As we began preparing our quarterly report, I felt the need to reflect on my first 3three months working with NCSY Israel. I started the position in September and since then I have been meeting with teens, parents, board members and staff to learn more about the organization and our accomplishments. I have experienced both regional and local chapter events firsthand. And from it all, I have been utterly amazed.
NCSY is an international youth movement dedicated to connecting and inspiring Jewish teens towards passionate religious Judaism. The movement was not foreign to me when I began with NCSY Israel. In fact, it was a significant part of my high school years. I was a member of my local chapter board and remember the strong inspiration and motivation I received from my experiences there. I made my first siyum (completion) of a book of gemara in my senior year at an NCSY Shabbat oneg and credit a large part of my Torah learning towards NCSY. I made Aliyah after college and never thought that NCSY would re-enter my life in Israel. But after finishing a master’s degree, I was offered a job at the relatively new NCSY Israel region. As a “young” region, now in its fifth year, there is a lot of room for growth and development. Yet it has also been incredible to see what has been accomplished so far.
I would like to share some of the amazing experiences I have witnessed in just the past 3 months. I recently attended NCSY Israel’s regional shabbaton in Ein Gedi. On the bus to the shabbaton, I sat quietly in my seat (with my 11 month old) with energetic Israeli teens surrounding me. Some had brought their own Bluetooth speakers and were blasting their favorite songs while singing along. One had brought a (American) football which he was throwing around. All this commotion taking place while driving the winding mountain road to Ein Gedi might have made someone a bit uneasy, to say the least. I want to contrast that rowdy bus scene to a second scene just one day later on the shabbaton. The setting is now an outdoor plaza overlooking the Dead Sea. The sun is slowly descending as Shabbat is coming to a close and those same teens are gathered in concentric circles singing “shirei neshama” and listening to messages of empowerment. There was a sense of calm and meaning. It was powerful to see how the same teenagers who were so rambunctious on the bus were now tuned in to the powerful and serious moment encouraging them to think more deeply about their lives.
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The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.