Ben Zakkai: Candidate Bios for Nominations 2022

28 Sep 2022

These Nominations are presented here as written by the nominator with mild editing for
the sake of brevity.

Aaron Adler – Southfield, Michigan
Nomination by: Rabbi Tzali Freedman
Chapter President, Regional Vice President, to watch Aaron daven or to see his middos on the basketball court is to be inspired. He is a true mentch, and Ben Torah as well as a mature and responsible leader. He leads the way as a living example of a passionate Jew. Our Regional NCSYer of Year, he will be learning next year at Torat Shraga – the next step in an exceptional NCSY journey.

Shlomie Assouline – Miami Beach, Florida
Nominated by: Karen Steinberg
Chapter and Regional President, Shlomie paved his own path to growth during his time in NCSY. Shlomie grew up in a Modern Orthodox Moroccan home, and he currently attends Dr. Michael J. Krop High School, a Public School in Aventura, Florida, which has a large Jewish population, however, Shlomie stands out in a crowd as the only student in his school who wears a Kippah proudly ands makes sure his Judaism is known. Shlomie is extremely serious about making time for his Torah learning, especially since he does not attend a Jewish Day School. He can be found regularly learning b’chavrusah with NCSY advisors, a regular at the numerous Torah classes given by NCSY staff, attended National Yarcheii Kallah twice and Regional Yarcheii Kallah 2020. He currently runs a Whatsapp group chat with over 60 participants where he shares daily Torah tidbits from the Sefer Olam Hamiddis. Shlomie attended Kollel Mechina this past Summer.

Shlomie is active in so many facets of Southern Region and developed into a leader of the Jewish people on so many levels. He serves as co-Regional President and with his incredible sense of humor, has established himself as a respected and valued leader and role model to all. He also serves as the Greater Miami Chapter Board Vice President and is involved in his school’s JSU. He is also an active Southern Region IPA (Israel Political Advocacy program) led by Rabbi Uri Pilochowski and can regularly be found on lobbying trips, meetings with local politicians, and AIPAC (before COVID) and other events becoming an advocate of the State of Israel/ Shlomie had served as Regional Vice President of Israel Advocacy in 11th Grade.

Shlomie plans to spend next year learning in Mevassert, assisted by a Ben Zakkai Bessie and Captain Hyman Galbut Learning Scholarship.

Noah Cooper – Beachwood, Ohio
Nominated by: Rabbi Tzali Freedman
Regional Vice President, Regional NCSYer of the Year, Noah is a real shteiger. After two inspirational summers at NCSY’s Camp Sports, going to NCSY Kollel was a big stretch. Noah took a leap and soared, and has not stopped growing. His diligence and love of Torah is infectious, and he is super mentch. His journey from a co-ed high school to Yeshivat Shalavim reflects well on his NCSY trajectory.

Gabi Ben Hamo – Plainview, New York
Nominated by: Rabbi Sammy Aronson
Chapter Officer, Gabi is a girl who wears her Judaism proudly while attending a large public high school in Plainview. She is someone who cares deeply about her Jewish values and has a deep desire to learn more about her Judaism and grow as a person and a Jew. She has a certain passion for her Yiddishkeit that she expressed to her peers. She is a leader among her friends. Gabi will be attending Bar Ilan’s Israel XP next year.

Tamar Dattelkramer – West Orange, New Jersey
Nominated by: Aaron Breslin
A scion of our Maalot Region, Chapter President, Tamar Dattelkramer is a unique young woman. She is someone who is constantly looking out for others. During her time in NCSY she was always trying to help out with events. Tamar also is an active member in her shul and community. She looks for ways to be of service, either in youth groups or setting up for kiddush and other programs. She is someone who is proactive, Tamar sees what needs to get done and makes it happen. During the summer of Covid she took it upon herself to run backyard camp for kids in her community.

Maya Dennen – Pikesville, MD
Nominated by: Rabbi Mordi Spero
Chapter Officer, Maya Dennen is an active member of Baltimore NCSY. She has been coming to Latte and fellowship consistently throughout High School. Even during COVID, she attended outdoor events, in the freezing cold. She recruited all of her friends from softball, soccer, and more! She always has a positive attitude, is always smiling, and is friends with everyone from all different social circles. Maya is incredibly growth oriented and is overall an incredible girl.

Gavriel Engel – Skokie, Illinois
Nominated by: Shmuel Katz
Chapter President, Gavriel Engel joined NCSY in 10th grade and the Chapter board in 11th grade as Secretary. He created a name for himself as someone who gets things done. He was passionate, organized and inspired, which proved to be an amazing combination that catapulted him to the top of the Chapter’s leadership.

After 11th grade, he made the decision to spend his summer at NCSY Kollel, which he described as a life changing experience, the most amazing program which he recommends to anyone and everyone.

This year, he made the leap from Chapter Board Secretary to President! He was the fire at the center of the NCSY logo. His vision and leadership shaped the tone and programming throughout the year. He is funny and kind, and clearly passionate about what he does. He never missed a board meeting or chapter event unless he was home quarantined due to Covid or visiting Israel planning for next year. He led trips to Hillel Torah to educate about Jr NCSY and acted as an Junior advisor for multiple events. He plans to attend Shalavim next year assisted by a Ben Zakkai Anne Samson Memorial Scholarship.

Kaycee Futterman – Concord, California
Nominated by: Tani Polansky
Chapter Officer, Kaycee is a passionate, dedicated, and inspired teen. She overcame incredible obstacles to get to a place where she can go spend her year studying Torah, but not because anyone told her to do so, rather out of an innate internal desire to grow and achieve as a Jew. She is an inspiring presence in her club at Monte Vista public school and while she maintains a humble and quiet demeanor, she brings a tremendous about of joy, enthusiasm and care with her. Her presence is noticed in the chapter, and although family challenges made it impossible for her to be on the board this year, she has worked hard to maintain involvement in the chapter as best she can, to learn with her advisors, and maintain connections with her community and staff. She is ecstatic to be attending Meorot seminary next year assisted by an Anne Samson Memorial Scholarship.

Nathan Ginsburg – Potomac, Maryland
Nominated by: Sammy Beckerman
Chapter President, Regional Board Member, Nathan has taken a leadership role in anything he is able to be involve din. His peers look up to him and see him a role model. As a public school teen, Nathan never et that get in the way of him growing in his Jewish education. He has taken many steps in his growth and makes his continued education a top priority in his life. NCSY has helped inspire him to go from public school to Yeshivat HaKotel (assisted by a Ben Zakkai Moses I. Feuerstein Memorial Scholarship) and BE”H Yeshiva College.

Dina Goodman– Providence, Rhode Island
Nominated by: Devora Weinstock
Chapter President, Regional Vice President, Regional Shem Tov Awardee, Dina is a true leader within our Region, with two years on Regional Board and steadfast dedication through a move and changing schools. She truly holds herself to higher standards as a leader, and recognizes she is a role model to her peers across the Region. She kept a positive morale and collaborated on the creation of interesting programming and initiatives despite the uncertainty of the pandemic. Moving from Providence, RI to Pittsburgh, was, as a Junior was not easy, but Dina maintained her connection to her friends in the Region, and prioritized her responsibility on Board to attend Regionals, Yarchei Kallah, and all leadership programs. Dina also loves learning Torah with advisors and peers and is focused on her personal growth. Post high school she would like to continue to be an engaged member of the Jewish community and is excited to have that begin with a year in Israel at Bar Ilan Israel XP.

Sigal Gottschalk – Olney, MD
Nominated by: Shmuel Gabi
Chapter President for three years, Sigal is an individual who asks intelligent questions which lead to thought- provoking discussions. Sigal maintains a respectful and open demeanor to other people’s thoughts and opinions. Sigal has been involved in the Jewish Student Union in her school as well our local NCSY chapter and quickly attained a leadership position as club president and chapter board member where she immersed herself in engaged student-led learning. Sigal accomplished each of required tasks, going above and beyond expectations in her dedication to her role. Sigal is an easily approachable person. She is an outgoing individual who brings a positive energy into the room with her. Sigal is enjoyable to work with and is impressive in all interactions. Throughout her years in JSU and NCSY, Sigal grew tremendously. From Onegs to Shabbatons to Summer Programs (Michlelet Mechina) she finally decided to take the next step and go to Machon Maayan in Israel assisted by a Ben Zakkai Anne Samson Memorial Scholarship.

Leah Gurock– Albany, NY
Nomintaed by: Devora Weinstock
Chapter President, Regional Officer, Leah Gurock, the sole senior from Albany NCSY this year, and their chapter Board President, is driven passionate and insightful. She has demonstrated an exceptional ability to communicate her many ideas for well-thought out and fun programs as a General Regional Board member, as well. Her love of yiiddishkeit shines through at Onegs and Regionals, where you can always find her right in the middle of signing and dancing. Throughout her time in NCSY, she has maintained friendships across the Region. She serves as a mature and responsible role model and brings her friends into learning, programming, and of course, the ruach.

We are so proud of her for continuing her journey next year at Machon Maayan.

Leora Hazan – Columbus, Ohio
Nominated by: Rabbi Tzali Freedman
Chapter and Regional Vice President; Regional Kesser Torah Awardee, Leora is number four in a family of NCSY transformations. The inspiration of the children has had a tremendous impact on the family. Each child is a gem and real leader. Leora is a perfect example of all that NCSY represents: growth in Torah, refinement in Middot, leadership, and a sense of responsibility for the Klal. She will be attending the rigorous Midreshet Tehillah Seminary next year, assisted by Ben Zakkai’s prestigious Mikey Cutler Memorial Scholarship.

Eliezer Jacobs – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Nominated by: Rabbi Tzali Freedman
Regional Vice President Eli has had a challenging childhood but that has made him into a strong leader and a sensitive soul. He has been learning Chumash Bereishis on a weekly basis with a public-school student whose first experience with NCSY was this year’s Yarchei Kallah. He has multiple chavrusas with Advisors and other teens and will take it to the next level at Mevaseret, assisted by a prestigious Ben Zakkai Mikey Butler Memorial Scholarship!

Amitai Kakon – Skokie, Illinois
Nominated by: Rabbi Donny Schwartz
Chapter Officer, Amitai Kakon is a boy who pushed himself this year. He stepped up as the VP of education for the Chapter, helping to arrange speakers for various events including Dinner n Learns and Shabbat programming. As an Israeli, he started the year not planning on a year in Yeshiva in Israel for fear of the repercussions regarding the army. He was so inspired by NCSY however, particularly by the Midwest Regional Shabbaton, that he decided to change his plans to attend Yeshiva Lev HaTorah, assisted by a Rabbi Pinchas Stolper Memorial Scholarship.

Jesse Kramer – Hewlett, NY
Nominated by: Ari Schanzer
Chapter and Regional Officer I really believe Jesse qualifies and deserves this scholarship. He has been am extremely consistent participant and has grown tremendously from NCSY/JSU programming. He looks forward to continuing his growth by enrolling in Derech Ohr Samayach, assisted by a Ben Zakkai Ralph Pelcovitz
Memorial Scholarship.

Shira Kramer – Pikesville, MD
Nominated by: Rabbi Jonah Lerner
Chapter President, Regional President, National Board Member, Shira Kramer is our Regional President. She is a born leader, and her go-getter attitude helps her reach all her goals. She is goal-oriented and always does her best to help those around her through everything she accomplishes. She is dedicated to her academics. She makes everyone around her feel important to her and has a way of bringing people in. She will be attending University of Maryland in the Fall – where we expect her to be active in JLIC.

Betty Khirman– Sunnyvale, California
Nominated by: Rabbi Derek Gormin
Betty is one of our strongest and most passionate leaders in the Eton Valley Chapter. She has great potential and can reach high and far if given the right opportunities.

Unfortunately, her family isn’t supportive of her going to Seminary and if not for Ben Zakkai’s iconic Ezra Ben Tzion Lightman Memorial Scholarship, she would not be attending Meorot Seminary and continuing her Jewish growth. I know she would do extremely well, as she has held multiple leadership positions in BBYO and in NCSY. She is friendly and has a desire to grow as well as encourage the people around her to grow in ways that are good for them. An exciting NCSY success story on so many levels.

Idan Malka– Las Vegas, Nevada
Nominated by Rabbi Derek Gormin
Chapter and Regional Officer, National President, in his years in NCSY, Idan Malka has grown considerably and been an unbelievable role model to his peers. Idan quickly moved up in the ranks from the Las Vegas chapter board to the West Coast Regional board where he served for two years. Idan has most recently served as the NCSY International President. On a local level, Idan has served as the JSU president of the club that he started at Advanced Technologies Academy, and is an alumnus of the JSU Leadership Institute. Following a life-changing summer on Kollel Mechina, Idan decided to take a bridge year and is now off to Israel with five of his fellow Vegas public school graduates where he will be studying at Yeshivat Mevaseret. Idan’s love for Am Yisrael and for Torah will undoubtedly help many more teens make positive trajectory-changing decisions for years to come.

Jack Resnick – West Hartford, CT
Nominated by: Devorah Weinstock
Regional Board, Regional Awardee, Jack has brought incredible leadership, energy, and motivation to our Regional Board/. An involved NCSYer for the past 4 years, he first got involved on our Regional Board to encourage and recruit more teens in West Hartford and at his community high school to get involved in NCSY. He spearheaded recruiting efforts for chapter, regional, and national events – which have brought attendance at West Hartford events to a 4 year high in his senior year. He loves sharing the NCSY spirit with new people, and contributing to the atmosphere for everyone. Jack has also shown real dedication to his growth, learning regularly with multiple advisors and participating in every virtual learning initiative offered over COVID. His choice to join the IDF next year is a testament to his love of the State of Israel and the Jewish people, and we know it’s just the beginning of his journey as a Jewish leader.

Mina Schulman–Columbus, Ohio
Nominated by: Rabbi Tzali Freedman
Chapter President of Columbos this year had a hug challenge. The Chapter did not have a Chapter Director and the pandemic had taken its toll. Mina was not deterred, and Columbus had one of its best years ever due to her leadership. They had constant programming and brought large delegations to Regional events. It was because of Mina that they had great success, especially with Jr. NCSY. She is a true leader, Bat Torah and an inspirational speaker. She will be attending Tomer Devorah in the Fall.

Emily Seligson – Stamford, CT
Nominated by: Devorah Weinstock
Chapter Officer, Regional Vice President and President, National Board Officer, Emily, has made a tremendous impact on our Region in the last four years. Active in the Stamford Chapter and in building friendships and connections across the Region, she has led the Regional Board in an incredibly effective year of projects and giving back – from virtual bonding events, to holiday packages, to chesed projects. Emily is a ray of positivity and embodies a deep, genuine care and concern for all around her. This has made her an incredible friend, and an even more incredible leader. Dealing with Covid setbacks the last 2 years on Regional Board, she has always lead and encouraged her peers to remain positive by modeling reactions of sensitivity and understanding. We all mourned with her when she lost her father this year and were amazed at her resiliency to continue in her role planning and contributing to Winter Regional a few months later. We are so proud of our community high school graduate’s decision to study at Machon Maayan next year, assisted by a Julia and Joseph Macy Memorial Scholarship.

Joshua Shapiro – Highland Park, NJ
Nominated by: Rabbi Shmuel Greene
Josh has been the driving force behind both the Highland Park/Edison NCSY Chapter and the JSU club at the Highland Park High School. I thoroughly enjoyed my time working with Josh and came to know him as a truly valuable asset to absolutely any team. He is hard-working, dependable, and incredibly honest. Beyond that, he is truly an inspiring leader. What a personal journey form Highland Park public high school to Yeshivat Mevasseret Yerushalayim (assisted by Ben Zakki’s Rabbi Dovid Kamenetsky Memorial Scholarship), he’s set an example for his peers.

Yechiel Shulman– St. Louis, Missouri
Nominated by: Shmuel Katz
Chapter President, Yechiel Shulman has grown in his participation and commitment to NCSY as well as the amount that he gives to the community through NCSY. He was an active member of our Kiwi Kids distributions through NCSY, attended NCSY Kollel last summer and stepped up as Chapter President (in a tough COVID year) this year as a senior. He plans to spend next year in yeshiva.

Yaffa Troodler – Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania
Nominated by: Rabbi Yitz Levi
Chapter Board Member, Yaffa Troodler has been an absolute pleasure to have as one of my Chapter Presidents. Starting off in high school as a shy girl, she soon joined her Chapter Board following in her older brother’s footsteps. Afterwards she blossomed into a real leader. She has helped shape Philadelphia NCSY and helped it continue to grow throughout the pandemic and beyond. She is very worthy of all the accolades given to real leaders if the Jewish people.

Emma Zalcman– Valley Stream, New York
Nominated by: Rabbi Gidon Black
Chapter JSU President, Emma Zalcman’s journey cannot begin with herself, because she is the product of various NCSY programs seamlessly fusing together. It truly starts with Emma’s mother, who attended ASTJJ for Moms and had an unforgettable, life-changing experience. She wanted her daughter to have a similar experience as hers and enrolled her daughter, Emma, in ASTJJ. Emma’s mother decided to go ASTJJ for Moms for a second summer as well so they would be together in Israel at the same time. That decision preceeded to be the perfect backdrop for Emma’s own transformative experienced In general, Emma calls ASTJJ, “the most meaningful summer” of her life. Emma has continued to grow in her knowledge and in her Yiddishkeit through NCSY programming and leads by example as the President of her JSU Club. She has started lighting Shabbas candles and baking challah every Friday. She is part of Olami Launch, which is helping enable her and her family to make Seminary a reality. Emma is a shining example, of all NCSY strives to achieve and is an unbelievable role model to all who know her. Emma will be learning next year at Tomer Devorah Seminary.