IGNITE VOLUME ONE – ISSUE TWO | CHANUKAH 2007
ELEVEN BROADWAY, NEW YORK, NY 10004 t 212.613.8233 f 212.613.0675 w www.ncsy.org
NCSY IS THE YOUTH MOVEMENT OF THE ORTHODOX UNION
MISSION NCSY is dedicated to connect, inspire, and empower Jewish teens and encourage passionate Judaism through Torah and Tradition. COMMITMENT NCSY is committed to provide a safe space where teens can celebrate their Jewish heritage; embrace Torah and Tradition; develop a positive Jewish identity; acquire invaluable leadership skills; connect with dedicated Jewish role models; and learn to live passionately Jewish lives.
MESSAGE FROM NCSY INTERNATIONAL DIRECTOR RABBI STEVEN BURG:
Official Holiday of NCSY CHANUKAH, as has been noted many times, celebrates
the victory over assimilation. While Purim recalls the salvation of our physical selves and is observed with feasting, Chanukah celebrates the salvation of the soul and is observed with light and songs of praise. In many ways, Chanukah is the “official holiday of NCSY.” NCSY celebrates victories in the battle for the Jewish soul every day. And check our new logo for the flame. Coincidence? I think not.
What will you find in this very issue of Ignite? (Please note the flame again.) You can read about two NCSY alumni, descendants of the Ben Ish Chai, who returned to Torah and re-lit the flame that had dimmed. You’ll learn about songs of praise to Hashem in South Florida. You’ll see how the flames of Torah once again burn brightly in New Orleans after being nearly extinguished by Katrina – and NCSY is there to fan those flames. You’ll find out about many more incredible people, who have lit their own spark and those of countless others. CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE
Give your child the gift of a life-changing NCSY Summer Program. Registration is now open and space on each trip is available on a first-come, first-served basis. For an online application and comprehensive details on each program, check out www.NCSYsummer.com.
CHANUKAH present FOR PRE-TEENS
JOLT CENTRAL EUROPE
CAMP NAGEELA MIDWEST
Baltimore, MD 7/7-8/4 (boys only)
Israel, Germany, Swiss Alps 7/9-8/14 (co-ed)
Spain, Italy, Prague, Israel 7/6-8/3 (co-ed)
Israel, Poland, Ukraine 6/27-8/4 (co-ed)
St. Louis, MO 6/23-7/13 (boys only) 7/14-8/3 (girls only) MACHNE DROR
Israel 7/3-7/24 (boys only, girls only)
South Africa & Israel 7/1-7/28 (co-ed) SEG
Israel 6/30-8/4 (girls only)
Israel 7/8-8/19 (boys only)
Israel 7/2-8/7 (yeshiva teens, co-ed)
South Fallsburg, NY 7/2-7/29 (girls only)
Israel 7/7-8/18 (girls only)
Israel 6/29-7/28 (public school teens, co-ed)
REFLECTIONS OF AN NCSY PARENT
My Eight CHANUKAH IS A TIME for miracles. A jar
of oil miraculously lasted for eight days and the Jewish people were once again able to practice their religion and study the Torah. Thanks to New York NCSY, my wife and I experienced our own "miracle" journey from a traditional Jewish family to one currently living a fullycommitted Torah life. We ourselves never belonged to NCSY nor attended any chapter meetings, but NCSY has had a life altering effect on us. Religious life before NCSY was relatively simple. We were affiliated with a Conservative synagogue and sent our three Jay and Wendy Goldberg with their grandchildren children to afternoon Hebrew school. We celebrated the Jewish holidays and went to synagogue almost every To summarize the impact of NCSY on my wife and me, let me explain Shabbos morning. Then it happened! After graduation from Hebrew what has happened in the last ten years. We have moved to a new comschool, our oldest daughter was offered a chance to attend NCSY on munity (where we can now walk to shul). I have served as president of Sunday mornings and Monday nights. Knowing little about NCSY, but our local Orthodox shul. My wife is a regular attendee of shiurim. Our wanting her to maintain a connection to her roots, we encouraged her children are all married to frum spouses. Now I am retired and currently go to yeshiva each morning. Since my wife still works full-time, to go to the meetings. I guess she’s a “kollel wife”! Slowly but surely, NCSY began to have a positive effect not only on our daughter but on us as well. We started to say Kiddush on Friday nights Best of all, we now have our own “Chanukah Miracle Lights”-- eight and our daughter taught us how to bentsch (we learned by singing the beautiful FFB (Frum From Birth) grandchildren who light up our lives! entire bentsching together out loud). Her younger siblings, on their So, this Chanukah when we are commanded to offer “praise and own, joined NCSY as they saw and heard the positive influence of thanksgiving,” my family will say a bracha for NCSY’s continued sucNCSY on their sister. Eventually, our two younger children left public cess and thank Hashem for the positive influence NCSY has had on us and so many others. high school (in eleventh grade) and transferred to yeshiva.
CHANUKAH continued from cover
It’s not trite and it’s not a cliché. It was true fifty years ago and it remains true today. “To keep the flame alive…this is the essence of NCSY.” At no time of year is that more apparent than at Chanukah. We thank you for being a part of it. Wishing you and yours a happy, healthy Chanukah.
To make a tax-deductible contribution, or to locate an NCSY chapter near you, call David at 212.613.8381 or visit us online at www.ncsy.org.
IN NEW ORLEANS IT IS DIFFICULT TO PINPOINT what exactly makes up a shul. Many
sacrifice for each other and the greater good.” The simple sentiment offered by Gothard was just what the NCSYers needed to hear to find their balance amid the turbulence that surrounded them.
will suggest the architecture, the decor, the acoustics, perhaps even the sifrei kodesh. NCSY's recent experiences volunteering in New Orleans suggest a different, more meaningful answer.
“In anticipation of the forthcoming holiday of Chanukah,” offered Rabbi Lightstone, “a time when we recall the victory achieved by those facing what seemed to be insurmountable forces bent on their destruction, we would be wise to draw strength and inspiration from the resilient people of New Orleans. Mrs. Gothard said it best, ‘Tough times don't last... tough people do.’”
This past year, 75 intrepid Long Island NCSYers divided up for five different trips to the infamous Lower Ninth Ward to lend their ruach and elbow grease in support of the beleaguered Beth Israel Congregation, an OU member synagogue. Try as they might to offer comfort and to find a measure of satisfaction in their volunteer service, the teens found it difficult balancing their competing emotions of excitement and despair. “These are kids that are normally filled with joy and laughter; they sing, dance, and celebrate,” offered Rabbi Aryeh Lightstone, Regional Director of Long Island NCSY. The sadness the teens felt when faced with the enormity of the destruction was not a feeling easily shaken. That is until Jackie Gothard, president of Beth Israel, taught the NCSYers a lesson that would offer each a measure of much needed perspective. "Katrina was only a flood,” said Gothard, “It was not anti-Semitism. It was not assimilation.” “Those simple words blew everyone away,” reported Rabbi Lightstone. Gothard went on to explain that a shul is not the aron kodesh, the siddurim, nor is it even the Torahs. “All of those items are what goes into a shul. What makes up a shul is the people who are dedicated to the continuity of Judaism; people prepared to
NCSYers volunteering in New Orleans
When Chanukah is coming, it means NCSY’s Yarchei Kallah is in the air. Indeed, this year’s winter-break learn-a-thon for teens attending public high school promises to be every bit as memorable as in preceding years. Held from December 25-30, 2007 at the Sheraton in Stamford, CT, and sponsored by Touro College, this year’s Yarchei Kallah will include NCSY’s signature Shabbaton experience, chaburos and chugim for first-time learners, tefillah workshops, and shiurim delivered by seasoned Rabbis and melamdim. Also included in the five day get-away is the ever-popular day trip to Brooklyn to meet with Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Aharon Schechter of Yeshivas Chaim Berlin, and opportunities to meet with representatives of Touro College, Yeshiva University, and several Israeli yeshivot and seminaries. “You know we’re doing something right when 150 public school teens choose to spend five days learning Torah with NCSY rather than all of the other winter break options available,” says Rabbi Steven Burg, NCSY International Director. To learn more about other exciting events sponsored by NCSY, check out www.NCSY.org
INSPIRING THE FUTURE:
Ben Zakkai Named for the great Tanna, Rav Yochanan Ben Zakkai, who helped ensure the survival and continuity of the Jewish people after the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash, NCSY’s Ben Zakkai Honor Society (BZHS) has paid tribute for more than forty years to esteemed NCSY alumni and community leaders who have excelled in their commitment to Torah and their service to the Jewish people and Orthodox community. On January 6, 2007, members of the society and friends of NCSY are invited to share in a gala celebration as BZHS inducts its newest members, Rina Emerson, Devorah Aroesty-Cohen, Michael Cenker, and Jamie Vichinsky. Event chairs Vivian and Dr. David Luchins have worked with a planning committee to orchestrate what promises to be a truly elegant evening at the Sheraton Meadowlands Hotel in East Rutherford, New Jersey. This year’s BZHS celebration will also pay special honor and tribute to Liz and Martin Nachimson with the Enid and Harold H. Boxer Memorial Award and Chashie and Rabbi Moshe D. Krupka with the Ezra Ben Tzion Lightman Memorial Award. For more details and to RSVP, kindly call Malka Laks at 212.613.8144.
Top: (l to r) Dr. David and Vivian Luchins, Chashie and Rabbi Moshe D. Krupka, Liz and Martin Nachimson Middle: (l to r) Jamie Vichinsky, Devorah Aroesty-Cohen, Rina Emerson Bottom: Michael Cenker
NCSY & JSU are allied agencies working
together to inspire thousands of Jewish students who attend more than 200 public high
“The goal of our programming schools across North America. in public high schools,” says Rabbi Miller, “is to inspire Jewish teens by showing them that Judaism has something to say about everything in their lives. We tackle the difficult topics that teens want addressed, as well as many topics that are off of the radar screen for many students.” Topics addressed in the Jewish high school clubs have included human rights, relationships, keeping kosher, Israel, Jewish leadership, Jewish holidays, the Jewish perspective on nonJewish holidays, Jews in different professional fields, the Holocaust, and dealing with fanaticism.
ROUGHLY SIX MONTHS since his last NCSY appearance, NCSY's New
England Region will host Professor Alan Dershowitz at an elegant dessert reception on Sunday, December 9 at the Hyatt Regency in Cambridge, MA. Titled, “Dessert with Dershowitz” this event will take place on the sixth night of Chanukah and will celebrate the 45th anniversary of the founding of NCSY’s New England Region. Tickets may be purchased by calling 617.332.6279. Professor Dershowitz’s most recent prior engagement with New England NCSY on June 5, 2007, was a time more devoted to reflection than celebration. That occasion found Professor Dershowitz speaking for NCSY and the Jewish Student Union (JSU) at the Newton South High School in Boston, MA, in response to a talk given in the same school nearly two months earlier by Noam Chomsky, a virulent critic of both Israel and the United States.
New England NCSY has partnered with JSU and a variety of other Jewish organizations and has presented guest speakers as diverse as Andre Tippett, a member of the New England Patriots Hall of Fame, who converted to Judaism; and Raanan Gissin, a media advisor to former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.
According to Rabbi Shmuel Miller, Regional Director of New England NCSY, the clamor aroused by the Chomsky invitation led the school to make an about-face, shifting the venue of Chomsky’s talk from the school’s large auditorium with all classes invited, to a closed-off event open to only a select group of students and faculty. After Chomsky spoke, Principal Brian Salzer reported receiving “over 800 emails and dozens of phone calls.” “Professor Dershowitz is a good friend of New England NCSY,” said Rabbi Miller, “but his appearance should also be seen in the larger context of NCSY working in partnership with another national organization, the Jewish Student Union, to spread the message of Jewish pride, enthusiasm, and commitment to Jewish students attending public high school across North America.
“We are very proud that under the leadership of former NCSY/JSU student president Dan Rozenson, our student club made it possible for Professor Dershowitz to provide a completely different point of view from Chomsky’s,” declared Rabbi Miller. Noting the growing discontent concerning America's presence in Iraq, Rabbi Miller added, “After hearing [from Chomsky] that the United States and Israel are at the root of all evil, students needed to be reminded that the United States and Israel are fighting a war against terror that affects every American, as well as every Israeli. Nobody makes the case better than Professor Dershowitz.”
Chinese Auction New York NCSY is pulling out all the stops for an evening of elegance and fun at the “Growth NCSY Chinese Auction” on December 15, 2007 at 8:00 p.m. Hosted by Congregation Shaare Tova at 82-33 Lefferts Boulevard in Kew Gardens, NY, and featuring a sumptuous buffet and Viennese table by A&A Gourmet, the highly anticipated annual event will also showcase prizes that include the HP IQ 770 touch screen computer, the Dell XPS laptop computer, diamond and pearl jewelry, fur coats, semi-custom sheitels, trips to Israel, a trip to Florida, iPods, the Garmin Nuvi GPS navigation system, and the complete 73 volume Artscroll Schottenstein Talmud Bavli. As a family-friendly organization, parents of young children are also encouraged to inquire about free babysitting. For more information and to purchase auction tickets for this world-class event, visit www.NYNCSY.com, call 718.261.6279, or email NYregion@NCSY.org. 9
REPRINTED WITH THE PERMISSION OF JOSH LIPOWSKY, ASSISTANT EDITOR, NEW JERSEY JEWISH STANDARD
Honors Holocaust Hero Fredy Hirsch
THEY MAY NOT HAVE KNOWN whom they were
But, said Melzer, students were most moved by the segment on the tournament’s namesake. Melzer led a siyyum on a tractate of Gemara in Hirsch’s memory on Friday night and explained why the coach should serve as an inspiration.
honoring when they first arrived at the NCSY Fredy Hirsch Tournament, but by the end of the weekend, the basketball players from eight Yeshiva League high schools knew all about Holocaust hero Fredy Hirsch.
Born in Aachen, Germany, Hirsch was an athlete and coach in the Macabia games. After the implementation of Germany’s race laws, he moved to Prague, where he continued to coach Jewish children until he was sent on one of the first transports to Terezin. He continued to work with children in the camp until he was caught handing out Jewish New Year cards in September 1943 and was sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau in a transport that included 5,000 people, mostly women and children.
Adam Melzer, basketball coach at the Heschel School in New York and a resident of Teaneck, NJ, had learned about Fredy Hirsch during a trip to Yad Vashem two years ago and wanted to do something to make him better known. Hirsch had no descendants and has garnered little recognition beyond the Yad Vashem display. The tournament/Shabbaton at Teaneck’s Rodda Center was held October 16-21, 2007 and brought together 120 students from eight schools to play basketball, listen to former Dallas Cowboy-turned baal teshuva Alan Veingrad, and learn more about Fredy Hirsch.
Along with the women and children, Hirsch was placed in a "family camp," where he continued to work with the children. At one point, he staged a rendition of "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs." On March 8, 1944, Hirsch and all of the children were sent to the gas chambers.
Melzer had held a smaller tournament with four teams at Heschel last year but wanted to expand it. Six months ago, he approached NCSY’s New Jersey office in Teaneck and the organization’s Regional Director, Rabbi Yaakov Glasser, eagerly embraced the idea.
"The fact that Adam pulled this guy out of Yad Vashem without any other connection to him gave the kids a sense of ‘here’s just one of the heroes who perished in the Holocaust,’" Glasser said.
NCSY put forward most of the funding for the tournament and arranged the Shabbat programming, including Veingrad’s lecture, which Glasser said, students particularly enjoyed. "He touched a chord in these kids that only he could," Glasser said. The talk "enabled the kids to have a great time and spiritually grow from this."
TOP: NFL pro Alan Veingrad BOTTOM: NFL pro Alan Veingrad with NCSY pros (l to r) Kenny Pollack, Rabbi Yaakov Glasser, and Yosef Golubchik
Veingrad talked about the difference between being a fan and a player, telling the group that in Judaism, one doesn’t want to be just a fan, but also a player.
The tournament was a "very special way to remember" Hirsch, said Noam Liron, a 17-yearold senior at The Heschel School. A member of Melzer’s team, Liron had learned about Hirsch on a recent trip to Israel, following Melzer’s recommendation to visit the exhibit. "It was a great tribute to him," Liron said of the tournament.
Hebrew Academy of Nassau County won the gold medal, and Heschel took the silver in the tournament, which
CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE
“There’s nothing more important than what you [NCSY] are doing now.” RABBI SHLOMO RISKIN CHIEF RABBI OF EFRAT, ISRAEL
"From the halls of Congress to the most respected offices in academia and Jewish communal service, I can always count on meeting people who tell me how much NCSY shaped their lives and priorities."
“NCSY is one of the best things a teenager can do. It’s a great way to express what it means to be Jewish and also to be a leader.”
DR. DAVID LUCHINS – NCSY ALUMNUS & CHAIR, DEPARTMENT OF POLITICAL SCIENCE, TOURO COLLEGE
MR. BARRY SCHRAGE PRESIDENT, COMBINED JEWISH PHILANTHROPIES
“NCSY is probably the most important, dynamic, incredible, absolutely central and essential aspect of the Jewish world today.” RABBI DR. JACOB J. SCHACTER SENIOR SCHOLAR, YESHIVA UNIVERSITY
Rabbi Steven Burg, International Director 212.613.8233 NCSY@NCSY.org
Rabbi Micha Greenland, Regional Director 847.677.6279 NCSYMW@NCSY.org
Rabbi Tully Bryks, Regional Director 305.940.6566 NCSYSF@NCSY.org
Rabbi Shimon Vinger, Director 305.433.8381 NCSYChile@NCSY.org
Rabbi Chaim Neiditch, Regional Director 404.486.8787 NCSYSO@NCSY.org
Rabbi Shlomo Asraf, Director 011.972.50.544.4398 NCSYUkraine@NCSY.org
ATLANTIC SEABOARD Bonnie Pollak, Regional Director 410.358.6279 NCSYAS@NCSY.org
CANADA Rabbi Glenn Black, Regional Director 905.761.6279 NCSYCA@NCSY.org
CENTRAL EAST Rabbi Tzali Freedman, Regional Director 888.471.4514 NCSYCE@NCSY.org
LONG ISLAND Rabbi Aryeh Lightstone, Regional Director 516.569.6279 NCSYLI@NCSY.org
Rabbi Shmuel Miller, Regional Director 617.332.6279 NCSYNE@NCSY.org
NEW JERSEY Rabbi Yaakov Glasser, Regional Director 201.862.0250 NCSYNJ@NCSY.org
NEW YORK Rabbi Nahum Zak, Regional Director 718.461.1200 NCSYNY@NCSY.org
NORTHWEST Rabbi Stephen Berger, Regional Director 604.736.7607 NCSYNW@NCSY.org
SOUTHWEST Rabbi Yisroel Lashak, Regional Director 972.934.9143 NCSYSW@NCSY.org
UPPER NEW YORK
Shalom Schlagman, Regional Director 585.615.7237 NCSYUN@NCSY.org
Rabbi Steven Burg International Director, NCSY
Martin Nachimson National Youth Commission, Orthodox Union
Rabbi Effie Goldberg, Regional Director 310.229.9000 NCSYWC@NCSY.org
INTERNATIONAL OFFICES ISRAEL Rabbi Yisreel Goren, Director 011.972.2.566.7787 NCSYIsrael@NCSY.org
Rabbi Dr. Tzvi Hersh Weinreb Executive Vice President, Orthodox Union Stephen Savitsky President, Orthodox Union