Guess what time of year it is?

Guess what time of year it is? No it’s not Yeshiva winter break or the end of the round of Birthright or even Tu B’shvat. It’s time for the annual Ben Zakkai scholarship reception this Sunday 5pm at the Bohemian Hall in Manhattan !

For those who can’t make it, we will be inaugurating the Rav Ahron and Rebbitzen Ella Soloveichik Memorial Award in appreciation of their historic contributions to NCSY and all Jewish youth. A special thank you to Dr. Rivkah and Rabbi Yesef Blau, Dr. Judy and Rabbi Jack Rajchenbach, Harriet and Barry Ray and Dr. Laurie and Rabbi Milt Wakschlag for leading the way in this and many other wonderful projects.

Sometimes I look at the all time great athletes and wonder if they had it easy or had to earn their success. Usually upon investigation you learn there were many more failures than successes along the way but they just kept the ball in play practice after practice, game after game and season after season. Our chairs Vivian and David Luchins have once again pulled off a tremendous success through an amazing amount of daily personal effort and when you look at all the years of dedicated and consistent work on behalf of our NCSY’ers our sincere gratitude cannot possibly begin to measure up to the reality. Congratulations to both of you and the events lead professional Elaine Grossman on another tremendous success.

How ironic is it that the first time I met Rabbi Shimon Kurland was through a David Luchins introduction. I am forever grateful that the two of them invested in my future over 20 years ago and I hope they are happy with the return! Mazal Tov Sheri and Rabbi Shimon Kurland on a well deserved honor, the Ezra Ben-Zion Lightman award.

Mazal Tov to Marilyn (Rabhan) Swedarsky on receiving the Enid and Harold H. Boxer Memorial Award. They say that if you really want to see a persons accomplishments look at their children and I am a huge fan.

Mazal Tov to Rabbi Shraga Gross. This is a well deserved recognition of your leadership role with two different Chapter of the Years in the 70’s in two different regions and continuing that leadership to thousands of Jewish kids through RPRY.

Mazal Tov to Judy (Kunofsky) Rieser. Judy and I have worked behind the scenes on many very successful NCSY joint projects with Touro. Even though she was not officially my student, since her husband Elan was one of my student leaders way back at Cooper Union I feel a special nachas at this well deserved award.

Mazal Tov to my colleagues Nechama and Jon Ackerman, Todd Cohn and Marc Fein. We have been in the trenches together and you all represent the best and the brightest of todays NCSY leadership.

Acharon Acharon Chaviv, each Ben Zakkai member represents thousands of alumni as their former leader and friend. We need your continued help reaching out to the NCSY’ers from your circle of influence and reconnecting them through NCSY Alumni to take a role in the Jewish Future through NCSY. Thank you to all of you for showing your support in the past, tonight and in the future.

Have an Awesome Shabbat,

Rabbi Dave Felsenthal