I just returned from an exciting three-day trip to Israel with OU President Dr. Simcha Katz, NCSY International Director Rabbi Steven Burg and OU Israel Director Rabbi Avi Berman. While there, we had the opportunity to visit with a number of families who are receiving assistance from the OU’s Victims of Terrorism Fund, including members of the Fogel family and others. We also received a tour of Itamar conducted by Mayor Moshe Goldsmith and other community leaders.
It was a privilege to visit a number of extremely impressive OU programs in Israel. For example, many of you may not be familiar with Mashiv HaRuach, a program based near Gush Etzion that educates over 15,000 soldiers each year. Rabbi Berman and I also spent an afternoon with Makom BaLev packing Shabbos food to assist widows and orphans.
It was a personal pleasure to be able to give shiurim and to meet with the participants on several NCSY Summer Programs. I met with the young women of Michlelet in Beit Shemesh and the young men and staff of Kollel in Beit Meir. When I met with the members of TJJ Ambassadors under the leadership of Rabbi Barry Goldfischer in Efrat, we discussed very important issues of Israel advocacy. Finally, I met with the staff and delivered a shiur to the adult education program at the OU Israel Center on 17 Tammuz.
One of the major accomplishments of NCSY Summer Programs is the mega-event of “Yom NCSY.” This past Sunday, July 17, the 1,000 teens in Israel on NCSY Summer Programs came together for barbecues, concerts, fireworks, videos, speeches, dancing and more. Reports include stories of public school students dancing joyfully with yeshiva students and lining up for a chance to meet Rav Zev Leff (himself an NCSY alumnus!). The event was enjoyed vicariously by parents via a live webcast and photos can be seen here.
Kudos to Rabbi Steven Burg, International Director of NCSY, David Cutler, Director of NCSY Summer Programs, and all the program directors and staff for this amazing event and the incredible work they do. I also want to thank all those who have supported NCSY Summer Programs and, in particular, TJJ. TJJ is perhaps our single most transformative experience, turning many unaffiliated young men and women, previously unexposed to their heritage, into dynamic, passionate Jews. One has only to see it to feel the depth of its impact. Those who have supported this endeavor share in a tremendous zechus.