I’m going to share with you one of my pride and joys of NCSY Alumni that few of you probably know about. We have a special fund (feel free to contribute) that we use for seed grants for alumni to run programs reaching out to other alumni and connecting them to great Jewish programs. We promote this among our alumni on campus and have helped start several interesting projects on campus in the US and Canada. One of the projects we have helped from this fund is a program called Heart to Heart (H2H).
H2H has several NCSY alumni among it’s leadership (founder Hart Levine never went to NCSY as a kid but has an amazing Yad Hashem story of how he ended up an advisor at a Shabbaton and is engaged to former NCSY superstar Yael Brodsky from NJ). H2H promotes NCSY alumni and other modern Orthodox college students to share their love of mitzvot with their friends on campus. For more information visit their website http://theheart2heartproject.org
This past Shabbos I was privileged to be a guest staff member at the H2H Leadership Shabbaton in Englewood NJ and it was awesome. Over 70 college students from 25 different colleges attended. Ahavat Torah and their community were amazing hosts. Rabbi Goldin (Rav of the congregation and father of several NCSY alumni including my former cohort in outreach Yehuda) told the entire congregation that he feels this is the most brilliant program he has ever heard of and he thanked the OU for its key role in its formulation and continued growth. He even told his congregation to support this project financially through the OU office.
Students gave the drasha in each of the 3 minyanim while I gave the drasha in our separate minyan for the student leaders. Two of the students were members of their shul and the third was Hart Levine. Hart also spoke at Shalosh Seudas where he blew everyone away!
Friday night the new student “leaders” were talking about how can they teach others when they themselves don’t keep everything and were full of self doubt. By the time Shabbos ended they had heard from their peers who had felt the same way their wonderful successes in sharing what they did now without having to know everything and the amazing impact that had. That and the great practical training sessions transformed the students from doubtful to excited to share what they feel as beautiful about Shabbos and Judaism with their peers.
Guest staff included myself, Rabbi Goldin, Rabbi Seif (former JLIC Penn) and Rabbi Allen (Hillel Director North Jersey). Most of the sessions were run by students and former students from Heart to Heart.
In the words of Rabbi Goldin, students who went through the Modern Orthodox High Schools and are at risk on campus are becoming strong themselves as they share with their peers and we should do everything possible to see this program survive and thrive.
This little know program will be well known in the near future and is just one of the many reasons we should all be proud to be NCSY Alumni!
Have an Awesome Shabbos,
Rabbi Dave Felsenthal Director, NCSY Alumni and OU Israel Free Spirit Birthright