The first National NCSY Alumni Family Reunion took place recently in Edison, NJ, with a capacity audience of 250 participants for Shabbat, and 100 more who arrived on Saturday night. The total included 80 children of alumni.
In addition to the local New York – New Jersey – Connecticut area, participants came from across the United States, including Akron, Cleveland, and Cincinnati, Ohio; Los Angeles; Detroit; Albany, NY; Chicago; Miami; Boston; Charleston, SC and Charleston, WV; as well as Montreal, Israel, and even Peru.
“The Alumni Reunion evoked powerful memories of yesterday, but more importantly dealt with the future — the future of our Jewish youth,” declared Martin Nachimson, Chairman of the NCSY Youth Commission, who traveled from Los Angeles to attend the reunion. “NCSY’s mission is to keep our youth connected. This is an area in which the alumni can be a tremendous force.”
According to Rabbi Steven Burg, NCSY National Director, “It was amazing to see so many NCSY families with their children and grandchildren, all under one roof for Shabbat. “Normally we just get to see NCSYers in the beginning stage, when they first start to keep Shabbat and kosher. At the reunion we got to see the fruits of our labor, with generations of Torah observant NCSYers in attendance.”
Rabbi David Felsenthal, who coordinated this event, described the reunion as “a giant step towards creating a vibrant alumni association, in which the participants return to their teen years, rekindling dreams of greatness for themselves and the Jewish people.” He continued, “One of the most powerful moments was Shabbat Ebbs, an NCSY tradition, led by Judge Danny Butler of Pittsburg, a member of the Central East NCSY Youth Commission and an NCSY alumnus.”
Rabbi Felsenthal cited the performances of all-star alumni bands playing music from 51 years of NCSY history. “It was amazing to watch the alumni return to their youth and dance like they were teenagers again,” he said.
The featured bands included members of the Eliat Duo, who played at NCSY Shabbatons 40 years ago; Ruach Revival, 30 years ago; Atlantic Seaboard, 20 years ago; Central East, 10 years ago; and the West Coast Band, within the past 10 years.
Rabbi Burg concluded, “Everyone can’t wait for the next alumni reunion. There will definitely be another one a year from now, and regional events in the interim.”