OU Ben Zakkai Honor Society Scholarship Dinner, January 29

January 17, 2012


The Orthodox Union’s Ben Zakkai Honor Society (BZHS), an alumni “Hall of Fame” for members of its international youth movement, NCSY | Jewish Youth Leadership, will induct six new members while paying tribute to the sacred legacy of Rav Ahron and Rebbetzen Ella Soloveichik zt”l at this year’s Annual Scholarship Reception.

The Reception will take place Sunday, January 29 beginning at 4:00 p.m. at Bohemian National Hall, 321 East 73rd Street in New York.

Vivian and Dr. David Luchins are Reception Chairs.

In addition, the Society will honor Sheri and Rabbi Shimon Kurland, originally from Chicago, now of Israel, with the Ezra Ben-Zion Lightman Memorial Award; and Marilyn (Rabhan) Swedarsky, of Pittsburgh, PA with the Enid and Harold Boxer Memorial Award.

New members of BZHS are nominated by, and voted on, by its current members based on the nominees’ service to NCSY and the Jewish community. The Society’s main function is to raise funds for scholarships for high school NCSYers for summer programs in North America and Israel and for teens to continue their Jewish education after high school. The Society has helped pay tribute for more than forty years to esteemed NCSY alumni and community leaders who have demonstrated their dedication to Torah and their service to the Jewish people.

Inaugurating the “Rav Ahron and Rebbetzin Ella Soloveichik Memorial Award” include Dr. Rivkah and Rabbi Yosef Blau of New York, NY; Dr. Judy and Rabbi Jack Rajchenbach of Chicago; Harriet and Barry Ray of Chicago; and Dr. Laurie and Rabbi Milt Wakschlag of Chicago.

According to Dr. Luchins, “How appropriate that we will be remembering Rav Ahron and his Rebbetzin, thanking Hashem for sharing them with us in appreciation of their historic contributions to NCSY and Jewish youth, at this year’s Ben Zakkai Reception, which also commemorates their 10th yahrzeit..”

The 2012 BZHS Induction Class includes:

• Rabbi Todd Cohn, of Boca Raton, FL – Executive Director of Southern NCSY, which reaches 3,500 Jewish teens within a nine-state area, much of which has few Jewish institutions. Before moving to Florida in last August, Rabbi Cohn spent 11 years with his family in Kansas City, KS building a small community and its humble NCSY chapter into one of the most renowned chapters in North America. Under their inspiring leadership and open home, the Cohns helped catapult the chapter from five to 200 members and received the “NCSY Chapter of the Year Award” four out of the past five years.

• Judy Rieser, of New York, NY discovered NCSY soon after the launching of the West Hartford, CT chapter. Judy grew up in Bloomfield, CTand attended every NCSY chapter meeting and regional convention; by her senior year of high school, she won the vice presidency of her regional board and graduated fully Shomer Shabbat. She currently serves as Special Projects Coordinator at Touro College’s Lander College for Women/The Anna Ruth and Mark Hasten School in New York, where she is able to encourage students to work as members of NCSY regions, and to facilitate NCSY/college event sponsorships on regional and national levels.

• Jonathan and Nechama Ackerman, of New York, NY – A native of Minneapolis, Jon became the Director of Programming at New York NCSY in 2003, while simultaneously entering the advertising field. In time, he returned to his calling, deciding to go full time with NCSY as Assistant Regional Director under Rabbi Nahum Zak. In 2009, he joined Rabbi Aryeh Lightstone, Regional Director of Long Island NCSY, and together they oversaw the merger of the Long Island and New York regions. Along with his current role as Associate Regional Director of the new “super region” of New York NCSY, he also serves as co-chair of the Long Island Jewish Teen Provider Round Table, a group of youth professionals who specialize in informal Jewish education. Brooklyn-native Nechama met her husband while serving as an NCSY advisor for New York NCSY.

• Rabbi Shraga Gross, of Edison, NJ — Years before serving as Principal of Rabbi Pesach Raymon Yeshiva in Edison, Rabbi Gross served as president of his local chapter, Har Hanegev, in Miami Beach. At the 1971 NCSY National Convention, Har Hanegev was awarded Chapter the Year, and Rabbi Gross was named “NCSYer of the Year.” From 1974-1978, he rejoined the NCSY ranks, serving as New Jersey Regional Advisor, as well as advisor to the Monsey, NY chapter, which was recognized in 1978 as “Chapter of the Year.”

• Marc Fein, of Riverdale, NY — began his NCSY journey as an advisor with Upstate New York NCSY in 2005. He steadily ascended the ranks, first as Associate Regional Director, and currently as Regional Director. Under Marc’s leadership, attendance has doubled at regional Shabbatonim, national Yarchei Kallah and NCSY Summer Programs. Known for building close personal relationships with teens and advisors, Marc was additionally appointed this fall as NCSY’s Director of Advisor Training and Development in the national office, where he prepares seasoned NCSYers to carry on the responsibility of “inspiring the Jewish future.”

For information on attending the BZHS Annual Scholarship Reception or to contribute to its Souvenir Journal, contact www.ou.org/bzdinner or Elaine Grossman at 212-613-8350 or {encode=”mailto:grossmane@ou.org” title=”grossmane@ou.org”}.

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