Rosh Hashana is a time for new beginnings.
In American culture, one might make a “New Year’s resolution” to quit smoking or lose weight. In Judaism, a similar though profoundly different concept exists. Rosh Hashana marks the start of the Ten Days of Repentance, culminating in Yom Kippur, when all of our slates are wiped clean. This gives us the opportunity to spiritually reinvent ourselves every year. We are given the opportunity to try again, to recommit ourselves, and to do even those things we do well better in the coming year.
Rosh Hashana represents a new beginning for us as individuals and also for NCSY. Rosh Hashana serves as a reminder to reinvent ourselves with each new programming year. If something doesn’t work, even if beloved to us, we must discard it. If something new and innovative can help us reach out to more young Jewish teens, we must embrace it. It’s a cycle guaranteed to work so long as we don’t confuse our mission with our methods.
This coming year, NCSY plans to strengthen our work in several areas. The first of these is text-based Torah study. Working closely with our Atlantic Seaboard Region, we have developed education modules that re-emphasize the centrality and relevance of Jewish text study. Atlantic Seaboard has demonstrated great success with this model through their Ben Cardin Jewish Scholars program and we are eager to replicate its success throughout North America. Areas of study include a broad base of interesting topics, and the participants’ enthusiasm underscores the importance of returning to text as a core education tenet for NCSY.
The next area undergoing intensification for the coming year is Israel advocacy. Israel education has always been an inherent component of the NCSY experience, but the current climate necessitates giving NCSYers practical responses to the anti-Israel rhetoric they are likely to encounter. College is too late for us to arm students with the facts needed to confront those who would delegitimize Israel. The new NCSY Israel Education Initiative will address the matter with a multi-faceted approach including grass-tops engagement, experiential teaching and formal classroom teaching.
Social action is another area in which NCSY is focusing even greater attention. We have already begun a partnership with NECHAMA, a Jewish volunteer organization offering assistance to areas affected by natural disaster. NECHAMA engages in recovery and rebuilding in the wake of disaster. NCSY provides education in the Jewish ethos underlying such activities. These trips provide relief to the residents of affected areas and provide NCSYers with profoundly moving opportunities to engage in community service.
Finally, this year we are launching NCSY 3.0 which is designed to engage teens in the online world. Utilizing such tools as social media, user-generated content, video, and more, NCSY can better connect with, inspire and empower many to embrace their Judaism. NCSY 3.0 will enable us to interact with Jewish teens all over the world who lack the physical resources in their own communities. NCSY 3.0 will supplement the existing Regions and chapters, so look out for Virtual Latte & Learning!
These are just some ways in which NCSY has asked how can improve what we already do well. At this time of year, each of us should likewise ask, “What can I do better in the year ahead?”
My sincerest wishes for peace, health and prosperity in the coming year.
- To learn more, visit our web site at : NCSY | Inspiring the Jewish Future
- Arrange a speaking engagement with the expert on Jewish teens.
For over 20 years, Rabbi Burg has been educating and inspiring thousands of teens from all different backgrounds to live passionate Jewish lives. To find out more about bringing Rabbi Burg to your community, shul, or school, please call 212.613.8329 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more OU Holiday Content, please visit the Pearl & Harold Jacobs Holiday Resource Center