January is conference month

While December is awesome programs month with Regional Shabbatons, Birthright Trips starting, Yarchei Kallah, visiting three JLIC campuses and their Alumni interns, January is Conference month. I saw hundreds of Alumni at the OU Convention, AJOP Convention and now the Sunday the Ben Zakkai Dinner which is sold out and has raised over $180,000 for scholarships to NCSY! Give a shout out to all our honorees (here is my letter in the Journal)!

Thank you for joining NCSY this evening in paying tribute to the legendary legacy of Dr. Bernard Lander. He was a visionary leader who was not afraid to take chances. The fact that his decisions ended in huge wins for the Jewish people were based on his keen insight into people and organizations. We are very gratified that he was such a good friend of NCSY.

How many times have we been asked, “If you could take a time machine back 50 years, who would you visit, where would you go?” Will, one place I’d like to go would be to see NCSY in Florida 50 years ago. An NCSY that had members named Leff and Luchins!

For 15 years through Ben Zakkai Dinners and Receptions, the NCSY Alumni Honor Society has honored our past and future leaders and raised money to support our present Inspiring programs. Dr. David and Vivian Luchins ARE the Ben Zakkai Honor Society and David and Vivian have finally found the ideal honorees that will follow their instructions without even needing to be asked. Mazal Tov David and Vivian on receiving the Sarah Rivkah and Dr. Bernard Lander Memorial award.

I’m told that once upon a time a meeting was held of the Moetzes Gedolai Ha Torah to discuss whether to ban all coed Jewish youth groups including NCSY. The story is that Rav Gifter z”l flew to this meeting and said that if NCSY could produce one Rabbi Zev Leff then this was proof of the holy and essential need for NCSY. Well NCSY is still here and whether or not this story is completely accurate, they don’t tell such stories about me and you! I have been Zokeh to be in Rabbi Leff’s shiur in Ohr Lagolah (Dr. Luchins pulled strings so I could be in Aish HaTorah and Ohr Sameach at the same time) and share his Torah with my children and Talmidim on a regular basis. I am one of thousands of NCSY’ers who call Rabbi Leff, Rebbe. Mazal Tov Rabbi Zev and Rivkah Leff on receiving the Ezra Ben-Zion Lightman award.

Mazal Tov to Dr. Howard and Brenda Rosenthal and Jessica Hoffman for your well deserved awards. You have been stalwarts in your communities and NCSY leaders in Kansas City and Seattle for as long as I can remember. May you continue to keep the flame of NCSY leadership alive for many years to come!

Mazal Tov to my peers Rabbi Michael Rovinsky and Noach Klein. We have been in the trenches together and you both represent the epitome of being Mesiras Nefesh for Klal Yisroel.

When I moved to NJ NCSY to Direct Public School outreach we were very successful because of an outstanding group of NCSY’ers who made up a dream team as dedicated and capable as any professionals. I cherish the unbelievable effect they had on their peers. Aaron Horn was one of the dream team who has grown into a super star professional Mashpeah with a very bright future. Mazal Tov!!

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.

Rabbi Dave Felsenthal
Director, OU Alumni Connections Serving NCSY, JSU, JLIC and OU Israel Free Spirit Birthright