto “FightforWhoWeAre”andwasattendedbymorethan 60 teens.

NCSYiscoveredbymostinfluential Jewish magazine in Chile

Thankstothesuccessof2010,NCSYChilehasmadeit intothemostinfluentialJewishmagazineinChile.Asone ofthetwelvepartnersoftheShalomMagazine,several pageswillbepublishedeverymonthwithNCSYcontent, eventandclassinvitations,divreiTorah,andtheNCSY logo on the magazine’s cover.

GERMANY JoshSpinner,Director//

NCSYpartnerswithLauderYeshurunAmEchadtocreate engagingandinspirationalprogramsforJewishyouthin Germany.


In the middle of the winter, in a small town in southern Germany,Jewishteensfromalloverthecountrycame togetherforanexciting10-dayseminarfulloflearning andfun.Participantsspenteverymorninglearningin smallgroups,exploringavarietyofJewishtopics.They alsotraveledandexperiencedexcitingandinnovative programs, allowing them to connect to their Jewish roots.Comingfromisolatedcommunitiesthroughoutthe country,meetingotherJewishteens,rabbis,andteachers leftparticipantsinspiredandinvigorated,eagertolearn moreaboutthesignificanceofJudaismintheirownlives.

ISRAEL RabbiYisroelGoren,Director//02.566.7787//ncsyisrael@ //

NCSY Makom Balev is active in the periphery and development towns of Israel with the objective of inspiringtheyouthinthoseareasandstrengtheningtheir connectiontotheirJewishheritage,religiousZionism, and Israel.

Over 100 boys journey to the mountains of Eilat for spiritual enlightment

ThispastChanukah,over100boysaged8-12fromacross Israeljourneyedfor27hoursinthescenicmountainsof Eilat.Thejourneybeganintheeveningwithinteractive activities,abonfire,andexcitingworkshopsonsuch topicsashowtoprepareatallitkattan.Theparticpants noted the unique inspiration they felt and the hidden strengthstheydiscoveredoverthecourseofthejourney.

Over 100 girls participate in a seminar Shabbat in Gedera

Over100girlsingrades8-12spentShabbatattheKfar EliyahucampusinGedera.TheShabbatbeganwithan amazingone-womanshowcalled“JourneytoMyself.” Theplaywasalaunchpadfordiscussionsonpersonal identities led by dedicated rabbis and advisors. The girlspraisedtheexperienceasonethathasimprinteda positive mark on them.


By: Rabbi Moshe Benovitz

Recentdownturnsintheglobaleconomy, coupledwiththespiralingcostsofJewishliving,haveforcedourcommunities toengageinsomeseriousintrospection andreckoning. Wearenecessarilyreevaluatingourprioritiesandchallenging long-heldassumptions.Whiletheimpetusforthiscommunalsoul-searching hasbeenpainfulandundesirable,the processitselfcanbehealthyandyield extremelybeneficialrewards.Butatthe end of the day, we must emerge with a renewedcommitmenttothevaluesandinstitutionsthatarevitaltoourtomorrowwithoutsettlingforaweakeningoftheveryfoundationofourfuture. Educationandschoolaresuchpriorities.Intoomanytownsandcities,the viabilityoftheJewishdayschoolisbeingthreatened.Tuitioncostsarethe singlelargestcontributortowardstheoften-prohibitivefinancesofthemodernJewishfamily.Andthebeleagueredyetvaliantleadersoftheseschools andscholarshipcommitteesarechargedwiththeunenviabletaskofensuring the system’s very survival. Summerprograms,particularlyonesthatactively,directly,andsuccessfully advancethesacredvaluesofourcommunity,mustbepartoftheequation. Thereisaprevailingnotionthatwemustcurbdiscretionaryspendinginordertoprotectourmoreessentialassetsandfulfillourmorepressingobligations.Thisisundisputable-toapoint.Itassumesthatallspendingcan beneatlycategorizedas“discretionary”or“non-discretionary.”Thiswould bemostconvenient,butisimprecise. Ononeside,countlesselementsof yeshivatuitioncouldbechallengedas“luxuries.”Classsize,supportstaff, extracurricularprograms,andgleamingfacilitiesarerightfullydesignatedas essential(atleastinasmuchastheyarepartoftheapprovedschoolbudget), yettheycouldhardlybeclaimedasabsolutelyindispensable.Atthesame time,whilemanyfamiliarextravagancesareclearlysecondarytoeducationalexpenditures,itissimplywrongtodismissasummerlearningprogramor chesed-based experience as “discretionary.” Amoreaccurateclassificationisalsoamorenuancedone.Beyondtheobviousextremes,thediscourseshouldbereframedfromaquestionof“discretionaryvs.non-discretionary,”to“morediscretionaryvs.lessdiscretionary.” Thiswillallowustoattributeduesignificancetothesesummerprograms, andeventoallowforflexibilityinfinancingthemalongsideyeshivatuitions. Anumberofrosheiyeshiva,includingsomewhohavebeenvocalsupporters ofscholarshipreformandthemajorityoftheinitiativesundertakenbythe scholarshipcommittees,haveemphaticallystatedtomethatToraheducation at any time of the year can never be labeled as discretionary. Thosewhoreluctantlychoosetosacrificesummerprogramsforthegood oftheschoolarequicktoclaimthattheyaretakingalong-termviewofthe needsofthestudentsandthecommunity.Butthisisadubiousclaim.Whois reallyconsideringlong-termimpact,andwhoisbeingshortsighted?Modern OrthodoxschoolsarefightingtoinstillJewishprideandtodevelopserious commitmenttoTorahlearningandvalues.Theyneedtogalvanizealliesfrom allcornersinordertosucceedintheirmission.Itiseasytosaythatwiththe

P A S S O V E R 2 0 11




moniesspentandthehoursallocatedforJudaicstudiesduringthe9½-monthacademic year,thereshouldbenoneedforsupplementalprograms.Itwouldalsobefalse.Whileitisdebatablewhetherornotthis situationisavoidable,itisundoubtedlythereality.Assuch,thelong-forged partnershipbetweenschoolsandinformaleducatorsmustbestrengthened, not eroded. Notsurprisingly,studiesonourcommunityconsistentlyindicateanoutsized impactfromsummerexperiences.Somedismissthesestatisticsasrelevant onlytothesegmentofthepopulationthatdoesnotbenefitfromyear-round Jewisheducation.Admittedly,alargepercentageofthosesurveyedarein thatcategory,sothedatashouldbeusedcautiouslyandjudiciously.Yet, whilethisremainsanecdotalowingtothedearthofsurveysfocusedonthe dayschoolworld,summersremainaprimaryinfluenceonthereligiouslives ofourchildren. Thisisparticularlytrueforteens. Onceoutsidetherigid structure(anddemandinghours)ofadualcurriculumhighschool,aworld ofpossibilityopens.Mosteducatorswouldagreethatmoredestructiveand alarmingbehaviorsarepickedupoverthesummersthananyothertimeof year(withthepossibleexceptionofunsupervisedwintervacations).Atthe sametime,summerscanbeatimeforexponentialanddramaticgrowth, maturation,andadvancedreligiouscommitment.Theseforwardstepsare rarely rivaled even in the much longer school year. Foradolescentsandyoungadults,growthissynonymouswithindependence. It is perilous to ignore the impact these summers have. Summersalsobroadenhorizonsbeyondsomeverylimitedgeographicalterrain.Aslocalschoolsbecomethealmostexclusivenorm,itismoreimportantthanevertoexposeourchildrentoothercommunitiesandbackgrounds. Moretimeathomethreatenstoshrinkthealreadytoo-smallsocialbubble. Allthisisnotevenmentioningthewildsuccessesofspecificprogramsin developingrealconnectionstoTorah,socialaction,andEretzYisroel.SummersinIsraelmakestudyingaboutitmorerealandrelevant.Learningata highlevelinthesummerwithouttestsandgradesmakesthosesameexams lessoppressiveandonerous.Devotingasummertohelpingothersmake “chesed hours” a given, not a burden. Itisunfairtomaketherequiredadjustmentstheburdenofafew.Desperate timescallfordesperatemeasures,andnoonethingshouldbeimmune.At NCSY,wemustfindwaystomakeprogramsmorecost-effective,andtoprovidequalityexperiencestomore,forless.Buttheessentialdiscoursemust neverchange:HowcanwegetmoreofouryouthmoreinvolvedintheirJewishheritage?Howcanwegetthemmoreproductiveinthesummer?How can we best prepare them for tomorrow? Rabbi Moshe Benovitz, an NCSY alumnus, is the Dean of NCSY Summer Programs and the Director of NCSY Kollel. He is also a Rebbe at Reishit Yerushaliyim in Israel.


11 Broadway, 14th Floor New York, NY 10004

“NCSY is the jewel in the OU crown. When I was in the Rav zt’l shiur there were talmidim who were distinguished talmidei chochamin, whose roots were in NCSY, the most effective kiruv organization in the world.” -RABBI MENACHEM GENACK, CEO of OU Kosher

“For the past six decades, the National Conference of Synagogue Youth (NCSY) has stood at the forefront of teaching values, ethics, and leadership to Jewish-American youth. NCSY’s participants use those lessons in their activism within the JewishAmerican community as well as throughout our nation and the world. NCSY is to be commended for providing Jewish-American teens with a positive and uplifting environment, and experiences that they will take with them for their entire life.” – CONGRESSMAN STEVE ROTHMAN (D-NJ)

“I’ve been a very close friend of NCSY since its inception over 50 years ago. I have always found it to be a very effective organization and enjoy speaking at NCSY events.” -REBBETZIN ESTHER JUNGREIS, noted author and lecturer

“Having twin daughters, who are both involved in NCSY, I get to see firsthand the outstanding work that’s being done by NCSY and the way that they are positively impacting my family and our future.”

- JERRY SILVERMAN, President and Chief Executive Officer of The Jewish Federations of North America

Ignite Spring 2011  

hasdois disjd alskjd laskdj