INNOVATIVE NCSY DIRECTOR, RABBI STEPHEN BERGER, NOW HEADS NCSY NORTHWEST REGION IN VANCOUVER, CANADA; REGION INCLUDES WASHINGTON AND OREGON
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.
The region includes not only British Columbia in Canada but the states of Oregon and Washington as well.
He succeeds Rabbi Avraham Berman, whose leadership enabled the Vancouver NCSY chapter of 50 teens to flourish into a thriving region of 500. Rabbi Berman, a native of Israel, has returned there to serve as the Director of the Seymour J. Abrams OU Jerusalem World Center (the Israel Center).
NCSY, the national youth program of the Orthodox Union, provides educational and fun events for both observant and non-observant teenagers. At the forefront in the battle against assimilation, it offers innovative programming which helps Jewish teens see the beauty of their heritage and a Torah observant lifestyle.
“Vancouver has an approximately 75 percent intermarriage rate among youth, most of whom have never had any Jewish education. I moved here to find these teens and to get them connected as well as inspired about Judaism," declared Rabbi Berger.
In Long Island, Rabbi Berger was especially successful in achieving NCSY goals by creating innovative programming such as the popular Friday Night Lights program which is now implemented all over the country.
Friday Night Lights introduces teenagers from non-observant homes to a meaningful Shabbat experience, filled with candle lighting, traditional prayer services, festive meals, singing, dancing, story telling, group discussions and recreation.
As a result of Rabbi Berger's hard work, Long Island NCSY was recognized in a New York Times, January 15, article “To Rekindle Faith, Getting Teenagers and the Sabbath to Cross Paths”, about Friday Night Lights.
Rabbi Berger intends to continue Friday Night Lights in Vancouver to show Jewish teenagers a side of Judaism that they would otherwise not get to experience.
"Rabbi Berger is one of those creative and innovative leaders of NCSY whose laid-back California approach appeals to teenagers," stated Rabbi Steven Burg, National Director of NCSY. "He is extremely talented and we're excited to have him pick up where Rabbi Berman left off. I am confident that with his expertise, youth from Vancouver and all over the Pacific Northwest will get in touch with their Jewish roots," he said.
A native of California, Rabbi Berger attended UCLA, where he received a BA in history and urban studies. He received his rabbinic ordination from Yeshiva Medrash Shmuel in Jerusalem. Rabbi Berger is married and has five children.