Midwest NCSY Creates ‘Jewish Futures Scholarship’ For Holocaust Education

17 May 2012


Alan Arens of Buffalo Grove spoke at the annual Holocaust Memorial Service in Skokie as the inaugural recipient of Midwest NCSY’s Jewish Futures Scholarship.

Alan Arens, an 11th grade student at Stevenson High School in Buffalo Grove, was the inaugural recipient of the “Jewish Futures Scholarship” from Midwest NCSY. The scholarship was created for a student who has shown an interest in Holocaust Studies, as well as a willingness to share and educate other teens in the lessons of the Holocaust.

NCSY | Jewish Youth Leadership is the international youth movement of the Orthodox Union. Midwest NCSY is based in Chicago.

The scholarship is available to all Jewish teens in Illinois, regardless of affiliation or background, made possible by a donation from the Association of Descendants of the Shoah-Illinois (ADSI).

According to Rabbi Micha Greenland, Regional Director of Midwest NCSY, “The scholarship was created with the hopes that the winner would help build a bridge between the past tragedies of the Holocaust and a bright Jewish future informed by the past. The intention is for the recipient to speak at the annual Holocaust Memorial Service in Skokie, which is likely the largest gathering of Holocaust survivors in the Midwest, and one of the largest in the United States; and attend an experiential summer trip to visit the very places the student has learned about. To my knowledge, Midwest NCSY is the only organization facilitating such an innovative program that combines education and experience for teens and the Holocaust.”

Rabbi Moshe Isenberg, Midwest NCSY Chief Communications Officer, said, “Alan is truly someone with great potential as a leader, and we are thrilled that he represented Midwest NCSY as our Jewish Futures Scholar in its inaugural year. Recently, Alan spoke in front of the large crowd about the importance of Holocaust education at the event sponsored by She’erit HaPleitah of Metropolitan Chicago, an umbrella organization of Holocaust survivor groups in the area. ADSI and Midwest NCSY are very proud of the inspiring words he shared at the event.”

Regarding the experiential summer trip that he earned, Alan was awarded a generous scholarship towards his trip on the NCSY summer program, JOLT (Jewish Overseas Leadership Training) — a five-week leadership experience that begins in Poland at Majdanek, Treblinka, Lublin and Auschwitz; then goes to the Austrian Alps to be a counselor at an OU/NCSY summer camp. JOLT is run in partnership with the Lauder Yeshurun Outreach Organization, to connect with Jewish children from across Eastern Europe. After Europe, participants travel to Israel, where while touring the country they will have the ability to reflect on the experiences in Europe; and while there, they will discuss what it means to be a Jewish leader today, and how they can utilize their JOLT experience to make a difference in the Jewish world at large.

Alan shared, “As the scholarship recipient, I had the privilege to speak in front of a group of people who have been impacted by the Holocaust. After my speech, I had a couple of these people come up to me and tell me how motivational I was. On the other hand, they had also told me what I will be expecting to see this summer in Poland, and how to handle these situations. Being survivors and children of survivors, they explained to me how this event changed them, and how it will change me. I am looking forward to continuing my education in Judaism, and I believe that JOLT is the perfect program to drive me to the next destination.”

Rabbi Isenberg noted that Midwest NCSY hopes more than one scholarship will be awarded in the future.

For more information on the Jewish Futures Scholarship, contact Midwest NCSY at midwest@ncsy.org or call 847-677-6279.