Twelve NCSY members from across the country, with a heavy concentration in the Midwest, were winners of the NCSY and V’Ani Tefillah Foundation’s Project I.G.N.I.T.E. Challenge. Over 1,000 Jewish teenagers participated nationwide in the contest, which was to encourage prayer with more meaning, understanding and connection to God among young people. NCSY is the international youth program of the Orthodox Union.
The Grand prize winner was Paulina Dolgopolskaia of Kansas City, KS.
The program, which was already in use in over 100 shuls nationwide, was introduced to NCSY by Midwest NCSYer Yechiel Bresler, of St. Louis, who was inspired by the book “Praying With Fire” by Rabbi Heshy Kleinman, who is also the founder of the V’Ani Tefillah Foundation. Yechiel wanted to launch the program within NCSY because the book is written in a five-minute daily dose format for clear comprehension over 89 days.
A points-based system was jointly created based on various accomplishments in prayer, and a website was created for participants to log-in and keep track of their own points, along with the overall regional points. The NCSYer who compiled the most points was awarded a $1,000 voucher towards an NCSY summer program or post-high school yeshiva program in Israel.
“We were thrilled that the students took to this project with such dedication. It’s very exciting to be able to impact beyond what we originally conceived,” declared Rabbi Micah Greenland, Regional Director of Midwest NCSY. “Project I.G.N.I.T.E. has transformed the view and use of prayer for hundreds of teens in NCSY.”
“I was very impressed working with NCSY. Rabbi Greenland is an unbelievable individual who worked very hard to make this program successful,” said Rabbi Kleinman.
To create and maintain deeper meaning in prayer, participants were able to receive points by participating in a variety of opportunities: reading a selection from “Praying with Fire;” reading a weekly Tefillah newsletter “Praying With Passion” (by the author of PWF); davening shacharit, mincha or ma’ariv; participating in up to four national teleconferences with Rabbi Kleinman; reading and doing exercises from the NCSY\VAT “Kavanah Challenge Pamphlet”; and connecting with God through personal prayer.
In addition to Paulina Dolgopolskaia, who, with 4,985 points, scored the maximum number attainable, the winners were as follows:
First prize winner of a $500 voucher:
• Yossie Coleman, of Philadelphia -- 4,920 points;
Second Prize winners with $100 gift certificates to AllJudaica.com:
• Samara Molotsky, of Philadelphia -- 4,800 points;
• Jenny Koshner, of St. Louis -- 4,695 points;
• Ben Auerbach, of Chicago -- 4,665 points;
• Rachel Wolf, of St. Louis -- 4,100 points;
• David Howarth, of Baltimore -- 4,015 points;
• Ariella Kossin, of Cleveland -- 3,635 points;
• Danya Sakols, of Chicago -- 3,715 points