The Queens-based New York Region of the National Conference of Synagogue Youth (NCSY) kicked off the school year last Saturday night with its immensely popular “Comedy Cruise” program. A large gathering of 140 Jewish teens from the Five Boroughs and Westchester were treated to a dinner cruise around the island of Manhattan, and a private performance by the improv group Comedy Sportz. Upon the completion of the cruise, a special Selichos service of penitential prayers preceding the High Holy Days was held for both staff and teens.
Since classes began last week, the Orthodox Jewish student body of the University of Massachusetts Amherst has had something more to look forward to than the excitement of a new academic year and intellectual activity. Joining them are Rabbi David and Ariella Ruderman, a young rabbi and wife team from Israel, who are at the school as part of the Orthodox Union’s Heshe and Harriet Seif Jewish Learning Initiative on Campus (JLIC) program, to support and tend to the spiritual needs of the students.
The war against Hezbollah has come and hopefully gone, but the Orthodox Union’s vigorous response, which began on Day 1, did not end when the rockets stopped falling on the North of Israel. When the OU 2006 Biennial National Convention convenes in Jerusalem Thanksgiving Weekend, the hundreds of people attending from North America will travel as a group to the North and as part of a revised Convention program — in addition to viewing the destruction and meeting with civilians and IDF soldiers — will visit the Bayit, the community centers staffed by the OU in five cities to provide continuing social services for victims of the war.
The Seymour J. Abrams OU Jerusalem World Center, in partnership with the Education Department of the Jewish Agency, has announced the opening of Machon Maayan: The Women’s College for Jewish and Israel Studies and Leadership, a new one-year program of the OU Israel Center, for overseas high-school graduates in Israel. Designed for young women from a variety of religious backgrounds, this innovative program has attracted 39 girls from all over the United States and Canada, for its first class, according to Israel Center President, Yitzchak Fund.
When the Orthodox Union Kosher Division’s ASKOU training program ended in late August, and when the students returned to their communities around the world, a landmark had been reached. With the completion of the program, the eighth in a series held in alternate summers, the OU passed the 500 mark in terms of those who have been trained to be experts in the complex field of kosher certification.
After a highly successful year of leading the Long Island (NY) Region of the Orthodox Union’s National Conference of Synagogue Youth (NCSY), Rabbi Stephen Berger has returned to the West Coast, where he is originally from, to become the Director of the NCSY Northwest Region based in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Rabbi Aryeh Lightstone, who already has a successful career as a businessman as well as a rabbi, is now prepared for more success guiding Jewish youth. In mid-August Rabbi Lightstone assumed his new position as the Director of Long Island NCSY.
For the youth of Overland Park, Kansas, a suburb of Kansas City, exciting changes are about to happen. Following a six month task force and culminating with a formal agreement Rabbi Meir Wexler, Director of Learning Education and Youth of Kehilath Israel Synagogue and the synagogue officers and board, the synagogue has now established a National Conference of Synagogue Youth chapter at Kehilath Israel.
At the end of August, over 150 NCSY professional staff and volunteers gathered at the Holiday Inn in Edison, NJ for three days of inspiration and substantive training at the annual staff conference of NCSY, the youth movement of the Orthodox Union.
Rabbi Alan Kalinsky, Director of the Orthodox Union on the West Coast, who is also one of the OU’s kosher certification experts, wanted to fine-tune his skills and so he flew to New York last week to attend the OU’s ASK OU 8 seminar on kosher certification.