Touro College and NCSY, the youth movement of the Orthodox Union, celebrated 35 years of close cooperation last month, as students and faculty from Touro’s undergraduate Lander Colleges of Arts and Sciences played a significant role in 11 NCSY Regional Conventions held throughout North America. At many of these events graduating NCSYers were awarded scholarships to the Lander Colleges, continuing an annual tradition that began in 1973. These initiatives are in addition to the tens of thousands of dollars Touro contributes each year to the NCSY regions to support Shabbatons, events and educational programs.
The Touro-NCSY relationship is only one aspect of the ties between the College and the Orthodox Union, a relationship which will be emphasized on June 15 when OU Kosher holds a major event, the Harry H. Beren ASKOU Mesorah Conference IV —at Lander College for Men in Kew Gardens Hills, NY. Mesorah Conferences I and II were held there, and since III was in Los Angeles, clearly Lander is venue of choice for New York-based ASKOU programs.
The combining of efforts of the two Jewish institutions starts at the very top, with the association of Dr. Bernard Lander, the Founder and President of Touro College, with the OU. “Long before Dr. Bernard Lander founded Touro College in 1970, he had already, as an active Orthodox Union Officer and Youth Commission member, been a major figure in the very creation of NCSY in 1954,” declared OU President Stephen J. Savitsky.
OU Executive Vice President Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb echoed Mr. Savitsky’s words. “The Orthodox Union is very proud of its close ongoing relationship with Touro College,” he said. “There are numerous areas of cooperation, ranging from our frequent use of their facilities to joint educational and religious programming. We are particularly proud of the long, historic, connection between the Union and the President of Touro, Dr. Bernard Lander. Dr. Lander has been a member of the board of the Orthodox Union for at least sixty years. We have always benefited from his nearly prophetic insights and strong, creative leadership. His availability to our leadership, lay and professional, for consultation and guidance, often on a daily basis, is immensely helpful, if not indispensable, to our work.”
Dr. Lander responded, “Our relationship with NCSY goes to the core of our mission of serving the Jewish Community and providing appropriate educational opportunities for every young person who seeks them. We are particularly proud of our partnership with NCSY, the Jewish Agency for Israel, and the Orthodox Union’s Israel center in Jerusalem in creating the dynamic new Machon Ma’ayan seminary for North American girls wanting to study in Israel before attending college.”
The Lander Colleges were co-sponsors of the NCSY Regional Conventions for the Atlantic Seaboard, Central East (based in suburban Detroit), Greater Midwest, Upstate New York, Long Island, New Jersey, New York, Northwest, South Florida, Southern and West Coast Regions. NCSY National President Sarah Jampolsky of Overland Park, KS; Central East Regional President Talia Seidman of Pittsburgh; and Atlantic Seaboard’s Abigail Ellis of Richmond were among the graduating NCSYers receiving the coveted Touro/NCSY Leadership Scholarships.
Dean Marian Stoltz-Loike of the Lander College for Women/ the Anna Ruth and Mark Hasten School, commented, “Many previous recipients of this scholarship have gone on to assume positions of leadership in the general and Jewish Community throughout North America and in Israel. We see these scholarships as a marvelous investment in the Jewish future.”
Another well-chosen investment, clearly, is the Machon Maayan school for girls in Israel. When the OU opened Machon Maayan two years ago, Touro provided seed money to help get the program started. The school was established for NCSY graduates who did not come from yeshiva backgrounds, but who following their NCSY experience wanted to engage in Torah study before heading for college. Touro continues to provide substantial funding for the school.
When the Orthodox Union holds its Biennial National Convention in Jerusalem at Thanksgiving this year, the Lander Colleges will repeat a program they undertook in January as part of the OU’s Family Mission to Israel – arranging for parents and their high school seniors to visit yeshivot and seminaries throughout Israel to plan for Israeli study following graduation. “Touro College is delighted to be working with the Orthodox Union in providing young men and women, along with their families, the opportunity to make informed decisions regarding their year of study in Israel “said Rabbi Moshe D. Krupka, Senior Vice President for College Affairs at Touro College.
Meanwhile, the OU Kosher Mesorah Conference at Lander College quickly approaches. Besides the three mesorah conferences, OU Kosher has held other programs at Lander, including a shiur (lecture) given by Rabbi Hershel Schachter, OU Kosher Halachic Decisor, at Yeshivas Ohr HaChaim (a Lander College affiliate) on “The Kashrut of Medications and Vitamins,” and a hands-on shiur on “Checking Vegetables for Insect Infestation” given by Rabbi Shimon Yoffe to a joint group from Yeshivas Ohr HaChaim and the Lander College kollel and semicha programs. In the planning stage is a visit by OU Kosher rabbis to Lander as part of the OU’s ASKOUtreach program to Torah institutions.