Hundreds Register for First National North American NCSY Alumni Reunion

18 Jan 2006

After its success in Jerusalem, with over a hundred people attending the National Conference of Synagogue Youth (NCSY)’s first national alumni reunion in Israel, reservations are coming in quickly for its first national NCSY Alumni Reunion in North America, which will take place President’s Weekend, Friday, February 17 – Sunday, February 19 at the Holiday Inn Plaza Hotel in Edison, NJ.

Already hundreds of people from around the United States and Canada have pre-registered, with alumni attending from every NCSY Region, including the one in your area.

Among those who have registered, is 62-year-old Ilene Freedman Raubvogel of Cincinnati, who will be attending with her niece, also an NCSY alumnus, Susan Jacobs of Charleston, West Virginia. At the age of 17, Mrs. Raubvogel attended her first NCSY Shabbaton, the 1960 NCSY National Convention, which was a life changing experience for her. It was held in the Monsey Park Hotel in the Catskills Mountains of New York State, and featured Shlomo Carlebach’s band (before he became world famous).

Mrs. Raubvogel grew up in a traditional but non-Orthodox home in Charleston, West Virginia, a city that at the time did not boast an Orthodox synagogue. Her father, who had grown up in an Orthodox home, used to reminisce about Shabbat — a feeling that was carried over to her when she attended the NCSY Shabbaton. “I felt such love and warmth at that convention,” Mrs. Raubvogel recalled. “Sitting on the floor, listening to Shlomo Carlebach, and participating in the NCSY Shabbat activities, made me want to be Shomer Shabbat (Shabbat observant).”

After graduating from the University of Cincinnati, Mrs. Raubvogel remained in the city for a teaching job, and began to observe Shabbat and keep kosher. She was overjoyed when she met her husband, Jacob Raubvogel, and discovered that he shared the same values with her. Up until then, all the young men she had dated weren’t interested in an Orthodox lifestyle.

Mrs. Raubvogel transmitted her love of Yiddishkeit (Jewish feeling) to her three children. Her oldest son, Alter, studied in yeshiva for several years after high school and is the administrator of the Cincinnati Community Kollel. He and his wife, Chana, have three children. Mrs. Raubvogel’s son, Lee, is also actively involved in Cincinnati’s Orthodox community, and her daughter Rivka works for the National Jewish Outreach Program and is married to David Bornstein, a student of the Chofetz Chaim Yeshiva.

Mrs. Raubvogel was a major influence on her niece, Susan Jacobs, who was part of the next generation of NCSY as a Student Advisor during her years at Stern College in New York.

Mrs. Raubvogel — who wonders if she’ll run into anyone she knew from back then — her niece Ms. Jacobs, and the many other participants attending the NCSY Alumni Reunion, can anticipate a weekend that will be replete with special events and great food, along with classes and workshops led by OU Executive Vice President Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb and NCSY alumni. Participants will relive the classic NCSY Shabbat Ebbs Away and Havdalah experiences.

“At this event, alumni are invited to again share the magic of an NCSY Shabbat, but now with their children alongside them,” declared an alumna, Deborah Lewitter of Highland Park, NJ, a member of the Reunion Committee organizing the event. “They will have the opportunity to renew old friendships and create new friendships with other alumni who share their passion for Torah. This will be an unforgettable experience for all.”

According to NCSY National Director Rabbi Steven Burg, “With NCSY chapters and public school clubs reaching out to Jewish teens everywhere, we are reinforcing our capabilities to support an all-out effort to take these teens to the next level. NCSY alumni are the experienced, battle tested army that can rally the support our teens so desperately need.”

For more information contact Rabbi Dave Felsenthal, NCSY Director of Development, at 212-613-8153, or