Southern NCSY Kicks Off School Year with Leadership Building Shabbaton

20 Sep 2011

Southern NCSY’s Regional board and chapter presidents gathered in Bal Harbour for a weekend dedicated to leadership training and empowerment at this year’s Leadership Training Seminar (LTS). Held early this month, the focus of the weekend was to equip the teens with the tools necessary to become leaders of the region for this coming year and become the next generation of leaders for the greater Jewish community.

NCSY | Jewish Youth Leadership is the international youth movement of the Orthodox Union.

Students came from Aventura, Bal Harbour, Boca Raton, Hollywood, Jacksonville, Kendall, Miami Beach, North Miami Beach, Palm Beach, and Plantation.

An important aspect of the weekend’s leadership training emphasized public speaking. During the Dr. Shmuel and Evelyn Katz Afternoon of Chizuk (strength and encouragement), an event open to the community, NCSYers shared personal NCSY experiences that had a strong and positive impact on their Jewish identity.

Todd Cohn, Executive Director of Southern NCSY, emphasized, “The students at LTS are the future synagogue presidents and Federation Chairs – they are the ones who will go on to inspire their friends, share their passions for Jewish living with their peers and serve as positive influences in their respective communities. It was extremely exciting and rewarding to listen to them share how they have been impacted by NCSY’s various programs and to watch them come together as a team in order to organize positive and meaningful Jewish events.”

Rabbi Ben Gonsher, Southern NCSY’s Director of Institutional Advancement, shared, “It was truly beautiful to witness a group of teens who forged lifelong relationships coming from various places and backgrounds. Some teens shared their experiences on NCSY Summer Programs as a public school teen while others discussed their inner drive for attending Shabbatons and various Torah learning programs.”

The Afternoon of Chizuk was also designed to thank the community for making NCSY programming possible and to educate those who do not know what it means to be part of the NCSY family. Unlike other Shabbatons that typically take place in hotels, LTS was specifically organized within a thriving Jewish community to be mutually beneficial for all in attendance. “It enabled community members to experience the power of an NCSY Shabbaton. This way, everyone could enjoy the passionate divrei Torah of the teens as well as the energetic Shabbat songs sung by everyone in the room, standing proudly on chairs during seudat shlishit. Shabbat closed with “ebbing”, the crown jewel of the NCSY experience, heralded by many as their favorite part of the program. Ebbing, short for “as Shabbat ebbs away” is when the teens come together as Shabbat comes to a close to hear powerful stories and sing together. It’s the closest thing you can get to the camp experience right down the street from your house,” said Todd Cohn.

“It was honestly the best weekend of my life. Being with everyone and being able to connect was truly amazing. The Bal Harbour community is so welcoming and warm,” says Sarita Weltman, an NCSYer whose mother drove six hours from Jacksonville so she could be part of the LTS.

To participate in future Southern NCSY events, please contact Todd Cohn at