Orthodox Union’s Shevet Glaubach Fellows Now Active in Every NCSY Region in North America

hero image
18 Dec 2023

NCSY Fellowship Transforms Both Fellows and the Communities They Serve

It’s the dream of many NCSY advisors: to grow their communal volunteerism and leadership skills by becoming Shevet Glaubach Fellows (SGF). For the first time since the fellowship’s inception in 2019, more young men and women are realizing their goals via an expanded program that has placed SGF fellows in every one of NCSY’s 10 regions in 35 communities in North America.

Southwest fellows Moshe Benhamu, Avi Polotsky, Rikki Kestenbaum, and Nechama Barnarer in Dallas, at an October Jewish Unity Shabbaton supporting Israel

Thanks to a record $5 million gift from philanthropists Dr. Miriam and Dr. Felix Glaubach of Great Neck, New York, SGF inspires and trains college-age students and NCSY advisors to become future Jewish community leaders by providing them with critical leadership tools and resources to facilitate their success.

SGF Director Anna Krausz explains that while NCSY advisors and SGF fellows are both volunteers, fellows have enhanced responsibilities and are expected to contribute significantly and meaningfully to their communities. In return, they receive tremendous support and growth opportunities.

“The Glaubach family’s vision is to empower young men and young women to take on a greater responsibility for the Jewish community,” says Krausz. “Over the past four years, the program has expanded from two NCSY regions, to now being present in all 10 in North America. This exponential growth demonstrates the demand for, and impact of, Shevet Glaubach Fellows, who are having a transformational impact on communities across the U.S. and Canada.”

Shevet Glaubach Fellows Flora Shemtob (far left, top row) and Mordy Greenland (far right) pose with teens at an NCSY Shabbaton in Kansas, MO, in November

Over 160 young adults with varied backgrounds and skill sets were nominated by their NCSY regions to form part of this year’s cohort. Teams of between four and six fellows were matched with one of the 35 communities and assigned a staff mentor with kiruv work experience, who shares best practices for connecting with that community’s teens.

SGF Fellow Ezra Emerson was matched with Chicago’s Midwest NCSY community. As an advisor on NCSY’s Anne Samson TJJ (The Jerusalem Journey) trip last summer, Emerson works to maintain meaningful connections with the trip’s participants and is eager to contribute to NCSY, an organization that helped to positively shape his formative years.

It is nice to give back to NCSY and play a greater role as a fellow, in light of what the organization did for me growing up,” says Emerson, who is also an OU Executive Fellow in the Department of Marketing and Communications. “NCSY gave me some great memories and friends. As a Shevet Glaubach Fellow, I have developed a deeper connection with the NCSYers. I feel a sense of responsibility to show them what it is like to be a part of Am Yisrael, and to do everything the right way, so that I can serve as an example of how a real Ben Torah and mensch behaves.

No matter which community they serve, SGF fellows strive to transform Jewish teens’ lives by highlighting the beauty of Jewish life and traditions via meaningful, inspirational programming like Shabbatons, challah bakes and Torah learning, which cater to the diverse demographics.

SGF fellows’ yearlong dedication to their communities also enables them to serve as a continuous source of chizuk for teens who yearn for an ongoing connection with Jewish role models following NCSY summer programs, or during this trying period for Am Yisrael, for example. 

“Especially with the rampant antisemitism nationwide in public high schools and non-Jewish private schools, our fellows play an integral role in engaging teens in NCSY’s JSU (Jewish Student Union) after-school culture clubs, who are facing questions of Jewish identity and grappling with really challenging questions,” says Krausz.

In return for their overwhelming and transformative contributions to their communities, SGF fellows benefit from first-rate leadership training with SGF scholar in residence Rabbi Gideon Black, CEO of New York & New Jersey NCSY; “Fireside Chats” skill-building sessions; and a highly competitive, paid internship program with NCSY-affiliated departments. 

Designed to accommodate fellows’ school schedules, internships span seven months and require a commitment of 10 hours weekly. This is SGF’s second internship program and this year, it doubled in size to eight tracks, spanning everything from creating educational content for NCSY summer programs and working behind the scenes of the 18Forty podcast, to learning what it takes to run an NCSY region.

For Emerson, the education and experience he is receiving as an SGF fellow has been invaluable.

“The training is unparalleled to any other job or organization I have been a part of,” he says. “From the fireside chats, to the many different meetings I have had with my regional SGF head, Rabbi Jeremy Schaechter, the fellowship is amazing. I have gained many insights and I hope to apply these lessons to all aspects of my life. I am looking forward to the rest of the year and can’t wait to see what the fellowship holds for me.”