The Ben Zakkai Honor Society (BZHS) of NCSY, the international youth program of the Orthodox Union, will induct Rabbi Israel Lashak of Dallas as a new member at the 14th Annual Ben Zakkai Honor Society Scholarship Reception, Sunday, January 10 at the Lincoln Square Synagogue in New York. The evening will also pay tribute to the legendary legacy of Moses I. Feuerstein, z”l, honor three individuals and induct four other new members.
Besides being inducted, Rabbi Lashak will receive the Rebbetzin Elaine and Pinchas Stolper Service Award.
BZHS is an alumni “Hall of Fame” whose new members 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. 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. Isabel Novak of Los Angeles serves as Chair of the BZHS.
Dinner proceeds go towards direct scholarships for NCSY members to continue their Jewish education after high school, or to participate in national NCSY programs, such as Camp Sports for Boys, National Yarchei Kallah, and Summer Experience for Girls.
Rabbi Israel Lashak was born in Mexico City and at the age of 14 made the wrenching personal decision to travel to Baltimore to attend the famed Yeshivas Ner Israel. It was in Baltimore that he became acquainted with NCSY by visiting a very popular summer program, Camp Sports. He graduated from high school at Ner Yisroel; earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Talmudic Law from Ner Israel, as well as Masters Degrees from both Ner Israel and John Hopkins University; and was ordained by Rabbi Yochanan Zweig, Rosh Yeshiva in Miami (and a lifelong friend of NCSY).
Rabbi Lashak has been involved in NCSY for almost two decades, becoming Director of the Southwest Region in 1996. For 13 eventful years he has helped remake the face of Texas Orthodoxy, reaching hundreds of public school teens and strengthening jaded and apathetic day school students. As creator of Euro Trip; as a leader on last summer’s recording breaking TJJ (The Jerusalem Journey); as the cofounder of NCSY in Latin America — he is a trilingual kiruv machine, bringing the passionate message of Torah to thousands of teenagers and adults in English, Spanish and Hebrew in 27 countries.
One measure of his remarkable success was on “Euro Trip,” many of whose participants are observance-challenged high school students from progressive, co-educational Jewish high schools. That was who they were before they went to Spain or Italy with Rabbi Lashak. To speak to them is to hear variations of the same theme: “I learned about Judaism at home and school but Rabbi Lashak made it relevant and alive for me.”
Year in and year out, Rabbi Lashak makes a difference in so many lives from Dallas to Santiago, Chile and from Venice to El Paso. He’s an NCSY treasure – a worthy recipient of both Honorary Membership in Ben Zakkai and the coveted Rebbetzin Elaine and Pinchas Stolper Service Award, presented annually to an individual who has rendered historic service to NCSY and NCSYers.