NCSY CITIES AND REGIONAL LEADERSHIP ATLANTIC SEABOARD
NCSY is the international youth movement of the OU.
Executive Leadership Rabbi Micah Greenland............ International Director, NCSY Keevy Fried................................... Associate International Director, NCSY Rabbi Moshe Benovitz.............. Managing Director, NCSY Martin Nachimson...................... President, OU Howard Tzvi Friedman.............Board of Directors Chair, OU Avi Katz.........................................National Youth Commission Chairman, OU Allen Fagin..................................... Executive Vice President, OU Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb....... Executive Vice President, Emeritus, OU Rabbi Steven Weil....................... Senior Managing Director, OU Shlomo Schwartz........................ Chief Financial Officer / Chief Administrative Officer, OU Arnold Gerson............................Chief Institutional Advancement Officer, OU Rabbi Lenny Bessler.................. Chief Human Resources Officer, OU Dr. Sam Davidovics.................... Chief Information Officer, OU Gary Magder................................. Director of Digital Media Marketing, OU
International STAFF Rabbi Dovid Bashevkin............ Director of Education Sari Borenstein............................ Summer Programs Associate Yoni Colman...............................Director of Organizational Innovation and Professional Advancement, NCSY Summer David Cutler.................................. Director of NCSY Summer Shayna Feiger.............................Alumni Associate Samantha Feldman.................... Summer Programs Associate, Marketing Coordinator Rachel First................................... Educational Content Manager & Designer Jen Goldman................................ Assistant Director of NCSY Summer Alyssa Goldwater......................Executive Assistant to International Director Dan Hazony................................... Director of Data and Evaluation Rabbi Shmuel Iann....................Director of Development, Special Projects Rabbi Yehoshua Kohl...............Special Projects Coordinator Jeffrey Korbman........................ Director of Development Rabbi Israel Lashak.................... Senior Educator Tali Lebenbom............................Alumni Connections Associate Rabbi Yehoshua Marchuck..... Director of Alumni Amy Mauskopf............................. Summer Programs Associate, Director of Logistics Andres Moncayo......................... Graphic Designer Rabbi Menachem Nissel..........Senior Educator Ayelet Prero..................................Administrative Associate Rabbi Ari Rockoff........................Director of Leadership Development DY Rubin.........................................Data & Evaluations Coordinator Adam Rudich...............................Director of Operations and Finance Saadia Simon..............................Systems Support Manager Debbie Stone............................... Associate Director of Education Elliot Tanzman.............................. Director of NCSY Summer Recruitment Josh Weinberg............................. Director of Marketing
Summer Leadership BILT................................................... Rabbi Akiva Naiman Camp Maor................................. Sari Kahn Camp Sports................................. Rabbi Jon Green Euro ICE.......................................... Rabbi Israel Lashak GIVE................................................. Erin Cooper Stiebel GIVE West...................................... Leah Moskovich ICE Israel........................................ Tzvi and Malkie Hametz JOLT................................................. Rabbi Eli Zians JOLT Israel ................................. Rabbi Dr. Noam Weinberg Kollel................................................ Rabbi Moshe Benovitz Michlelet......................................... Rivka Yudin The Anne Samson: TJJ..........Rabbi Barry Goldfischer TJJA........CM and Chaim Gerson TJJAP......Marc Fein
ON THE COVER: Lori Sharabani from North Miami Beach overlooks Eilat atop Har Tzfachot on The Anne Sammson Jerusalem Journey this past summer. Photo: JOSH WEINBERG
Rabbi Jonah Lerner Dr. Michael Elman, Chair 410.358.6279 firstname.lastname@example.org atlanticseaboard. ncsy.org 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 Rabbi Glenn Black Larry Zeifman, Chair 905.761.6279 email@example.com canada.ncsy.org Calgary, AB Edmonton, AB Vancouver, BC Victoria, BC Hamilton, ON Kitchener-Waterloo, ON King City, ON Kingston, ON London, ON Ottawa, ON Toronto, ON Montreal, QC
CENTRAL EAST Rabbi Tzali Freedman Judge Daniel Butler, Chair 888.471.4514 firstname.lastname@example.org centraleast.ncsy.org Windsor, ON Ann Arbor, MI Bloomfield Hills, MI Farmington Hills, MI Huntington Woods, MI Oak Park, MI Southfield, MI West Bloomfield, MI Akron, OH Canton, OH Cincinnati, OH Cleveland, OH Columbus, OH Dayton, OH Solon, OH Toledo, OH Youngstown, OH Pittsburgh, PA
GREATER ATLANTA Rabbi Chaim Neiditch 404.486.8787 email@example.com atlanta.ncsy.org
Atlanta, GA Alpharetta, GA Buckhead, GA Chamblee, GA Duluth, GA Dunwoody, GA Johns Creek, GA Marietta, GA Milton, GA Roswell, GA Sandy Springs, GA
Randolph, NJ Teaneck, NJ Twin Rivers, NJ West Orange, NJ
Bronx, NY Brooklyn, NY Cedarhurst, NY Commack, NY East Meadow, NY Great Neck, NY Hewlett, NY Inwood, NY Lawrence, NY Long Beach, NY Manhattan, NY Merrick, NY Oceanside, NY Plainview, NY Port Washington, NY Queens, NY Roslyn, NY Staten Island, NY Stony Brook, NY Westchester, NY West Hempstead, NY Woodmere, NY
Rabbi Donny Schwartz Shosh Friedman Ari Shabat, Chair 847.677.6279 firstname.lastname@example.org midwest.ncsy.org Des Moines, IA Buffalo Grove, IL Chicago, IL Glenview, IL Northbrook, IL Skokie, IL Indianapolis, IN South Bend, IN Kansas City, KS Overland Park,KS St. Louis, MO Winnipeg, MB Minneapolis, MN Omaha, NE Memphis, TN Nashville, TN Milwaukee, WI
NEW YORK Kenny Sicklick, Chair 516.569.6279 email@example.com newyork.ncsy.org
SOUTHERN Todd Cohn Tammy Attias, Board Chair Saby Behar, Campaign Chair 1-866-887-5788 firstname.lastname@example.org southern.ncsy.org
Rabbi Simon Taylor Joyce Wertheimer, Chair 617.332.6279 Little Rock, AK newengland@ Birmingham, AL ncsy.org newengland.ncsy.org Aventura, FL Bal Harbour, FL Boca Raton, FL New Haven, CT Coral Springs, FL Stamford, CT Hollywood, FL West Hartford, CT Jacksonville, FL Brookline, MA Kendall, FL Framingham, MA Miami Beach, FL Lexington, MA North Miami Marlborough, MA Beach, FL Newton, MA Palm Beach, FL Sharon, MA Parkland, FL Waltham, MA Savannah, GA Providence, RI Charleston, SC Myrtle Beach, SC NEW JERSEY Nashville, TN Rabbi Ethan Katz Dr. Murray SOUTHWEST Leben, Chair 201.862.0250 Rabbi Gershon Meisel email@example.com 972.934.9143 newjersey.ncsy.org firstname.lastname@example.org southwest.ncsy.org East Brunswick, NJ Englishtown, NJ Denver, CO Fair Lawn, NJ New Orleans, LA Freehold, NJ Santa Fe, NM Freehold Boro, NJ Austin, TX Hackensack, NJ Dallas, TX Highland Park, NJ El Paso, TX Hightstown, NJ Fort Worth, TX Livingston, NJ Houston, TX Marlboro, NJ McKinney, TX Manalapan, NJ Richardson, TX Millburn, NJ San Antonio, TX Montclair, NJ Northern Highlands, NJ
SPECIAL THANKS TO
Dovid Bashevkin Israel Odesser Michael Sohn
Tova Ross Avinoam Teplow-Phipps Jennifer Goldman
UPSTATE NY Devora Weinstock 646.459.5175 email@example.com upstate.ncsy.org Albany, NY Binghamton, NY Buffalo, NY Catskills District, NY Mount Kisco, NY Rochester, NY Schenectady, NY Syracuse, NY
WEST COAST Rina Emerson Dr. Josh Penn, Chair 310.229.9000 firstname.lastname@example.org westcoast.ncsy.org Phoenix, AZ Scottsdale, AZ Berkeley, CA Beverly Hills, CA Calabasas, CA Cupertino, CA Irvine, CA La Jolla, CA Los Angeles, CA North Hollywood, CA Oakland, CA Palo Alto, CA Piedmont, CA Sacramento, CA San Diego, CA San Francisco, CA San Jose, CA San Mateo, CA Santa Monica, CA Saratoga, CA Sunnyvale, CA Thousand Oaks, CA West Hills, CA Woodland Hills, CA Woodside, CA Las Vegas, NV Eugene, OR Portland, OR Mercer Island, WA Seattle, WA
ARGENTINA Rabbi Marcelo Krawiec Martin Lebovich 011.54.911.6802.5854 email@example.com
CHILE Michael Bengio 011.56.99.186.5575 firstname.lastname@example.org
GERMANY Anna Segal 011.49.30.440.10160 email@example.com
ISRAEL Rabbi Yosef Ginsberg Rabbi Michael Kahn 054-953-8225 052-508-5091 firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com Israel.ncsy.org
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 Instagram: www.instagram.com/myncsy
IT’S NOT TOO EARLY TO SIGN UP
FOR ONE OF NCSY’S INCREDIBLE SUMMER PROGRAMS
REGISTER TODAY AT SUMMER.NCSY.ORG OR CALL 1-888-TOUR-4-YOU BILT
Boys Israel Leadership Training (BILT) is a leadership program for boys looking to challenge themselves and have an incredible adventure through the land of Israel.
Located in the Pocono Mountains, Camp Moar is for girls entering 5th- 10th grade who are interested in exploring their passion for the performing arts.
Camp Sports focuses on recreational and highly competitive sports leagues in Baltimore, MD .
Euro ICE brings Jewish history to life by exploring Budapest, Prague and Vienna, lands full of rich Jewish culture and history. This co-ed trip culminates in Israel by visiting all the popular sites.
Girls Israel Volunteer Experience (GIVE) is for exceptional high school girls looking to experience Judaism through the art of giving back in Israel.
GIVE West provides a select group of girls with a fun and meaningful summer by giving back to communities across the West Coast.
ICE Israel takes boys and girls on an inspirational and exhilarating journey through the land of Israel.
THE ANNE SAMSON TJJ AMBASSADORS POLAND
Jewish Overseas Leadership Training (JOLT) is for teens who want to become leaders. Past participants have described their JOLT experience in Poland, Denmark and Israel as having a transformational impact on their Jewish identity.
On The Anne Samson TJJ Ambassadors Poland (TJJ AP) program, public school teens spend a week in Poland before traveling to Israel and touring the land through the lens of Jewish history.
NEW PROGRAMS SUMMER 2017
JOLT Israel is for highly-motivated teens looking for a unique leadership experience. The culmination of the summer will be JOLT Israel running a camp for Israeli children whose siblings have cancer.
NCSY Kollel is an unforgettable summer experience for boys in Israel with interactive learning, intense sports and great trips.
Michlelet is an extraordinary program for teenage girls looking to spend their summer in a productive way by learning Torah, doing chesed and touring Israel.
THE ANNE SAMSON JERUSALEM JOURNEY (TJJ)
The Anne Samson Jerusalem Journey (TJJ) is the most affordable Israel trip for public school teens. Teens tour Israel and develop an appreciation for its history and their Jewish heritage.
KANFEI (Co-ed) & BNOS KANFEI (Girls)
See the world like never before. Teens get in touch with their inner beauty and spirituality through experiencing the splendor of the world - with visits to New Zealand, Australia and Hawaii.
A TJJ adventure with a focus on technology. Startup Fellowship focuses heavily on how and why Israel is a world leader in technology, along with conveying the beauty of Judaism.
NEXT STEP INTERNSHIPS
With both tracks for public school and day school teens, Next Step aims to give teens a real workplace experience through highly sought after internships while working in one of the most innovative countries of the world Israel.
THE ANNE SAMSON TJJ AMBASSADORS
The Anne Samson TJJ Ambassadors takes public school teens to the best sights in Israel while they participate in social action, political advocacy and high-level Torah study.
NCSY is the international youth movement of the Orthodox Union.
TABLE OF CONTENTS 10
DIRECTOR’S MESSAGE The Missing Piece – A message from NCSY’s International Director, Rabbi Micah Greenland.
Faces in the Crowd Meet Jeffrey Korbman, National Development Director of NCSY; Find out why Dr. Michael & Mrs. Linda Elman support NCSY.
VICE Chairman’s Message Mr. Josh Rozenberg discusses turning passion into action.
TEEN PRESIDENT MESSAGE 08 International Teen President, Sarah Engel, reflects on leadership
and overcoming obstacles.
SUMMER Snapshots Scenes from NCSY Summer 2016
YOM NCSY 2016 RECAP Over 1700 NCSYers, staff and supporters gathered for an evening of celebration and inspiration in honor of NCSY Summer.
COMMUNITY SNAPSHOTS A look back at this year’s regional fundraisers.
SPRING AWAKENING 18 Highlights from NCSY Spring Regionals JUMPING INTO ACTION 20 Looking back at this years National NCSY JUMP competition. FROM SHUL TO SCHOOL 21 National NCSY hosts a gathering on day school prayer.
28 GROWTH BEGINS AT HOME 22 Reflecting on a year of staff-centered programming and initiatives.
AS A TEEN: RABBI TZVI HERSH WEINREB 23 NCSY Director of Education, Rabbi Dovid Bashevkin, sits with Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb to discuss his teenage years.
WELCOME TO NCSY’S EDUCATION WEBSITE 25 Learn about the new and improved NCSY education website and the resources it is providing Jewish educators worldwide.
THE LIST: 5 BOOKS THAT SHOULD BE OPEN BEFORE US 26 We know what God is reading these days, but what about us.
SUPER GIRL 28 World record holding powerlifter, Naomi Kutin, is uplifted with NCSY.
ON A ROLL 30 Gabriel and Raphael Shpitalnik have healthy passions for food and NCSY
THE STYLIST 32 How Sarah Comar taught us about inner beauty.
A CROWD 34 InONEanINNCSY Summer program where 99% of attendees attend yeshiva day school, one public school teen steps outside his comfort zone.
THERE’s AN APP FOR...THAT? 36 The iconic NCSY bencher takes on a new form in the digital era.
DANCING TO A DIFFERENT TUNE 38 Jessica Shrayber and her NCSY story toward inspiration. BACK TO SCHOOL 40 Once just for teens, Israel Scholars Program expands to adults. The NCSY 2020 VISION: From vision to reality 41 Examining our progress on our way to fulfilling the NCSY 2020 Vision.
Highlights 43 Happenings around the NCSY World TURNING OUT THE VOTE 50 Rabbi Moshe Benovitz examines what, when and why we cast our votes.
By Rabbi Micah Greenland, International Director
his time of year, with the High Holiday season upon us, there’s plenty of important talk about reconnection. This is the period when we take stock of our relationships and are reminded of the importance of investing anew in friendships and in connections with family members and loved ones. As much as we care about each of these all year, the Elul/ Rosh Hashanah/Yom Kippur season is appropriately a time for genuine reflection and re-investment. One relationship though, seems to receive attention only during this season, and even then, not nearly enough in my judgment: God. Sound surprising? God is often absent from our consciousness during the year. And even during the Yomim Noraim, while we devote plenty of lip service to teshuva, we tend not to reflect a whole lot on He to Whom we are returning, or even to think of God as a relationship that requires consideration and attention. Why not? Such a complex phenomenon certainly has a myriad of root causes. But unquestionably, it all boils down to priorities. We as a community have prioritized such positive values as the intellectual rigor of serious Torah study and concerning ourselves with the bein adam l’chaveiro needs of others – not to mention dozens of less positive
Rabbi Micah Greenland addresses NCSYers, supporters and friends at this year’s Yom NCSY held at Bar Ilan University.
values - all more so than the genuine development of a relationship with God. We have invested more in the development of the mind, as valuable as that is, than in the nourishment of the soul. I am far from the first to observe this trend, or to bemoan its implications for us as a community. Rabbi Moshe Weinberger, Mashpia at Yeshiva University and the rav of Congregation Aish Kodesh in Woodmere, quotes the Piacezner Rebbe on the subject of the Rebbe’s own religious growth. “Just one thing is missing,” he says: “the soul.” If it was true for the Piacezner Rebbe, it is true even more so for the rest of us. As Rabbi Weinberger wrote in an essay that appeared in the online journal Klal Perspectives in 2012, “Our communities—spanning the entire spectrum of Orthodoxy—are swarming with Jews of all ages and backgrounds who have little, if any, connection to Hakadosh Baruch Hu.” Many of the disenfranchised youth, he says, are not running away from authentic Yiddishkeit; they simply “never met it.” NCSY is one place dedicated to inspiring and nourishing the Jewish soul. More than an organization, NCSY is a teenage movement with the philosophy that the soul matters and that the soul craves both inspiration and a genuine relationship with God. Thousands of committed Jewish adults today were first awakened as teens through the beauty of an inspirational NCSY havdalah or kumzitz. Moreover, as a cornerstone of our execution on our strategic plan, this past year, more teens were impacted by NCSY’s programming through our most meaningful experiences (Shabbat, Torah study, and exposure to Israel) than ever before in our history. Recently, NCSY’s education department has been leading some groundbreaking collaborative work with yeshiva high schools in the realm of tefillah, prayer. Our associate director of education Debbie Stone has spearheaded the effort to redefine what tefillah can mean in the context of the Jewish day school, and she has written
More than an organization, NCSY is a teenage movement with the philosophy that the soul matters and that the soul craves both inspiration and a genuine relationship with God.
phenomenal materials on prayer for NCSY advisors and day school educators to utilize in their educational efforts. In tandem with Ms. Stone’s efforts, our director of education, Rabbi Dovid Bashevkin, has introduced a number of innovative programs in the realm of tefillah that will be utilized by day schools this coming school year. NCSY is proud to be at the forefront of what we hope will be a broader Jewish communal awareness of the importance of speaking to the heart and soul of today’s Jew. This is the season during which we proclaim with fervor that teshuva, tefillah, and tzedaka (repentance/returning, prayer, and charity), are the pathways to a successful year to come. This Rosh Hashanah, let’s remember to Whom we are returning and to Whom we are praying, as we commit ourselves to prioritizing the soul – ours, our children’s, our community’s – in deepening that often-neglected relationship in our lives: that between us and God. May we all be signed and sealed for a good year to come,
Rabbi Micah Greenland
QUESTIONS FOR WITH
DR. MICHAEL & MRS. LINDA ELMAN YOUTH CHAIRMAN, ATS ncsy & NCSY supporterS
How did you first hear about NCSY?
Linda: I grew up in Trenton, New Jersey and served as an NCSY chapter advisor for the New Jersey Etz Chaim region while in Stern College during the 1970s. Since then, this has been an organization near and dear to our hearts. Twenty years ago, we were honored at the annual Chanukah concert here in Baltimore. We have hosted NCSYers in our homes here in Baltimore and in Israel and helped organize numerous events through the years.
Why is NCSY critical to the Jewish community?
As the National Development Director for NCSY, Jeffrey Korbman is finding both personal and professional fulfillment in his newest role. Korbman, who grew up in Irvington, New Jersey, was an active NCSYer while attending JEC in Elizabeth. He attended many Shabbatonim, Regionals and other NCSY activities, and felt the powerful impact of NCSY firsthand while exploring his growing connection to observant Judaism. “NCSY gave me a great social network and a deep appreciation for Judaism,” said Korbman, who first got involved when he saw how many of his day school peers were NCSYers. “I even took my first trip to Israel with NCSY on a six-week summer program.” After graduating JEC and studying at Beit Midrash L’Torah in Israel, Korbman attended Rutgers University and Columbia University, where he earned a dual Master’s degree in Jewish Studies and Social Work in Columbia’s joint program with JTS. Instead of pursuing social work, though, Korbman became a development professional with the Jewish Federation, first in New York and then in Greater Metrowest NJ. “Earning that social work degree was important because I use my graduate education every day in fundraising,” explained Korbman. “I believe that in fundraising, it’s as important to be able to relate to the people as it is to raise the funds. So much of development is bridging relationships with people to achieve your goals for a greater cause.” Jeff is excited to use his skill set and expertise to benefit NCSY. “I think we are changing the trajectories of Jewish identities for teens across the country in a way that’s not only fun but meaningful,” he said. “NCSY doesn’t dilute Judaism to a few catch phrases, but offers teens the real deal.” Korbman, who has been with NCSY since May, loves everything about his job (“except maybe the commute,” he admits), and keeps in mind one of his biggest professional lessons: transparency with oneself. “A lot of people tend to brag about accomplishments and hide or spin mistakes to make themselves look better, but I can admit that my biggest mistakes in my career thus far have also taught me the most important lessons,” Korbman explained. “I needed to learn to not only admit making them to myself, but to accept that it’s part of life and is critical to growth and improvement.” Jeff is married to Dana and has two children, Aviva, 23, and Sam, 18. Sam spent the past two summers on NCSY programs. 6
Through the decades, we both have seen the impact NCSY can make on individuals, families and communities. Some of my NCSYers have became lifelong friends and are leaders in their respective Jewish communities today. We know of no other organization that has done so much imbue Jewish identity in our youth over the past half century. As the Jewish landscape has changed, NCSY evolved as well, remaining vital, relevant and focused on its task. NCSY is one of the premier organizations dedicated to connect, inspire and empower Jewish teens, encouraging them to live passionate Jewish lives.
What makes NCSY unique in your opinion?
Michael: NCSY benefits all Jewish youth, from public school kids from intermarried families to day school kids from more traditional families. We connect with Jewish teens through innovative, cutting-edge social, educational and recreational programs to develop a positive Jewish identity. NCSY’s goal is not to make them Orthodox, but to help them develop and blossom as more committed and proud Jews.
How has NCSY impacted you and your family?
We can tell you from personal experience that NCSY works! Our first born son Ari, now in his thirties, attended NCSY Kollel in Israel during the summer between his sophomore and junior high school years and was turned on to Jewish learning in a way that tens of thousands of dollars spent on tuition could not achieve. The result is evident two decades later. Even though Ari is a very busy and accomplished medical oncologist, the first thing he does each morning is learn a blatt Gemara. We believe that his love for learning was fostered as a result of his time spent on NCSY Kollel that summer.
What message do you have for our readers?
Michael: Five years ago I was approached to assume the lay leadership for our region. For two years I politely declined until a soul shaking encounter changed my mind. Every summer I am privileged to join a group of scholars on a European retreat with Rabbi Moshe Shapira, one of the world’s foremost experts on Jewish thought. Three years ago, while in Amsterdam, I was invited to sit with Rav Moshe for seudat shelishit. Rav Moshe does not suffer fools gladly, so I was not going to risk dazzling him with my novel and “ingenious” Torah thoughts. Instead I took the safe route and decided to discuss world events. I innocently asked him in Hebrew – “How do you view things in the world today?” He tersely responded, “The world is going down the tubes.” “The whole world or the Jewish world?” I countered. He clarified, “the Jewish world, and nothing in the world is more precious than the Jewish people.” Then he hit me squarely in the face with something that shook me to the core and made me change my mind about NCSY. The Talmud tells us that that when we die we are judged with an open book final exam. “Did you deal honestly in business? Did you set aside fixed times for Torah study and delve into its wisdom deeply? Did you engage in increasing the world’s population? And did you eagerly await the Moshiach?” As he looked me in the eyes with his penetrating gaze, Rav Moshe then added that our generation has been given an additional question: “What did you do to help save the Jewish people?” Saying that you are a busy doctor is no excuse. Saying that the problem is so immense that my efforts are a drop in the bucket is no excuse, for we will not be judged by the results. We each will be judged by our efforts. We cannot save the Jewish people single handedly but we can each make a difference. In NCSY it is done little by little, one Jew at a time, because we all know that there is nothing more precious than the Jewish people.
n the Spring of 1998, I walked into North Woodmere Park for an NCSY event that would prove to be the first of a life-changing journey. My experience with NCSY began then as a Junior NCSYer in Long Island, New York. I traversed the NCSY ladder, going to both local and regional Shabbatonim, first as an NCSYer and later as an advisor for the West Coast and New York regions. I longed for each and every Shabbaton, looking forward to the incredible experiences of davening and ebbing. It was an integral part of my life and it instilled a passion and love for Judaism that I wasn’t able to find anywhere else. When I was graduating college and reflecting on those key aspects that had shaped my identity, I realized that NCSY was an integral piece of that puzzle and that I was not yet ready to leave it behind. If I had the opportunity until now to be part of such an amazing and impactful organization – how could I ensure that NCSY would continue impacting teenagers all over the world as it had with me? How could I make sure that the passion and love for Judaism infused into my blood by NCSY would continue to be infused into the next generation of teenagers? And then it dawned on me: I needed to take all that passion that I had found at NCSY and turn it into action. It wasn’t enough to just share that passion with those closest to me. Rather, I realized that I would need to act in order to broaden my impact and make a difference for as many Jewish souls as possible. I expressed interest in becoming involved as a lay leader and was quickly invited to join the New York NCSY board. From there, I joined the National NCSY Youth Commission where I currently serve as the Vice Chair. It is there that our vision, but more importantly, our daily actions, are ensuring that the passion for Judaism is preserved and continuously passed to the next generation.
By Josh Rozenberg, Vice Chair of the NCSY Youth Commission To me, lay leadership is about taking passion and using it to help shape the future of Jewish youth. To be a part of the lay leadership means to work with senior NCSY professionals to ensure that they continue making an impact and instilling passion. It isn’t an ebbing or an NCSY candle-lit havdalah in an otherwise dark room. Our focus cannot be our personal passion and love for Judaism but rather, must be figuring out the most effective ways of to impart that passion to the thousands and thousands of teens who need NCSY across the world. Our meetings are filled with budget discussions, impact numbers, and global execution of our
Our focus cannot be our personal passion and love for Judaism but rather must be figuring out the most effective ways of to impart that passion to the thousands and thousands of teens who need NCSY across the world.
programs, but most importantly, our meetings make sure that we stay on track and have the right goals and vision for NCSY. Currently, both the lay and professional leadership are working together on meeting our goals set forth in NCSY’s “2020 Strategic Vision”. Our plan is to increase NCSY’s reach from 16,000 teens reached in 2015 to 24,000 teens in 2020. Even more importantly, we hope to double the amount of teens that are deeply impacted from our programming from 5,000 to 10,000. As we approach Rosh Hashana 2016, I can happily report that we have already reached our “24,000 teens reached goal” and are at 8,000 teens impacted! But our job as part of the leadership doesn’t stop just because our goals are reached or will be reached in the near future. It requires constant involvement and planning, it involves hard work and dedication and it requires financial commitments. But most importantly, it is a call to make an impact. It is a call to take passion and turn it into action. Joshua Rozenberg is currently the assistant controller at Visium Asset Management. Prior to joining Visium, Josh worked at PwC in their alternative practice. Josh is currently on the Board of Directors of the Orthodox Union (OU), the Vice Chair of the youth commission (the lay leadership board of NCSY), and the chair of the Young Leadership Committee within the OU. He received his bachelor’s degree from Yeshiva University Sy Syms School of Business. Josh currently lives in Bergenfield NJ with his wife Alyse and their three children.
n the second day of Rosh HaShanah, we read the Torah portion that details Akeidat Yitzchak, when G-d tested Avraham, and asked him to sacrifice his beloved son. At the final second before the slaughter, G-d stopped Avraham’s actions and asked him to replace his son with a ram offering. According to the Ramban in Parashat Lech Lecha, the purpose of a test is to enable an individual to realize their potential. Avraham had the potential to be someone who feared G-d to the extent that he was willing to follow G-d’s word even when it seemed inhumane or illogical. The challenge of Akeidat Yitzchak was meant to actualize this potential and to force Avraham to concretize his traits through action. This year, teen National Board has faced challenges, through which we have been able to actualize our own potential as a body within the organization. We have all developed ourselves as leaders and pushed ourselves further than we ever thought possible. It’s been demanding, 8
but through our actions we have been able to forge a new interface for the National Board of NCSY. We have been tasked with managing logistics for major national conventions, we have worked with departments in the National Office to create beautiful and informative Torah content, we have increased our presence on social media, and we have fostered a burgeoning Summer Programs culture. While we’ve seen much success, we’ve also faced failure, times where we did not quite meet the expectations we set out for ourselves, but we continued to grow as leaders when we embraced the failure and saw it as an opportunity for growth. As we look to the new year ahead, National NCSY is blessed with an astounding new group of teen leaders who will surely rise to the challenge and realize their own potential. My charge to them, and to you, is not to shy away from challenges when they arise. As we grapple with seemingly insurmountable obstacles, we solidify our potential as leaders and as members of the global
Jewish community. Wishing you and your families a ketiva v’chatima tovah. May we all be blessed with a year of happiness, health, Torah learning and the courage to utilize our challenges as a means of actualizing our potential.
MAJOR EVENTS AROUND NCSY
SUMMER Snapshots Scenes from NCSY Summer 2016
COMMUNITY SNAPSHOTS A look back at this year’s regional fundraisers.
SPRING AWAKENING Highlights from NCSY Spring Regionals
JUMPING INTO ACTION Looking back at this years National NCSY JUMP competition.
FROM SHUL TO SCHOOL National NCSY hosts a gathering on day school prayer.
YOM NCSY 2016 RECAP Over 1700 NCSYers, staff and supporters gathered for an evening of celebration and inspiration in honor of NCSY Summer.
GROWTH BEGINS AT HOME Reflecting on a year of staff-centered programming and initiatives.
AS A TEEN: RABBI TZVI HERSH WEINREB NCSY Director of Education, Rabbi Dovid Bashevkin, sits with Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb to discuss his teenage years.
WELCOME TO NCSY’S EDUCATION WEBSITE Learn about the new and improved NCSY education website and the resources it is providing Jewish educators worldwide.
THE LIST: 5 BOOKS THAT SHOULD BE OPEN BEFORE US We know what God is reading these days, but what about us.
Marci Schwartz, Megan Boyce and Gabby Kafash (L to R) spelunking in the Charitun Caves.
The Anne Samson TJJ Ambassadors pose outside the Knesset after meeting with Israeli government officials.
TJJ Ambassador Josh Altow enjoying an afternoon boat-ride on the Kinneret in Tevaria.
Talia Markovitz, Beth Gindi and Malki Frank (L to R) making a splash at NCSYâ€™s GIVE carnival for children from Sderot.
NCSYers on the Anne Samson Jerusalem Journey ride the waves in Eilat.
Daniel Katz spends the afternoon playing competitive sports on NCSY Kollel.
NCSY GIVErs spend the afternoon with seniors at Melabev, Israel’s Alzheimer’s treatment and care center.
Jacob Levy and Yonatan Ben Daniel ride camels at sunset in the Negev dessert.
Sofia Licata and Gina Schwabacher build and race rafts on the Kinneret this summer on TJJ.
Jordan Auerbach (L) and Daniel Bolurian (R) learn about biblical creatures at Rabbi Dr. Natan Slifkin’s Biblical Museum of Natural History. SPRING 2016
Sela Boord makes a mess and has a blast with children from Sderot at Michlelet’s annual Sderot carnival.
Michlelet NCSYers spend the afternoon decorating and hosting a wedding shower for a needy bride.
NCSY BILT boys taking a break from an intensive week of Gadna army training.
NCSY Kollel gathers at the Kotel plaza for their annual Kumzits of the World on Tisha B’Av afternoon.
Tovia Jacobs, Yaakov Metz, Zoe Levin and Rachel Karns (L to R) visit the old amphitheater in Caesaria this summer with ICE Israel.
Andrew Cohen runs soccer drills at NCSY’s Camp Sports in Baltimore.
Kiki Mantell rehearses for NCSY Camp Maor’s guest performance for the girls of Camp HASC.
Shayna Horvath at the Belzec extermination camp in Poland on TJJ Ambassadors Poland.
Raffi Zwas lends a helping hand at the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy this past summer on Euro ICE.
TJJers dress like the ancient Israelites and ride donkeys at Kfar Kedem.
Oren Danino, Alan Morgensztern, Aaron Rodin and Ethan Belau (L to R) at their final visit to the Kotel on The Anne Samson Jerusalem Journey.
Second year Michlelet NCSYers, Efrat Rosenwasser, Tamara Weinberg, Eliana Feifel, Shoshie Wasserman and Malka Edery gear up for an ATVing trip in Kefar Adumim.
Tamar Herschberg, Yael Cinamon, Danielle Dekelbaum, Gabi Miller and Meira Saffra pack up boxes of food for the needy at the Los Angeles Food Bank on NCSY GIVE West. SPRING 2016
Over 1700 NCSYers, staff, supporters and friends came out to celebrate the life changing experience that is NCSY Summer. Held this year at Bar Ilan University in Tel Aviv, Yom NCSY brought together all fourteen NCSY Summer programs for a night of live entertainment and inspiration. This year’s program included keynote speaker Miriam Peretz, known across
the country as the “Mother of Israel” after having lost two sons in two separate Israeli wars. Musical guests Benny Friedman and Shlomo Katz each contributed to the festive spirit and atmosphere. For the second straight year, Yom NCSY featured an Israel Gap Year Fair where NCSYers were able to meet with representatives from
35+ different yeshivot, seminaries and universities to discuss gap year opportunities. The night also saw the completion of the NCSY Sefer Torah, a Torah scroll dedicated by David and Marilyn Cutler in honor of David’s parents Rabbi Joel and Mrs. Ellen Cutler. The campaign successfully raised $150,000 for future NCSY Summer scholarships.
NCSYers meet with various yeshivot, seminaries and gap year programs at the second annual Yom NCSY Gap Year Fair.
Girls on NCSY’s GIVE and Michlelet reunite with old friends at Yom NCSY.
NCSY Kollel boys enjoy the BBQ and company at this year’s annual event.
Israel’s Minister of Education, Naftali Bennett, talks with teens on the Anne Samson Jerusalem Journey before addressing the crowd at Yom NCSY.
Mr. Allen Fagin, Executive Vice President of the Orthodox Union, addresses over 1700 NCSYers and staff at this year’s Yom NCSY.
Guest speaker, Miriam Peretz inspires the crowd with her words of faith and inspiration.
Rabbi Micah Greenland, International Director of NCSY presents a gift to TJJ supporters, Simon Falic and his daughter, Tila Falic Levi.
NCSYers on The Anne Samson TJJ Ambassadors Poland having a blast at Yom NCSY.
Musical guest, Benny Friedman, sings Yesh Tikva to a packed house at Bar Ilan University’s amphitheater at this year’s main event.
Family members of Anne Samson, a”h, were recognized with a special tribute at Yom NCSY for their landmark contribution to the Anne Samson Jerusalem Journey (TJJ).
Rabbi Ari Cutler brings in the NCSY Sefer Torah for the writing of the final letters.
David Cutler completes the NCSY Sefer Torah, donated in memory of David’s parents, Rabbi Joel and Ellen Cutler z”l.
NCSYers celebrate the completion of the NCSY Sefer Torah at this year’s Yom NCSY.
ST. LOUIS, MI JSU of St. Louis Gala, recognized Yale and Gail Miller for their decades of service on behalf of NCSY and JSU. Pictured here (L to R) are St. Louis NCSY & JSU city director Rabbi Mike Rovinsky, Rabbi Nissan Dov Miller, and guests of honor, Gail and Yale Miller.
Minneapolis, MN Nearly 200 people came out to support JSU and NCSY at the annual End of Year event held at the Sabes JCC. Pictured here (L to R) are Jeffrey Gaynes, Daniel Shertok, Yehuda Polter and Rabbi David Fredman.
TORONTO, CANADA Rabbi Steven Weil, Jason Berman and Rabbi Glenn Black (L to R) at this year’s Gourmet Dining Experience where guests were treated to a 7-course sampling of gourmet delights. The fundraiser, held at Mr. Berman’s home, raised over $90,000 for Israel scholarships.
Los Angeles, CA NCSY Connects Annual Soccer Tournament sponsored by AJU brought together over 100 players and families for a day of soccer and fun. All proceeds went towards the Campaign18 scholarship fund, a fund that sends deserving public high school students to Israel on NCSY Summer Programs.
PORTLAND, OR NCSY’s Kishka Klassic Golf Tournament was a tremendous success, raising nearly $17,000 for NCSY scholarships. Pictured here is winning team (L tor R) Brad Stern, Les Gutfreund, Jonathan Singer and Evan Bernstein.
RICHMOND, VA Atlantic Seaboard NCSY Regional Director, Rabbi Jonah Lerner, presents an award to hosts and Richmond NCSY & JSU supporters, Nathan and Nannette Shor, at an ATS NCSY Appreciation Dinner.
BOCA RATON, FL NCSY Advisory Board Members gather to install new Chair, Tammy Attias, and to celebrate their record breaking fundraising year, having secured nearly $1M in donations, 300% growth over last year.
SEATTLE, WA Bracha Walker, Alex Weirblud and Rena Korn hang out with the Ghostbusters at Basarfest, Seattle NCSYâ€™s annual fundraiser.
Halliburton, On Henry Zieleniec catches a winner at NCSY Canadaâ€™s 4th Annual Bass Fishing Experience.
MONTREAL, CANADA NCSY staff and supporters gather for a fundraising breakfast with former chief rabbi of England, Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks.
TEANECK, NJ Over 150 guests attended this years Bergen County Scholarship Breakfast honoring Linda and Zvi Fischer, Rabbi Josh Kahn, Lana and Shimmy Tennenbaum, and Yaffa and Michael Unger for their years of unwavering and significant support of NJ NCSY. Pictured here (L to R) are Dr. Shimmy Tennenbaum and New Jersey Regional Director Rabbi Ethan Katz. SPRING 2016
CENTRAL EAST Detroit NCSY broke it’s own previously held record bringing a record-breaking 81 teens to this years Central East Regional Convention, capping off a most remarkable year for Central East NCSY.
ATLANTIC SEABOARD Elie Guberman, Eliana Werbel, Shani Sukol and Leora Fishman get ready for a day of activities on the lake at Spring Conclave 2016.
GREATER ATLANTA Roman Avchukov, Ariana Cushner, Sydney Feldman, Alex Feder and Herschel Siegel experience a moving havdalah at Greater Atlanta’s Spring Regional.
MIDWEST Midwest teen Regional Board of 2016 with regional director Rabbi Donny Schwartz, at their spring regional at Camp Chi.
NEW ENGLAND Recipients of the Richard Geller Torah Study Award at New England’s annual banquet, at the Ingalside Resort in Greenville, NY.
UPSTATE NY Lily Rosenbaum and Elen-Sarrah Dolgopolskaia at Funplex Amusement Park as part of their Spring Inter-Regional in Greenville, NY.
PHOENIX, AZ Ray and Ann Perlman, grandparents of two Phoenix NCSYers, partially sponsored a bus worth of NCSYers, allowing them to attend West Coast Spring Regional. A record breaking 35 Phoenix public school teens attended.
ISRAEL Tova Meira Oberman, Ilana Katzin, Zahava Greenberg and Chana Singer usher out NCSY Israel’s Redemption Spring Regional.
WEST COAST West Coast NCSY staff gather for an end of year picture at Spring Regional Convention in Anaheim, CA this past Memorial Day weekend.
VANCOUVER, CA Regional presidents, Ma’ayan Fadida and Aria Smordin, hold havdalah candles at this years Spring Regional in Harrison Hot Springs, BC.
NEW JERSEY Girls of the 2016 NJ NCSY Regional Board hold the havdalah candles at this years Spring Regional in Stamford, CT. SPRING 2016
JUMP (Jewish Unity Mentoring Program) is the NCSY National Leadership Program that trains and empowers high school students from day schools across the United States to become the leaders of tomorrow. JUMP participants are given the tools and training to make positive changes in their schools and communities, while broadening their understanding of local and global issues facing the Jewish people today. Whether it be awareness, fundraising for charity, Israel advocacy or social action, JUMP puts teens in the driver’s seat, giving students the skills needed to be positive forces in their Jewish communities.
The yearly competition begins with a leadership conference in late October where teams are given the years challenges. The top five schools are invited to the Boardroom Finals in May held at Goldman Sachs headquarters in downtown Manhattan. This Years JUMP Boardroom Finalists: • Bnei Akiva Schools Ulpanot Orot, Toronto, • RASG Hebrew Acadamy, Miami • Savannah NCSY • Seattle NCSY • Shalhevet Girls School, New York
JUMP judge and mentor, Mr. Phil Rosen, addresses the top five teams at the Boardroom Finals this past May.
Rabbi Eli Lob
Director of Savannah NCSY and winning Savannah JUMP team
Teens play a version of the popular “Escape the Room” team-building game at the JUMP Leadership Conference this past October.
The Ulpanot Orot JUMP team at this year’s Tamar Yastrab presents the results of the Boardroom Finals in Goldman Sachs HQ. Shalhevet Girls School JUMP team at this year’s finals.
“The entire Savannah Community was moved and inspired as they witnessed the tremendous devotion, enthusiasm, and leadership skills these special JUMP teens displayed in organizing and running events that are an integral part in building the Jewish future “
Savannah NCSYers are crowned the winners at this year’s JUMP Boardroom Finals.
On June 8th, eleven educators from across the country came together at OU headquarters in downtown Manhattan for a conference regarding the state of tefillah education in yeshiva high schools. Educators from The Frisch School, Shalhevet, SKA, MTA, Fuchs Mizrachi and Kohelet discussed innovative ways for improving the way tefillah is taught to their students, learning strategies and best practices from NCSY educators. The conference was spearheaded by Rabbi Zev Shostak, founder of Legacy 613, a fund dedicated to improving the state of tefilla education and practice in the Jewish community, and Rabbi Dr. Jay Goldmintz, a well-known visionary in the field of Jewish education.
Associate Director of Education, Debbie Stone, shares tefillah insights at the tefillah roundtable.
Each school’s representatives shared their respective goals for tefillah education—helping facilitate a serious peer-to-peer conversation— before hearing from National NCSY educators Debbie Stone and Rabbi Dovid Bashevkin. Presenting their novel tefillah curriculum, Ms. Stone and Rabbi Bashevkin explained to the educators their goals and strategies for improving tefillah education. “Creating a meaningful tefillah experience for our students is one of the most important goals for yeshiva high school educators,” explained Rabbi Joshua Schulman, a Talmud educator, director of the chessed program and a junior grade dean at Frisch. “Participating in a program that allowed Jewish educators a platform to share ideas and experiences was beneficial for everyone involved.” The Koren Ani Tefilla Siddur: A Weekday Siddur for Reflection, Connection, and Learning, was distributed to each educator who attended. The siddur, meant for high school students and adults who wish to better understand daily prayers, features commentary by Rabbi Dr. Goldmintz, who includes a wide range of sources from Gemara and Rishonim, thinkers from Chassidic
Rabbi Dr. Jay Goldmintz presents to day school educators at the tefillah roundtable.
rabbis to Aristotle, and diverse Jewish scholars such as Rabbi Joseph Breuer, Rabbi Yosef Dov Soloveitchik and Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook. As educators implement the ideas and resources considered at the conference, periodic discussions and check-ins will be scheduled to discover successful strategies so that a general model curriculum might be formed for yeshiva high schools everywhere. “Just as prayer, which is ideally performed as part of a larger group, benefits from the multiplicity of voices that participate,” said Ms. Stone, “so too, when we brainstorm new ideas for infusing tefillah with meaning, we also look for diversity in opinion and ideas to reinvigorate and revitalize our collective prayer experience.” SPRING 2016
While much of our focus at NCSY is directed outward - exploring new and innovative ways to engage our teens and the next generation of Jewish leaders - we are well aware that we are only as strong as our leaders and staff. This past year has seen a growth in staff development programming in which full time staff, as well as volunteer advisors, have had opportunities to grow and develop while serving the broader Jewish community through their work with NCSY.
Rabbi Phil Karesh, Midwest NCSY’s Director of Education, offers a weekly online Torah class for NCSY Staff.
NCSY Managing Director, Rabbi Moshe Benovitz speaks to potential advisors about the power of NCSY at NCSY’s Advisor Night.
Members of the Washington Heights Weekly Women’s Shiur gather for an evening of Torah learning.
NCSY Senior Educator, Rabbi Menachem Nissel, broadcasting his weekly online chabura to NCSY staff from Israel.
Rabbi Dovid Bashevkin addresses NCSY advisors at a gathering held in conjuction with Yeshiva University’s SOY Seforim Sale.
NCSY Director of Professional Development, Rabbi Ari Rockoff, addresses senior staff at this years Senior Directors Conference.
Psychologist Ditza Berger addresses NCSY Summer advisors about teenage mental health at NCSY Summer Staff Training weekend.
NCSY Director of Education, Rabbi Dovid Bashevkin, sits with Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb to discuss Rabbi Weinreb’s teenage years. Rabbi Dovid Bashevkin (RDB): Rabbi Weinreb, I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about what your experiences were and what you were like as a teenager. Rabbi TZVI HERSH WEINREB: I guess you come into your teenage years at your Bar Mitzvah. I was so shy and introverted at that age that I didn’t speak at my Bar Mitzvah. I only leined because when you lein you don’t have to look at anybody, you just look at the Torah. You could look at my teenage years as struggling with introversion and shyness, overcoming them to some extent. That was my big internal struggle. I struggled academically. My parents had to hire special tutors, especially for my secular studies. I really wasn’t prepared for doing homework and writing papers, and my school, Rabbi Jacob Joseph School (RJJ), was a serious school both in terms of limudei kodesh and secular studies. So they hired tutors, which of course made
me more introverted because I was kind of ashamed of not being up to par. The two most consuming interests I had in high school, roughly from age 12 to age 16, were the friends I made in the Lower East Side who remained life long friends, and reading, because I would read voraciously. I was a big reader, I still am, but then especially. It was mostly novels, classic novels, Charles Dickens was, and remains, one of my favorite writers. And eventually, towards the end of high school, I got involved with a kind of pseudointellectual group of cool guys and we read a lot of Dostoyevsky, existentialism, and we became kind of sophisticated philosophically. But I always read a lot and that was very, very important to me. I played a lot of basketball, but was never very good at it. The other thing that was consuming to me was writing. I kept a diary, probably from fifth or sixth grade. I don’t know what happened to that diary. Maybe some collector will find it one day and it will go for sale on eBay, you never know. I suspect my mother threw it out with my collection of black and white baseball cards, which if I had today would have funded my retirement. RJJ had a very strong secular academic program, part of which was a newspaper. It was a quarterly newspaper that came out every three months. It won many awards from Columbia University School of Journalism as one of the best high school newspapers for a school of that size. RJJ was a big school in those days, four or five hundred students in the high school, maybe the largest yeshiva high school then. But to be active in that newspaper you had to enroll in a three year journalism course, from your tenth grade through your twelfth grade. That was in lieu of the regular English requirement, but you had to apply and my grades were weak in ninth grade so I applied to be part of that class but I didn’t make it. That’s when I learned one
of the lessons one needs to learn in life, especially in adolescence, and that is to persevere. Don’t take no for an answer. If you want something, go for it. So I met with the teacher, the instructor of that journalism class, and I pleaded and I begged and I promised and I cajoled him. He asked for samples of my writing and eventually he included me in that class, despite my lower grades. When I got into that class, my grades shot up - all of my grades, even in math. I guess I just gained the self-confidence that I needed to produce academically. From that point on, I don’t think I’ve ever been in a role professionally, personally, secularly, religiously, that didn’t involve writing to a great extent. Whether it was as a rav, as a psychologist, as a community leader, or as a teacher, any role that I played I wrote, and still write, and it all goes back to those high school years. RDB: What advice would you give yourself now as a teenager?
Rabbi WEINREB: The advice I would have given myself as a teenager would have been: number one, to intensify some of the things I was doing and to maybe be more serious about them, particularly making friends and keeping friends. Friends are extremely important at every stage of life, and I’ve learned to a great extent from my wife. Perhaps women have a better way of connecting to friends and keeping them for fifty or sixty years, which she is able to do. She goes to visit friends now who she originally met in high school and they became friends in high school or even earlier than high school. But friends from her high school years, she can go back to them now decades and decades later and reconnect in ways that I can’t do or I try to do sometimes, but it’s difficult. So making friends and keeping up friendships is extremely important. Getting close to teachers is extremely important. Teachers are willing, by and large, to be closer to students than students generally think. The reading and the writing of course is something I would advise to all students. Trusting yourself and your own abilities, realizing that you have more potential than you think. These are all important kinds of things. The other thing that I guess I wasn’t so great at and would advise myself now is to get closer to key people in my family. Not that I wasn’t close to my family - my parents, grandparents certainly, particularly my paternal grandfather, was very, very important to me, but I could’ve gotten much closer to them. I guess when you’re a kid, you see them as being aged men and living in a different planet than you’re living. But you can breach that in various ways. My maternal grandparents - I could have learned so much more from both of them about what it meant to be Jewish immigrants, children of immigrants in the United States, what it meant to remain frum in the United States in the years of World War One and the 1920’s, 1930’s, etc. I never really had those discussions with them, but looking I realize they would have welcomed questions from me and would have just educated me in ways that now are gone. My message to myself, speaking as an adult, a great grandfather, to myself as a fourteen year old would be: you could’ve gotten so much more from your family, and I’m not even going to mention aunts and uncles and extended family, all of whom I didn’t take advantage of and could’ve learned such a great deal from. RDB: Can you reflect a little bit on how teenagers have changed from when you
were growing up to what you see now? Is there any specific or unique advice that you would give to teenagers growing up now in 2016?
then there are places where you can get them. To look beyond the surface, to go deeper into things, it’s all extremely important.
Rabbi WEINREB: I’m not going to fall into the trap of saying, ‘You know, how this generation nowadays is just not the way we were when we were kids,’ and that kind of thing although I think there is some truth in that.
There’s another area that I think teenagers today face a great challenge, greater than we faced, and that is in the area of creativity. Creativity is extremely important. Every person has the ability to be creative. One can always ask one’s self: How can I be more creative than I am? For example, I had a rebbe, Rabbi Shmuel Dovid Warshavchik. Rabbi Warshavchik never heard the word ‘creativity,’ but he understood that each one of us had creative potential when it comes to saying chiddushei Torah. And chiddushei Torah - the word ‘chiddush,’ means creativity. Great chiddushei Torah, whether it’s Rav Chaim, Rav Shimon, the Rashba, or the Ritva they were all creative thinkers. All of us have the power to think creatively, even within the framework of lomdus, even within the framework of our Torah studies. Being a lamdan is not just knowing what the Ramban said, it’s being able to think creatively about that Ramban. How does that Ramban apply to your life? How does that Ramban stock up against other things that I’ve learned? How does that Ramban make sense or not make sense in the world that I now live in?
We certainly were much, much more respectful of our elders than kids are nowadays. I don’t blame the kids, I don’t blame today’s teenagers. I blame the entire culture in which respect is not something that is widely practiced by adults. So how can we expect any more from teenagers? But we were extremely respectful of our parents, and certainly of our grandparents. That respect may have put a certain distance between us as a tradeoff for that kind of respect, but I’m not going to elaborate upon that. I think teenagers today are facing challenges that when I was a teenager, I couldn’t even have imagined. Exposure to everything that’s out there in the world because of electronic communication and the way in which we communicate - the kind of temptations we have, the kind of freedom that we have, the kind of affluence that teenagers have nowadays - it’s a whole different planet than the 1950’s when I was a teenager, a different planet. That having been said, what I would say to teenagers nowadays is to take advantage of the people who are around you. Get to know your family, get to know your siblings, get to know your friends, and cultivate friendship. It’s so extremely important. I would urge kids, although I know reading is not what it once was, but I would urge people to read, more so even than when I was a teenager. I think one of the problems that humanity faces now is that even study, intellectual study, has become very superficial. You can have a TedTalk where you’re limited to say everything about very important subjects in less than ten minutes. If a subject is important, you can’t even touch the surface of it in less than ten minutes. We read summaries of books rather than entire books. We just look at the headlines rather than the total. It’s extremely important. For us this was basic, even in limmudei kodesh then, to be a critical thinker. To ask yourself, and your teachers, why. To bring proofs for statements. To think analytically. These are tools that I think have been lost because of so many factors in today’s culture. But they’re all extremely important skills and if you’re not getting them from your educational institution
These kinds of questions - to think what’s known in the literature I used to study in psychology school as being a divergent thinker, rather than a convergent thinker. To think out of the box. Now, we pay a lot of lip service, even in the general culture, to thinking outside the box, but we don’t often do it. I would tell teenagers nowadays: you can be creative - in your relationships with people, in your limmudei kodesh studies, in your secular studies, and in the whole field of, broadly put, the whole field of art. You can draw, you can sing, you can play musical instruments, in ways that are creative. In certain areas of Jewish music, we’re certainly seeing much more creativity than we saw back when I was a teenager. And I think that’s good, although I personally don’t appreciate a lot of the current Jewish music, but at least the creativity, the notion of doing something different, is there. I think in the Yeshiva culture that we’re all exposed to as teenagers nowadays, the emphasis is so much upon keeping the Mesorah, upon conforming, upon obedience, ne’emanus to Mesorah. All that is very important, but creativity is necessary to refresh one’s self, to refresh society, to think in new and different ways about new and different challenges. I would urge creativity to become a central goal for teenagers nowadays.
At NCSY, we’re involved in teaching Torah to teens, building them up on a personal level, and running programs. But we realized that we are not the only ones pushing this cause and so we have pooled our resources together to help share tips, best practices and educational content with one another and the broader Jewish community.
Visit the Education website if you’re looking for...
• Something to learn one-on-one with a teen, or to use for a teen chavrusah program. • Activities to run in a school club, Latte & Learn, Shabbaton, or other teen event • Tips on how to best impact and educate Jewish teens Materials from the NCSY Education website can be printed and used as-is, or can be edited and adapted for your own use. The purpose of all materials is to help bring the relevance of Torah to teen’s everyday lives, and make Judaism more meaningful, understandable, and inspiring.
What kind of materials can I find on the Education site?
• Text-based sessions for learning (includes Hebrew sources with English translations) • Activities and videos with follow-up questions for discussion • Articles with tips on forming relationships with teens, creating Torah learning sessions, and running NCSY programs • Printable Infographics and How-To Guides for Shabbos and selected Mitzvos • Parsha Sheets for guided learning through the parsha • Visual Torah quotes designed in a similar style to the popular inspirational quotes often shared on Tumblr and Instagram • Shabbaton Packages that let you see what other NCSY regions have done on their Shabbatons and regionals, and how they tied it all together into a Shabbaton theme • Materials organized by Collections (e.g. Shabbos, Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, Chanukah, Shemoneh Esrei, Women in Judaism, Jewish Scholars Program) • Additional useful resources from external websites SPRING 2016
5 Books that Should Be Open Before Us We know what God is reading. During the High Holidays, the Talmud uses imagery describing the books of life and death opened before Him (Rosh Hashana 32b). During this time, the Jewish people read as well. The primary texts during this time, of course, are our siddurim â€“ our prayer books. But, sometimes our familiarity with a text or book can be an impediment to really developing a fresh perspective. The words we return to year after year are the certainly the core of our religious experience, but sometimes new books and perspectives, coupled with our timeless texts, can help us better encounter new themes and ideas central to the High Holidays. Here is a list of books to help you discover new perspectives in preparation for the High Holidays. None of the books are directly about the High Holidays, but thatâ€™s the point. Radical transformation may require a slightly more radical reading list.
1.THE Sunflower: On the Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness
by Simon Wiesenthal This book poses a provocative question: Should the author, a Holocaust survivor, acquiesce to the request of forgiveness from a dying Nazi? Several responses from noted theologians, from different faiths and philosophies, are collected within the work. As the subtitle suggests, the book presents a fascinating lens through which the possibilities and limits of forgiveness can be considered.
2.The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life and Business
by Charles Duhigg Ever feel like your habits control your life more than your decisions? This book considers the power of habit and how we can begin living lives of our own design. Charting a new trajectory for your life begins with a better understanding of the habits that hold you in place. This book can help you understand your perpetual patterns and chart a new path.
by John Kotter In this work, Kotter, one the leaders of change management, discusses why organizations struggle so much with change and presents a clear eight-step process for organizational transformation. Whether it is his emphasis on establishing a sense of urgency or articulating a clear vision, these lessons are equally, if not more, true when considering change on a personal level.
4.The Most Human Human
by Brian Christian What makes us human? This central question, particularly relevant on Rosh Hashana, the anniversary of the creation of man, is considered through the lens of artificial intellegance. The book details the annual competition among computer scientists to see which computer can best simulate human conversation. But more than illuminating our perspective on computers, the book offers a brilliant and creative considering of humanityâ€™s uniqueness.
5. Immunity to Change:
by Robert Kegan and Lisa Lahey Written by noted Harvard scholars, this book focuses on the why self-transformation is so elusive. Every person has an incentive to be better, but the focus of this book is better understanding the competing incentives and commitments that make us stay the same. This work provides practical steps and some eye-opening evidence-based studies that explain how our own view of ourselves is often the greatest enemy to realizing a greater self.
For more NCSY Education materials and information, visit education.ncsy.org. 26
PROFILES OF THE PEOPLE AND PLACES THAT MATTER
SUPER GIRL World record holding powerlifter, Naomi Kutin, is uplifted with NCSY.
ON A ROLL Gabriel and Raphael Shpitalnik have healthy passions for food and NCSY
THE STYLIST How Sarah Comar taught us about inner beauty.
THEREâ€™s AN APP FOR...THAT? The iconic NCSY bencher takes on a new form in the digital era.
DANCING TO A DIFFERENT TUNE Jessica Shrayber and her NCSY story toward inspiration.
BACK TO SCHOOL Once just for teens, Israel Scholars Program expands to adults.
The NCSY 2020 VISION: From vision to reality Examining our progress on our way to fulfilling the NCSY 2020 Vision.
ONE IN A CROWD In an NCSY Summer program where 99% of attendees attend yeshiva day school, one public school teen steps outside his comfort zone.
any NCSY teens are known for being strong in their emunah, their faith, but Naomi Kutin, of Fair Lawn, NJ, takes her strength one step further. As a world record-holding power lifter who can lift close to three times her modest 95-pound bodyweight, Kutin, who began powerlifting at just eight years old, is a busy young woman: she follows a comprehensive training regimen, juggles the typical busy course load of a student attending yeshiva high school, and was recently featured in the documentary Supergirl, titled so because of her parents’ nickname for their superstar—and super strong—daughter. But among her many activities, she is dedicated to NCSY and attends as many NCSY events as her schedule permits. “I became involved with NCSY at the start of last year when I was entering ninth grade at Ma’ayanot High School,” said Kutin. “I first became involved because it seemed like a great way to meet some of the Jewish teens in my area but I stayed involved because I love the strong sense of community at all of the events. It feels like I’m a part of something bigger.” It is this sense of community, as well as NCSY’s diversity, that regularly inspires Kutin. “I see all different types of Jews at NCSY events, and it’s important to me to see that we can all come together for a greater goal,” she explained. In an example of this greater good and a wonderful show of unity, Kutin traveled with her public-school NCSY peers to Houston, Texas, on a chessed mission last year to rebuild homes in the city that was devastated by severe flooding. Kutin recognizes that she is a figure
of inspiration for many in the Jewish community and greater society. “I take that responsibility very seriously and view my role as not only showing people that you can do whatever and be whatever you want, but you can almost always do it while being an observant Jew,” she remarked. Kutin doesn’t need to look beyond her own family to find good mentors and role models—her father, Ed Kutin, is an accomplished powerlifter and serves as her coach, and her younger brother, Ari, has taken up the sport, too. And Kutin largely credits her mother for being a great source of emotional support. “My mother has faced many hardships and difficulties in her life, but she continues to be the happiest person I know,” explained Kutin. “She has a gigantic heart and cares about everybody.” As with any mainstream competitive sport, there are often practices and competitions that fall on Shabbat, and observant Jewish athletes sometimes have to make tough choices. “In those situations, I just focus on my religious beliefs instilled in me by my family, schools and certainly NCSY, and remember that there will always be another meet,” said Kutin. Supergirl, the aforementioned documentary, touches on those struggles and choices. “Through the course of filming the documentary, it has been amazing to watch Naomi grow into a confident young woman,” said Jessie Aurrit, director of Supergirl. “While her physical strength is extraordinary, the strength of her mental determination and emotional resilience is truly inspiring and shines through in the footage captured in the film.”
I take that responsibility very seriously and view my role as not only showing people that you can do whatever and be whatever you want, but you can almost always do it while being an observant Jew
Kutin’s goals for the future include continuing her lifting, not merely to set additional records, but to reach her full potential, and she plans to become an athletic trainer. “Growing as a Jew is something that Naomi puts as a priority in her hectic schedule,” remarked Reuven Lebovitz, Teaneck NCSY City Director. “Often people come up to her at NCSY events to talk to her about being ‘Supergirl,’ but Naomi always carries herself in a very humble way and wants to be viewed just like everyone else.” Kutin might not let her fame get to her head, but if someone at an NCSY event needs a jar opened, she might find herself unable able to escape her renown.
Naomi and friends on a New Jersey NCSY Service Mission in Houston, Texas, this past May. NCSYers helped clean and rebuild a community destroyed by flooding. SPRING 2016
about Judaism and about connection to the land of Israel. NCSY has become an organization that I cannot NOT be a part of.”
he Bay Area has no shortage of trendy and nourishing food businesses—the healthconscious neighborhood is teeming with the hippest and most wholesome culinary offerings. But Angel Rolls, one such company offering organic sushi spring rolls, is unique for two reasons: its owners, Gabriel and Raphael Shpitalnik, are 16 and 14, respectively, and the brothers are active NCSY members who see their kosher and nutritious food as a higher calling; a way to give back to their local community while proving that kosher food isn’t all bagels and schmaltz, but can be the pinnacle of health. “Before I got involved in NCSY, I saw it as a youth group where teens learned and ate pizza together once in a while,” explained Gabriel, whose family is Russian-American and became more observant several years ago, inspired by the excitement their children displayed while attending the Lisa Kampner Hebrew Academy, a K-12 Orthodox Jewish school, in San Francisco. “I also thought that it would be hard to break into NCSY as a new member,” continued Gabriel. Eventually, with regular encouragement from Rabbi Akiva Naiman, former director of NorCal NCSY, Gabriel reluctantly decided to attend a “Skiboton” shabbaton in Lake Tahoe while in the 10th grade. “It was the best decision of my life,” he said. Gabriel eventually became a member of the chapter’s board, and convinced his younger brother, Raphael—equally wary as Gabriel once was—to join. “I quickly became in love with the community,” said Raphael. “I attend as many Shabbatonim and other events as possible.” “Part of the reason I have grown to love NCSY so much is that there are so many people to look up to,” said Gabriel. “Every person is my mentor in one way or another, but Rabbi Naiman and Rabbi Avia Cohen [last year’s NorCal director] are my biggest role models. Rabbi Cohen taught me so much about leadership,
The brothers founded Angel Rolls a year ago; they always loved to cook, especially as they needed to become more creative when their family decided to take on kashrut observance, and, as athletes who played basketball, soccer and participated in boxing, Gabriel and Raphael were interested in fueling their bodies in an optimal way. Because they are in school during the day and active NCSYers, running a business is no small feat, but they have proven to be quite adept at juggling their numerous responsibilities and passions. “We figured out what our priorities were and acted accordingly,” said Gabriel, who explained that most of the work for Angel Rolls is done early in the morning before school—between 6-8 a.m.—while schoolwork and NCSY involvement occurs in the evenings. When the business was in its first few months, Gabriel admits it was a tough time. “Angel Rolls required lots of late nights and immense amounts of concentration and prioritization throughout the day; everything was often timed to the minute,” he explained. “The six-minute walk from the school to the Richmond Torah Center (RTC) Chabad kitchen, where we prep and assemble the rolls, the 5:50 p.m. pickup of orders from the RTC, and the twelve-minute drive to downtown, were all just a few things that were meticulously planned out for our weekly operations.” The brothers use the RTC kitchen since Chabad kashrut is universally trusted. Raphael gives much of the credit for the success of Angel Rolls to his brother. “Finding time for NCSY and for the business is not that hard for me given the fact that I am not currently on the chapter board,” he said, “but for someone like my brother, who is the chapter president, I could only imagine how packed his schedule is on an everyday basis.” So what are angel rolls, exactly? Similar to Vietnamese summer rolls, angel rolls are thinly sliced vegetables wrapped in delicate sheets of rice paper. The rolls made by the Shpitalnik brothers come in several varieties, including a proteinrich version with tofu and edamame, and are served with delicious dipping sauces. The brothers meticulously choose vegan, organic and non-GMO ingredients. But it’s their rolls kosher certification of which they might be most proud. The resident rabbi,
Rabbi Aaron Hecht, who serves as the company’s mashgiach, is meticulous about ensuring that the lettuce and other vegetables have no bugs present. The Shpitalnik brothers also infuse their business with their obvious love for Torah Judaism. In addition to kosher certification, they donate 10 percent of their sales to RTC’s Bikur Cholim campaign, which distributes financial assistance to the underprivileged. “NCSY, aside from introducing me to great friends, has given me a backbone for Judaism and values that I might never have otherwise had today,” said Gabriel. The brothers are re-evaluating their schedules as their high school recently closed. Raphael will be attending school in San Diego and Gabriel will be finishing his required high school courses at a program at City College, where he will also begin earning college credit. After attending a gap year program in Israel, Gabriel hopes to pursue a business degree, as he and Raphael hope to one day launch Angel Rolls as a restaurant chain throughout the nation. “Gabriel and Raphael showed their commitment to observant Judaism and NCSY right away when they became involved, helping re-invigorate NCSY in San Francisco and instituting many regular programs like Dinner and Learning, which they helped grow from four participants to 20,” said Rabbi Avia Cohen, who has since moved to Israel but still keeps in touch with Gabriel and Raphael. “They have a very ‘can-do’ attitude and are just so positive and excited. You might say they’re angels themselves!”
BY BAYLA SHEVA BRENNER
PhotoS: REL PRODUCTIONS
n the world of teenage girlhood where looks rule, one pimple could drive a girl into self-imposed exile for a week. Not so for Sarah Comar. She learned the hard way what beauty really is. Born with an autoimmune skin condition, Sarah, 18, who lives in Willamette, Illinois, struggled with bouts of hair loss all of her life. But, bare headed or bewigged—she loves her life, her Judaism, and NCSY. At nine months old, Sarah’s parents noticed clumps of her hair falling out. They took her to doctor after doctor and discovered that Sarah suffered from Alopecia Areata; her immune system was attacking healthy hair follicles. Over 6.8 million people in the United States and 147 million worldwide have, had or will develop the disease at some point in their lives. While not life-threatening, 32
the condition causes chronic hair loss, which could progress to the scalp and to the entire body. While the hair can grow back, it can also fall out again at any time. By the age of four, all of Sarah’s hair had fallen out, including her eyelashes. To make matters worse, she had to put up with painful verbal jabs from other children, some of whom tried to pull her wig off. Fortunately, Sarah’s parents made it clear to her that her value as a person went far beyond the state of her hair. They also instilled a love and appreciation of Judaism, frequently taking the family to Shabbat and holiday celebrations at the local Chabad. Those experiences kindled a spark. Before entering ninth grade, Sarah decided to switch from public school
to Rochelle Zell Chicago Jewish High School, a pluralistic community school. One of her classmates urged her to come to an NCSY Shabbaton and she had a blast. “I finally found a bunch of kids just like me, who had the same questions and struggles I had,” Sarah emphasized. “I still didn’t know how I felt about God or how to be a religious Jew in the modern world, but I knew we were all in it together.” Sarah also connected with the NCSY advisors, who helped her navigate her new path. She felt excited about every mitzvah she took on — Shabbat, Yomim Tovim, tzniyus, shemirat ha’lashon— and spread her enthusiasm to other NCSYers. “She has an amazing attitude,” stated Rabbi Yehuda Polstein, director
of the North Shore Ohr Tzafon Chapter of Midwest NCSY, who remembers her coming in as a high school freshman. “She was very spunky and friendly. And she never loses it even in the face of adversity; she’s always got a smile.” Her increasing involvement in NCSY helped her define what a successful Jewish life looks like. To Sarah, a rich Jewish life meant enhancing the lives of unaffiliated Jews through authentic Jewish experiences. Under the guidance of Rabbi Polstein, she went to work creating new opportunities for learning in Chicago’s predominantly secular suburbs. She launched a Latte & Learning program - organizing the speakers, the session material and recruiting teens. She also joined the chapter board - initiating new social programs, chessed opportunities, and mini-chapter Shabbatons for North Shore Jewish teens, many of whom went to public schools and had little exposure to Judaism. Sarah knew well how to turn challenges on their head. “You could think this is really a difficult place to have an NCSY chapter, or you could say what an incredible opportunity,” she said. “We could reach so many Jewish teens in such a deep way.” Teens from all over the North Shore attended the programs. They were so successful that she recreated the experience in the Northbrook suburb, joining with the Buffalo Grove and South Bend, Indiana NCSY chapters. She also worked with young students at the local Hebrew school. “It’s inspiring to watch her do things other kids [in her situation] would have shied away from,” said Rabbi Polstein. “She utilizes her life challenges to develop her relationship with Hashem and to grow in her Judaism.” The summer following tenth grade, Sarah attended NCSY’s Michlelet program in Israel, to gain an even greater appreciation of Torah, chessed,
and the Jewish homeland. Her first time in Israel was also the summer of Operation Protective Edge. Profoundly affected by the powerful emotion and achdut, unity, around her, that summer was a turning point for Sarah. But with all the inspiration, disappointment reared its head. Sarah started to lose her hair again. She turned to a Michlelet advisor for comfort. She told her, “Sarah, you need to take your greatest nisayon, test, and turn it into your greatest koach, strength.” Sarah concretized her counselor’s advice by writing a deeply personal poem. (See sidebar) At the NCSY Spring Regional award banquet this last year, Sarah received the North Shore Chapter’s NCSYer of the Year. “The room was in tears,” Rabbi Polstein recalled. “Everyone felt the chizuk they gained from her, watching her grow, and her passion, her fire for not giving up. That moment defined who she was.” After graduating from NCSY, Sarah will continue to take her Jewish journey forward by spending a full year learning Torah at Midreshet Harova in Jerusalem’s Old City. She hopes to eventually open a school in Israel, where students from varied backgrounds can learn high-level Jewish studies with an emphasis on character development. “There are so many Israeli kids who grow up without ever opening up a sefer,” she explained. “That’s a problem. They need to see the beauty in Judaism.” After all, Sarah is the expert on beauty. “I learned that I’m not only a body; I’m a soul. I have to look within myself and be able to say I may look a little different but I’m comfortable with who I am,” said Sarah. “Because who I am, is God given.”
The Stylist BY SARAH COMAR
So you might think I’m a punk rocker by my haircut I’m not. Though I have a great Stylist, Hashem. He cuts my hair wherever whenever however always leaving a path of strands following me wherever I go. And I’m okay. Really okay. I have had to learn that I am a soul and not just a body I am not my hair, or lack thereof, I am a neshama yearning for a connection with my Creator scraping here and there clawing always for more emunah. I may not be allowed to make myself pretty but I can make myself beautiful. Beauty is an option. Being pretty is looking appealing to someone else but being beautiful is putting on a tznius skirt for the first time. When people ask I am proud Because Hashem is my hairdresser When people say that my struggle is heroic I begin to feel that there is no longer any struggle there is just love. Sweeping sweeping sweeping the floor unfasten the backwards cape stand up brush off your skirt turn to the Stylist and say Thank you. Sarah’s poem, The Stylist, was published in Mishpacha Jr.’s Teen Pages in November 2014.
Sarah having a blast at Midwest NCSY’s Spring Regional held this past May in Camp Chi. SPRING 2016
My name is Ethan Dalva and I am an incoming senior at Winston Churchill High School in Potomac, Maryland. I first got involved with NCSY during my sophomore year after going on TJJ West. The next summer, I went on Euro ICE and had an unbelievable time, which led me to continue to attend every NCSY event and grow exponentially in my Judaism. This summer, I am planning to attended NCSY Kollel. This is my journey. Sunday, July 10
As I sit in my room, packing for the flight leaving tomorrow, I begin to imagine what NCSY Kollel will be like. My mind is racing. What kind of kids are coming? How fun will it be, after all it’s a lot of learning? Will the rabbis understand me? How will I fit into Kollel? I’ve heard only incredible things about it, but I’m still nervous. Coming from public school, I’ve never been exposed to anything like this before. My mind is racing as I get closer to beginning this six-week journey of Torah, sports and tiyulim, but I’m extremely excited.
Motzei Shabbat, July 16
The first couple days made me a little bit anxious. Soon after arriving in Beit Meir, I felt intimidated by the many kids coming from Yeshiva day schools who are used to the same intensive learning schedule we have here on Kollel and were able to adapt very quickly. But I’m adapting. The outstanding rabbis and madrichim have been easing us into the learning and it certainly helps with the trips to the beach, water skiing and Ben Yehuda Street. Before going on Kollel, my friends told me about the legendary Shabbats, but nothing could have prepared me for the thrilling and inspiring first Shabbat here on Kollel. The singing and the powerful words of Torah have me really looking forward to next week.
Sunday, July 24
I didn’t think this could get better but my second week on Kollel took everything to the next level. Each day here I’ve been adapting to this new environment more and more, and I’m really starting to get a taste of the incredible learning opportunities. In addition to the regular schedule, I went on an extreme hike with the new friends I’ve made and celebrated the new NCSY Sefer Torah before it was shown to all of the NCSYers on Yom NCSY. I’ve been to Yom NCSY before, but it did not compare to the enthusiasm and thrill of this year’s event, with the dedication of the Sefer Torah, inspirational speeches and outstanding musical performances. To top off the week, I had the privilege of staying with TJJ Bus 3 for my first free
Shabbat. Seeing how far I’ve come since two years ago when I was first on TJJ has truly reminded me of all the incredible direction and guidance I’ve had since starting NCSY. This week has been really great and I can’t wait for next week.
MONDAY, AUGUST 8
To end last week, I, along with a group of guys, had an early morning mountain hike and finished with an inspiring Shabbat in Tzfat. Going to the Arizal mikvah, Breslov shul and taking long walks in Tzfat opened my eyes to the warm and mystical community of Tzfat. NCSY Kollel has been absolutely amazing, but this has been my favorite week by far. As soon as we got back from Tzfat, we got right back into the learning again. The amazing thing about Kollel so far is that we’ve been doing a lot of learning, but I’ve also been able to go on very cool mini-tiyulim and other trips. On Tuesday, for example, the kids in my morning shiur as well my shiur rebbe took a trip to Sha’arei Tzedek hospital to visit sick children and serve as medical clowns. I’ve done chessed before, but nothing comes close to the warmth and excitement of the reactions of the sweet young boys and girls. This was an unforgettable experience and I hope to do it again back home some time. The end of the week brought the last free Shabbat on Kollel, and I spent it with my sister in Herziliya. Yet another fun and meaningful week has passed,
and I’m very excited to move into next week!
TUESDAY, August 16
After a long time of preparing for Tisha B’Av, the day was soon approaching. An amazing and exciting Shabbat led straight into the somber celebration of Tisha B’Av. I’ve gone on other NCSY Summer programs, but being on Kollel and learning from the incredible people here has led me to have the most meaningful Tisha B’Av I’ve had to date. After a day of reading Kinot, I traveled with the rest of Kollel to the Old City on Tisha B’av afternoon. There, we led a kumzits at the Kotel for hundreds, maybe even thousands, of different types of Jews. This experience was truly unbelievable! We ended the sad yet powerful day, broke our fast and headed back to Beit Meir for what I’m sure will be an incredible last week of NCSY Kollel.
Sunday, August 21
Words can’t describe how much I’ve gained and grown on NCSY Kollel, but I’ll try. Being in a totally religious and spiritually thrilling environment for six weeks has opened my eyes to Judaism in ways that nothing else could. I’ve had the amazing privilege to be a part of one of the largest and most fun years of Kollel so far, and I’m so proud of how far I’ve come because of it. As I head back to America and away from my NCSY home, I feel proud of myself for coming on Kollel and learning as much as I did, and I’m anxiously excited for my future. There is so much I’ve gained this summer that I can share with my NCSY region, and I’ve been so inspired that I can’t wait to continue to learn when I get off the plane back home. None of my unimaginable growth and fun could have happened without my outstanding roommates Jesse Hunt, Noah Ziv, and Avigdor Felder who pushed me every day to wake up early for Shacharit, spend so much time in the Beit Midrash, and entertained me like never before. My madrichim, Jed Zaslow, Ben Greene, Jon Hurewitz, my incredible rebbeim and many others have significantly contributed to my excitement towards learning and what I strive to become in the future. I owe so many people so much, and I never could have come so far without them. I can truthfully say that NCSY Kollel 2016 has been the best summer of my life. SPRING 2016
hen Samuel Waller was growing up in New Rochelle, NY, he had little affiliation to his Jewish roots. When he began exploring observant Judaism in his early 20s and attended events held at JEC, a kiruv organization in Manhattan, he encountered something for the first time that many young men and women who grew up observant take for granted: the iconic NCSY bencher. Since its creation in 1983, the bencher has had more than two and a half million copies printed and been translated into various languages, including German, Hungarian, Russian and Spanish. It’s become a veritable staple in people’s homes and at Jewish simchas around the world—but for those who grow up without much in the way of Jewish tradition, its prayers, songs and their meanings remain out of easy reach. “When I began eating in people’s homes on Shabbat, I saw the bencher in almost every one,” recounted Waller. “Since I’m not musically inclined, it was hard for me to pick up on all the different songs and tunes that people sang. I tried to find an online source where I could learn all of them, but there were none.” So Waller, who works as a financial advisor in Manhattan and who has always been a proactive sort of 36
fellow, decided to change that. After he returned from a stint at Machon Yaakov, a yeshiva in Jerusalem, in 2012, he reached out to NCSY to discuss creating an app to complement the NCSY bencher. After several years of discussion, brainstorming, and fundraising, the NCSY bencher is set to become an official app in the coming months.
That the NCSY bencher would
eventually take on some sort of online format was perhaps almost inevitable in a world that is becoming increasingly digital. Back in 1983, NCSY just wanted a comprehensible bencher to include all the prayers and songs for Shabbat and Yom Tov, as well as those featured at NCSY Shabbatons, a staple of the organization’s national youth movement and which many former members cite as the impetus for their eventual shift toward observant Judaism.
THE NCSY BENCHER A book oF PRAyeR And Song Ivrit Edition
THE NCSY BENCHER • Ivrit Edition
A RothmAn FoundAtion PublicAtion
THE NCSY BENCHER Ivrit Edition The transliteration in this “Ivrit” edition of The NCSY Bencher follows the modern Israeli (Sephardic) pronunciation of Hebrew.
The Process: OU / NCSY Publications Eleven Broadway, New York, NY 10004 www.ou.org
THE NCSY BENCHER A book oF PRAyeR And Song
THE NCSY BENCHER • CLASSIC Edition
A RothmAn FoundAtion PublicAtion
THE NCSY BENCHER CLASSIC Edition The transliteration in this “Classic” edition of The NCSY Bencher follows the Ashkenazic pronunciation of Hebrew.
OU / NCSY Publications Eleven Broadway, New York, NY 10004 www.ou.org
EL BIRKóN DE NCSY de y
un libro bendiciones canciones
EL BIRKÓN DE NCSY • Edición en Español
Publicación en Honor a la Familia FiscHmann
“As observant Jews, we still need printed books on Shabbat and the chagim, but I’m all in favor of utilizing whatever technology there is to make it easier for everyone to daven, bench and learn.”
EL BIRKÓN DE NCSY Edición en Español
OU / NCSY Publications Eleven Broadway, New York, NY 10004 www.ou.org
Over two and a half million copies of the NCSY Bencher, in a variety of langauges, have been sold to date.
David Olivestone, former director of communications for the Orthodox Union, was the one tasked with redesigning and expanding NCSY’s original, more humble version of the bencher. “The idea was to make it as easy as possible for someone who wasn’t very familiar with Shabbat and the chagim—or with Hebrew—to join in effortlessly, and to feel at home within Jewish observance,” recalled Olivestone. After many months, he returned with a version that contained all the pertinent songs, songs which were translated into eloquent and accessible English, transliterated, and designed into a beautiful, easy-to-read layout. All the prayers and songs were listed in order from kiddush at Friday night dinner to the havdalah ceremony, and made the entire Shabbat experience easier and more accessible to those who didn’t have a strong grasp on the order of the prayers and songs. “To our surprise, the entire Jewish community seemed to fall in love with the bencher, and sales took off,” continued Olivestone. “You began to see the bencher at almost every bar or bat mitzvah, or wedding you attended, regardless of the observance level or Jewish knowledge of the families involved. The bencher’s popularity has hardly diminished to this day.” Olivestone thinks turning the bencher into an app is a smart move. “As a printed book, it’s gone through more than two and a half million copies. Just think how many more people will be able to access it as an app,” he said.
While Rabbi Michah Greenland, NCSY’s International Director, and Keevy Fried, Associate International Director, first heard Waller’s pitch for the app in 2013, they liked his idea right away, but knew that creating the app would entail a great deal of cost and resources. When Waller asked what he could do to help advance the process, he was told that cost was a big issue—so he decided to launch a serious fundraising effort to cover the costs associated with the venture. “When you live on the Upper East Side, as I did at the time, you end up knowing a lot of wealthy people,” laughed Waller. “I attended a beginners’ minyan run from Kehilath Jeshurun that was founded by the philanthropist George Rohr. Knowing how dedicated he is to helping people on their path toward observant Judaism, I figured it couldn’t hurt to pitch him the app idea.” Rohr was immediately receptive and, thanks to his involvement and the generosity of several other donors Waller met and pitched, the app was well on its way. Aryeh Kuntsler, a professional musician in the Jewish community, was hired to sing the vocals and record the music for the songs featured on the app. “I was already very familiar with the bencher and its beautiful tunes, since I perform at many people’s bar and bat mitzvahs on Shabbat and weddings and so many people distribute the NCSY bencher to their guests,” said Kuntsler, who went through the bencher to choose the most relevant zemirot and tunes for the app and then recorded them in his home studio; there are over 125 songs that are included. “It was a little daunting to go
through all the songs and tunes to choose the right ones to include, but remembering what the end result would be kept me motivated,” said Kunstler. “There are some really fun harmonies, and I think this is such a cool project that will help educate a lot of people.” Fried explained that NCSY has, since its founding, always met teens where they are. “We went to synagogues first, then social outlets like coffee shops, and then public schools— wherever the teens are, we’re there, too,” he said. “In today’s world, teens are online, so consistent with our strategy, we’re continuing to find and enhance the platform to meet them there, to relate to them, and, ultimately, to inspire them.” Fried, like everyone at NCSY, is aware of the need to be mindful of the power of technology, and to harness it to inject greater meaning in personal, day-to-day interactions. “This new app to complement the NCSY bencher is a learning tool for a community that might not yet be familiar with the songs,” said Fried. “Think how powerful it will be when teens attending an NCSY Shabbaton for the first time and yearn to familiarize themselves with the tunes being sung, the meaning behind the words, now have a tool to learn them anywhere. Of course, we hope nobody uses this app on Shabbos or Yom Tov, but we’re confident that anyone on their way toward greater religious observance will use the tool the way it is meant to be, and in the right times.” As for Waller, his role now is mostly that of cheerleader—he calls to check in and ask for updates, and informally reviews samples of the recorded music before they are approved. He also just got married to Bruriah Sharbat—with Aryeh Kuntsler providing the wedding’s music and an NCSY bencher for each guest to take home. Now, when you hear the familiar slogan, “There’s an app for that,” you can add the NCSY bencher to that everincreasing list.
Associate International Director Keevy Fried looks on as tracks are recorded for the NCSY Bencher app.
hen Jessica Shrayber’s parents moved to the United States from the Ukraine, they didn’t have much in the way of Jewish education but they knew they wanted to be a part of something greater. Jessica’s father began attending the local Chabad outpost in their Boston community of Newton, and the Shrayber home gradually became a kosher one. Every Friday night, Jessica’s mom would light Shabbat candles, and then some semblance of Shabbat was observed. When Jessica began attending the local public high school, she discovered her schools’ Jewish Student Union club led by Rabbi Shmuel Miller, the Regional Director of New England NCSY at the time. “Rabbi Miller encouraged those of us who came to JSU to go on NCSY Shabbatons, but my first one was very overwhelming,” shared Jessica. “I felt like most of the kids knew more than I did and whenever there were shiurim, I couldn’t really connect to the words because they weren’t at my level. I struggled with not understanding and everyone seemed so much more advanced than me.” Still, Jessica persisted in her journey, and at the beginning of her sophomore year, decided to take the step of wearing only skirts. She endured some ribbing from her friends—“Why are you wearing that?” they would ask her. “You look so old-fashioned.” During this time, she also gave up competitive ballroom dancing, a sport she had taken up at age seven and which consumed much of her free time. “I practiced three hours a day, five or six days a week, and competed once a month. It was a real passion of mine,” said Jessica. “But when I learned about shomer negiah and decided to dress more modestly, it wasn’t even question; I knew I had to give it up and, while I miss it, I don’t regret it.”
Jessica began considering transferring to Maimonides, the Modern Orthodox high school in Boston. A chance encounter with a family acquaintance, who had participated in Birthright, fallen in love with Israel and since decided to become a fully observant Jew since Jessica had last seen her, pushed Jessica to make the switch to Maimonides. “Seeing this friend was the push I needed to transfer, because I saw that if she could make this huge decision in her life, to go from nothing to following everything, then I could at least transfer to Maimonides from public school,” explained Jessica. “I told my parents about my decision, and they told me to prove that this is what I really wanted.” Determined, Jessica filled out an application, scheduled an interview, and was accepted. “My parents challenged me to prove that this is something I’m passionate about, and I did,” she said proudly. Jessica hasn’t looked back since. “It was challenging catching up to my peers, but thank God, the community was great, and my friends and teachers really helped me. I also became more comfortable attending NCSY Shabbatons. I remember a Shabbaton during my senior year where I was part of the frum group that newcomers looked up to, and it was kind of cool to remember that I was once one of them, and seeing how far I’d come.” Jessica applied to Tiferet seminary with the same dogged determination, researching scholarships that would help her pay her way and working during the summer. “My parents made this my responsibility, and I am grateful for that because I know that every step I’m taking is completely my decision,” explained Jessica. “That’s what makes me strong in my Judaism, and what keeps me going each and every day.” Jessica is currently a senior at
Jessica (center) at her 2010 New England Spring Regional held at Camp Malka.
Rabbi Shmuel Miller presenting Jessica with the M’Chayil l’Chayil award at her senior Banquet in 2010
Yeshiva University’s Stern College for Women—where she is an active member on the Stern dance team and performs at an annual women-only show—and she plans to pursue speech therapy once she graduates. She also works part time at NCSY as its Extreme Shabbat Makeover Coordinator, a new initiative from New England NCSY that brings teen leaders and advisors to infuse smaller communities and synagogues throughout New England with trademark NCSY ruach. Teens help lead services and run fun and exciting activities for local middle school and high school students. Jessica plays matchmaker between the program and interested synagogues, but leaves much of the exact planning of the Shabbatons to the teens. “It’s a great initiative because the teens are really able to flex their creative muscles and take on leaderships roles, and the Shabbatons are smaller than national or regional NCSY events,” explained Jessica. “I think that allows for more structure.” “Jessica is a remarkably motivated person who always strives to do more, as evidenced by her move to Maimonides from public school and her progress through seminary in Israel and at Stern,” said Rabbi Simon Taylor, director of NCSY New England. “She is the ideal candidate to lead our new Extreme Shabbat Makeover project, as she understands and connects with the day school and public school kids, and she brings incredible energy to the program.” Throughout anyone’s religious journey, Jessica said the key thing to remember is respect—for her, it was respecting her parents while she was surpassing their observance level. “I’m not going to start telling my parents what to do now that I’m knowledgeable about halacha,” she explained. “At the end of the day, how one chooses to live their life is their decision, and you cannot enforce that upon your parents or anyone else. You can share information that you have learned and learn with them, but at the end of the day, you are changing yourself, not your parents. It might be frustrating, but respect is of the utmost importance.”
The Galia and Milton Movitz-Senator John Danforth Israel Scholars Program isn’t just for teenagers anymore. The initiative, premiered by the St. Louis JSU as a way to educate and empower high schoolers on Mideast affairs, has now expanded to include an adult version. “Parents were calling me whose children were in the teen program and saying, ‘Our kids never share anything with us about school but when they come home from your class, we have to sit there for an hour as they tell us everything that they learned,’”said St. Louis City Director Rabbi Michael Rovinsky, who teaches the course. “‘Why don’t you offer this class for adults?’” Rovinsky said he originally conceived of the teen program when he saw a young Jewish student heckle visiting Israeli soldiers during a JSU club six years ago. Shocked at the reaction, he began looking into how young Jews felt about the Mideast. “Sure enough, I found teen attitudes toward Israel were apathetic at best and often anti,” he said. The curriculum was developed by Rabbi Rovinsky together with with David Iken, at that time NCSY and JSU Club President, with the goal of educating and informing the teens of our community with a thorough understanding of Israel’s history, achievements, and challenges so that they are empowered to engage in meaningful dialogue and advocacy on behalf of our Jewish Homeland. Some 40
of the topics covered include: Origins of a Jewish Nation, history of the land, the birth of Zionism, Israel’s wars and peace efforts, US-Israel shared vision and shared values and Israel in the Media. “They learn how to listen to a broadcaster or read a newspaper article and immediately within the first sentence or two, know the perspective from which the author is coming,” he said. Other topics covered include Israeli Innovations, Gaza, BDS, Today’s College Campus and the Anti-Israel Movement, Speaking up and Making a Difference. Students explore both the Israeli and Palestinian narratives as they journey towards a deeper understanding and appreciation of Israel, her history and her people. The curriculum has evolved over the years and is now a high school and college accredited course that is being used across North America. Rovinsky has also created a partnership with Jerusalem U, the premier Israel education and film production company. That relationship has now been extended to provide all of NCSY Jerusalem U’s highly acclaimed materials on Israel education. “In six semesters we have graduated over 150 scholars. More than fifty have attended AIPAC Policy Conferences, while others continued their engagement via the Schusterman High School Summit and internships with Stand With Us, CAMERA, AIPAC and other Israel education and advocacy
organizations. Many have taken on leadership roles on their college campus’ to advocate for Israel and fight the BDS movement. So far, Rovinsky said the expansion of the class to older individuals has been a success requiring very little adaptation in the curriculum.“The only thing we had to adjust with the adults was the discussion,” he said. “It is taking longer to get through because with the adults, some of them have a little bit of background and they ask very penetrating questions which creates for phenomenal discussion.” While the classes are educational in nature, Rovinsky said they also provoke feelings. Some participants even shed tears during a recent discussion. “It is not just intellectual knowledge,” he said. “ There’s emotion.” The classes were initially named for Danforth, Missouri’s longtime U.S. Senator, but the Movitzes began supporting the project as well and their names were added in recognition for their generous commitment to this program. Meanwhile, others across the country are taking notice and the program is being used nationally. “We’re slowly helping other NCSY and JSU chapters as well as high schools implement the curriculum to empower the next generation of leaders to defend and advocate on behalf of our homeland.”
The NCSY “2020 Vision” was launched at the start of the 2015-2016 school year, meant to be the driving agent to help NCSY achieve unprecedented growth in many areas: Reach, Impact, Summer Programs, Gap Year in Israel and Fundraising.
Reach in NCSY has never seen such
significant growth in one year. By reaching over 24,500 teens, we have surpassed our goal of 24,000 for the year 2020. This has in large part been driven by: • Significant JSU program expansion in South Florida and Westchester; • A revitalized Southwest Region with increased programming in Dallas and Houston, as well as a new chapter in Denver; • The launch of a Persian-oriented chapter in Great Neck on Long Island; and • Newly created girls-only programming in the Chicago area.
Impact is a measurement of
significant involvement in NCSY programming over the course of a year. A teen is considered impacted if they attend 10 or more local NCSY events in their home chapter, or at least one Regional Shabbaton, NCSY Summer Program, other NCSY trip, or Yarchei Kallah. The goal was to grow from 5,000 to 10,000 teens impacted annually by 2020, and this past year with over 8,300 teens impacted, NCSY has managed to achieve 67 percent of its growth goal in just year one.
Fundraising has grown
significantly as well, reaching 31 percent of our growth goal until the year 2020. Under the leadership of the first NCSY National Director of Development, NCSY has grown its development staff and systems in the past year in order to facilitate this and future growth.
Summer Programs has surpassed its growth goal by achieving 22.7 percent of its five-year growth goal.
Summer 2016 saw the integration of Camp Maor, a performing arts camp for 5th-9th grade girls; the launch of JOLT Israel, a spin-off of our decades old JOLT program; as well as astonishing growth in NCSY Kollel, impacting over 225 teens this year. Summer 2017 will feature three new programs, as well as continued growth in existing programs, with the aim of keeping our projected growth ahead of schedule.
Gap Year Teens in Israel
has always been a priority of NCSY. Spending a year in Israel after high school is a catalyst in Jewish pride, knowledge and growth. Our goal for 2020 is to increase the number of public school teens, who otherwise most likely would not spend a year in Israel, from 100 to 250 annually. By reaching 130 teens this year, we are on pace to hit our goal by the year 2020. For more information about the NCSY 2020 Vision, visit www.ncsy.org/2020Vision
HAPPENINGS FROM AROUND THE NCSY UNIVERSE
BRIDING THE GAP TO WINDSOR Detroit JSU reaches new frontiers.
JSU Teens Honored at Citywide Holocaust Memorial Teens volunteer at Holocaust memorial service.
NCSY Brooklyn BJX Brooklyn NCSY & JSU continue with their second year of BJX programming.
DALLAS NCSY BACKS THE BLUE Dallas NCSY holds solidarity BBQ for police men and women in their community.
WITH YOU WHEVER YOU GO NCSY professionals stay in touch and visit alumni studying during a gap year in Israel.
ATLANTIC SEABOARD Rabbi Jonah Lerner, Regional Director 410.358.6279 // email@example.com atlanticseaboard.ncsy.org
ats ncsy sends 120 teens to ncsy summer programs Atlantic Seaboard NCSY sent a record breaking 120 teens to NCSY Summer programs in Israel, Europe and across the United States. This summer we were so proud that our Atlantic Seaboard TJJ bus was filled to capacity and run by Rabbi Yitz Levi and Mordi Spero. The teens were so inspired from their amazing summer that they have already had multiple reunions and plan to continue on to other summer programs in 2017.
Toronto, ON Shlomo Mandel - firstname.lastname@example.org
Holocaust Assembly at Forest Hill On April 8, the NCSY’s JSU club at Forest Hill hosted two Holocaust memorial assemblies for their entire school. Our JSU students impressed everyone with their leadership skills as they planned both events. They were front and center at the events, holding candles in the front, speaking about the Holocaust and introducing the survivors who addressed the school; Susan Pasternak, who spoke to grades 9 and 10, and Nate Leipciger, who spoke to grades 11 and 12. After the assemblies, Mr. Leipciger handed out and signed his new book to students. There were 100 students who took the time out of their lunchtime to wait in line for one of Mr. Leipciger’s new books.
Cleveland Has Biggest Kickoff event Ever! As excitement for Jewish growth increases amongst teens in and around Cleveland, NCSY is taking note! This year more than 10 advisors drove in for the weekend on September 9 - 11 to join local staff and advisors help Kick the Year Off for all of NCSY’s teens. More than 150 total teens participated in a teen Kabbalat Shabbat, a Friday night dinner and Shabbat afternoon learning sessions. On Saturday night through Sunday morning, 45 chapter board leaders got together and went through training to get ready for the new year. Then, on Sunday afternoon, 6-8th Grade Jr NCSYers “Kicked Off” the year with a Browns Kickoff Party!
Columbus, OH Rabbi Dovid Kimche- email@example.com
Greater Washington, MD
Vancouver, British Columbia
Rabbi Yudi Riesel - firstname.lastname@example.org
Rabbi Samuel and Gila Ross - email@example.com
Greater Washington Cheryl Stern Memorial Dinner 2016
Sensational Spring Regional
The Greater Washington Cheryl Stern Memorial Dinner was hosted by Michele and David Klein in Potomac, MD. The fundraiser is in memory of Cheryl Stern, an alumnus, regional board member and local community lay leader of NCSY, who passed away in 2014. We honored her memory by creating the Cheryl Stern Memorial Scholarship Fund, which helps support scholarships for teens during the school year and for NCSY Summer programs.
Philadelphia, PA Rabbi Yitz Levi - firstname.lastname@example.org Lea Bekhar - email@example.com
NEW ASSISTANT CITy DIRECTOR The Philadelphia and Cherry Hill chapters welcome Lea Bekhar, our new Assistant City Director. Since Lea has joined the Atlantic Seaboard team, there has been an influx of new programs, teens and excitement. She has brought her fresh “Panamanian” outlook to help inspire the teens in JSU, Latte and Learning as well as Shabbatons. We are looking forward to more continued growth of the chapter and the Atlantic Seaboard region for many years to come!
Western Canada’s Spring Regional is the Shabbaton of the year that all kids from the across the region wait for! Due to popular demand the Shabbaton returned to Harrison, BC, the picture perfect location for a Shabbaton, complete with many water activities like banana boating, a cruise and more. Rabbi Nissel joined us as our guest speaker over the weekened as well. Over 60 teens from Vancouver alone registered for the Shabbaton. The immediate impact of the successful Shabbaton and year was that over 20 teens have applied to be on our board for the coming school year and want to participate in leading the organization.
CENTRAL EAST Rabbi Tzali Freedman, Regional Director 888.471.4514 // firstname.lastname@example.org centraleast.ncsy.org
Cleveland, OH Rabbi Arieh Friedner - email@example.com
Shavuos Learning Event Over Shavuos, Columbus NCSY teens had a few really special events. Following a large meal at the Kimches, the teens of Columbus came together for a night of learning and great fun. Rabbi Kimche led a shiur which was followed by an impromptu Q&A which lasted until 2:00 AM! The teens also saw out Yom Tov in true NCSY style. Over 30 teens enjoyed more learning, great food and an even greater ebbing. A truly beautiful way to celebrate Shavuos, and cap off an outstanding year at Columbus NCSY.
Detroit, MI Rabbi Dovid Lichtig - firstname.lastname@example.org
Bridging the Gap to Windsor Just thirty miles away physically, but a million miles away psychologically, Windsor is so close to Detroit and yet so far. However, once a bridge has been built it’s easy to cross the gap. That bridge consisted of the Detroit Chapter going to Windsor every month and providing a place for Windsorites to go on their own turf where they could gain a sense of what NCSY has to offer; camaraderie, good times, friendships and fun. After six months of consistent programming and cultivating relationships, it was only natural for the entire group of Windsor teens to attend Regional Shabbatons and other high level programs. Fast
CANADA Rabbi Glenn Black, CEO 905.761.6279 // email@example.com canada.ncsy.org
Montreal, QC Marg Polowin - firstname.lastname@example.org
Bat Mitzvah Club NCSY Montreal celebrated the Bnot Mitzva of five amazing young women at the Adath. Rabbi Whitman introduced the girls to the beginning of their newfound responsibilities as Jewish women, and each Bat Mitzvah gave her own dvar Torah about their learning journey. City Coordinator Mindy Zobin awarded the girls with a Hebrew name necklace and The Bat Mitzvah Treasury sefer. DETROIT, MI Aidin Horowitz (far right) after he accepted his award at the 2016 Central East Awards Banquet. (L-R) Kip Glickman, Rabbi Dovid Lichtig, Rabbi Tzali Freedman and Aidin Horowitz. 44
forward to Regional Convention and Detroit NCSY was proud to welcome an entire Windsor Chapter of NCSY!
JSU Teens Honored at Citywide Holocaust Memorial
Detroit NCSY breaks Spring Regionals Attendance Record For the past three years, Detroit has consistently brought the largest contingent in the region to Spring Regional Convention. However, this year Detroit NCSY broke it’s own previously held record bringing a recordbreaking 81 teens to this year’s Regional Convention capping a most remarkable year which saw an overall 38% increase in attendance at NCSY events.
GREATER ATLANTA Rabbi Chaim Neiditch, Regional Director 404.486.8787 // email@example.com atlanta.ncsy.org
Alpharetta, GA A Jewish name JSU public school clubs in Atlanta, Georgia, learned about the Divine inspiration of their Hebrew names, and how maintaining Jewish names has been one of the ingredients in the Jewish nation’s survival for millennia. Rabbi Chaim Neiditch also added personal meaning for all the participants, as everyone learned the translation of their Hebrew name, and discussed how their name related to them personally. Many of the teens also shared stories of their families’ Jewish background and about ancestors they were named after. In addition to memories of a great time with their friends, every teen took home a bracelet, necklace, or key chain to proudly display their Jewish name.
JSU President, Marissa Klee, lights a yartzeit candle with holocaust survivor at the Atlanta Community Holocaust Memorial
select group of twenty teen leaders from the Jewish Student Union led by Executive Director, Rabbi Chaim Neiditch, volunteered at the Yom HaShoah Holocaust Memorial Service, one of the largest annual events in the Atlanta Jewish community. JSU teen leaders were honored with lighting
yartzeit candles with Holocaust survivors and then placed the candles inside the memorial monument. Many of the teens had never before met Holocaust survivors. The opportunity to meet survivors face to face and hear their stories first hand was meaningful and moving.
See mini story on right.
Marietta, GA Caring for the sick Over 400 teens at a dozen JSU public school clubs took part in the important mitzvah of bikur cholim. The teens gathered together to make decorative pillowcases for children requiring longterm care at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. As the teens handdecorated the pillowcases, Rabbi Chaim Neiditch led a discussion of why sometimes bad things happen to good people. During the discussion, many of the participants shared personal stories of what it had been like for them to deal with sick family members. Nonetheless, the overall mood at these events was positive, as all participants were overjoyed to be able to use their decorative talents to do something meaningful to help brings smiles to the faces of children struggling with illnesses.
MIDWEST Rabbi Donny Schwartz, Regional Director 847.677.6279 // firstname.lastname@example.org midwest.ncsy.org
Chicago, IL Levi Zeffren - email@example.com
mid-summer rafting trip Chicagoland Chapter took a Mid-Summer rafting trip in July. Nearly 20 NCSYers and advisors who were in town for the summer, either working or in school, enjoyed a relaxing day rafting the rapids outside of Starved Rock State Park. The highlight of the trip was the half-way point, where a BBQ lunch awaited.
Kansas City, KS Rachel Prero - firstname.lastname@example.org
Mother & Teen Challah bake For the first time, teens invited their moms to bake challah with them at the KS Mother/Teen Challah Bake. After the mom/teen teams made their dough, the group played games to challenge how well the duos knew one another. The teens always have fun spending time together and this time the moms enjoyed “shmoozing” and getting to know one another too!
Shavuot night live The teens on the Kansas City chapter board gathered for a meaningful night of learning at Congregation BIAV. The evening started with the teens (with the help of a couple of moms) preparing food and setting up the room Thursday night. After dinner on Shavuot night, learning began with “speed learning”. KC’s VP of education prepared the program, which gave the teens the opportunity to learn about the holiday. Chabura (group) learning was led by a teen in each group. The teens’ choice of speaker, Rabbi Allen Gonsher (father to Southern staff member Ben
Gonsher) inspired the teens and talked to them about relationships from a therapist’s point of view.
Minneapolis, MN Rabbi Tzvi Kupfer and Bella Smith - email@example.com
Junior NCSY Limo Scavenger Hunt With the hiring of Mindy Daitchman, Minneapolis Junior NCSY grew to new heights this past year. Junior NCSYers enjoyed Shabbat and social events culminating with a Limo Scavenger Hunt and BBQ to end the inspiring and fulfilling year.
Northshore, IL Rabbi Yehuda and Mashi Polstein - firstname.lastname@example.org
North Shore Teens Step Up For Israel Jewish teens were fighting with one other...and NCSY advisors were encouraging it! Step Up For Israel, one of North Shore NCSY’s newest programs, encourages teens to explore current popular issues in Israel through a variety of engaging videos and conversations. For example, after watching a heartpumping short film called “Barriers” which follows a few soldiers at a checkpoint, teens debated with a visiting Israeli soldier and discussed what they would have done had they been in that position. The program is run in partnership with the L’Chaim Center and Jerusalem U.
South Bend, IN Akiva Gutnicki - email@example.com
NCSY teens deliver baked good for Shavuot South Bend NCSY teens made baked goods and delivered them to the Jewish Family Services of the Federation for twenty families that are in need for the holiday of Shavuot. The NCSYers made cheesecakes and wrote hand-written personal messages to all the different families that the food items were being delivered to. This nice chessed made a big difference for those families in their Yom Tov.
St. Louis, MO Rabbi Rovinsky - firstname.lastname@example.org Sam Zitin - email@example.com
St. Louis NCSY Shavuaton
St. Louis NCSY once again held their annual Shavuaton over the holiday. Over 70 students from schools across the city participated in various events over the threeday Yom Tov including Shabbos and Yom Tov meals, all night learning program, Shabbos afternoon game day with Sam Zitin and our famous KLUNCH (Kiddush Lunch) at Young Israel. Regional advisors Jeremy Schaechter and Mira Shere came to the community to bolster the programs and bring their amazing energy and enthusiasm to the NCSYers as well as gave shiurim during the Shavuot learning.
Jr. NCSY heads to Six Flags St. Louis Jr. NCSY once again closed out the school year with a fantastic day at Six Flags St. Louis. With over 20 NCSYers in attendance, they were able to take in all that Six Flags had to offer. St. Louis was thrilled to have regional advisers Jeremy Schaechter and Mira Shere in attendance and they really helped make the program inspiring.
NEW ENGLAND Rabbi Simon Taylor, Regional Director 617.332.6279 // firstname.lastname@example.org newengland.ncsy.org
Brookline, MA email@example.com
High School Friday Night Dinner On the week of Parashat Kedoshim, Brookline NCSY had a massive Friday night event, with 40 teens from throughout Greater Boston coming to Young Israel of Brookline and injecting instantaneous energy, beginning with an electric teen-led Kabbalat Shabbat. The teens had a catered dinner, connected with their friends and favorite advisors, and learned from Rabbi Simon Taylor about what it really means to be kadosh, holy. Whether analyzing different everyday objects (ranging from a siddur to a garbage pail) to decide if they are holy, or taking a hard look at different professions and trying to rank them in terms of holiness, we discovered that true holiness is more about applying Torah principles to every facet of our lives than it is about specific jobs or objects.
Providence, RI firstname.lastname@example.org
BROOKLYN, NY NCSYERs participate in the second year of Brooklyn NCSY and BJX programming. joining together for meals, Torah, games and laser tag on Motzei Shabbat. Providence NCSY also had incredible Shavuot programming, where advisors as well as guest speaker Rabbi Dovid Schwartz of the BU JLIC gave over Torah to help the NCSYers stay up all night. (The ice cream, cheesecake and coffee helped a little bit as well!)
Sharon, MA email@example.com
Sharon Chapter Programming Expands Early this past spring, Sharon NCSY, held its third Shabbaton of the year! They had a Friday night dinner at Congregation Eitz Chaim, bringing in 40 kids for an awesome experience. They also had an inspirational seudat shlishit at the home of Penina and Ari Kafka, and finished off the Shabbaton with an incredible ice skating night activity. All of this was able to happen despite not having programming in Sharon for three years prior!
Stamford, CT Yonah and Yael Stromer - firstname.lastname@example.org
Shavuot alL-nighter with 70 teens Stamford NCSY’s fantastic year culminated with a Shavuot program like no other. Teens hailing from day school and public school came together for an incredible night, including Cafe dilemma, where teens discussed the Torah’s view on modern day issues, TED talks, where 4 teens shared their life insights with their peers, and tons of delicious food. NCSY capped off the night with an ultimate trivia challenge where teens showed off what they had learned.
West Hartford, CT Moshe Warren - email@example.com
Spring Chapter Shabbaton NCSY and JSU teens came together in March for an awesome weekend. 30 teens joined “Shabbat Woks”, a community-wide Shabbat Chinese dinner in the company of teens from all over Greater Hartford and beyond. The teens and advisors especially enjoyed the opportunity to meet and connect with lots of new teens. On Shabbat day, forty teens joined us for Shabbat lunch and came back for a fun barbecue on Motzei Shabbat!
Providence & Sharon Roadshow On Shabbat HaGadol, Providence NCSY hosted a Providence-Sharon joint Roadshow. The Shabbaton featured teens and advisors from both chapters 46
Rabbi Ethan Katz, Regional Director 201.862.0250 // firstname.lastname@example.org newjersey.ncsy.org
Teaneck Rabbi Reuven Lebovitz - email@example.com
Yom Hazikaron and Yom Haatzmaut Program Teaneck NCSY ran a Yom Hazikaron and Yom Ha’atzmaut joint program at Gotham Burger. There were 68 teens to celebrate Israel’s 68th birthday. Coincidence? The event had NCSYers present videos that they had made and speeches about fallen soldiers and terror victims. The program concluded with a Tefillat Chagigit and a delicious dinner, as well as a celebration with music.
West Orange, NJ Jen and Eric Israeli - firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com
Shavuot Extravaganza West Orange had an incredible 3-day Yom Tov of Shavuot, kicking off with a fantastic Oneg! Tikkun Leil Shavuot was an inspirational experience, with teens learning in chavrutot with each other and with staff throughout the night. NCSYers Alexandra Lando, SaraShifra Stone, Benji Schwartz, and Yardena Tammam each prepared and delivered engaging and innovative sessions to packed rooms of their peers and advisors. As is tradition in West Orange NCSY, chag concluded with a community group of all ages walking to the nearby nursing home, Daughters of Israel, to sing, dance, and learn with the residents to enhance their (and our!) Simchat Yom Tov.
NEW YORK Jon Ackerman, Managing Director 646.459.5149 // firstname.lastname@example.org newyork.ncsy.org
Brooklyn, NY Nechama Kamelhar - email@example.com Rabbi Moish Zucker - firstname.lastname@example.org
NCSY Brooklyn BJX Brooklyn NCSY partnered for the second time with the Brooklyn Jewish Experience (BJX) for a seven week leadership program. Teens from public high schools all over Brooklyn gathered together every Tuesday evening for dinner, a Torah class and a lesson from different industry leaders. Aside from learning a lot about business, real estate, medicine, technology, and of course charity, the underlining theme is that all of these CEOs believe G-d is the one helping them along. The program’s graduation was held on the 16 th floor of a world famous skyscraper, the Seagram Building in NYC (see picture above).
Using our Imagination on Purim
Boca Raton, FL
Miami Beach, FL
This Purim at Brooklyn NCSY’s Purim party under the guidance of Moish Zucker and Nechama Kamelhar, teens came to hear a story they couldn’t understand. They did however understand that it was a mitzvah they could easily attain by just sitting and listening to the words. Sara, a girl from public high school said, “I had so much fun at the party meeting so many new people, and listening to the megillah being read...I knew the story of Esther, so while the rabbi read the Hebrew words I just imagined the story playing out in front of me.”
Rabbi Eli Zians - email@example.com
Adir Shimon - firstname.lastname@example.org
new leadership program takes boca by storm
Escape the Room - Israel 101
Great Neck, NY Jon Zar - email@example.com
lifting for pesach In one of the first chessed programs of Great Neck, we took teens to the Brooklyn Navy Yard in Williamsburg to flex their muscles lifting heavy bags of food into needy families’ cars for Pesach. The recipients were shocked to see so many people giving up their free Sunday to help other Jews. They even made the local news! The day finished off with a great Mincha and obviously protein shakes and pizza. See mini story SOUTHERN Todd Cohn, Executive Director 1-866-887-5788 // firstname.lastname@example.org southern.ncsy.org
Through the Good and Hard Times In an unparalleled display of achdut, compassion and love, Southern NCSY Advisory Board Members, donors and staff raised nearly $50,000 in 72 hours to help ease the suffering of the NCSY-involved Markovitz Family through their tragic loss of their mother. Over 480 families participated in this “chessed shel emes,” nearly 100 of whom attended the levayah in Israel this past summer. May we know of only semachot in the future.
The South Palm Beach chapter launched a new initiative called LINC, The Leadership Incubator, to empower and educate a select cohort of students about the needs of the Jewish community. Students from St. Andrews Prep, American Heritage, and North Broward Preparatory came together to hear from community leaders and learn about the various needs and challenges that face the Jewish community and what we can do to address them. Teens were then able to put things into action and volunteer/work together with that organization! This allowed the students to learn, stay connected and give back to our community!
Hollywood, FL Eli Albert - email@example.com
Ben Gamla Builds Together Teens from the Ben Gamla Chapter came together to assemble an entire high school regulation-size outdoor basketball court. The court came in six major pallets that needed to be maneuvered in, disassembled and reassembled in accordance to the long and confusing instruction manual. They came together and spent multiple hours after school on consecutive days, toiling to connect the court like a giant puzzle. They have enjoyed use of the court on a regular basis upon completion.
EMTZA NCSY Jason Sefelbaum- firstname.lastname@example.org
End of year Busch Gardens Trip To celebrate a successful year throughout the Southern region, Emtza NCSY joined together and hit the road for Tampa. In Tampa, we had the chance to spend a wonderful time in Busch Gardens. Plans have started for Emtza to host events in Kendall, Miami Beach, Bal Harbour, Skylake, Hollywood, Boca Raton, Boynton Beach & Palm Beach for 2016-2017.
This past Yom Ha’atzmaut, Miami Beach NCSY launched a huge Escape The Room expo at Hebrew Academy. Miami Beach NCSY used all of the school’s floors and turned each classroom into a different city in Israel. The teens learned about the different cities in order to unlock the clue that would grant them the key to escape from the room.
Savannah, GA Rabbi Eli Lob - email@example.com
savannah takes home the gold Savannah may be a small city but it’s teens have made a huge impact across America and beyond! After becoming boardroom finalists last year, this year the Savannah NCSY JUMP Team took home the trophy as they were awarded the title of International First Place Champions! The teens were recognized for inspiring their community by brainstorming and running a Shabbos of the Generations, raising awareness amongst teens about the importance of Israel advocacy on college campuses, and for designing, manufacturing and selling a slick water bottle to raise funds for teens to go on NCSY Israel programs. (See more on page 20.)
South Florida IDF appreciation dinner NCSY rented out a hall, where they fed, sang and danced with twenty Israeli Soldiers who had recently finished their service in the IDF in order to show their love and support to those who risk their lives to defend Israel. The evening began with NCSYers getting a chance to walk around and meet the soldiers, followed by the soldiers splitting up and sitting at different tables with the teens in order to give them a chance to ask questions and have discussions on a personal level. Before the dinner, several NCSYers spoke about their positive experiences on NCSY summer programs in Israel and thanked the soldiers for giving them the
our Heroes in Blue in dallas, tx
After the devastating police shooting in Dallas, NCSYers came together to show their “Heroes in Blue” that they support them and appreciate them putting their lives on the line for the community. On the last day of the summer before school started, over 20 Dallas NCSY teens partnered with Texas Kosher BBQ to show appreciation for the officers that keep their community safe. They served over 50 police officers from the North Central Division Dallas Police Department a mouth watering lunch. Showing their gratitude in support is integral for a better Northern Texas. The event recieved coverage on Fox News.
opportunity to visit and tour the land and feel safe and secure doing so. Then, during the dinner, several of the Israeli Soldiers gave a presentation and told powerful stories about the challenges they faced each and everyday. The evening concluded in an incredibly inspiring way with the NCSYers singing and dancing together with all of the soldiers!
PORTLAND NCSY’S AWARDS BANQUET
ortland NCSY honored the incredible teens, parents and community members who have been so dedicated to helping NCSY teens progress in their Jewish growth. In addition to recognizing 12 teens, 4 of whom were seniors and are continuing their Jewish
journey in Israel next year, both Craig and Jan Berne and Rich Hurwitz and Brenda Katz were honored for their dedication and numerous hours that they have given to NCSY. Lastly, NCSY recognized The MJCC for their constant support and assistance with teen programming.
Rabbi Gershon Meisel, Regional Director 972.934.9143 // firstname.lastname@example.org southwest.ncsy.org
Dallas, TX Rabbi Michel Lomner - email@example.com
See mini story on previous page.
Denver, CO Yisrael Katz - firstname.lastname@example.org
Denver NCSY is about to EXPLODE! Meira Spivak, Emma Hayward, Seth Talyansky and Doovie Jacoby pose after Emma and Seth receive JSU Leadership Awards for beginning a new JSU club at Catlin Gable.
Last year Denver NCSY sent 38 teens to Southwest Winter Regional and seven teens to National Yarchei Kallah. That momentum has turned Denver NCSY into the next up and coming chapter in NCSY. With Yisrael Katz in place as the Denver NCSY Director, Denver NCSY has already opened two Latte N’ Learning locations, along with a full year of scheduled programming ahead!
UPSTATE NEW YORK
Devora Weinstock, Regional Coordinator 646.459.5175 // email@example.com upstate.ncsy.org
Buffalo, NY Devora Weinstock - firstname.lastname@example.org
Spring buffalo pizza & Learning 25 Upstate NY NCSYers met for a chapter event in Buffalo, NY this past March. The NCSYers were joined by Hallel El, a Bat Sheirut from Israel who spent her year of service helping Buffalo’s Jewish community. The NCSYers enjoyed bowling and pizza and especially a learning session given by their very own NCSYer, Ben Geist.
Rina Emerson, Regional Director 310.229.9000 // email@example.com westcoast.ncsy.org
Ariella Weinstein - firstname.lastname@example.org
Doovie Jacoby - Doovie@ncsy.org
NCSY LA had a great time celebrating the holiday of Shavuot at Beth Jacob with our friends and family. Over three days jam packed with learning, games and food, we learned about mitzvot, their modern day applications and more ways we can connect to our Jewish heritage and share it with each other and the world. We had teens lead Torah Cafe sessions and icebreakers, advisors teach sessions and food catered by our very own Angel Roll caterers!
See mini story above.
Las Vegas, NV Rabbi Yehuda Maryles - email@example.com
best wishes from las vegas
Rachel Hoffman - firstname.lastname@example.org
Las Vegas NCSY is proud to give recognition, and wish all the best to six students leaving to spend a year in Israel. Hanna Cohen, Sima Cohen, Moriah Dubowsky, Kyle Harris, Ariel Wexler and Timothy Wheeler will be spending a Gap Year furthering their Jewish education in Israel. Las Vegas NCSY wishes Sam Lefkowitz only blessings and success as he returns to Israel for a second year. Lastly, farewell to Haddar Ben-Shimon having recently returned from Israel this summer, only to say her goodbyes before she made Aliyah making Israel her new home!
The Rochester chapter had their annual Reverse chapter Shabbaton in April. The NCSYers, along with their advisors, travelled to New York City where they toured the city and spent Shabbos with the YU community in Washington Heights. The NCSYers were hosted for meals by Regional Director Devora Weinstock, former Rochester coordinator CM (Nimchinsky) Gerson and the Willig family. The Reverse Shabbaton is a way for the NCSYers to have fun, but also experience Jewish life in the city, especially at Yeshiva University!
Shmuli Josephson - email@example.com
JSU president rallies to save club Zach Leibovit, JSU president at Brophy Preparatory School, rallied to revive the JSU club at his very prestigious Catholic school and recruit his peers. Following a recent tragic act of terror in Europe, Zach lobbied Brophy’s administration to host an 48
Torah cafe for shavuot
Rochester, NY Annual Reverse Chapter ShabbatON
assembly for the entire school on social justice. He spoke about the current Christian genocide and used this opportunity to inform students of the Jewish historical narrative. He spoke about the Holocaust and other events of Jewish persecution. Zach also raised awareness and sympathy towards Israel. Zach went on to receive an award from the school administration in recognition of his leadership.
Seattle, WA Carol Mirkin - Mirkinc@ncsy.org
seattle ncsy honors veterans Seattle NCSY partnered with the Jewish War Veterans for our annual Memorial Day Flag event at the Bikur Cholim Cemeteries in Seattle. Seattle NCSY was joined by retired and active military members. NCSY also had the opportunity to listen to veterans discuss their experiences.
Seattle Junior NCSY Shabbaton Over 100 middle schoolers and teen advisors closed out an incredible year with an amazing Shabbaton in Seward Park. Saturday night the tweens competed in Double Dare and Sunday was spent at the Family Fun Center.
CHILE Michael Bengio, Regional Director 011.56.99.186.5575 // firstname.lastname@example.org chile.ncsy.org
SHABBAT PRO EXPERIENCE The students experienced an inspirational Kabbalat Shabbat followed by a delicious Shabbat meal with their advisors and different hosts of the Chilean community. Luckily, the fun wasn’t over once Shabbat ended! On Sunday, the NCSYers continued having fun
in “Fantasilandia” which is a Chilean amusement park. (See picture on next page.)
ISRAEL Rabbi Yosef Ginsberg 054-9538225 // email@example.com Rabbi Michael Kahn 052-5085091 // firstname.lastname@example.org israel.ncsy.org
beit shemesh redemption shabbaton This past June, NCSY Israel had an epic Spring Shabbaton to end the region’s first full year of programming. It was an unforgettable and incredible Shabbaton that celebrated everything the teens and staff have accomplished this past year. Over Shabbos, they hiked the hills of Beit Shemesh, enjoyed amazing food and inspiring singing.
NATIONAL Eleven Broadway, 13th Fl New York, NY 10004 212.613.8233 // email@example.com ncsy.org
First NCSY Staff Mission to Israel Twenty-five NCSY staff members from various regions traveled to Israel this summer for the inaugural NCSY Summer Staff Mission. In conjunction with Masa Yehudi, the mission participants spent six days visiting a variety of NCSY Summer Programs. This mission was a unique opportunity to get a firsthand look at the summer programs NCSY offers in an effort to increase recruitment and fundraising for the following summer and beyond. Between meeting the program directors, advisors and teens, and participating in activities and learning sessions, each mission participant left the trip with a newfound understanding and appreciation
SANTIAGO, CHILE After an amazing Shabbat Pro, teens in Chile spent the day at Fantasilandia for NCSY Summer programs. Mission participants attended Yom NCSY, celebrating the amazing summer programs and taking part in the beautiful Hachnasat Sefer Torah.
National NCSY volunteers AT JCC pantry The National NCSY Headquarters office volunteered before Pesach to help stock the food pantry at the JCC of the Rockaway Peninsula. This project was in
conjunction with the Orthodox Union initiative for its employees to take some time to live by the values they strive to embody in their everyday work, and give back to their local Jewish community. The Pesach pantry included fresh produce, oil, matzah ball soup mix, eggs, chickens and more. This is the first year that the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty teamed up with the OU to ensure that poor and near-poor kosher homes in the New York area are empowered to celebrate Pesach with joy and dignity.
NCSY WILL BE WITH YOU WHEREVER YOU GO
Rabbi Dovid Lichtig with Raffi Levi, Zach Herchfus, and Jake Weil on a roof top in the Old CIty.
CSY believes that the next step for their high schoolers is to take a gap year in Israel. In the Fall of 2015, NCSY sent 627 of their teens to gap year programs. NCSY guides the teens to choose the right school for them, where they can learn Torah, develop themselves as young adults and gain a connection to Israel. Of the 627, 114 of them were teens from public school who chose to not follow the road most commonly taken by their peers and take a gap year before college. As the recent NCSY alumni studied in Israel, NCSY staff from around the country visited them to give them some chizuk and a taste of home.
BY RABBI MOSHE BENOVITZ November 8, 2016. Will you or won’t you? The most prominent question that will captivate world attention on that November Tuesday is: Hillary or Donald? But lurking beneath that banner headline is a more basic query that makes none of the assumptions that the Clinton/Trump debate might take for granted. Will Americans vote at all? Will they cast a ballot for either candidate or stay home and let the election run its course without their involvement? Pundits and pollsters will tell you that the questions are actually fundamentally related. Some will suggest that a vote not cast is essentially a vote for Trump and that high voter turnout traditionally favors the Democrat. Perhaps. But what are the key factors that determine voter turnout? What motivates someone to take part in this most basic element of democracy? More importantly, what keeps a voter away? What factors contribute to the decision of millions of Americans to shirk their civic responsibility? Certainly, convenience plays some role. Voter registration frustration and location of polling stations will directly affect the number of voters. Obviously, the intensity of feeling and support for a particular candidate will impact this decision too. But not nearly as much as we might think. Far and away, the two biggest factors in voter turnout are the predicted closeness of the race and the ideological or governance gap that exists between the candidates. And upon closer examination, these two measures are in fact one and the same. We are much more likely to vote when we feel that we can make a difference. That’s the biggest motivating factor. If an election is a 50
predicted landslide and there is no way to imagine how a vote will matter, we are more likely to stay home. If the candidates are similar and/or ineffectual, and the election not likely to make a difference in anyone’s life, then why bother to enter the voting station? A near identical dynamic can influence other kinds of institutional growth and personal change. The ballots we cast on Election Day are not our only, or even primary, promissory notes for our future. Near constantly, we make decisions and investments for what lies ahead. And here too, “voter turnout” can fluctuate wildly. At times, we make the most ambitious and detailed plans, and strategize to maximize every growth opportunity. On other days, we can’t be bothered and skip these steps. Make no mistake: the variables at play here are rarely laziness, self-discipline, or any other technical question. When we think the effort matters and that change is at hand, we act. When we are less convinced, we allow inertia to take over or we stagnate. It is fair to suggest that when we take three steps into our silent amidah prayers on the high holidays, we are stepping into a personal voting booth of sorts. A successful tefilah and teshuva campaign demands that we muster the motivation to change and that we believe that our efforts can be rewarded with accomplishment. Sadly, there is a fatigue that infects all segments of our society. It is not that we lack the will or desire to grow and improve, it is simply that we lack the confidence and assuredness that such improvement is in our hands. So, if we begin to pray but doubt that there is an audience listening to our entreaties, or if we have full belief in the almighty ear but wonder how it can be that He will harken to our voice, we become prone to passivity and hopelessness. If our vote won’t count, what’s the point in extending the effort to cast it?
Youth work grants us the opportunity to identify with a particular zeal and idealism that believes in the power of change. A healthy organization, or even an aspiring minyan, would do well to emulate the passion and fervor of a Bernie Sanders rally. His supporters were not marked by the candidate or policies they chose to follow. What set them apart was the undeniable belief that they had the ability to effect revolution. Rav Avraham Schorr suggests this as the explanation for the context of the most explicit biblical mention of the teshuva confession process. It is found, somewhat obscurely, after the Torah describes the protocol if one steals from a convert who subsequently dies without an heir or dependent. It would seem that our repentant thief has hit a dead end. Without an address for restitution, he can never make good on his desire to improve. And it is here that the Torah stresses the role of confession and an eternal model for growth. Teshuva is not a response to merely misguided priorities or poorly aligned values. It is a response to helplessness and personal despair. Here we are prescribed with confession, because it will matter, and it will make a difference. Will we vote? Studies show that we will, if we think it will be impactful. Will we be introspective and self critical? Those same studies suggest that we can, as long as we accept the prophecy of Jeremiah, describing an eternally weeping matriarch Rachel: “..your work shall be rewarded, says God.”
Rabbi Moshe Benovitz, an NCSY alumnus, is the managing director of NCSY and the director of NCSY Kollel. He can be reached at benovitzm@ ncsy.org.
THE CHAI SOCIETY SUSTAIN THE FLAME The NCSY Alumni Chai Society is comprised of alumni committed to supporting the incredible Jewish experiences and learning originated in, and because of, NCSY programs. Join the NCSY Alumni Chai Society and help those memories become lasting parts of klal Yisrael. Your pledge and monthly donation will keep the “reality” alive – NCSY is not a dream, it’s a reality for so many that have come before and even more waiting and hoping to become a part of one of the most important initiatives in the history of the American Jewish community. Your support will help enable and sustain their spiritual flame for generations to come.
Visit alumni.ncsy.org/havdalah to donate or learn more.
NCSY is the international youth movement of the Orthodox Union.
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