THE NCSY MAGAZINE
ROSH HASHANAH 2012
NCSY is the International youth movement of the OU
EXECUTIVE LEADERSHIP Rabbi Steven Burg.............................International Director, NCSY; Managing Director, OU Keevy Fried........................................Associate International Director, NCSY Dr. Simcha Katz..................................President, OU Joseph Stechler.................................National Youth Commission Chairman, OU Rabbi Steven Weil..............................Executive Vice President, OU Paul S. Glasser...................................Senior Director of Institutional Advancement, OU David Frankel.....................................Chief Operating Officer, OU Shlomo Schwartz..............................Chief Financial Officer, OU David Olivestone...............................Senior Communications Officer, OU Ronit Meitlis-Hofer............................Director of Strategic Planning, OU
INTERNATIONAL LEADERSHIP Rabbi Jack Abramowitz....................OU Torah Content Editor Rabbi Dovid Bashevkin.....................Associate Director of Education Devorah Becker.................................Program Executive Rabbi Moshe Benovitz......................Dean of Summer Programs Rabbi Glenn Black.............................Director of Strategic Planning David Cutler.......................................Director of Summer Programs & Finances Rina Emerson.....................................Assistant Director of Institutional Advancement Marc Fein............................................Director of Advisor Development Rabbi Dave Felsenthal......................Director of OU NextGen Tova Flancbaum................................Marketing Associate Rebekah Friedman............................Summer Programs Associate Rabbi Yaakov Glasser.......................Director of Education Jen Goldman......................................Assistant Director of Summer Programs Dan Hazony........................................Director of Information Systems Rabbi Yehoshua Marchuck...............Director of Alumni Jenni Richton.....................................Director of Professional Development and Evaluations Duvi Stahler........................................Director of Marketing
Atlantic Seaboard..............................Rabbi Jonah Lerner Argentina............................................Rabbi Marcelo Krawiec Canada...............................................Rabbi Glenn Black Central East........................................Rabbi Tzali Freedman Chile....................................................Michael Bengio Germany.............................................Anna Segal Israel...................................................Rabbi Yisroel Goren Midwest..............................................Rabbi Micha Greenland New England......................................Rabbi Shmuel Miller New Jersey........................................Rabbi Yaakov Glasser New York............................................Rabbi Aryeh Lightstone Southern.............................................Todd Cohn Southwest..........................................Rabbi Israel Lashak Upstate New York..............................Marc Fein West Coast.........................................Rabbi Effie Goldberg and Solly Hess
SUMMER LEADERSHIP BILT.....................................................Rabbi Akiva Naiman GIVE....................................................Erin Cooper GIVE USA............................................Amy Tropp ICE.......................................................Rabbi Israel Lashak JOLT....................................................Rabbi Nahum Zak Kollel...................................................Rabbi Moshe Benovitz Michlelet.............................................Rivkah Yudin Camp Sports......................................Rabbi Jon Green TJJ & TJJ Ambassadors.....................Rabbi Ben Zion Goldfischer
PHOTO: BENJI CHEIRIF
Baltimore, MD Columbia, MD Germantown, MD Gaithersburg, MD Olney, MD Potomac, MD Sandy Spring, MD Silver Spring, MD Towson, MD Cherry Hill, NJ Allentown, PA Harrisburg, PA Huntingdon Valley, PA Lancaster, PA Philadelphia, PA Lower Merion, PA Wilkes-Barre, PA Richmond, VA Norfolk, VA Virginia Beach, VA
CANADA 905.761.6279 firstname.lastname@example.org canada.ncsy.org
Calgary, AB Edmonton, AB Vancouver, BC Victoria, BC Halifax, NC Hamilton, ON Kitchener-Waterloo, ON King City, ON Kingston, ON London, ON Ottawa, ON Toronto, ON Montreal, QC
888.471.4514 email@example.com centraleast.ncsy.org
Windsor, CA Ann Arbor, MI Bloomfield Hills, MI Farmington Hills, MI Huntington Woods, MI Oak Park, MI Southfield, MI West Bloomfield, MI Akron, OH Canton, OH Cincinnati, OH Cleveland, OH Columbus, OH Dayton, OH Solon, OH Toledo, OH Youngstown, OH Pittsburgh, PA
IGNITE EDITORIAL STAFF Rabbi Jack Abramowitz Yakira Apfel Alan Avitan Rabbi Dovid Bashevkin Bayla Sheva Brenner Rina Emerson Dalia Caplan Garfinkel Keevy Fried Rebekah Friedman
Tova Flancbaum Michael Orbach ART DIRECTOR
201.862.0250 firstname.lastname@example.org newjersey.ncsy.org
972.934.9143 email@example.com southwest.ncsy.org
Cherry Hill, NJ East Brunswick, NJ Englishtown, NJ Fair Lawn, NJ Freehold, NJ Freehold Boro, NJ Hackensack, NJ Highland Park, NJ Hightstown, NJ Livingston, NJ Malboro, NJ Manalapan, NJ Millburn, NJ Montclair, NJ Northern Highlands, NJ Randolph, NJ Teaneck, NJ Twin Rivers, NJ West Orange, NJ
Austin, TX Dallas, TX Fort Worth, TX Houston, TX McKinney, TX Richardson, TX San Antonio, TX
Bronx, NY Brooklyn, NY Cedarhurst, NY Commack, NY East Meadow, NY Great Neck, NY Hewlett, NY Inwood, NY Lawrence, NY Long Beach, NY Manhattan, NY Merrick, NY Oceanside, NY Plainview, NY Port Washington, NY Queens, NY
1-866-887-5788 Southern@ncsy.org southern.ncsy.org
516.569.6279 firstname.lastname@example.org newyork.ncsy.org
New Haven, CT Stamford, CT West Hartford, CT Brookline, MA Framingham, MA Lexington, MA Marlborough, MA Newton, MA Sharon, MA Waltham, MA Providence, RI
Des Moines, IA Buffalo Grove, IL Chicago, IL
Roslyn, NY Staten Island, NY Stony Brook, NY Westchester, NY West Hempstead, NY Woodmere, NY
Little Rock, AK Birmingham, AL Aventura, FL Boca Raton, FL Coral Springs, FL Hollywood, FL Jacksonville, FL Kendall, FL Miami Beach, FL North Miami Beach, FL Palm Beach, FL Parkland, FL Greater Atlanta, GA Savannah, GA New Orleans, LA Charleston, SC Myrtle Beach, SC Nashville, TN
617.332.6279 email@example.com newengland.ncsy.org
847.677.6279 firstname.lastname@example.org midwest.ncsy.org
Northbrook, IL Skokie, IL Indianapolis, IN South Bend, IN Kansas City, KS Overland Park,KS St. Louis, MO Winnipeg, MB Minneapolis, MN Omaha, NE Memphis, TN Milwaukee, WI
410.358.6279 email@example.com atlanticseaboard.ncsy.org
ON THE COVER: Adam, a participant on NCSY’s summer program ICE, shares an intimate moment at the Kotel (Western Wall) in Jerusalem, Israel.
ATLANTIC SEABOARD Glenview, IL
Seth Feuerstein-Rudin Jen Goldman Batya Rosner Judah Joseph Eitan Kastner Avital Moss Jenni Richton Kayla Weil Joe Winkler
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 Denver, CO Las Vegas, NV Portland, OR Eugene, OR El Paso, TX Seattle, WA
ARGENTINA 011.54.11.4962.109 x123 firstname.lastname@example.org
CHILE 011.56.99.186.5575 email@example.com
GERMANY 011.49.30.440.10160 firstname.lastname@example.org
ISRAEL 02.560.9100 email@example.com ouisrael.org
UPSTATE NEW YORK Acco Ariel 718.216.6445 firstname.lastname@example.org upstate.ncsy.org
Albany, NY Binghamton, NY Buffalo, NY Catskills District, NY Mount Kisco, NY Rochester, NY Schenectady, NY Syracuse, NY
WEST COAST 310.229.9000 email@example.com westcoast.ncsy.org
Phoenix, AZ Scottsdale, AZ Berkeley, CA Beverly Hills, CA Calabasas, CA Cupertino, CA Irvine, CA La Jolla, CA Los Angeles, CA North Hollywood, CA Oakland, CA Palo Alto, CA Piedmont, CA
Bat Yam Beit Shemesh Gedera Jerusalem Kiryat Gat Kiryat Malachi Kiryat Shemona Ma’ale Adumim Masuot Yitzchak Nahariya Netanya Netivot Ofakim Ramat Hasharon Rechovot Sderot Tel Aviv Tiberias Yafo
NCSY International Headquarters 11 Broadway New York, NY 10004 Phone: 212.613.8233 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: www.ncsy.org Facebook: www.facebook.com/myncsy Twitter: @ncsy YouTube: www.youtube.com/myncsy
THE NCSY MAGAZINE
FOR A G LOOKIN
N R U T E R H HIG VESTMENT? THIS YEAR,
D E R I P S N I E R WE
ON AN NCSY
RAM IN G O R P R E M M SU OF THEM ISRAEL DED
N O I L L I M
E AWAR 'V E W , R E ETH
RSHIPS TO IN SCHOLA AT HAPPEN.
TER P T E B O N 'S HERE
TODAY R O S H H A S H A N A H 2 012
INVES O T E M I T E OR
r www.ncsy.o OR CALL
al internation NCSY is the OU. e ment of th youth move
6 FACES IN THE CROWD
Hear what impresses the OU CFO most about NCSY. Plus, get to know Rabbi Dave Felsenthal.
10 SUMMER SNAPSHOTS
Take a glimpse into NCSY Summer Programs through the lenses of photographers.
18 UNITED FOR ISRAEL
NCSYers make their voices heard at the AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington, D.C.
22 A MOTHER’S LAST WISH
When Aviv Kleinman lost his mother, NCSY and the Jewish community were there for him.
28 RABBI JACK SCHNELL TRIBUTE
Midwest NCSY lost one of its founding members. A look back on his legacy.
32 NO DOOR LEFT BEHIND
Uriel Cohen’s quest to put a mezuzah on every door.
35 EYE ON ADVISORS
Meet two active NCSY advisors and find out how they got started and what keeps them going.
What you can do to stop assimilation and intermarriage.
INTERNATIONAL TEEN PRESIDENT
Judah Joseph reflects on the four events that impacted him this year.
16 SPRING REGIONAL
High schoolers on the West Coast prove that philanthropy isn’t limited to adults.
All over America, NCSYers take part in Spring Regional.
GETTING DOWN TO BUSINESS
Jewish teens network with successful Jewish businessmen — and learn they can be financially successful while adhering to Jewish values.
An inside look at the future of Jewish education in the digital world.
A LEAGUE OF HER OWN
Lieba Brownstein discovers a way to be religious on and off the field.
SWIMMING AGAINST THE CURRENT
At the peak of his career, David Freedman faced a pivotal decision.
29 FIVE FOR FIVE
A father reflects on the journeys of his five daughters through life and NCSY.
How two childhood friends, a psychiatrist and a rabbi changed the Jewish landscape in Ottawa.
SEALED WITH CARE
Faced with her own medical challenges, Elana Loftspring sends packages filled with hope.
SMALL IN NUMBER, BIG IN HEART
Meet the entire Orthodox population of Vanderbilt University.
Happenings from around the NCSY world.
More Jews than ever are struggling with belief. How can we change that?
THE NCSY MAGAZINE
ne of the most common questions I receive when I meet with groups of NCSYers or advisors is, “Who inspires you?” If any of these meetings occur in my office, I point to a framed map that charts my many mentors over the years. This map is from an exercise I participated in during a conference many years ago. During the exercise I was fascinated to take a step back and survey how many people contributed to who I am today. Mentors have pushed me to challenge my assumptions, leading me to think differently and dream bigger. My mentors have also served as my cheerleaders, making my work and sacrifices feel valued and recognized. Through the years, one of my closest and most admired mentors has been Rabbi Meyer May, the Executive Director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles, California. When I was the West Coast NCSY Regional Director, my family and I would open our home to hundreds of teenagers on Simchat Torah night. This annual event provided the community’s teens with a spiritual, inspiring, fun and safe place to celebrate. Hosting such an event required a great deal of work and planning, but my wife and I loved being able to give our NCSYers a meaningful opportunity to observe Simchat Torah. Despite the volume of teenagers who participated in this event each year, I received little thanks or recognition from parents or the community for hosting this event. One year after Simchat Torah, I related to Rabbi May my feelings of dejection over this lack of response. Rabbi May was sympathetic and we discussed how Jewish communal life can be difficult and one cannot expect to hear “thank you” very often.
HAVING MENTORS IN OUR LIVES PROPELS US TO REACH OUR GREATEST HEIGHTS AND FIND OUR BEST SELVES.
Months later, I led West Coast’s Spring Regional Convention, a three-day Shabbaton event that convenes hundreds of teens across the region for an uplifting and unforgettable weekend. Sometime after Regional ended, I received a call from Rabbi May to make a time to meet for lunch. I was quite taken aback by the gesture, as I had always taken the initiative to arrange our meetings. When I met with Rabbi May he stood up and simply said, “Thank you.” He knew I had just finished our huge, yearend event and made the time to thank me on behalf of the community for my time and dedication. Needless to say, that was one of the most powerful thank yous I ever received. Throughout my career, I have always urged NCSY teens, advisors and staff to find mentors because I fervently believe that having mentors in our lives propels us to reach our greatest heights and find our best selves.
R O S H H A S H A N A H 2 012
When I first learned about Atlantic Seaboard’s Senator Ben Cardin Jewish Scholars Program I was thrilled to find that the program was built on the power of mentoring relationships. Featuring consistent one-on-one learning sessions between teens and volunteers from the Baltimore community, this innovative initiative also promotes Jewish teen leadership through text-based study and a lobbying mission to Washington, D.C. A version of this program has since been adopted by additional regions and has been renamed the Jewish Scholars Program. The focus of the program continues to be the mentoring connection that is developed between the teens and community members. During the one-on-one learning sessions, teens are able to gain the perspective and insights of their mentors and understand how to apply what they are learning to their own lives and challenges. As Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur approach, we reflect on the past year and search to improve ourselves for the coming year. I urge that you find mentors in your life to help guide and support you. Best wishes for a healthy, happy and fulfilling new year.
Rabbi Steven Burg
NCSY taught me __________ (fill in the blank). May 23, 2012 at 4:50pm · Like
Adele Lerner that Judaism is more than just a religion. It’s a community full of history, love and diversity that will accept you for whomever you are. May 23 at 5:49pm via mobile · Like 1 Miriam Yfrah to be proud of who I am and that being a Jew is an incredible gift. It’s OK to ask questions, and to be passionate and happy about life and all that it throws at me. May 23 at 6:01pm · Like 2 Jesse Salver to inspire myself to inspire others. May 23 at 10:58pm · Like 2
“Like” us on Facebook. Visit facebook.com/myncsy
RABBI DAVE FELSENTHAL Director of OU NextGen
for OU Chief Financial Officer
When the time came to put all the NCSY alumni programs under one umbrella, Rabbi Steven Burg, NCSY’s International Director, could think of only one person: Rabbi Dave Felsenthal, better known to his thousands of friends and admirers as “Rabbi Dave.” Rabbi Dave has been involved in some form of NCSY programming since he won a contest in fifth grade at his first NCSY event. “I loved winning contests,” he explained. “They had a contest: if you answered the most questions on a quiz about the Torah reading for that week’s Torah portion, you won a free Shabbaton.” One weekend in tenth grade, he attended an NCSY Shabbaton, his only one of the year, and managed to be elected to Regional Board. “I dived in,” he said. “I started keeping Shabbat by staying at people’s homes.” In eleventh grade, he was on Regional Board again; in twelfth grade, he became Regional President. In his first year of college, Rabbi Dave was Head Advisor. After Rabbi Dave got married, he worked for an Aish college program that connected him with NCSY graduates. He traveled all over the U.S. for NCSY from Columbus, Ohio to Teaneck, New Jersey. Seven years ago, Rabbi Dave was promoted to NCSY’s International office. Rabbi Dave launched the OU’s Birthright division, which accounts for seven percent of all Birthright participants. In his new capacity as the director of OU Next Gen, Rabbi Dave is in charge of Alumni Connections, Birthright, JLIC and Heart to Heart. His office in the OU building is filled with the dozens of awards he’s won as an NCSYer and an NCSY employee, including a plaque celebrating his 25th year as part of the organization. “I wanted to give back,” Rabbi Dave explained. “NCSY made my life into a very happy one.”
Q: How has your perception of NCSY changed since coming to the OU? A: It has been completely turned on its head! I used to
have the impression that families hosting NCSY teens were being given the responsibility of inspiring and engaging our Jewish youth. However, if you’ve ever taken the time to look more closely, you’ll find that the reverse is true. The genuine interest our teens express in our Jewish heritage and the emotions expressed on their faces are truly an inspiration to all those with whom they come into contact.
Q: What impresses you the most about NCSY? A: I’d have to say the devotion and dedication of our
talented NCSY staffers, many of whom have themselves been inspired by NCSY. As a result, they can truly relate to our teens. Our staffers are genuine and their sincerity comes across — and the teens feel that. They are selfless in giving of themselves for the sake of making a difference in the Jewish future.
Q: What message do you have for those who support NCSY? A: Find as many opportunities as you can to experience
NCSY for yourself. There are no words to describe the impact you are having on the next generation. You are investing in the Jewish people’s future. The best way to get a sense of where your investment is going is to learn about all of our wonderful programs and participate in as many as you can — whether it’s Latte & Learning, Shabbatons, Winter/Spring Regionals, Yarchei Kallah or visiting one of our many public school clubs throughout the country.
THE NCSY MAGAZINE
WILL YOU BE SILENT? Reversing the Destruction of American Jewry
By: Joseph “Yossi” Stechler NCSY Chairman
he silent destruction of American Jewry is accelerating at a heart-breaking rate. Ignorance of Jewish history, values and traditions have reached epidemic proportions. The result: the overwhelming majority of our next generation is poised to disappear from the ranks of our people. Soon. Very soon. Before 1970, the rate of intermarriage was 13 percent. By 2001, the intermarriage rate had skyrocketed to 51 percent, with many major cities experiencing rates sharply above 55-60 percent. A 2003 survey in Philadelphia reported that among couples living together where at least one partner was Jewish, the other partner was not Jewish in more than 80 percent of the cases. Is there anything that you can do to prevent the riptide of intermarriage from pulling America’s Jewish youth from our people forever? Yes. Definitely yes. For more than 50 years, NCSY has been the most successful force in bringing young Jewish men and women back to their heritage — with chapters throughout North America, including Jewish Student Unions (JSU) at more than 225 public high schools. Its Latte & Learning and Friday Night Lights programs, as well as its Shabbatons, Regionals and chesed projects, inspire more than 20,000 young Jews from public high schools and Jewish day schools every year. NCSY sends nearly 1,000 students on uplifting tours of Israel every summer. NCSY Alumni Connections provides NCSY high school graduates with opportunities to further strengthen their spiritual growth at their college campuses.
R O S H H A S H A N A H 2 012
In fact, a study completed by the Eli Lilly Foundation found that more than 90 percent of NCSY alumni married Jewish. This year alone, NCSY sent 315 public high school students to Israel on The Jerusalem Journey (TJJ). For most of the students, it was their first exposure to Israel and the beauty of a committed Jewish life. Several years ago, a TJJ participant from Los Angeles asked me — in a somewhat cynical tone — why I supported the program. I told him that I was in the money management field, and that investing in him was the best investment I could make. His eyes softened, and he agreed that I had made a good investment because he had just tried to keep Shabbat. Three weeks later, he confided in me that he had fully kept his first Shabbat. A year later, the young man transferred to a Jewish day school. His spiritual growth parallels the blossoming of tens of thousands of NCSYers into committed members of our community. Most importantly, they have built untold numbers of beautiful Jewish families that bring the warmth and wisdom of our Torah to communities across the world. There is one defining question that each of us must answer: Will I be silent as assimilation and intermarriage ravage North American Jewry, or will I become a guardian and protector of our people? If you want to make an enormous difference, support the work of NCSY. Provide scholarships to help young Jews attend NCSY Shabbatons and summer programs. Volunteer to invite NCSYers to your Shabbat meals. Teach an unaffiliated Jewish student Pirkei Avot in NCSY’s Torah by Phone network. Contact me at email@example.com to offer your support. Please do not be silent. Silence is destroying American Jewry. Joseph “Yossi” Stechler is Chairman of the National Youth Commission of NCSY. After serving as a corporate attorney at several major Wall Street law firms, he built an investment company that managed domestic and offshore hedge funds as well as a venture capital portfolio. He lives in Teaneck, New Jersey and Zichron Yaacov, Israel.
A YEAR OF ACCOMPLISHMENTS
NCSY International President Judah Joseph, BBYO International N’siah Sarah Minion and Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren pose at the White House during Jewish Heritage Month.
his past year was really incredible for me. It was not just because I had the indescribable opportunity to represent NCSY as the 2011-2012 International Teen President, but also because of the ways my eyes were opened to the promise of the Jewish people. As I look back on what we were able to accomplish this year, four main events come to mind.
This year, NCSY teens across the United States engaged their politicians to advocate for the continuation of a strong U.S.-Israel relationship. Between the Washington summit of Atlantic Seaboard NCSY’s Senator Ben Cardin Jewish Scholars Program and National NCSY’s AIPAC delegation, I had the opportunity to join teens from all over the country in lobbying our representatives to support our domestic and international interests. More importantly, we showed people with political power that we care. That is huge.
We, as a nation, raised thousands of dollars in less than one day to pay for the funeral of the mother of an NCSY alumnus (see story on page 22). One of my dear friends lost his mother this winter and the entire Jewish community mobilized to raise enough money to bury her in Israel. In 14 hours, Jews from all over the world donated thousands of dollars to a cause greater than themselves. That is the definition of v’ahavta l’reiacha kamocha — to love our neighbors like ourselves. The way am Yisrael helped one of our own struck me in a way I will never forget.
NCSY chapters are flourishing to sizes never seen before. For example, I had the privilege to visit NorCal East (which covers parts of San Francisco, Oakland,
Berkeley and Piedmont) this spring, and it has multiplied, becoming a force to be reckoned with in West Coast NCSY. Southern NCSY counts for nearly 50 Jewish culture clubs in its boundaries, each of which inspires high schoolers several times a month. With tens of thousands of engaged NCSYers in North America, NCSY is poised to remain the premier youth movement, making real differences in the lives of Jewish teens.
We sparked ongoing dialogue with teens of other Jewish youth organizations and their leaders. Jewish unity is the only way in which we can make headway in social programming, and although NCSY’s numbers are impressive, we can do so much more with the help of our neighbors. I was thrilled to work this year alongside the incredible teen leadership of BBYO, USY, Young Judaea and NFTY to promote a unilateral, poly-endorsed anti-bullying campaign that reached across the world. In the spirit of kol arevim, we showed initiative to better the world for each other. I am so proud of what I was able to help accomplish this year. As a high school student, it was mind-boggling that people everywhere were so interested in what I had to say or what I could suggest. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience to represent this beautiful movement. I am confident that this is only the beginning of more marvelous advances in store for us.
JUDAH JOSEPH GRADUATED FROM CHERRY HILL HIGH SCHOOL EAST IN JUNE. HE ATTENDS THE UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA.
THE NCSY MAGAZINE
MAJOR EVENTS AROUND NCSY
UNITED FOR ISRAEL
GETTING DOWN TO BUSINESS
Take a glimpse into NCSY Summer Programs through the lenses of photographers. High schoolers on the West Coast prove that philanthropy isn’t limited to adults. All over America, NCSYers take part in Spring Regional. NCSYers make their voices heard at the AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington, D.C. Jewish teens network with successful Jewish businessmen — and learn they can be financially successful while adhering to Jewish values. An inside look at the future of Jewish education in the digital world.
This past summer, 833 teens attended NCSY Summer Programs – 750 of them in Israel. NCSY Summer Programs are more
than just summer trips. They’re one of the most meaningful and memorable experiences of a person’s life. NCSY runs nine unique summer programs in the US, Israel and Europe that cater to teens with different interests and backgrounds. Take a look back at Summer 2012 through the lenses of various photographers.
Boys on NCSY’s newest summer program BILT (Boys Israel Leadership Training) undergo basic training at Sde Boker, an IDF army base.
THE NCSY MAGAZINE
Girls from NCSY Michlelet enjoy a day on their beautiful campus in Beit Shemesh. The girls spent the summer learning Torah and touring Israel.
Boys from NCSY Kollel rappel down a mountain during a two-hour hike in southern Israel. This year, 145 high school students experienced intense learning, world-class sports and great trips.
A group of public school students from NCSYâ€™s The Jerusalem Journey (TJJ) rejoice after building a raft during a team-building activity on the Kinneret. This year, 315 public school students took in the land of Israel on this trip.
NCSY JOLT (Jewish Overseas Leadership Training) participants run a group activity for Jewish German children at Am Echad, a camp in the Harz mountains of Germany. JOLT is a coed leadership program that takes teens to Poland, Germany and Israel.
R O S H H A S H A N A H 2 012
NCSYers at Camp Sports enjoy some healthy competition at the Ner Israel campus in Baltimore, Maryland.
PHOTO: ROCIO VEROA PHOTO: KEVIN WEBER
NCSY ICE (Israel and Central Europe) participants take a break from the hot sun while tracing the footsteps of the Rambam (Maimonides) in Toledo, Spain.
NCSY GIVE (Girls Israel Volunteer Experience) girls “clown” around with seniors at an old age home in Jerusalem. The participants spent four weeks experiencing hands-on Judaism through the art of giving back in Israel.
View thousands of photos and read the blog posts from this past summer at www.ncsysummer.com
NCSY SUMMER PROGRAMS
BILT CAMP SPORTS GIVE ICE JOLT Participants of TJJ Ambassadors dig through ruins searching for ancient artifacts. TJJ Ambassadors is an Israel journey for public school students that focuses on social action, political advocacy and Torah study.
KOLLEL MICHLELET THE JERUSALEM JOURNEY (TJJ) TJJ AMBASSADORS
Learn more about NCSY Summer Programs at www.ncsysummer.com or call 1-888-TOUR-4-YOU IGNITE
THE NCSY MAGAZINE
1,200 NCSYers, alumni, supporters and friends 1,200 NCSYers, alumni, supporters and friends gathered gathered in Mini Israel park on Monday, July 30 for in Mini Israel park on Monday, July 30 for the fifth annual the fifth annual Yom NCSY celebration. Yom NCSY Yom NCSY celebration. Yom NCSY is a mega-event that is a mega-event that brings together all the NCSY brings together all the NCSY Summer Programs in Israel Summer Programs in Israel for a night of music, for a night of music, entertainment and inspiration. entertainment and inspiration. Photos: Benji Cheirif Photos: Benji Cheirif
R O S H H A S H A N A H 2 012
NCSY'S TEEN PHILANTHROPY MOVEMENT PUTS TEENS IN CHARGE
By: Liam Keegan
olly Hess, West Coast Regional Director of NCSY, was looking for ways to get Jewish teenagers motivated about charitable giving last summer. With the help of Brandon Lurie, a YULA Boys student and NCSY regional board member, he came up with a project that would eventually make an impact on youth as well as the local Jewish community: the Teen Philanthropy Movement.
The Dorothy Phillips Michaud Charitable Trust granted the Teen Philanthropy Movement $5,000, and Lurie said each group had to do in-depth research to decide which charities would need and benefit most from the money. “In these troublesome economic times, many self-funded Jewish organizations have lost their thunder and are barely functioning with the money they have,” Lurie said. “That’s where we come in.”
“People today have this [mistaken] impression of teens being apathetic,” Hess said.
The seven groups, which consisted of boys and girls from various local high schools, including Milken, YULA, Shalhevet and Hamilton, as well as SCY (Southern California Yeshiva) High and Torah High School of San Diego, all started off with an initial selection of seven charities each. The groups then met monthly, presented their charities to the larger student board and whittled their pools down to a single beneficiary agency. The finalists were known as the Chosen 7.
A mere eight months since the project’s inception, students are celebrating the success of their charitable efforts, contributing $5,000 to four charities and connecting with the larger Jewish community in the process. “The Jewish community really took notice of this project. They’re looking to the future now and are waiting to see what the next step of the project is,” Hess said. To begin the Teen Philanthropy Movement, Hess and Lurie divided the 23-member student board into seven groups, with each group assigned the task of researching seven charitable organizations. The program was divided into a trimester schedule with three core stages: research, Torah and the finale.
The second phase incorporated Torah learning. Students met with rabbis and other community leaders to learn about the role of tzedekah (charitable giving). “The students built real relationships with their community representatives over the course of the program, while learning from them about philanthropy through the Torah in the process,” Hess said.
THE NCSY MAGAZINE
During the final trimester, the students learned firsthand about their chosen charities by visiting and volunteering with the organizations. Representatives from the charities also taught the seven groups about Jewish perspectives on philanthropy. On Feb. 29, after three months of garnering a wealth of knowledge and experience, the students pitched their favorite charities to a panel of four judges, each active in the Jewish business community — Leslie Kessler, Steve Bram, Rhoda Weisman and Joel Levine — at Young Israel of Century City during what Lurie called Decision Day. “It was an unbelievable night,” Lurie said. After the presentations, the judges were stumped. In the end, the judges decided to split the $5,000 evenly among four charities: Camp Chesed, Shoes That Fit, San Diego Community G’mach and The Hero Project Holocaust Education Reach-Out. One of the most touching moments for the group came when one of the winning charities, Shoes That Fit, a Claremont-based charity that donates shoes to children, wrote a letter of thanks to the Teen Philanthropy Movement: “Because of this project, more children will attend school in comfort and with dignity, wearing shoes that fit. Our mission of providing new shoes to children in need for school would not be possible without the generous support of people like you.” Hess says NCSY is looking to expand the Teen Philanthropy Movement. “We want to get more high schools on board for next year’s project and expand across the region,” he said. “A big boost to the project is Esther Feder, who has become chair of the movement. As an experienced fundraiser and chair of [the] Shalhevet High School [board], she’s going to be a real force in propelling the project to new levels of success.” Hess added that it didn’t take much effort to sell the Teen Philanthropy Movement to the teens, and he credits Lurie with helping to motivate them. “Brandon Lurie has a passion for philanthropy,” Hess said. “Once I got his help, the rest of the team followed under his leadership. And we didn’t have to push the teams; they were motivated by their own desire to give back.” u This article was first published in the Jewish Journal.
CHARITY: NOT JUST FOR ADULTS ANYMORE
By: Brandon Lurie
In August, West Coast Regional Director Solly Hess approached me with an idea for a teen movement to engage NCSYers in the struggles of people living in our society. The goal was to sensitize youth to the needs of the community. I was determined to make it happen and I designed a program divided into three monthly phases. The first month focused on research. Twenty-three teens were recruited and divided into seven teams. Each team was required to explore the world of charities and come up with seven organizations that they felt served a necessary and worthwhile purpose. The second month was focused on Torah. Together with a representative of the organization, each group learned three times in January about sources of philanthropy in the Torah. During the third month each team visited the facilities of the organization. The idea was to observe the day-to-day workings and volunteer in their organization. My team member Sam Rhodes and I visited Shoes That Fit, an organization that provides underprivileged children with new shoes in the hopes of boosting their self-confidence. The facility was a massive warehouse containing more than 1,000 pairs of shoes waiting to be shipped. That image will not soon fade from my memory. At the end of February the program reached its climax. The Dorothy Phillips Michaud Charitable Trust provided a $5,000 grant to our program. It was time to decide which charity to support. Each team created a presentation to describe their organization to a panel of four judges. The judges split the $5,000 evenly among four organizations: G’mach of San Diego, Shoes That Fit, H.E.R.O. Project and Camp Chesed. Perhaps more important than the success of this trial program is its ripple effect. There is no reason why we shouldn’t engage in the world of philanthropy because most of us do not earn a living. This is exactly the reason why we should get involved: it teaches us that we have a critical responsibility in this world and we cannot let it be ignored. BRANDON LURIE GRADUATED FROM YULA BOYS HIGH SCHOOL IN LOS ANGELES IN JUNE. HE IS CURRENTLY STUDYING AT YESHIVAT HAKOTEL AND WILL BE ATTENDING MCGILL UNIVERSITY NEXT FALL.
Regional Director Solly Hess (far left) and Executive Director Rabbi Effie Goldberg (far right) present a check to one of the winning teams as part of West Coast NCSY’s new Teen Philanthropy Movement.
R O S H H A S H A N A H 2 012
Learn more about the Teen Philanthropy Movement or become a sponsor: Email Solly Hess at firstname.lastname@example.org 15
Upstate New York Upstate New York teens and advisors celebrate as NCSY gives a leadership award to an NCSYer via Skype.
West Coast A West Coast NCSYer (right) jams with two of his advisors during West Coast Spring Regional in California.
Canada & West Coast More than 150 teens from Calgary, Edmonton, Portland, Seattle and Vancouver attended Spring Regional Conclave at Camp Arnold in Eatonville, Washington. Teens spent the weekend canoeing, kayaking, zip-lining and playing capture the flag as well as enjoying a spiritual Shabbat with Rabbi Menachem Nissel of Jerusalem, Israel.
THE NCSY MAGAZINE
Central East Girls from Central East’s Regional Board at the annual convention banquet, which pays tribute to the graduating seniors.
Midwest A few of the 200+ teens that attended a fun-filled weekend at Midwest NCSY’s Spring Regional at Camp Chi in Lake Delton, Wisconsin.
Atlantic Seaboard An NCSYer and advisor welcome in Shabbat as they dance together overlooking Lehigh Valley in Pennsylvania.
R O S H H A S H A N A H 2 012
Rabbi Aryeh Lightstone, Regional Director of NY NCSY, together with Regional President Ariella Lunzer (right) and her sister, former NCSYer and now advisor, Rachel Lunzer.
New England New England NCSYers pose for a picture during one of NCSY’s musical havdalah services.
NCSY teens make their voices heard among thousands at the AIPAC Policy Conference By: Malkie Krieger
n March, I had the opportunity to accompany a group of 20 teens from across the United States to attend the American Israel Public Affairs Conference (AIPAC) Policy Conference in Washington, D.C. Instead of hanging out with their friends or playing sports, these teens lobbied and learned how to make themselves stronger, better educated and more effective advocates for Israel. For these teens, the experience was educational on both a personal and political level. The first two days of the conference were spent in lectures and sessions given by leading figures from across the entire political spectrum. The third day of the conference was dedicated to the teenagers’ personal growth as advocates. They spent the day learning how to express their hopes and dreams for Israel in a clear manner to congressmen and senators on Capitol Hill. Josh Schmidt, from Silver Spring, MD, said the conference was a chance for him to meet people that he ordinarily would never have met. At one point, we noticed that he was missing from our group. We found him introducing himself to Lee Rosenberg, President of AIPAC. Schmidt said that without the skills he acquired at the conference, he would never have had the courage to put himself out there.
The conference was also a culmination for some teens of the skills they had built in various NCSY programs. Melissa Slyper, an alumnus of NCSY’s Summer Program TJJ Ambassadors, felt that the conference built upon her already great feelings for Israel. “After the conference, my passion and education grew even more,” she said. When confronted by anti-Israel comments at school, she said that she now had “the words of our own political leaders to effectively defend Israel.” The teens saw how valuable their presence at the conference actually was as several politicians recognized the large number of students in attendance. For NCSY’s International Teen President Judah Joseph, seeing all the NCSYers at AIPAC was one of the best parts of the conference. “The huge variety of backgrounds in NCSY teens, all representing the same organization on a youth level, was definitely one of the most memorable events,” he said. Ultimately, the conference deepened the personal connection fostered by NCSY between Jewish teens and the land of Israel. Abraham Shalom, of Maryland, said, “I always believed that I was a well-informed supporter of Israel, but having the opportunity to go to such a huge gathering of activists from around the world showed me that I was definitely not alone.”
Sponsor a teen to attend AIPAC Email Keevy Fried at email@example.com
THE NCSY MAGAZINE
oronto NCSY is teaching their NCSYers a vital lesson: they can be Torah-observant within the competitive, high-stress business world. The Jewish Business Network (JBN) was created in one of Canada’s top business schools by Matan Hazanov, a former NCSYer. The goal of the network was to connect Jewish business students to one another and foster a sense of pride in their Jewish identity. “The JBN was created to give the next generation of Jewish business leaders a deeper connection to Jewish values and their responsibility to the Jewish people and the world at large,” Hazanov explained. Realizing the natural potential of the JBN to attract promising high school students, Hazanov approached Rabbi Avi Levinson, Director of Thornhill NCSY. Rabbi Levinson made a match between JBN and a collection of Jewish high school students who wanted to bring a business club to their school. Together, they launched the Jewish Business Network for high school students. The club began meeting twice a month, hearing presentations from a variety of speakers from the business world in Toronto — including Blair Carey of Target Directories and Harry Zarek of Compugen. “It’s not just getting kids engaged in business, but also engaged in Jewish values,” explained Rabbi Levinson. “Financial success doesn’t equal success in life. It doesn’t mean you’ll have a good marriage or a good relationship with your employees.”
“They’re really connected to their mentors on a business level and a Jewish level,” Rabbi Levinson said. “They can finally see themselves becoming observant since they met someone who was ‘normal’ and level-headed and lives a Torah observant lifestyle.” As another requirement for the program, students must be involved in charity events inside the community. Recently, JBN raised $12,000 at a charity bowl-a-thon they ran in conjunction with their mentors and other leaders. “By interacting with lay leaders, the students learn that even though these businessmen are busy with personal responsibilities, they still take responsibility for the community,” explained Rabbi Levinson. Toronto NCSY hopes to expand the program in the coming year and have weekly meetings to strengthen the relationships between the students and their mentors. They also aim to run two business-oriented Shabbatons where teens will meet with executives from successful companies in Manhattan and Toronto. Several of the students have since signed up for other NCSY learning programs. After the students graduate from high school, they are automatically connected with the college-level Jewish Business Network to ensure their success, both financially and spiritually, long after they graduate from the world of NCSY. u
Since the club’s founding, it has become quite exclusive, with membership being viewed as a ticket to some of Canada’s top business schools. Involvement in JBN has also helped some high school students land internships with prestigious Toronto firms. With the help of Rabbi Shmuel Soroka, the Associate Regional Director of Canada NCSY, Rabbi Levinson was able to pair up members of the Jewish Business Network with observant businessmen inside Toronto’s Jewish community, who serve as mentors. Mentors within JBN include leading Canadian corporate lawyers and finance directors. One mentor is a manager at the Bank of Montreal’s trading department and another is a senior corporate lawyer at Deloitte, one of the four largest accounting firms in the world.
R O S H H A S H A N A H 2 012
Mark Adler, Member of Parliament in the federal government, presents a certificate of community leadership to the JBN at the charity bowla-thon. To his left, Avi Benchetrit, National Director of JBN and fourth year student at Schulich School of Business. To his right, founding President of JBN for high school, Dylan Itzikowitz.
Together the two launched Aleph Beta in February. The name — a smart word play — means a convergence of technology, university, text and Judaica. The program offered two courses in Bible studies taught by Rabbi Fohrman. “We’ve taken to calling it your other Birthright,” Rabbi Lightstone said referring to the popular Israel program. “Birthright takes you to Israel and gives you a tangible feeling for the land. You have another birthright: your heritage. Whether you’re a student in a day school or in a public school, you now have accessibility to it.” Each course is composed of 80 interactive videos, each 6-12 minutes filled with quizzes and instant feedback. The courses are also accredited by two colleges and high schools in five states. The pilot program had 400 students, divided between yeshiva day school, public school and college students as well as adults. “Our oldest student is 84 and the youngest is 14,” quipped Rabbi Lightstone.
n July 2011, as Rabbi Aryeh Lightstone, the Regional Director of New York NCSY, was scouring the Internet, he had a realization: The world of online education was exploding, but where was the Jewish world? “We were lagging far behind,” Rabbi Lightstone said. Though there were popular websites like OU, YUTorah, Web Yeshiva, Aish and Virtual Gush, none of the sites took full advantage of other basic aspects of the Internet — like interactive videos, message boards and commenting. Furthermore, while excellent classes were offered online in secular subjects like American History and European History, there were no equivalents for Jewish subjects. “They don’t have an AP in Tanach or the mastery of Hebrew Language,” Rabbi Lightstone said. “The question is, why not?” For Rabbi Lightsone, the question of “why not?” gradually became “when?” as he decided to reach both goals by adapting the teaching formula used by the popular online Khan Academy — a non-profit that began streaming thousands of high-quality educational videos on YouTube — to teach Jewish subjects. “People think that technology damages education — it greatly enhances education,” explained Rabbi Lightstone. “And, it can make the cost cheaper.” Along the way, a mutual friend introduced him to Rabbi David Fohrman, a popular lecturer and author of “The Queen You Thought You Knew,” as well as a former professor of Bible at John Hopkins University in Baltimore. Rabbi Fohrman and Rabbi Lightstone thought alike. “You can only teach so many people in-person at the same time,” Rabbi Fohrman said. “I became familiar with Khan Academy and the question became, how can we recreate this for the Jewish world?”
The feedback so far, they say, has been amazing. “The signature line from the students is ‘Wow! The Torah is so cool, I’ll tell all my friends,’” Rabbi Fohrman said. “We’re opening the text in ways that are pretty surprising. Instead of thinking that the Torah talks about obscure things, students find that it talks about the things we care the most about: what it means to be a good friend; what it means to be a good child; what it means to be a good parent. The Torah speaks about all the things that make a difference between a life we feel we’ve squandered and a life we feel we’ve lived to the fullest.” Rabbi Steven Burg, International Director of NCSY, said Aleph Beta “was a natural partner for NCSY. Rabbi Lightstone’s goal of inspiring and educating teens no matter where they are is the mission of NCSY. One of the untapped areas for educating our teens about Jewish ideas is through the digital world.”
How can we deliver high-quality Jewish education to the online world? Rebecca Ruben, 16, from Portsmouth, New Hampshire, was one of the students on the pilot program. She found out about Aleph Beta after spending the summer on NCSY’s Summer Program TJJ — a program she discovered by randomly searching the Internet. “There’s not a very large Jewish population and my shul doesn’t have a teen program, so it was nice to be able to do a little learning while in a secular environment,” Rebecca said. The courses are offered inexpensively for public schools and universities. Students who want to take the course without getting credit are offered a discounted rate. Aleph Beta doesn’t charge outreach organizations or day schools. By next year, Rabbi Lightstone hopes to have 12 courses on Aleph Beta along with several lecturers. The goal for Rabbi Lightstone is simple: “We want to reimagine Jewish education.”
To learn more about Aleph Beta or sign up, visit www.alephbeta.org IGNITE
THE NCSY MAGAZINE
Profiles of the people and places that matter
A MOTHER’S LAST WISH
A LEAGUE OF HER OWN
SWIMMING AGAINST THE CURRENT
RABBI JACK SCHNELL TRIBUTE
FIVE FOR FIVE
NO DOOR LEFT BEHIND
SEALED WITH CARE
SMALL IN NUMBER, BIG IN HEART
EYE ON ADVISORS
pg R O S H H A S H A N A H 2 012
When Aviv Kleinman lost his mother, NCSY and the Jewish community were there for him. Lieba Brownstein discovers a way to be religious on and off the field. At the peak of his career, David Freedman faced a pivotal decision. Midwest NCSY lost one of its founding members. A look back on his legacy. A father reflects on the journeys of his five daughters through life and NCSY. How two childhood friends, a psychiatrist and a rabbi changed the Jewish landscape in Ottawa. Uriel Cohen’s quest to put a mezuzah on every door.
PHOTO: NOACH KLEIN
Faced with her own medical challenges, Elana Loftspring sends packages filled with hope. Meet the entire Orthodox population of Vanderbilt University. Meet two advisors and find out how they got started in NCSY and what keeps them going.
One of Aviv’s favorite photos of his mother and him. After she passed away, he did not have enough money to pay for her funeral.
NCSY AND THE JEWISH COMMUNITY HELP AN ONLY CHILD FULFILL HIS MOTHER’S DREAM By: Michael Orbach
haron Asher’s sickness wove itself through the fabric of the life of her son, Aviv Kleinman. Sharon was diagnosed with breast cancer when Aviv was in sixth grade. He quickly became familiar with the harsh realities of cancer treatment: endless doctor appointments, chemotherapy and holistic medicine. Aviv kept his mother’s sickness a secret. Looking at the friendly, outgoing teenager, you
wouldn’t know that his mother, his only parent since his father abandoned him shortly after birth, was dealing with a life-threatening illness. When Aviv was 16 he spent his summer vacation in Israel on the inaugural year of the NCSY Summer Program TJJ Ambassadors. He says that the experience altered him profoundly. “I was a public school student. I went on TJJ
THE NCSY MAGAZINE
Ambassadors and my whole life changed,” Aviv explained. “I learned what I wanted for my life. I changed from a random secular kid to one who wants to go to yeshiva and find meaning in life through Torah and Judaism.” Aviv became a mini-Jewish-celebrity after he put up a video on YouTube of him receiving his acceptance letter to Yeshiva University. The video quickly garnered more than 8,000 hits. When it came time to decide whether he should go to Israel for the year after he graduated high school, Sharon, despite her illness, was adamant. “She said it was the most important thing for me,” Aviv recalled. Aviv believed that his mother’s health was good. But as soon as he left, his mother’s condition began to deteriorate. “While I was here, she never let me know how bad she was doing,” Aviv said. “I had no idea it was terminal.” In January, he received a shocking phone call from a family friend: he had to come home right away. Aviv flew home that day. “She didn’t look at all like the mother I had left,” Aviv said. Aviv took care of his mother for a week at Cedar Sinai Hospital in L.A. On the night of Friday, February 3, she died. “One of the last things we talked about was where I would bury her,” Aviv said. “It’s a conversation that no child has with their parent at such a young age, but it was necessary. She reminded me that for her whole life, she always wanted to live in Israel. At this point, burial in Israel was all she could hope for. ‘But’, she said, ‘I know that burying someone in Israel is so difficult and expensive, I just don’t know how you’d be able to do it.’” During the last week of her life, Aviv looked into burial options and found out that the total cost for a burial in Israel was only $1,000 more than a burial in Los Angeles. “I told her, ‘I may very well bury you in Israel,’ and she had the biggest smile on her face,” he said. After his mother’s death, Aviv had another pressing problem: how to raise the almost $13,000 he needed for the funeral. The scant money Aviv’s mother left him didn’t even cover a small funeral in the most inexpensive Jewish cemetery in Los Angeles. Hours after his mother’s death, Aviv was lost in a maze of phone calls, desperately trying to secure the necessary loans to pay for the funeral. Some friends called him and said they were trying to raise some money but he didn’t think much of it. Maybe, he figured, they’d be able to raise $1,000. Later that day, Solly Hess, the Regional Director of West Coast NCSY, paid Aviv a visit with an important message. “He told me we had enough money,” Aviv said. “I was in shock.” Two days later, Aviv flew to Israel with Hess and his mother’s body. “We were able to bury her in Beit Shemesh in a beautiful cemetery surrounded by trees, hills and mountains.” What happened during that day was a frantic plea for donations inside the Jewish community. Melissa Kramer, Jessica Savitz and Jasmine Esulin — who met Aviv on the TJJ Ambassadors program — sent out emails to their friends and posted about Aviv’s situation all over Facebook. Rabbi Binny Freedman and Scott Apfelbaum, the heads of
R O S H H A S H A N A H 2 012
Aviv lit up the web with his exuberant response to receiving his acceptance letter to Yeshiva University. The video has more than 8,000 views on YouTube.
Orayta — Aviv’s yeshiva in Israel — organized a website to accept donations. Judah Joseph, NCSY’s International Teen President, who also met Aviv on TJJ Ambassadors, sent out a Facebook message that spread like wildfire. NCSY Regions from across the country started fundraising. Aviv’s shul, Beth Jacob, solicited donations. Aviv’s plight struck a chord and donations began pouring in. Within 14 hours of the initial email, more than $16,000 had been raised. Solly Hess was the one to break the news to Aviv and also to tell him that he would be flying to Israel with him for the funeral. “I was with Aviv when the world came together,” said Hess. “To see Aviv realize that the family of klal Yisrael was behind him and there for him was one of the most surreal experiences of my life.” After returning to Los Angeles for the shiva, Aviv flew back to Israel to complete his year in yeshiva. During his mother’s unveiling, Aviv spoke about the mitzvah of chesed shel emet. “When you bury someone, it’s really a true kindness and that’s what everyone really did.” “I came to the realization that, in my whole life, if I ever had any wants or needs, my Mom would do whatever she could for me,” Aviv said. “She always did, till the very end. As soon as she passed away that responsibility went from her to am Yisrael. From the bottom of my heart I thank everyone who was a part of it.” Since he returned to Israel after the shiva, Aviv realized that teenagers his age generally have a problem talking about loss. He set up a support group for yeshiva and seminary students who have lost a family member. He credits the leadership skills he gained from TJJ Ambassadors in helping him lead the group. Fourteen students attended the last meeting. Aviv plans on spending the next year in yeshiva and after that, he will attend Yeshiva University. “I have this long search ahead of me,” Aviv said. “I’ve got to make it work. I really owe it to the people who helped me. They’ve given me so much hope.” u
A LEAGUE OF HER OWN One NCSYerâ€™s commitment to growth stands out on and off the field By: Dalia Caplan Garfinkel
THE NCSY MAGAZINE
have never encountered anything like it before. Sitting in my inbox is an email from an NCSYer, Lieba Brownstein, whom I interviewed two days ago. A lively conversationalist and clearly passionate about her beliefs, Lieba had no trouble telling me about her life, her motivation or why she chose such a brave and spiritual path. She talked about her high school, her siblings and her NCSY accomplishments. And two days later, an email arrived in my inbox from her, clarifying the amount of chavrutas (learning partners) that she had during her senior year: it was 13, down from the 17 she had as a freshman. She clarified because she “wanted to make sure she was completely truthful.” Such a commitment to honesty is a small testament to the complete dedication and clarity Lieba has about her path and mission. Here is the story behind this remarkable teen. Lieba, a student at Grant High School in Portland, Oregon, was in ninth grade when she had her first NCSY experience. Involved in Renewal Judaism growing up, Lieba went on her first NCSY Shabbaton not quite knowing what to expect. “I remember sitting down with an advisor during the Shabbaton and crying, asking her to explain what this feeling was. What was I feeling?” she recalls. That feeling, as she later found out, was inspiration. So buoyed by the Shabbaton, the feeling and the entire NCSY experience, Lieba immersed herself in NCSY and learned as much as she could. She amassed learning partners, having up to 17 at one time. Lieba began to learn more and reach greater heights, constantly striving for new goals far beyond her years. She related to me how she and her twin brother Ilan (who she lovingly describes as “my best friend”) walk nine miles to the nearest shul in order to attend Shabbat services every week, leaving their house at 5:45 AM. “The first time we did it, it turned out to be the coldest day of winter in Portland,” she says. “That was tough. At first, it’s like facing a huge mountain that you have to climb. But once you start doing it, you eventually get used to it. And you just love it so much that it’s totally worth it in the end.”
I know it's not a typical path for a public school teenager. And it wasn't ever really easy. But I just... I really wanted to do what was right.”
After studying the concept of tzniut (modesty) in-depth for several years, Lieba decided to start wearing skirts every day to school. However, this presented one major problem: as an avid softball player at her school, when Lieba decided to start wearing skirts at games, she was worried about the reaction of her coach and teammates. She relates, “I love this sport. I’m a varsity player. But this was something that was so important to me. I didn’t even know how to talk to my coach about it. But when I approached her, she said to me, ‘Lieba, as long as it’s black, as long as you can run in it, I don’t care.’ She really respected me and my desire to do this. Sometimes now I get comments from the umpires, like, ‘A skirt? I’ve never seen that before,’ or comments from the other team. But at the end of the day, you just have to do what you believe in.”
“We ask people to take small steps, be a little more committed to their Judaism, in whatever way they can or feel comfortable with,” relates Meira. And fitting with Lieba’s exuberant view on life, she turned those small steps She began to think of NCSY as a second into tremendous strides. The week family and could soon be found at before her high school graduation, she Leiba, with her twin brother Ilan, who she lovingly many of the NCSY events in her region, describes as her best friend. spoke to all of her teachers at one of helping to set up, clean up, and drink their weekly staff meetings and made in the atmosphere and growth offered to her. As Leiba’s one request: that the male teachers not shake her hand at NCSY Director Meira Spivak says, “Lieba is a great, very graduation. “Yeah, I was nervous,” she admits. “But they unique girl. She constantly goes above and beyond what is stood up and clapped for me after I spoke to them. I think expected of her.” they respected it. They respect seeing a teenager stand up for something.” Lieba was eventually elected as chapter vice president, and then president, and has served in that capacity for the past Lieba is continuing her Jewish education this year in Israel year while she has become more and more committed to at Tomer Devorah. As she looks back on all the struggles NCSY and her Judaism. “She’s always there before an event, she faced to express her Judaism, she is thankful now to and stays afterwards,” Meira adds. “She brings friends. She spend the year immersed in Jewish study. At the end of treats it like a second home.” And Lieba has made sure that our conversation, Lieba summed up her feelings about her her actions always reflect the growth she is striving for. choices pretty perfectly. “I know it’s not a typical path for a Never one to back down from her beliefs or a challenge, public school teenager. And it wasn’t ever really easy. But I Lieba had to take some courageous steps to match her just…I really wanted to do what was right.” u extraordinary and unique perspective.
R O S H H A S H A N A H 2 012
At the peak of his career, David Freedman faced a pivotal decision By: Joe Winkler
avid Freedman, 19, can rattle off the time it takes him to complete the 100-yard free-style stroke — 53.46 seconds — and the time it takes him to complete the 100-yard butterfly stroke — 61.00 seconds. But he wasn’t always this fast. “I wasn’t a very good swimmer at first,” David relates. “But I knew how to do some of the strokes, so I decided to try my best and hope that I make the team. When I found out I had made the varsity team my freshman year, I was ecstatic. This was the first time I would be competing in a high school level sport. That year, I was probably one of the worst swimmers on the team.” Things started to pick up for David in his sophomore year. “I was fortunate enough to have a coach, Paul Speicher, who must have seen some sort of potential in me because he kept me on the team,” says David. “It was around then that a change started taking place inside me. I started working harder than I had ever done in my entire life. I went to swim practice every day. I started eating healthier and I started to exercise.” David’s progress in the pool mirrored his progress both socially and religiously. The eldest of four, David was born
in New York City before he moved to Lower Merion, PA, at the age of nine. The transition for him, he admits, was difficult. “I kept to myself socially,” he says. David went from a small private school to a public school of more than 1,200 students — and from a religious environment to a predominantly secular one. Gradually, David was able to overcome his inhibitions — a change he credits to NCSY, which he joined in 10th grade. “The head of Philadelphia NCSY, Rabbi Yitzchak Levi, and the NCSY programs helped me actualize my potential,” says David. David received strong religious support at home from his parents, Leonard and Gilya, and from weekly learning with his favorite rabbi at the Philadelphia Community Kollel. However, in the words of his parents, “navigating through a public school as an observant Jew is no easy feat.” “For my wife and I, there is no question that NCSY gave David the critical path forward,” explains Leonard. “He not only stayed on the derech, path, he reached above and beyond it.”
THE NCSY MAGAZINE
Rabbi Levi also saw the changes in David. “When I first met him he was a private person,” Rabbi Levi says. “Consequently, for him to step out of his shell and help others was a huge accomplishment. Even more impressive, as soon as he stepped out he started to shine.” Rabbi Jonah Lerner, the Regional Director of Atlantic Seaboard NCSY, agrees. “It was so wonderful not only how he himself grew in NCSY, but how excited he was to share it with others,” Rabbi Lerner says. “He served as a leader motivated by joy.” From a shy introverted youth, David became an outstanding leader in school and in NCSY. However, because of his success in the swimming pool, David faced a particularly daunting challenge in his sophomore year. His swim team qualified for the district championship finals but the competition was held on Shabbat. “I had to make a decision: swim in the competition or sacrifice everything I worked for over the past two years,” David says. He chose to keep Shabbat. “After a lot of thought, I decided to make the right decision and not go to the district championship finals,” David explains. “But I promised myself that I would work harder than ever to make it again the next year.” Now a senior, David is still on the swim team, currently serving as team captain. He also has other responsibilities: he is the co-president of the Lower Merion Chapter of NCSY and also a member of Atlantic Seaboard’s Regional Board. For the last two years, he has made a decision to attend NCSY’s Yarchei Kallah, an intensive week-long learning program for public school students, during winter break. For high school swimmers, winter break is the most intense training period.
“I had to make a decision: swim in the competition or sacrifice everything I worked for over the past two years.”
“Usually, during winter break, I would wake up at 5:00 AM in order to swim for about an hour and a half; then get back into the pool to swim some more around 2:00 in the afternoon,” he explains. “That’s an entire week of intense training that I miss, so when I come back from Yarchei Kallah, I have to work even harder to get back to the way I was.” But David has no regrets. “I decided to go on Yarchei Kallah because I knew that the things I learned there would last me a lifetime,” he says. At the very last swim meet of the year — the very last chance for the team to succeed — they qualified for the district championship finals. And this year, the finals will be held on a Thursday. u
David volunteers in a soup kitchen in Israel during NCSY’s JOLT summer program.
R O S H H A S H A N A H 2 012
hicago NCSY lost one of its founding pillars last year. Rabbi Jack Schnell passed away after a long battle with illness in August 2011. Among his many accomplishments as a philanthropist and an educator, Rabbi Schnell was among the first people to bring NCSY to the Windy City. “Rabbi Schnell was a giant of a man, both literally and figuratively,“ said Rabbi Micha Greenland, Regional Director of Midwest NCSY. “I was inspired by each and every interaction with him.” Standing over six feet and weighing 240 pounds (“on a good Monday,” his wife Rashi said), Rabbi Schnell was a gentle giant and his appearance belied an incredible warmth that touched everyone he dealt with. Rabbi Schnell was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1935. He graduated from Torah Vodaath and was the 109th graduate of Beth Medrash Govoha of Lakewood. He met his wife Rashi while the two were in Brooklyn College. After they married in 1958, the newlyweds settled in West Rogers Park in the Northside of Chicago. In those days, there was barely any Jewish community in Chicago, much less a religious one. Rabbi Schnell was hired as an educational director at Skokie Valley Traditional Synagogue, the local religious school. It was an uphill battle, Rashi recalled. “Parents in those days felt less threatened if their kids were sprawled out in Haight-Ashbury than if their children were becoming Orthodox,” Rashi said, referring to the drug-fueled hippie-mecca of the 1960s. Seeing the potential for growth in the community, he helped found one of the first NCSY chapters of Chicago. “He recognized early on that the best thing he could do for these kids was to connect them to a greater network of Jewish teens and other role models,” Rabbi Greenland said.
position as an educational director to launch a successful career in the nursing home industry. For dozens of years, the NCSY youth commission meetings were held in the living room of his West Rogers home and he served as chairman for over a decade. When he felt NCSY Chicago wasn’t getting enough funds, he was known to fly to New York on a whim and storm the NCSY office for more funds. For Rabbi Schnell, his wife said, “Every dollar had a mission.” Rabbi Pinchos Stolper, the founder of NCSY, recalled his commitment. “He was a very good, very wonderful person,” Rabbi Stolper said. “I traveled to Chicago a number of times and he was always there to work with us and he took it very seriously. It was meaningful for him.” “He looked upon NCSY not as an obligation but as an opportunity and served with passion,” Rashi said. “It was his first wife, and I’m the one that cooked dinner.” He continued his involvement in NCSY throughout his life. He was an equally fundamental part of Jewish life in Chicago. He gave the longest uninterrupted Gemarah shiur — 47-years — until he was physically unable to continue it. His wife said that they planned their vacations around the shiur. More than 1,000 people attended his funeral on August 14, 2011. He left behind four children and over 20 grandchildren and great-grandchildren. His son, Dovid Schnell, President of Midwest Agudah, spoke about his effect. “Many of the kids he influenced married and went on to become Shomer Shabbat,” he said. “Even the ones that didn’t retain some semblance of Jewish identity, they maintained their relationship with my father for decades.” Looking back, Rashi summed up his legacy succinctly. “He had the zchus of making the world a better world.”
His love affair with NCSY continued even after he left his
THE NCSY MAGAZINE
A FATHER REFLECTS ON THE NCSY JOURNEYS OF HIS FIVE DAUGHTERS CSY has been a uniquely exciting, inspirational and educational part of the lives of my five daughters. Each of them has benefited a great deal from NCSY — even my youngest, who is just 12. She’s not really old enough to have participated directly, but she’s been to events with her older sisters and gotten a lot from them, including a much broader horizon on life. My own experience in high school back in the 1960s was with the B’nai Brith Youth Organization. As a member of the Aleph Zadik Aleph (AZA), I travelled to regional and district gatherings and met other students from around the country. Growing up in an insular small town — which Columbus, Ohio, certainly was back then — this was hugely important. Experiencing other cities and making friends with people from afar opened my mind. We learned there was a world beyond the stuffy confines of Ohio State football. At least one AZA brother — Marshall Bloom from Denver — became my best friend when we met again in London after college. He became an influential leader of the rising peace movement and helped lead our generation toward the growing of organic food. Over the decades, I’ve continually met BBYO veterans who count their speaking and organizing experiences as being critical to their development as adventurous, productive, capable people willing to take chances and explore the world. With NCSY, I’ve watched my daughters also meet wonderful new people from across the nation. NCSY helps bring teens into the broader community from their hometown confines. I’m grateful that it has provided a framework for my daughters to speak, organize, think independently and travel in order to be exposed to different cities and people. NCSY’s spirit of community and camaraderie are extremely important in a society where individuals are increasingly isolated in front of their computer screens and narrow cliques. As a parent, I’m grateful to see the high quality of staff and leadership in NCSY; the sense of belonging and inclusiveness the organization promotes; and the clear message that spirit and human compassion are infinitely more important than material things. I think the long, raucous dancing sessions that come with each gathering offer a tremendous, healthy release for everyone. They also teach that it’s within our power to feel and experience
R O S H H A S H A N A H 2 012
complete, unconstrained joy in the presence of a wonderful group of friendly, caring people. My oldest daughter Rachel — now married, living in Monsey with her three beautiful children and wonderful husband — was highly influenced by Rabbi David Stavsky zt”l and Rabbi Tzali Freedman (Central East NCSY Regional Director). After graduating from a secular high school, she found herself in Israel, where she formed her own independent identity. My twin daughters, Abbie and Annie, have been in NCSY since fifth grade. While attending public school, they made NCSY their way to gain a Jewish education, a solid group of friends and knowledge of what it means to be a leader. Upon graduating Bexley High School, the twins found themselves learning in Israel and exploring the land and their heritage. Their studies at Stern College allowed them to continue their academic journey surrounded by the lessons that NCSY taught them. The friends and connections that they have made through NCSY have stayed with them — even now in their professional and personal lives. Abbie found a connection with her husband, Achi, a former NCSYer as well. Annie met her husband, David Statman, while working as an advisor on West Coast NCSY. Annie’s son, Moshe, is named after my wife’s father. My father-in-law, Moshe, and his wife Gizal, zt”l, were Holocaust survivors. Both they and my parents, Sig and Phyllis zt”l, who came to America before WWII, were so proud of the Jewish legacy they left behind. Julie, our fourth daughter, decided to switch from public school to Yavne in Cleveland in her sophomore year of high school. It was a decision she made all on her own. As an environmental and social justice activist, the lesson to love every person, as well as our planet, is a message that NCSY and I share. Overall, NCSY has offered my kids a great community, expanded intellectual and spiritual horizons and countless, precious times of joy and good fun with friends and mentors, who, as I know from my own experiences, they’ll keep for life. As a parent, I’m deeply grateful for all that. u
Harvey Wasserman is the author of a dozen books, including “Solartopia! Our Green Powered Earth,” and edits the www.nukefree.org website. He is the senior advisor to Greenpeace USA and teaches Cultural and Ethnic Diversity at Capital University in Bexley, Ohio. His “Green Power & Wellness Show” is webcast at www.progressiveradionetwork.com.
realized that his engineering days were over. He became Ottawa NCSY’s first full-time employee. It wasn’t a hard decision. “Parnasa, salary, is very important, but I wanted to feel that I wasn’t just going to the office and getting a salary,” Bram shared. “I wanted to feel that I was giving back to the community.”
Teens from Ottawa represent NCSY & Torah High at the Jewish Federation of Ottawa’s annual Am-Echad Walk for Jewish Education. The students walked to raise funds for Torah High.
In 2003, Ottawa NCSY was dead. And then Bram Bregman took over. It wasn’t that Bram had free time. Bram had just graduated university and married his wife Chani. He even landed a job as an engineer at Accenture, one of the world’s largest consulting companies. But Bram felt the call.
Bram’s first project as a full-time employee was to launch four Jewish culture clubs in the local public schools and start cultivating relationships with teenagers.
Torah High One success led to another and Bram and Dr. Kovacs realized they needed to provide their fledgling NCSYers with something more. “We needed to provide them with a Jewish education,” Bram said. He and Dr. Kovacs copied an effective Toronto NCSY program called Torah High. The program allows high school students to receive academic credit by studying
“I saw there was a big need in Ottawa,” Bram said. “95 percent of Jewish teenagers attend public school here.” The rebirth of Ottawa NCSY occurred gradually. Bram focused Ottawa NCSY on teenagers in public school. He began organizing events part-time as he continued at Accenture. He was fortunate to meet an equally dedicated community member intent on NCSY’s revival, Dr. Kathi Kovacs. “Not everyone chooses or is able to go to Jewish day school,” Dr. Kovacs explained. High school years, she emphasized, are especially important. “A group of teenagers who happen to be Jewish that spend time together gain a sense of identity.” As more teens started showing up at Shabbatons, Bram
THE NCSY MAGAZINE
and they experience what a Jewish home is like.” Bram also has his NCSYers play a part in all Jewish communal events. “We don’t work in a silo,” Bram explained. “We’re part of a large community. Anytime people need volunteers we try to get them. At every community event, NCSY is there.” University of Ottawa student Adam Moscoe, who was recently named one of the top 20 students under 20 in Canada, is another Torah High success story. Laya Polowin and Aaron Miller shake a lulav and esrog at the Jewish culture club in their public high school, Sir Robert Borden High School.
Jewish subjects after the school day finishes. Dr. Kovacs and Bram opened Torah High in 2006. They had modest expectations: only 20 kids at best. More than 50 showed up. Bram and Dr. Kovacs attribute the initial success of Torah High to one brilliant rabbi who taught the classes: Rabbi Yehuda Simes. “He understands students,” Bram explained. “He knows how to make Torah interesting and relevant.” With the success of Torah High’s first year, Bram and Dr. Kovacs realized they needed another full-time employee. Bram turned to his childhood friend, Gaby Scarowsky, an Ottawa NCSY volunteer. Bram hired Gaby in 2007. “I told him, ‘I was only going to work with you for a year,’” laughed Gaby. “And here I am in my fifth year. Two childhood friends working in their hometown for a Jewish cause.” Tobin Kaiman, 22, now serving as a paratrooper in the IDF, joined Torah High in high school looking for an easy credit. Instead, he found himself a new life. Inspired by his Torah High experience, Kaiman began to live a Torahobservant life. “If it wasn’t for Torah High, I wouldn’t have ended up in Israel,” he said. “I wouldn’t be religious.”
Experiencing Judaism At two hours of class time per week, each student only earns 80 hours towards their required 110 hours of study mandated by the Ministry of Education. The remaining 30 hours are earned through “experiential hours” like spending Shabbat meals with teachers or going on Shabbatons or holiday programs.
“Torah High gave me a taste of the key issues and struggles we currently face in Israel and in the diaspora, as well as preparing me for the climate I was to expect in university,” Moscoe said.
The Future_ Most students only pay $300 for a semester program that costs Ottawa NCSY close to $1,500 per student. Roughly 75 percent of Ottawa NCSY’s budget comes from donations. Bram credits Dr. Kovacs for her fundraising efforts and Ottawa’s Jewish community. The community seems equally invested in Ottawa NCSY. “NCSY has ignited an invigorating spirit among the younger generation in Ottawa, sowing the seeds and generating an embrace of Judaism that inures well for our future,” said Rabbi Reuven Bulka, the rabbi of Congregation Machzikei Hadas, Ottawa’s largest Orthodox shul. Despite Ottawa’s relatively small Jewish population of 15,000, the chapter averages roughly 200 NCSYers per year. “When we think what an exceptional chapter of NCSY should look like, we think of Bram and the amazing work he and Gaby and their staff have done in Ottawa,” said Rabbi Glenn Black, CEO of NCSY Canada. Both Bram and Gaby were modest about their accomplishments. They said they were most proud of the small changes they were able to make in the lives of their students. “We’re planting the seed for them to lead a Jewish life,” Gaby said. Or, as Bram said about his goal for his NCSYers: “When they finish high school, I want them to say ‘I am a proud Jew.’” u To learn more or get involved in Ottawa NCSY, please contact Bram Bregman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 613.262.6279
“You can’t just throw a kid in the classroom and hope it will have an effect,” said Gaby. “You have to give kids the experience of Judaism.” Students can also earn an extra hour a week in Ottawa NCSY’s one-on-one chavruta (partner learning) program called Learn N’ Earn. Students either earn $10 for learning with a community member or use the hours towards their credit. The program also incorporates the public school teens into the Jewish community. “We’re able to bridge the gap between the observant community and the public school,” said Gaby. “Community members invite the teens for a Shabbat meal
R O S H H A S H A N A H 2 012
On March 21, 2012, Torah Academy of Ottawa honored Chani and Bram Bregman for their contributions to the Ottawa Jewish community at a gala dinner. Left to right: Rabbi Yisroel Goldbaum, Principal; Rabbi Zischa Shaps, Executive Director; and Bram & Chani Bregman.
Uriel Cohen’s quest to put a mezuzah on every door By: Eitan Kastner he first time the Jewish people put a sign on their doorposts was their last night as Egyptian slaves. These days, a mezuzah on a doorpost is the most basic sign of a Jewish dwelling. That’s why Mercer Island High School senior Uriel Cohen was so surprised during a lesson he taught in the Stroum Jewish Community Center (SJCC) in Seattle. “I was teaching my students the shema prayer and I got up to the passage that said ‘…and you should write [these words] on your doorposts and your gates,’ where we learn the mitzvah of mezuzah,” Uriel explained. “I turned to the door of the classroom to show my students an example and I was shocked. There was no mezuzah.” Moreover, Uriel discovered that while some of the larger rooms in the SJCC had mezuzahs, most of them did not have the Jewish emblem on their doorway. Uriel knew something needed to be done. He spoke with Judy Neuman, SJCC’s CEO, who said that given the SJCC’s 92,000 square feet of space, putting up mezuzahs was not a priority. Uriel asked her if he could raise the money and put them up himself. She agreed and Uriel got to work.
Uriel constantly updated the blog to encourage people with the project’s progress. The success of the mezuzah drive resulted in a celebration at the SJCC with many community figures in attendance and coverage in Seattle’s local news. Ari Hoffman, Director of Seattle NCSY, has been Uriel’s advisor for the past couple of years.
MERCER ISLAND HIGH SCHOOL SENIOR URIEL COHEN RAISED MORE THAN $2,000 TO PUT UP 90 MEZUZOT AT THE STROUM JEWISH COMMUNITY CENTER (SJCC) IN SEATTLE.
“We supported a mitzvah opportunity of a young man who felt passionate,” Neuman told a Washington-based Jewish newspaper. “The idea to place mezuzot on the children’s classroom doors came from his own sense of Judaism.” Uriel immediately set up a blog, a Facebook page and a Paypal account to get donations for his mezuzah project. He spread the news himself and donations began trickling in. “I made it a contest,” he explained. “How many mezuzahs
can we get today? Some days we would get three, some four, but we kept going in the right direction. By the end of the campaign, we raised a little more than $2,000 and were able to put up 90 mezuzot.”
“Uriel is a self-starter,” said Ari. “From the time he joined NCSY, he has gone from zero to 60 in three seconds flat. He learns with our kollel and he works with local camps and schools. He is everywhere and does everything.”
Uriel first got involved with NCSY by following some friends to a program. When he was a sophomore, he was approached by his advisor to start a Jewish Student Union (JSU) at his high school, which he did with great success. Uriel spent this past summer in Israel on NCSY’s TJJ Ambassadors summer program — a trip that takes leading Jewish public high school students on a whirlwind trip across Israel. Additionally, last year Uriel was selected as one of the national winners of the Orthodox Union’s kosher essay contest. This August, Uriel is going to Israel to learn at a yeshiva for a year before continuing his education at Yeshiva University. “It felt great to see those mezuzahs hanging on the doorpost,” Uriel recalled. “It is good to know that next time they teach about shema, the children can see the mezuzot on the doors and know what the prayer is talking about.”
THE NCSY MAGAZINE
found items that she could enjoy such as a bracelet with bells, gloves and hair accessories. As a result of brittle bones and spinal tumors, many children who contact Elana are recovering from surgery so she is careful what she sends them. Elana’s fervor for chesed flows from her love for Torah knowledge. “She has a very inquisitive mind about her Judaism,” says Rabbi Binyomin Davis, co-director of the Kansas City Kollel who met her at an NCSY event. “She would come to our Shabbat table with questions on the parsha about something she learned on her own.” NCSY’s blend of warm camaraderie and Jewish excitement has given Elana her own treasured carepackage, embodying all that she is and wants to be. “I don’t know many eighth graders who would do their own Jewish online learning,” adds Rabbi Hillel Goldstein, NCSY Kansas City Director. “Most are running away from Sunday school. She’s a great example for the other kids when it comes to Jewish priorities.” “Elana has always had a Jewish spark,” says Sharon Loftspring, Elana’s mother. Determined to fan the flame, she got her parents to agree to let her attend Robert N. Beren Academy in Houston (where the family resided) for her ninth grade year.
Faced with her own medical challenges, Elana Loftspring sent packages of hope By: Bayla Sheva Brenner t age three, Elana Loftspring of Kansas City was diagnosed with Neurofibromatosis-1 (NF), a condition that can cause learning disorders, tumors and cancers. In 2009, eight years after being diagnosed, doctors discovered that Elana had a brain tumor. A day after they removed the tumor, she celebrated her bat-mitzvah and made a decision: she would help other children who suffer from NF. Inspired by a friend who put together food packages for the homeless, Elana came up with the idea to cheer up other children suffering from NF with enjoyable, tailormade care packages. She posted an announcement on an NF support website and waited.
Elana looks forward to joining the JSU at Kansas City’s Blue Valley North School this fall. “I feel good knowing she’ll be able to take part in a Jewish activity,” says her mother. “Her father feels the same way; he’s very supportive of her involvement and feels strongly that NCSY has been good for her.” “We don’t understand why Elana got sick, but we don’t have to; it’s part of God’s plan,” continues Mrs. Loftspring. “There have been some really wonderful friendships that have developed because of this. It’s brought out the best in her.” One of the thank-you notes Elana received came from the mother of a four-year-old boy named Isaac. The mother thanked her for sending her son art supplies. Art, she explained, is his favorite thing. She concluded the note: “I pray that when he’s thirteen like you that he will be strong, caring and wonderful, just like you. Your kindness is going to bring you lots of blessings in your life. Keep up the amazing work!” u
She received 100 responses, thus far. “Parents would write saying my kid is having surgery next month,” says Elana. “I’d ask for their name, age, what they like to do and my mom and I would go to the store and pick out toys and smiley-face stickers.” Typical items include stuffed animals, arts and crafts supplies, puzzles and trading cards. Most importantly, Elana makes sure to include a note introducing herself and explaining that she, too, has NF. Since NF manifests itself in various ways, the recipients of her packages deal with a range of medical issues. Optic gliomas (tumors behind the eyes) are common; a girl requesting a package wrote that she was blind. Elana
R O S H H A S H A N A H 2 012
Elana prepares a package for a child suffering from Neurofibromatosis-1 (NF). Elana, who also suffers from NF, began sending out packages after she was diagnosed with a brain tumor.
Sheva Gralnik and Lisie Michel represent the tiny but enthusiastic Orthodox community at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. At Vanderbilt, only three undergraduates identify themselves as Orthodox. However, with dozens of students attending the Chabad and Hillel and more than a thousand Jewish students on campus, there’s plenty for Jewish leaders to do. Lisie and Sheva are the student president and vice president of Vanderbilt Chabad. Although Nashville has been home to a small Orthodox community for over 100 years, Orthodoxy at Vanderbilt is still very new. Since Lisie and Sheva arrived on campus, they have worked hard to improve Vanderbilt’s Jewish programs and resources. One of their big projects has been to diversify kosher dining options. The university has been very willing to stock and promote kosher foods. However, the university has also taken it upon itself to provide “kosher-style” food in the main dining hall for the Jewish students who do not keep kosher. This led to a problematic menu that offered a corned beef on rye... during Passover. Kosher versus “kosher-style” is just one example of some delicate distinctions Lisie and Sheva have to address. The majority of Vanderbilt’s Jewish community is Reform or Conservative, so when curious friends ask about Jewish observance, Sheva and Lisie take extra care to explain in a way that is respectful to all Jews. Especially in the South where there are so few Jews, they recognize their responsibility to positively represent Judaism and Orthodoxy. Both students attribute much of their commitment to Judaism and their smooth transitions into Jewish leadership to NCSY. In high school, Sheva served as vice president and president of the Valley chapter of California NCSY. In preparation for coming to Vanderbilt, Sheva learned one-on-one with an NCSY advisor about
how to answer questions that non-Jewish or secular students might commonly ask an Orthodox Jew. How can you explain kashrut in five minutes to an Evangelical Christian from Alabama? Sheva received the necessary preparation so that she could stay confident in her observance and be a well-grounded Jewish leader. Lisie came into Jewish leadership in college through a very different route. As a child, Lisie attended a Reform congregation in a small suburb of Boston. Although most of the congregants were minimally observant, Lisie was not afraid to be different. Her family invited friends for Shabbat dinners, built the only sukkah in town, and were known for delivering hamantashen to confused neighbors. In high school, she founded a Jewish Student Union (JSU) club. In eleventh grade she joined NCSY, which quickly inspired her to become more observant. Through the rest of high school, she explains, “I tried to take on more mitzvot without imposing too much on my family or freaking out my friends. Then I realized I could redefine myself Jewishly when I started fresh at college.” She used the transition of moving away from home and making new friends as an opportunity to develop a strong Torah lifestyle. Most people change for better or for worse when they go off to college. Sheva consciously worked, with the help of her NCSY advisor, to prevent the secular college atmosphere from changing or diminishing her strong Jewish observance. Lisie used the transition to college to help her change into the kind of Jew that NCSY helped inspire her to be. It seems clear that these decisions, along with the Jewish leadership skills they learned as NCSY and JSU leaders, led them to their roles as leaders of the Vanderbilt Jewish community. Sheva Gralnik is studying Child Studies and Cognitive Studies. Lisie Michel is pursuing a double major in Computer Science and Math and a minor in Philosophy while working on a master’s degree in Computer Science.
THE NCSY MAGAZINE
By: Avital Moss
Elliot Tanzman Midwest
ome elements of a Shabbaton educate, others inspire, and some elements are purely ridiculous. If you looked at the Midwest NCSY Shabbaton in Chicago recently, there’s a chance you may have seen an advisor dressed up as a cheetah — complete with an umbrella, earmuffs and a hat. This was none other than Elliot Tanzman. It was a moving moment in Tanzman’s life because it was the day he realized that absolutely everything that is done on a Shabbaton is for the NCSYers. Elliot graduated from Yeshiva University this past June. His first Shabbaton was last year in Kansas and since then, he’s never looked back. He emphatically believes that “NCSY is for everybody.” His greatest strength as an advisor is his ability to relate to the teens: be it college applications or a religious struggle, he understands being a teenager is difficult. He views the role of an advisor as integral to the NCSY system because it “makes sure no one falls through the cracks.” “There’s something for everybody as long as they’re willing to look for it,” he says. “If NCSYers take the step to come to us, they won’t be let down.” Elliot is deepening his involvement with NCSY this year by joining the NCSY Summer Programs team. He attended NCSY’s ICE as an advisor.
Ariel Muskat-Brown Canada
or advisor Ariel Muskat-Brown, a student at York University, becoming an NCSY advisor seemed only natural. She grew up in a traditional home and felt the changes that happen to a person as they grow in Judaism. She knew first-hand the journey that many NCSYers make on a daily basis. “When you speak to a teen and they’re so excited about the Torah they’re learning, it reminds me of the time I began learning,” she says. “All people need role models,” she says. “As advisors, we have the unique opportunity to be a positive influence in someone’s life because we’re only a few years older than them.” She loves being an advisor because she gets to help kids become stronger Jews. Her goal is that “NCSYers can go to their schools and not be embarrassed to stand up and say that they’re Jewish.” Although modest about her own talents as an advisor, she says that when NCSYers have questions, they know she’s there for them.“If it’s about Judaism, or life in general, they need to know someone is there for them,” she says. “If not advisors, then who?”
Apply to be an NCSY advisor: Visit www.ncsy.org/advisors
R O S H H A S H A N A H 2 012
E R I P S S IN N E E T R U YO DAYS! IN 42 ONE H G U O ED I B L E R C THR N I S SYâ€™S OF NC R PROGRAM E SUMM
intense LT) is an ed O (J g in in e describ ship Tra s Leader articipants hav Israel as a e s r e v p Jewish O program. Past stria and h land, Au t on their Jewis d ip o n h a P s r r b e in d a e a c c is n le a ) p ie T r IL e im (B ional LT exp raining o challenge their JO uly transformat ership T t d t a n e a L r t l w e e a o r a having Boys Isr am for boys wh edible adventu r r c . g o in r n p a w e identity ne d hav n a s e lv with themse e land of Israel. el filled a r Is h in t r s. me through great trip ble sum d a n t t a e s t g r r ss spo n unfo cuses on Spend a rning, world cla ports fo S p s m a t a r le C o p re, MD, intense etitive s Batlimo ly comp in h d ing to ig e t h a d c Lo irls look g al an g n e io g t a a e n r e in e both rec am for t by learn r y progr roductive way . a s e in u d r g o a le er in a p An extra eir summ rael. h r t d fo n is e ) Is sp ce (GIVE touring rah and Experien o want to o r T e e t n el Volu irls wh e art of ordable Girls Isra l high school g ough th r h t d a most aff north to n n e a h io h t t t s p is r e ) fi c J J m ex its avel from urney (T ce Judais alem Jo school teens. Tr ome alive in all s u experien k in Israel. r e J e c h c l T li e a c b r a u Is e rp giving b t and se el trip fo l Isra and east to wes fu g in n south ls a mea der. nd won up of gir ith the a o r y t g u t a c e b w a sele ing them A gives m by chool GIVE US mmer by provid ands-on Judais public s d fun r fo y e u h s n . e an jour and fun y to experienc across the USA f touring udy. n Israel o a t s is e it s s b r n ie o u y e ver rah st assad opport k to communit TJJ Amb at combines th dvocacy and To ac b g h in t a l iv s g student action, politica to visit l social e a r Is s with ing to e y it e s n d r n u a SUMMER before jo ny more cities Europe a o m t l d e n v a a Tr rias ilat, Tibe Safed, E ed trip. SOON G IN o c M O on this TION C
ORTS P S P CAM
ELET L H C I M
SA GIVE U
ORS D A S S BA TJJ AM
er.com m m u s U ncsy R-4-YO
-888-TO or call 1
the OU. ment of uth move tional yo a rn te in e NCSY is th
THE NCSY MAGAZINE
Happenings from around the NCSY universe
SENATOR BEN CARDIN JEWISH SCHOLARS PROGRAM GOES TO D.C. Eighty teens lobbied for Israel in Washington, D.C.
MINNEAPOLIS NCSY WINS CHAPTER OF THE YEAR Twenty-five teens cheered their way to the podium as they took home Midwest’s prestigious award.
NJ HOSTS GIRLS MISSION TO NEW ORLEANS
NY BRINGS SHABBAT TO NURSING HOME
TJJ AMBASSADORS MEET SENATOR
NCSY WARMS UP CHILE
NCSYers travelled to New Orleans to rebuild houses and teach in the local Jewish day school. Teens went to a local nursing home to give the residents an uplifting Shabbat experience. Participants of the TJJA program met with Senator Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire to learn about leadership. Explosive growth in NCSY’s newest chapter in South America.
ATLANTIC SEABOARD Rabbi Jonah Lerner, Regional Director 410.358.6279 email@example.com atlanticseaboard.ncsy.org Rabbi Rocky Caine firstname.lastname@example.org
FIFTY TEENS JOURNEY TO ISRAEL ON TJJ This summer Atlantic Seaboard NCSY sent 50 public school teens on The Jerusalem Journey (TJJ). The students spent a month seeing Israel and walking the steps of their forefathers. The teens, led by Atlantic Seaboard Regional Director Rabbi Jonah Lerner, made lifelong friends and deepened their connection to Israel.
SENATOR BEN CARDIN JEWISH SCHOLARS PROGRAM TAKES NCSYERS TO WASHINGTON The Senator Ben Cardin Jewish Scholars Program took close to 80 teens from Baltimore and Greater Washington to Washington, D.C. to lobby Congress. The students heard from Maury Litwack, the Deputy Director of the Institute of Public Affairs for the OU, who delivered a crash course on lobbying. Afterwards, the students were briefed on the issues they would be addressing to their senators and members of Congress the next day. The issues the students took to the Hill are those that are urgent for the Jewish people, both within the United States and abroad. They ranged from sanctions against Iran to enhanced relationships between the U.S. and Israel. Not only did the students learn about the politics surrounding these heated topics, but they
were fueled by the Torah imperative to champion tikkun olam, repairing the world. On the following day, the students sat face-to-face with their political representatives. Their lobbying experiences culminated in an intimate conversation with Senator Cardin who walked off the floor of the Senate to meet with them. During their hour with the senator, the students heard a very candid response on what it means to be a committed Jew and a United States senator.
NCSYERS DREAM BIG AT SPRING REGIONAL The festivities for Spring Regional began on Friday with an exhilarating day at Dorney Park and a rooftop pre-Shabbat ruach and Kabalat Shabbat overlooking the entire Lehigh Valley. The theme for the weekend was “Dare to Fail.” NCSYers were able to choose sessions based on different Jewish concepts with which they struggle. Topics ranged from morality issues to keeping Shabbat. The event was also an opportunity to recognize those teens who have made strides in their Judaism and their contributions to NCSY over their high school careers.
bircat ha’bayit, blessing on a new home, gift to Rabbi Nissim & Adina for their dedication.
Philadelphia, PA & Cherry Hill, NJ Rabbi Yitz Levi RabbiYitz@ncsy.org
TEEN LEADERS PASS THE TORCH AND PREPARE FOR THE COMING YEAR More than 30 teens from the region came to Philadelphia for a leadership Shabbat to say goodbye to the seniors and start the preparation for the new year. The NCSYers enjoyed an inspirational Shabbat that focused on the growth of the region and the growth of their fellow NCSYers.
CANADA Rabbi Glenn Black, CEO 905.761.6279 email@example.com canada.ncsy.org
Vancouver, British Columbia
MORE THAN 60 TURN OUT FOR END OF YEAR BBQ This past July, Greater Washington NCSY said farewell to its City Director, Rabbi Nissim & Adina Levin, at the annual BBQ. More than 60 NCSYers gathered to say goodbye. In a special award ceremony, Rabbi Jonah Lerner, Regional Director, highlighted Greater Washington’s tremendous growth over the past few years, and presented a
Rabbi Samuel Ross firstname.lastname@example.org
STRONG FIRST YEAR FOR VANCOUVER NCSY Vancouver NCSY, under the leadership of Rabbi Samuel and Gila Ross and Rafi Allman, had a strong first year and reached out to a huge number of teens. Highlights of the year include 10 teens spending their summer on TJJ, the largest-ever
Katya Sheftel, Aviva Wander, Dena Edelman and Rachel Dobkin celebrate Purim with residents of the Jewish Association on Aging in Pittsburgh, PA.
THE NCSY MAGAZINE
MIDWEST NCSY AND PARTNERS CREATE JEWISH FUTURES SCHOLARSHIP FOR HOLOCAUST EDUCATION Alan Arens, an 11th grade student at Stevenson High School in Buffalo Grove, was the inaugural recipient of the Jewish Futures Scholarship from Midwest NCSY. The scholarship was created for students who have shown an interest in Holocaust studies as well as a willingness to share and educate other teens in the lessons of the Holocaust. The scholarship is available to all Jewish teens in Illinois, regardless of affiliation or background, and was made possible by a donation from the Association of Descendants of the Shoah-Illinois (ADSI). The scholarship is for the top five scholars and offers a $200 cash reward and a $500 credit to NCSY Summer Programs. “As the scholarship recipient, I had the privilege to speak in front of a group of survivors,” Alan said. “I am looking forward to continuing my education in Judaism, and I believe that NCSY’s summer program JOLT is the perfect program to drive me to my next destination.”
group from Vancouver to attend International Yarchei Kallah and holding popular, well-attended events like “Sushi in the Sukkah,” “Casino Night” and a “Latke Iron Chef.” The year was capped off with a Shabbaton at a campsite with 130 teens from five cities — Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, Calgary and Edmonton. For the teens it was a spectacular weekend, high on inspiration, activities and good times. Rabbi Menachem Nissel, who joined the Shabbaton, gave the teens a message they will take with them into the summer months and beyond. Vancouver NCSY also wishes Rafi and Leah Allman all the best as they move back to New York.
Rabbi Shmuel and Elana Soroka email@example.com
Just two years after restarting Cincinnati NCSY, the number of teens in the chapter have doubled. By Spring Regional, Cincinnati NCSY had twice as many NCSYers as the year before. The same thing happened with Jr. NCSY. On top of that, Netah Osona and Aaron Ishida were the first-ever Cincinnati NCSY participants to attend TJJ. Both students returned inspired and encouraged other teens to become involved in NCSY.
See Jewish Business Network on page 19.
Bram Bregman firstname.lastname@example.org
See City Spotlight on page 30.
Rabbi Tzali Freedman, Regional Director 888.471.4514 email@example.com centraleast.ncsy.org
Cincinnati, OH Rabbi Pinchas Landis RabbiLandis@gmail.com
CINCINNATI HAS GREAT SECOND YEAR
Rabbi Arieh Friedner firstname.lastname@example.org
new leadership programs. The first, JUMP, is a program for 9-11th grade students. The teens will compete in a national competition by developing and presenting an educational, chesed, Torah learning and fundraising program. The second program is Senior Project, a program for Cleveland high school seniors designed to train them to live Jewish-inspired lives after high school. Lastly, the Jewish Scholars Program is a learning program aimed at Jewish advocacy. Mentors from the community will teach future leaders how to answer the most pressing questions facing Judaism today.
Detroit, MI Rabbi Dovid Lichtig email@example.com
NCSY RETURNS TO WEST BLOOMFIELD For the first time in almost a decade, West Bloomfield hosted a Shabbat experience for teenagers from across metropolitan Detroit. Over 30 NCSYers from four cities gathered for a Shabbat of fun and inspiration. First-class catered meals and great programming ensured that this was a Shabbat to remember.
THREE NEW LEADERSHIP PROGRAMS LAUNCH This year, Cleveland NCSY unveiled three brand
R O S H H A S H A N A H 2 012
Pittsburgh, PA Rabbi Ari Goldberg firstname.lastname@example.org
MORE THAN 125 ATTEND PITTSBURGH NCSY CASINO NIGHT More than 125 people gathered for a night of fun to show their support for Pittsburgh NCSY and JSU. Shayna Stiebel, chapter president, and Sam Neft, JSU president of Upper Saint Clair, addressed the packed crowd and spoke about their personal growth in NCSY.
DOZENS OF TEENS ATTEND SHAVOUT LEARNING Dozens of teens gathered at the home of Rabbi Ari and Rachel Goldberg for a dinner featuring an omelet bar, cheese fondue and much more. Following dinner, the group gathered for a bonfire kumzits, interactive classes and one-on-one learning. At 4:00 AM there were still more than 25 teens in attendance.
MIDWEST Rabbi Micha Greenland, Regional Director 847.677.6279 email@example.com midwest.ncsy.org Moshe Isenberg Isenbergm@ncsy.org
NCSY MAGNETS ARE POPPING UP ALL OVER THE COUNTRY Midwest NCSY is now distributing NCSY magnets to regions around the country to help attract the attention of community members. The magnets have been a huge hit with over 4,000 distributed in less than a month. Cars, lockers and homes are proudly displaying their support of NCSY. This initiative is truly one that is going to “stick.” To find out how you can get an NCSY magnet, call Midwest NCSY at 847.677.6279
Dozens of teens attend Dinner & Learn at The Sandwich Club every Thursday night in the Chicago area.
Chicago, IL Yehuda Polstein firstname.lastname@example.org
OVER 100 ATTEND DINNER & LEARN Every Thursday night, dozens of teens attend the Skokie chapter’s Dinner & Learn program. While being served a delicious dinner, teens learn from different teachers, rabbis and members of the Chicagoland community in a laid-back environment. Over 100 teens attended throughout the year, gaining Torah knowledge and strengthening their relationships with their NCSY peers and advisors.
Indianapolis, IN Sam Zitin email@example.com
CITYWIDE ISRAELI COOKING NIGHT NCSY co-sponsored a citywide event with other
Jewish youth groups that brought together over 30 students to learn about various Israeli foods while preparing four different kosher dishes. Students learned about Israeli cultural food traditions as well as some basic practical information on kashrut and the mitzvah of netilat yedayim, washing the hands before bread.
Kansas City, KS Hillel Goldstein firstname.lastname@example.org
KANSAS CITY JUMPS TO NEW HEIGHTS Kansas City NCSY and the Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy JUMP team had an amazing year. Team members raised over $3,500 and organized a community-wide snow tubing event, sponsored by JSU. This event was unique because every Jewish youth group in Kansas City partnered together to reach as many Jewish teens as possible. The weekend was such a success that the team was
Girls from NCSY Minneapolis give back to the community by volunteering with NECHAMA — Jewish Response to Disaster.
THE NCSY MAGAZINE
$26,000 IN SCHOLARSHIPS GIVEN OUT AT SPRING REGIONAL
More than 170 people celebrated a year of Torah growth at New England NCSY’s Spring Regional awards banquet. $26,000 in Israel scholarships were awarded to deserving seniors.
invited to present its program in New York City as a finalist at the JUMP competition.
Memphis, TN Marc Lennon email@example.com
MINI-SHABBATON ROCKS MEMPHIS On April 27-28, advisors Ethan Katz and Nili Erlich joined 23 Memphis-area teens for a Shabbaton which featured Rabbi Steven Burg, International Director of NCSY, and Rabbi Avi Berman, Director of OU Israel. The Friday night oneg was full of singing and an inspirational talk with Rabbi Burg kicked off the weekend to a great start. Shabbat day was filled with davening at the Baron Hirsch Synagogue, advisor sessions, lunch and a talk with Rabbi Berman. At the end of Shabbat, singing and ebbing got NCSYers ready for the Saturday night activity at Skyzone. The weekend pumped up all the teens for Spring Regional at Camp Chi.
Minneapolis, MN Rabbi Tzvi Kupfer & Mrs. Bella Smith firstname.lastname@example.org
MINNEAPOLIS NCSY WINS COVETED CHAPTER OF THE YEAR AWARD Expanded programming and extensive growth of Minneapolis NCSY was recognized at this year’s Regional Shabbaton held at Camp Chi in Wisconsin. Twenty-five teens from Minneapolis cheered their way to the podium to accept the beautiful Chapter of the Year trophy. The trophy is proudly displayed in the Minneapolis NCSY lounge.
NCSY PARTAKES IN NEW ANTIBULLYING CAMPAIGN Minneapolis NCSY joined BBYO and other community organizations for an exclusive screening of “Bully” — a feature film that documents a year in the life of North America’s bullying crisis. Following the film, a discussion was held on how the organizations can make their communities a safer place.
Northshore, IL Avigayil Strulowitz email@example.com
NORTHBROOK HOSTS MORE THAN 200 NCSYERS AT EARLY SPRING REGIONAL CONVENTION Northbrook hosted over 200 NCSYers this March for Midwest NCSY’s Early Spring Regional Convention. Throughout the weekend, community members became more aware of the important role NCSY plays in helping teens maintain a Jewish connection. Each week since that Shabbaton, new students have joined the chapter’s weekly Dinner & Learning series and some even came to the next convention. Additionally, North Shore’s seniors who held key positions on Midwest’s Regional Board passed the flame on to their successors at Midwest’s Spring Regional Convention.
St. Louis, MO Rabbi Mike Rovinsky & Rabbi Gershie Meisel RovinskyM@ncsy.org
FNL (Friday Night Lights) programs held in West Hartford, CT. NCSY advisors ran a Friday night oneg, Shabbat morning learning and havdalah at Beth David and Young Israel.
NEW ENGLAND NCSY VISITS ALUMNI IN ISRAEL With 26 New England Region alumni studying in Israel, Rabbi and Mrs. Miller traveled to the Holy Land to give and gain chizuk to and from the NCSYers. They also looked into programs for upcoming alumni. The trip included a melava malka reunion in Jerusalem and visits to individual yeshivot and seminaries.
NEW JERSEY Rabbi Yaakov Glasser, Regional Director 201.862.0250 firstname.lastname@example.org newjersey.ncsy.org
Teaneck, NJ Rael and Aliza Blumenthal
NEW TEEN MINYAN THRIVES IN ST. LOUIS St. Louis junior and senior NCSYers came together to create a very special davening experience run by the teens themselves. The teens enjoy being together and are moved by the inspirational words about tefillah that are said during the davening. Afterwards, the teens enjoy a delicious kiddush.
NEW ENGLAND Rabbi Shmuel Miller, Regional Director 617.332.6279 email@example.com newengland.ncsy.org
NCSY INSPIRES TEENS ALL OVER TEANECK ON SHAVOUT NIGHT Teaneck teens were treated to an incredible Shavout program over the three-day chag in shuls all around Teaneck. The central tikkun leil program at Congregation Bnei Yeshurun featured learning groups with advisors, as well as a heated public debate between Rael Blumenthal and Rabbi Jonathan Schachter on the topic of Education vs. Outreach. The night culminated with an inspiring shiur by Rabbi Steven Burg, International Director of NCSY. Other highlights included a post-tikkun leil cheesecake breakfast and a BBQ lunch. They were welcomed to the community by Rabbis Shalom Baum and Steven Pruzansky.
FNL HATTRICK IN WEST HARTFORD More than 45 teens gathered for the third of three
R O S H H A S H A N A H 2 012
Monmouth County, NJ Ariel and Yardena Bannett
TEEN MINYAN WEEKENDS REVOLUTIONIZE SHABBAT IN MONMOUTH COUNTY Shabbat has taken on a new twist for the teens of Monmouth County. A new teen minyan program, hosted in the home of Directors Ariel and Yardena Bannett, has the teens buzzing about Shabbat. The couple hosts all of the Shabbat minyans in their living room and also provides delicious meals and inspirational programming. The teens are given the opportunity to run the minyans themselves — serving as gabbaim, ba’alei tefilla and even delivering the drashot.
West Orange, NJ Dov and Leah Carpe
RECORD BREAKING ATTENDANCE AT LAST ONEG OF THE YEAR Teens from all different types of backgrounds converged in West Orange for the last oneg of the year. There were over 40 teens representing West Orange High School, Randolph High School, Kushner, TABC, Bruriah, Ma’ayanot, JEC, Frisch and more.
Highland Park, NJ Ari and Shira Neuman Yaneuman58@gmail.com
TEENS LEAD DISCUSSION AT FRIDAY NIGHT ONEGS Sitting on the cozy couches at the Arnheim residence, Shifra Arnheim led a conversation
about the American Jew’s relationship and posture towards the land of Israel. “We describe Israel as our homeland, but what does that mean to us if we don’t actually live there? What are we doing to make it our homeland?” asked Shifra to her fellow teens. Each of the NCSYers and even the advisors came away grappling with their relationship towards Israel. It is one thing to see a student give a d’var Torah, but it is an entirely different experience watching them lead and facilitate a complex and multidimensional discussion with other teens.
Fair Lawn, NJ Rabbi Eitan Katz firstname.lastname@example.org
35 TEENS STAY UP ALL NIGHT FOR SHAVOUT LEARNING Fair Lawn NCSY hosted 15 teens this past Shavout. Together with the local NCSYers, the chapter had 35 teens at every one of the six meals including nine public school teens. For many attendees, it was their first time learning Torah all night long. The chapter ran five interactive learning programs and the public school students gained a tremendous amount from the learning and from the wonderful chag experience. The teens learned about Ruth and now understand that being religious is within their reach.
Twin Rivers / Hightstown / East Windsor, NJ Menachem Chinn email@example.com
JSU OPENS IN HIGHTSTOWN HIGH This year NCSY opened a JSU club in Highstown High School. The club initially began as a trial to
NJ NCSY HOSTS ALL-GIRLS LEADERSHIP MISSION TO NEW ORLEANS
see if teens would be interested. After the first two sessions, students were begging for a weekly program. The sponsor teacher was so excited that he agreed to come every week. He also received special permission to do a matzah baking trip where the teens learned and participated in baking matzot. The club spent a lot of time learning and discussing interpersonal relationships such as happiness, jealousy, anger, judging favorably and kindness. Students also ran a collection for the local food bank. The club averaged 12 kids a week and even went up to 18 on many occasions. At the end of the year, all the students wanted to ensure JSU would return the following year.
NEW YORK Rabbi Aryeh Lightstone, Regional Director 516.569.6279 firstname.lastname@example.org newyork.ncsy.org
PARENTS FIND SPIRITUAL SOLUTIONS AT NCSY PARENTING WORKSHOP Hundreds of parents from the New York area attended a community-wide NCSY parenting workshop at the Young Israel of LawrenceCedarhurst. Spearheaded by a committee of Long Island parents, the event was geared towards individuals looking for practical solutions to guiding their teens through today’s greatest challenges. Rabbi Dr. Tzvi Hersh Weinreb gave the keynote address. Other workshops were given by Rabbi Naftali Besser, Rabbi Dovid Goldwasser, Dr. Rona Novick, Slovie Jungreis Wolff and Rabbi Aryeh Lightstone. Session topics ranged from how to empower teenage girls to finding out what teens really say to God. Each speaker emphasized that building mutually supportive partnerships between parents and children will connect families and enable them to experience lives of greater meaning.
SIXTH ANNUAL NY NCSY COMMUNITY-WIDE BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT A SMASHING SUCCESS On April 29, close to 1,000 basketball fans and supporters of NCSY gathered at Lawrence High School to watch the competitive Sixth Annual NCSY Basketball Tournament. More than $80,000 was raised to provide gap-year scholarships for NY NCSY teens. Five-on-five and three-on-three games were held during the day at gyms throughout the area. In the afternoon, children’s entertainment was provided, including face painting, magic shows and crafts stations. Each year, the tournament proves to be highly competitive and successful, featuring many current and former yeshiva league all-stars as well as both current and former players from Yeshiva University.
As part of the social action mission to New Orleans, girls from New Jersey planned an activity and taught in a New Orleans Jewish day school.
In February, NJ NCSY took 17 girls from Ma’ayanot Yeshiva High School for Girls and a local public school on an all-girls mission to New Orleans. The girls rebuilt houses and taught at a local Jewish day school. The participants were also the last group to daven in the old Beth Israel shul since the shul was wrecked by Hurricane Katrina and sold. It is difficult to describe the kavana the girls had knowing that they would be the last Jews davening mincha there. The next day, the teens received an education by educating the local school children. They spent a full-day teaching and carried out an entire lesson plan that they designed themselves.
MORE THAN 300 WOMEN ATTEND NY NCSY’S ANNUAL PROJECT FRUMWAY The charitable fashion show took place on March 27 and was divided into three parts: a design competition, a learning initiative and a fashion show. This year, Project Frumway partnered with Junee and Junee Jr., a New York-based chain that sells modest clothing for women and girls. Before the show, women of all ages were invited to participate in a nationwide skirt design competition. Annie Mizrahi of New York won the first place prize for her original skirt design; she received a $500 gift certificate to the Junee store and her skirt design
THE NCSY MAGAZINE
Winners Jeremy Fine, Moshe Pilevsky, Jonathan Meyers and Avi Esses at the Sixth Annual New York NCSY Community-Wide Basketball Tournament. More than $80,000 was raised at the event to support local programming.
was made by a Junee’s professional dressmaker and featured in the fashion show. Her skirt design was also introduced in the new clothing line under her name and was sold at all Junee stores. Chaya Hoffman of New Jersey placed second and received a $250 gift certificate to Junee and Chana T. Zaks of Maryland placed third and received a $101 gift certificate to Junee
REGIONAL BOARD EMBRACES NEW MISSIONS The 2012-13 Regional Board is excited to announce the creation of three new projects they are launching to kick off their leadership campaign. The “Buzz Team” will aggressively grow the teen public relations arm of NCSY, dedicating themselves to a PR campaign to establish NCSY as the teen leadership network in NY. The second team is the new “JSU Task Force.” They will be designing and implementing new programs across the New York area aimed at changing the paradigm of Israel advocacy and Jewish leadership in public schools. The third team, “Team FNL,” will be responsible for bringing the NY NCSY Friday Night Lights (FNL) program to new communities across New York and bringing together Jewish teens from all different backgrounds. The three teams will be lead by teen President Deena Borenstein of West Hempstead and Vice President Ariella Freedman of Cedarhurst.
Brooklyn, NY Nechama Kamelhar Kamelharn@ncsy.org
REMEMBERING THE HOLOCAUST In honor of Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Memorial
R O S H H A S H A N A H 2 012
Day, Judith Leventhal, one of the co-authors of the bestselling book, “Small Miracles of the Holocaust,” came with a Holocaust survivor to Edward R. Murrow High School’s Jewish culture club. The room was filled to capacity with both teachers and students. Everyone came to hear the story of a woman that stood only a few feet from the gas chambers. In silence, the audience learned that only seconds before her death, she realized that only God could save her. That moment, a guard received a phone call asking to send all the women to a labor camp. The speaker told how her story was like many other stories of people that were saved only by the hand of God. After hearing the remarkable story, students and teachers had time to ask questions to the author and Holocaust survivor.
NURSING HOME TEACHES TEENS CHESED CAN BE FUN At almost every FNL (Friday Night Lights) in the NY NCSY South district for the past two years, Nechama Kamelhar and Moish Zucker have taken a group of teens to the nearest nursing home to sing and converse with the residents. This has always been a fun and educational experience for the teens. Teens get to sing, learn about other people’s lives and most importantly, they get to see that chesed is as much about receiving as it is about giving. Word of NCSY’s nursing home activity spread and in March, the New York NCSY office received a phone call from a nursing home asking to have a Shabbaton in their facility. After some planning, a group of NCSYers went to the Margeret Teitz Nursing and Rehabilitation Center to join the Shabbat morning minyan and participate in the communal Shabbat lunch. During the break between davening and lunch, NCSYers had the opportunity to spend quality time interacting with the residents. During lunch, the singing could be heard throughout the center. The residents were overjoyed with the
company while the teens learned that giving back could be fun.
Staten Island, NY Simcha Silverman Silvermans@ncsy.org
FNL SHABBAT ACROSS STATEN ISLAND Staten Island Friday Night Lights had teens from Staten Island and from across the region for a Shabbaton. Shabbat began with a special Carlebach minyan followed by a Shabbat dinner NCSY-style, cholent competition and oneg. On Shabbat afternoon, teens visited and brought cheer to the local nursing home. This trip was led by Nechama Kamelhar.
SOUTHERN Todd Cohn, Executive Director 1-866-887-5788 Southern@ncsy.org southern.ncsy.org Rabbi Ben Gonsher Gonsherb@ncsy.org
ISRAEL AWARENESS NIGHT BRINGS TOGETHER TEENS FROM ACROSS FLORIDA On March 15, more than 60 teens from Miami, Hollywood and Boca Raton packed the Young Israel of Hollywood for an informative and inspirational evening in support of Israel. Teens listened to intriguing speakers who spoke about important issues affecting Israel. Rabbi Uri Pilichowski, a
TJJ AMBASSADORS MEET SENATOR KELLY AYOTTE
NCSYers had the opportunity to converse with Senator Kelly Ayotte on NCSY’s TJJ Ambassadors summer program.
Among the many accomplishments Senator Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire has on her resume, in June she added another: NCSY mentor. Twelve members of The Jerusalem Journey Ambassadors program met with the junior senator from New Hampshire as part of a NORPAC visit she made to the home of Baruch and Ariel Glaubach in Lawrence, NY. popular educator at Hillel Community Day School and the Teen Director at Boca Raton Synagogue, spoke about the current state of affairs in Israel, the threat of Iran and what students can do to help. They also heard from Eric Ross, the Broward County Area Director of AIPAC, on many unprecedented strategic challenges that Israel faces today. The evening was topped off with a falafel making station and the giving out of “NCSY stands with Israel” t-shirts.
FIRST EVER SOUTHERN NCSY ADVISOR APPRECIATION LUNCH AND DEVELOPMENT SEMINAR Southern NCSY hosted the first ever Advisor Appreciation Lunch followed by an innovative development seminar. Michelle Labgold, Chief Planning Officer of GMJF, spoke about the need
The meeting between the Senator and the NCSYers was part of the TJJ Ambassadors program. The program takes enterprising Jewish students on a five-week tour of Israel that combines education with Israel advocacy. Rabbi Aryeh Lightstone, Director of New York NCSY, also has the Ambassadors meet with leaders inside and outside of the Jewish community, like Yeshiva University President for talent within Jewish communal organizations, both as lay leaders and professionals. Gary Yarus, President of Diversified Capital, spoke about community development. The highlight of the afternoon was a presentation by Dr. Norman Goldwasser on mental health awareness. Dr. Goldwasser is a well-known licensed clinical psychologist in South Florida and a former NCSY Regional Director.
SOUTHERN NCSY LAUNCHES TORAH CONNECT At Fall Regional, Southern NCSY launched its newest chavruta learning program Torah Connect. Teens were paired up with Southern Region advisors to learn the topic of their choice either by phone, video chat or in-person. By Spring Regional, over 50 teen/advisor chavrutas were paired up and learning weekly.
Richard Joel and New York State Senate Leader Dean Skelos. “We’re losing a lot of really bright public school students to the summer university campuses,” Rabbi Lightstone explained. “While we can’t compete with Brandeis, what we can compete with is a summer experience that will catapult them further ahead vis-a-vis their education.”
COMMUNITY LEADERS JOIN SOUTHERN REGION SHABBATON For the first time in over a decade, two tables of guests joined Southern NCSYers for Shabbat in Aventura, participating in activities from preShabbat ruach to ebbing. The Shabbaton included Southern NCSY board members JB Bensmihen and Freda Greenbaum, Touro University Dean Rabbi Alan Ciner, GMJF Parnossah Works Director Sydney Carpel Newman, Holocaust Survivors Foundation USA President David Schaecter, Citibank Global Markets past Special Council and Managing Director George and Stephanie Saks and others. “Our job is to create the next generation of Jewish leaders,” shared Rabbi Ben Gonsher, Director of Development for Southern NCSY. “One of the most effective ways to do so is to pair up NCSYers with
THE NCSY MAGAZINE
real role models in our community. It’s a complete paradigm shift for our teens to see that at 81-yearsold, true leaders still care enough about their communities to give sessions, schmooze about God and yes, even stand on chairs, singing arm-in-arm with teens!”
Boca Raton, FL
Rabbi Chaim Neiditch email@example.com
Karen Steinberg firstname.lastname@example.org
NCSY STAFFS COMMUNITY HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL
BOCA RATON WELCOMES NEW NCSY CITY DIRECTOR ELI ZIANS
The 2012 Holocaust Memorial Service brought hundreds of people to Greenwood Cemetery in Atlanta, GA, to observe Yom Hashoah. The Breman Museum and the Jewish Federation honored local JSU teens by asking them to staff the event for the second consecutive year. A select group of JSU leaders eagerly accepted this special opportunity. On the day of the event, JSU teens guided parking, handed out programs and escorted Holocaust survivors across the outdoor terrain to find seating. For many teens, this was their first time meeting Holocaust survivors.
Eli Zians, from Hamilton, Ontario, has spent the past few years traveling around the world helping to educate and inspire Jews of all ages. He worked for the Ronald S. Lauder Foundation, directing various kiruv initiatives throughout Central Europe. Eli organized and led Pesach sederim in Germany and ran numerous summer camps, which included working with NCSY’s JOLT summer program. Eli will now bring his many talents to Boca Raton NCSY, creating exciting new programs and initiatives.
Rabbi Joe Goldglantz email@example.com
BUSY YEAR FOR NCSY IN THE “GATEWAY TO LATIN JEWRY” Aventura NCSY’s kickoff movie night at a mansion on the beach was a hit. After a few months, Aventura NCSY grew to almost 200 teens. The immensely popular Tuesday night Latte & Learning included topics ranging from parsha to social issues to chizuk. Additionally, Aventura NCSY had a more advanced text-based series of classes on Wednesday nights. On Tu B’Shvat, the chapter threw a huge seder with standing room only and boasted the largest bracha train ever. The Purim seudah began with Rabbi Santa reading the megillah and soon progressed into destroying an Amalek piñata and finishing with bounce house basketball. On Lag Ba’omer, the teens played glow in the dark soccer and ate Mexican food. Throughout the summer, the chapter put together a nighttime beach kumzits. Since its incorporation in 1995, the little town of Aventura has swelled with immigrants, earning it the title as Gateway of Latin Jewry. Southern NCSY saw the need and jumped at the task.
ATLANTA JSU ORGANIZES GIFTS FOR CHAI LIFELINE Over 300 teens at 14 Atlanta-area JSU public school clubs took part in the important mitzvah of bikur cholim. The teens decorated pillowcases to send to campers at Chai Lifeline’s Camp Simcha, a summer camp for Jewish children diagnosed with cancer and other serious illnesses. During the club meetings, Rabbi Chaim Neiditch facilitated a discussion based on the age-old question of why bad things happen to good people. Many of the participants shared stories of their own experiences with sick family members. All of the teens were happy to be able to use their talents to do something meaningful for children struggling with illnesses.
Charleston, SC Jason Daniels firstname.lastname@example.org
JEWISH LIFE GROWING IN CHARLESTON Charleston NCSY’s first year was amazing. Twice a week at Porter Gaud High School, 26 students gathered to delve into Torah topics ranging from life and death to love and marriage and everything inbetween. This fall, our Jewish Life Club and Jewish Student Union continues with a new incoming freshman class and many new areas of learning. NCSY is also teaming up with BBYO to help create programming throughout the year.
Julia and Rebecca proudly display their new Jewish name bracelets at Centennial High School in Atlanta, GA.
R O S H H A S H A N A H 2 012
Hollywood, FL Bari Girnun email@example.com
WATER POLO CHAMPIONSHIP MOVED FROM SHABBAT FOR NCSYER This year’s water polo state championship was moved from Shabbat so that NCSYer Lee Sahar from Hollywood Hills could compete. She is currently attending Machon Maatan.
Jacksonville, FL Rabbi Shaya Hauptman firstname.lastname@example.org
JACKSONVILLE NCSY WINS CHAPTER OF THE YEAR Jacksonville NCSY ran and participated in nine Shabbatons, including three Regional Conventions, two Shabbat Experiences, two Friday Night Lights and two Jr. Regional Conventions. The Jacksonville teens also went on several outings including trips to Wild Adventures Theme Park, Disney Quest and rock climbing. The chapter launched Latte & Learning, enjoying almost complete attendance and participation from the teens. The Torah High program tripled in size with a very well-rounded program over the course of two semesters. The successful year concluded with Jacksonville bringing home the highly coveted Chapter of the Year award from Spring Regional. To celebrate, teens participated in a video journal and expressed their feelings about the past year’s success. To check out the year-end video, look up RabbiHauptman’s channel on Youtube.
Kendall, FL Rabbi Yossi Klugman email@example.com
KENDALL WELCOMES NEW CITY DIRECTOR JASON SEGELBAUM Kendall NCSY welcomes their new City Director, Jason Segelbaum. Jason has worked in the youth field for the last 14 years. Jason now brings his talents to Kendall NCSY and he has great plans for this coming year including weekly programming for both NCSY and Jr. NCSY chapters, a bimonthly Latte & Learn and a Shabbaton to kick-off the year.
Palm Beach, FL Didy Waks firstname.lastname@example.org
TEENS CELEBRATE SHABBAT AROUND THE WORLD Palm Beach teens ate and explored the Jewish foods and traditions from communities across the world as part of the Shabbat Around the World program. From Israel to Mexico, China to Australia, dozens of teens enjoyed cuisine from around the world. The dinner was hosted by Didy and Devorah Waks of NCSY and the Palm Beach Synagogue.
Teens from San Diego have the opportunity to participate in a social action mission and understand what it means to truly give back to the community.
Savannah, GA Rabbi Eli Lob email@example.com
SAVANNAH TAKES HOME CHAPTER OF EXCELLENCE Savannah NCSY took home Chapter of Excellence at Southern’s Spring Regional. The chapter’s
biggest accomplishment was a 400 percent increase over the past two years for teens attending Israel summer programs, gap year programs and seminaries. The JSU club at Benedictine Catholic Military School has broken all records, with all six teens planning on visiting Israel within the year.
THE NCSY MAGAZINE
SOUTHWEST Rabbi Yisroel Lashak, Regional Director 972.934.9143 firstname.lastname@example.org southwest.ncsy.org
SOUTHWEST HOSTS ICE REUNION NCSY Southwest hosted a reunion for NCSY’s Summer Program ICE in February. More than 20 teens throughout the country visited Dallas and joined together for an exciting, camaraderie-filled Shabbaton that included learning, singing, great meals and after Shabbat broomballing and rock climbing.
NCSY VISITS YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK
place in June at the Holiday Inn on Grand Island, NY. NCSYers came together to learn, enjoy time with friends and advisors and celebrate the seniors’ accomplishments. The theme of the Shabbaton was music and NCSYers had the opportunity to explore different aspects of music, from composing their own lyrics to analyzing the messages in popular songs and understanding the spiritual power within music. The annual banquet was held on Sunday. During the meal, the hard work of advisors was recognized. NCSYers were applauded for learning over the phone and graduating seniors were given awards reflecting their personal growth with NCSY. It was a bittersweet moment as the afternoon ended with last year’s regional board passing the candle to the incoming regional board. The new regional board has already begun planning for an amazing year ahead.
Southwest Region took a trip to Yosemite National Park in central California and enjoyed four days and three nights in the midst of nature, studying and learning about Judaism and ecology while having a grand time.
UPSTATE NEW YORK
See Teen Philanthropy Movement on page 14.
Marc Fein, Regional Director 718.216.6445 email@example.com upstate.ncsy.org
East Bay, Northern CA
THE MUSIC OF HAR SINAI SPRING
NORCAL EAST NCSY JOINS UP WITH JERUSALEMONLINEU.COM
Upstate NY NCSY’s Spring Convention 2012 took
Rabbi Effie Goldberg, Executive Director Solly Hess, Regional Director 310.229.9000 firstname.lastname@example.org westcoast.ncsy.org
JerusalemOnlineU.com in offering an Israel Advocacy training workshop for incoming college students. The workshop taught 12th graders how to advocate effectively for Israel on campus. NCSYers learned how to respond to anti-Israel accusations and received skills and resources to educate others.
Irvine/Orange County, CA Yosef Miller email@example.com
IRVINE/ORANGE COUNTY BOARD SELLS ENOUGH PIZZA TO TRAVEL ACROSS THE COUNTRY The Irvine/Orange County Board wanted to explore other regions and meet other NCSYers. With that goal in mind, they gave up their Saturday nights to make and sell pizza to the Irvine community. They raised enough money to fund a trip to the East Coast. They attended the New England NCSY Regional. Whether it was meeting potential roommates for the following year in seminary or signing up for a summer program in order to see their new friends again, the experience thrilled the teens.
Akiva Naiman firstname.lastname@example.org
This spring, NorCal East NCSY joined up with
Q EVENT DRAWS 200 AND RAISES $31,000 FOR NCSY
Now in its fourth year, Portland NCSY hosted the Q event for almost 200 adults this February. The Q is a yearly multimedia trivia game and desert night for adults. This year’s winning team received sweatshirts and a marble trophy. The Q raised $31,000, an almost 300 percent increase from last year.
The winners of the Q competition proudly display their trophy and their Q sweatshirts.
R O S H H A S H A N A H 2 012
Dr. Adam and Dee Milman hosted a Wine and Cheese night to benefit the Jewish Student Union in Las Vegas. More than $7,000 was raised.
Las Vegas, NV R’ Yehuda Maryles LasVegasNCSY@gmail.com
Adam Simon email@example.com
NCSY LAS VEGAS LAUNCHES BUSINESS ETHICS FOR TEENS
SAN DIEGO NCSY AWARDED $26,000 IN INNOVATION FUNDING
Founded by philanthropist and visionary Michael J. Novick, Business Ethics for Teens (B.E.T.) is designed to teach business ethics to today’s Jewish teens. “Mr. Novick delivered the pilot session, making it clear that developing a good name for yourself through ethics will breed success in business. It was truly inspirational,” one NCSYer said. The next B.E.T. Program will feature the COO of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation. “This program is the first of its kind and we are thankful for the partnership of Mr. Novick and his staff for their commitment to B.E.T. and the Las Vegas youth,” noted Rabbi Effie Goldberg, Executive Director of West Coast NCSY.
Oregon and SW Washington Meira Spivak firstname.lastname@example.org
PORTLAND NCSY HOLDS ITS FIRST SHABBATON Six years in the making, Portland NCSY finally hosted its own Shabbaton in March with almost 100 teens in attendance. The Shabbaton was made possible by the combined efforts of Rabbi Dov Chastain, Rabbi Chanan Spivak, Meira Spivak, the teen board and countless others. It was a tremendous success. For some teens, it was their first Shabbat experience and for others, it was an opportunity to enjoy another inspirational weekend among friends.
opportunities offered by NCSY. After the mayor addressed the teens, Shiran Arusi, a junior at Torah High School of San Diego, presented the mayor with a siddur for the teens of Sderot on behalf of San Diego’s NCSY teens.
San Diego, CA
San Diego NCSY was awarded $26,000 in three separate innovation grants from the Jewish Federation in March. These grants will help fund new and innovative programs such as the Jewish Multimedia Xperience (JMX), Bible Raps San Diego and help expand San Diego’s existing Jewish culture clubs in public schools.
200 SAN DIEGO TEENS LEARN ABOUT ISRAEL FROM THE IDF NCSY sponsored Sgt. Benjamin Anthony of the IDF for a weeklong tour in San Diego County this past March. Sgt. Anthony engaged teens in six local high schools (both public and private), two junior high schools, four communities and Latte & Learning events. Sgt. Anthony joined San Diego NCSY as part of an exclusive partnership program between his organization, Our Soldiers Speak, and NCSY. San Diego is the first city in the country to have hosted him for this program.
San Francisco, CA Mike Donovan email@example.com
NCSY TAKES PART IN “ISRAEL IN THE GARDENS” NCSY teens from the NorCal chapters were out and about at San Francisco’s Jewish Community Federation’s “Israel in the Gardens.” Jews from all over the Bay Area flock to this annual event. NorCal NCSY teens wore their NCSY gear and told everyone about their activities in San Francisco. In the following weeks, chapter growth has more than doubled due to teen-led outreach.
MAYOR OF SDEROT, DAVID BUSKILA, SPEAKS AT EXCLUSIVE NCSY LEADERSHIP DINNER More than 35 teens gathered for an exclusive leadership dinner with Mayor David Buskila of Sderot, Israel. After dinner, two NCSY leaders, Eliana Pransky and Jonathan Levine, introduced the mayor by describing their experiences in Sderot on NCSY Summer Programs. The two encouraged their peers to sign up for the amazing Israel summer
An NCSYer from Palo Alto prepares Pesach food packages for Silicon Valley Jewish Family Services.
THE NCSY MAGAZINE
Seattle, WA Ari & Jessica Hoffman firstname.lastname@example.org
SEATTLE, CALGARY AND TORONTO TEAM UP FOR LA/VEGAS SHABBATON Seattle NCSY took their neighbors from the north on a five-day adventure to Los Angeles and Las Vegas. From the Museum of Tolerance to the Vegas Strip, then back to Universal Studios, no activity was left out. Many first time participants have been on every Shabbaton since and signed up for NCSY Summer Programs.
JUNIOR NCSY DOUBLE DARES SEATTLE Seattle Junior NCSY capped off another successful year with a Shabbton in Seattle together with teens from Portland NCSY. Many public school teens from the Tween Extreme Joint Venture of NCSY, BBYO and the SJCC joined NCSY for the Shabbaton. A theme of respecting your elders was capped off Saturday night with the always-disgusting trivia game Double Dare.
Palo Alto, California Baruch Noy email@example.com
JSU CONTINUES TO EXPAND IN PALO ALTO
Israel sentiment on college campuses, to educate students about the historical truths of Israel, to explore propaganda and media bias, and most importantly, to empower students to stand up for Israel.
JEWISH ADVENTURE AT FANTASILANDIA NCSY Chile visited the largest amusement park in Chile for a day of Torah mixed with fun. The day began with an entertaining discussion on the bus entitled, “Fantasilandia: Jewish Adventures.” All the NCSYers had a great time.
CHILE Michael Bengio, Director 011.56.99.186.5575 firstname.lastname@example.org
SUPPORT NCSY IN YOUR AREA
100 STUDENTS INSPIRED BY NCSY CLASSES NCSY Chile inspires more than 100 high school students with their programs, classes and activities. This year, the number of students in our weekly classes and programs have increased. For the first time, NCSY Chile is teaching and running programs for students from five different schools in Santiago.
FAMILIES AND TEENS ATTEND SHAVOUT MEALS NCSY Chile invited over 70 NCSYers to two delicious dairy meals. Each meal had fun activities, games and divrei Torah from advisors and students. Each NCSYer had the opportunity to bring members of their family to experience a meal with NCSY.
Interest in JSU is continuing to grow. The club membership has doubled since last year. An additional three clubs will be launched in the South San Francisco Bay area next year.
FIRST TJJERS FROM SOUTH BAY Several teens from South Bay NCSY attended NCSY Summer Program TJJ. They joined the West Coast contingent and had an inspiring summer in Israel. Special local scholarships were raised to help defer costs for these teens.
Phoenix, AZ Shmuli Josephson email@example.com
100 TEENS JOIN JEWISH STUDENT UNION OF AZ The Jewish Student Unions in Arizona are booming. Over 100 teens joined a JSU club and enjoyed visits from a Krav Maga specialist, sushi making, Israel advocacy training and multimedia sessions. Next semester NCSY will be starting a Maimonides Scholars Torah-study program where public school teens will learn for 10 hours during the semester.
The Valley, CA Derek and Sarah Leah Gormin firstname.lastname@example.org
TEENS LEARN TO COMBAT ANTISEMITISM ON CAMPUS The West Coast Jewish Student Union (JSU) hosted the third annual Israel Advocacy Training Bootcamp in June. JSU, in partnership with Stand With Us, and through a grant from the Jewish Federation Valley Alliance, hosted a day of Israel education and pride. Israel Advocacy Bootcamp is geared to high school seniors who will be heading off to college campuses next year. The goals of the day were to increase awareness of both anti-Semitic and anti-
R O S H H A S H A N A H 2 012
NCSY Chile has a fun-filled day at Fantasilandia.
Rabbi Moshe Benovitz
In shul one morning, my should-have-been-intense concentration on prayer was interrupted by the persistent entreaties of a gentleman collecting for the needy. His story of woe was accompanied by a glossy pamphlet and approbations from numerous grand (but mostly unfamiliar) rabbis. I was not so easily taken in. My cynicism was aroused, as it too often is, and I resisted any initial inclination to respond generously. Who was this guy? Who was to say that the tragedies described in the brochure were not significantly embellished if not completely fabricated? I kept my hardearned money securely in my pocket. There were more worthy and more easily verified charities that could benefit from my largesse. After davening, the gentleman was given a few moments to address the assembled. His heartfelt words and vivid description of the most devastating turn of events struck a chord. It seemed heartless to ignore his plea. So the loose change in my pocket and I parted ways, and I continued with my day. What transpired that morning? What changed from my first reaction to my ultimate response? And how can that shed light on one of the greatest and most urgent educational challenges of our day?
The question deserves a fuller treatment than the paragraph or two that will fit on this page. Yet one thought can hopefully be helpful. We need not prove the unprovable. Not only because of the paradox in such a pursuit, but because proof and decisive arguments may very well be unnecessary. Furthermore, in-depth discussion of complex philosophical quandaries will never appeal to the masses of students — doubts or no doubts — and can very easily succeed in raising more questions than answers. Like our incident with the collector, what is needed is giving reasons to believe rather than absolute proof of the veracity of belief. This entails two distinct elements. First, to give sufficient motivation for the inevitable leap of faith that will be required. And second, we must succeed in making our narrative at least highly plausible, if not axiomatic.
WHAT IS NEEDED IS GIVING REASONS TO BELIEVE RATHER THAN ABSOLUTE PROOF
At that moment, it was essentially impossible to know the true destination of my donation. As a result, my decision hinged on degrees of plausibility and a personal connection to the subject. Action or inaction depended not on whether the story was true or false, but whether it was likely or unlikely.
There is a crisis in our community that is affecting old and young in increasing numbers. Belief is being challenged like never before. Whatever technological or sociological developments we attribute this to, the result is the same. More Jews than ever before are struggling with basic questions of belief. These struggles are taking place in our schools, synagogues, summer camps and supermarket aisles. Some who are filled with questions and doubt are leaving the fold. Some continue as usual, in a limbo that has been labeled Orthopraxy; others wage a heroic struggle with their doubt and attempt to emerge stronger from it . Our educational framework catches up with this reality. Sweeping the challenge under the rug can work only so long, if at all. If the crisis seems well under control in our high schools and Shabbat minyanim, look to the college campus or enclaves of young adults to see the full devastating effect.
But of course, the question becomes: How do we shift our educational priorities? What needs to be done to produce more confidence and commitment in our students and NCSYers?
True, the stakes of personal belief are higher than the meager contribution made to a pauper’s coffer. But the dynamics involved may be quite similar. It will not be necessary to conclusively demonstrate the authenticity of the biblical narrative, but it is surely imperative to communicate its great likelihood. We must arm the next generation with the arguments that dispel the notion that believing in a Sinaitic transmission is naïve or absurd. We may not be able to introduce them to incontrovertible evidence of God’s existence, but we must convince them that they are not crazy for believing that they can talk to Him. No one wants to be taken for a fool. And no one wants to give up wealth and pursuit of certain pleasures for no good reason at all. But if we can provide compelling enough reasons and incentives to justify the sacrifices entailed in a religious lifestyle, we may find a generosity and willingness previously hidden from view.
RABBI MOSHE BENOVITZ, AN NCSY ALUMNUS, IS THE DEAN OF NCSY SUMMER PROGRAMS AND THE DIRECTOR OF NCSY KOLLEL. HE IS ALSO A REBBE AT REISHIT YERUSHALAYIM IN ISRAEL. HE CAN BE REACHED AT BENOVITZM@NCSY.ORG
THE NCSY MAGAZINE
ru n u
Yachad champions the inclusion of all Jewish individuals with disabilities in the full spectrum of Jewish life.
ING MIAMI MArAthoN ANd hAlf-MArAthoN Sunday January 27, 2013
www.teamyachad.com All proceeds from your participation will be shared by NCSY and Yachad
Participants commit: to raise sponsorship money to benefit Yachad and NCSY programming run, walk or jog with us and you’ll receive: • Guaranteed race admission & registration • Pre-race pasta party • Personalized training regimen • Team Yachad racing attire • Full Shabbat program at the team hotel R O S H H A S H A N A H 2 012
Yachad and NCSY are agencies of the Orthodox Union 51
“For more than 60 years, NCSY has inspired, empowered and helped connect generations of young Jewish teenagers.” - SENATOR KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D-NY)
“I applaud the Palm Beach chapter of NCSY for its continued effort to impact Jewish youth and teach them about their heritage. NCSY is not only influencing Jewish youth, but the community as a whole, as many of their program ‘graduates’ are now leaders and role models in their own community.” - CONGRESSMAN ALLEN WEST (FL-22)
“Rarely have I seen high school students approach community service with the unbridled passion that NCSYers bring to the task. These teenagers have internalized the goal of helping others, which they do cheerfully and wholeheartedly.” - CONGRESSWOMAN JAN SCHAKOWSKY (D-IL)
“I know from the experience of my own children that inspired and values-based Jewish education is vital to their development as committed and responsible Jews. There is no doubt that we need young Jewish leaders with a deep understanding of the challenges that we face in this world. The work of NCSY is a treasured partner in this effort.” - AMBASSADOR MERYL FRANK Ambassador to United Nations Permanent Commission on the Status of Women