Hundreds of community members came to show their support for Midwest NCSY and what Honoree Mr. Jonah Bruck called the organization’s “lifesaving work,” at its Annual Banquet on January 31 at the Bryn Mawr Country Club.
“NCSY is like Hatzolah. They are literally saving lives,” said Mr. Bruck who, together with wife Jo, were the Guests of Honor.
Regional Director Rabbi Donny Schwartz opened the Banquet by stating that although 2015-16 has already been a “banner year” in terms of number of teens served, the organization’s real impact is on each teen as an individual.
A moving video, entitled “Because of NCSY,” illustrated this point. Teens from cities throughout the region shared how they have become stronger, more committed Jews as a result of NCSY. Some have found meaning in Judaism for the very first time, while others have taken on mitzvah observance, including Shabbos, kashrus and tznius.
Following the video, Ori Borochov, Midwest NCSY’s Teen President, told the audience about his personal journey at NCSY. Though Ori has attended Jewish schools and has what he calls a strong foundation in the Jewish “how-tos” and “what-to-dos,” he said he struggled with the “whys.”
“Sometimes a Jew needs to learn outside of a classroom environment to fully appreciate Judaism,” he said. “For me, as well as thousands of other teens, NCSY has been the catalyst for our desire for a greater, more fulfilling Jewish future.”
The highlight of the evening was the honoree tribute to Mr. and Mrs. Bruck, who have been active NCSY supporters for over a decade. In presenting the Brucks their award, Rabbi Moshe Isenberg, Midwest NCSY’s Executive Director, spoke of their unique ability to find the “pintele Yid” in every Jew.
An emotional Mr. Bruck described the impact NCSY had on both of his sons, who were involved in NCSY as teens. With tears in his eyes, he also expressed deep appreciation to Rabbi Israel Lashak, NCSY’s Senior Educator who had flown in from Texas for the Banquet, for the personal impact he has made on the Bruck family.
Three of the Bruck children then took the podium, each describing how their parents’ home is built on Ahavas Yisrael, and how supporting NCSY is in keeping with their belief that every Jew, regardless of background, is precious.
The Brucks’ son Akiva, who has been learning in Eretz Yisroel for the past three years, retold a well-known story about Aish HaTorah Founder Rabbi Noah Weinberg, who took a group of rabbis to the crematoria at Auschwitz and made an impassioned plea to fight assimilation.
Paraphrasing Rabbi Weinberg, Akiva said, “If one man was so committed that he could destroy six million Jews, we need to be [equally] committed to rebuilding the Jewish People.” And that, said Akiva in a choked voice of his own, “is what NCSY is all about.”
The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.