After an extensive year-long search, NCSY has selected Rabbi Simon Taylor as new regional director of New England NCSY. Previously, Rabbi Taylor, who hails from England, worked for AISH UK as the director of London schools and the director of the national advisor program; he also served as a chaplain in the British Armed Forces, where he provided pastoral care to teenagers in the Army Cadet Force.
Although it was a difficult decision for Rabbi Taylor to relocate with his wife Leanne and four children, in some ways it was also an easy one. “NCSY brings the largest opportunity to connect with Jewish teens around the world – reaching collectively 20,000 teens annually,” Rabbi Taylor explained. “The opportunity to reach out to so many people was very appealing, and an opportunity I couldn’t match in England.”
Rabbi Taylor’s first interaction with NCSY was in 2012 when he came to the United States as a scholar-in-residence for NCSY’s National Yarchei Kallah, a program designed for public school teens to study Torah and connect with their Jewish heritage during their winter break. Rabbi Taylor’s enthusiasm and his warm interactions caught the eye of Rabbi Micah Greenland, current international director of NCSY and then director of NCSY’s Midwest Region, who was thrilled when he convinced Rabbi Taylor to apply for the position.
“Rabbi Taylor is a dynamic Jewish educator with an incredible track record of engaging teens from the United Kingdom,” Rabbi Greenland said. “He’s an incredibly high-energy person who built a magnificent, successful program with teens from diverse backgrounds working for AISH UK, and the teens love him. There’s no doubt that he’s the best person for the position.”
Rabbi Taylor succeeds Rabbi Uri Grossberg and Devora Weinstock who served as interim directors for the 2014 school year, and Rabbi Shmuel Miller who led the region for 10 years prior to that.
Rabbi Taylor, who holds rabbinic ordination from both Israel and England, visited Boston after Pesach last year to spend time with teens from the region and New England NCSY staff members. The trip helped cement his decision to join the NCSY family.
“The staff and region were fantastic and a great team to join,” said Rabbi Taylor. “There was so much potential to expand and develop the program that my wife and I knew we had to take on the challenge.”
After his first months on the job, Rabbi Taylor and his team have already held a number of events across the New England NCSY region, which includes Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island. Rabbi Taylor is already looking to expand programming to Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.
Asked about the differences between teens in the UK and America, he stressed their similarities. “Youth in both countries do seem to have more or less the same interests and challenges,” Rabbi Taylor stated. “They all want to be empowered and loved, to have fun, to feel part of something authentic, and to meet and share good times with other like-minded teens.”