NCSY

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NCSY
Logo of NCSY.jpg
MottoInspiring the Jewish future
HeadquartersNew York
Location
  • United States, Canada, Argentina, Chile, Israel

NCSY (formerly known as the National Conference of Synagogue Youth[1][2]) is a Jewish youth group under the auspices of the Orthodox Union. Its operations include Jewish-inspired after-school programs such as "Latte and Learnings"; summer programs in Israel, Europe, and the United States[3]; weekend programming such as FNL (Friday Night Lights), shabbatons, retreats, and regionals; Israel advocacy training; and disaster relief missions known as chesed (kindness) trips.[4][5][6] NCSY also has an alumni department focused on empowering its alumni on campuses across North America to be able to live with a Jewish identity on college campuses.[7] Over the past several decades, NCSY has been the subject of two child sexual abuse scandals involving chapter advisors and directors.[8][9] NCSY, and its parent organization, the OU, have taken significant steps to address such abuse from an organizational standpoint.[10][11]

History[edit]

NCSY is the organizational successor to the National Union of Orthodox Jewish Youth, established in 1942[12] as an Orthodox youth movement[13] similar to a synagogue men's club or sisterhood.[14] Over time, its emphasis moved to providing positive religious experiences to adolescents.

Though outreach to public school youth has been around since the early Young Israel movement, NCSY's most relevant precursor is the Torah Leadership Seminar, created in 1954 by the Division of Communal Services of Yeshiva University under Dr Abraham Stern, which developed the Shabbaton model. There was a core of NCSY from two early founded regions Midwest Region (founded 1951) and Southern Region (founded in 1952 by Rabbi Abraham Isaac Rosenberg and Mr. Abe Rabhan of B'nai B'rith Jacob synagogue in Savannah, Georgia). In 1954, Harold and Enid Boxer donated the money to create a national organization from the already-existing Southern and Midwest Regions.[15]

In 1959, NCSY hired Rabbi Pinchas Stolper as the first National Director.[16]

In the 1960s there was an emphasis on NCSY Publications with many volumes written by Pinchas Stolper and then later the Aryeh Kaplan Series. They also put out the NCSY Guide to Blessings and the NCSY Bencher.[15]

In 1962, NCSY received outstanding praise from Rabbi Meir Kahane, after his having participated as an advisor to the NCSY annual convention.[17]

During the social upheavals of the 1960s and 1970s, the Orthodox youth of NCSY strove to temper social change through religious tradition.[18] In this period, at least one NCSY chapter took public action on this point, passing a resolution rejecting marijuana and other drugs as a violation of Jewish law.[18] At the 1971 NCSY international convention, delegates passed resolutions in this vein, calling for members to "forge a social revolution with Torah principles."[18]

In the mid-1970s, NCSY started a boys camp at Ner Israel Rabbinical College in Baltimore, MD. It was originally known as "NCSY Goes to Yeshiva," and later changed its name to "Camp NCSY Sports".[15]

In 1970, the Israel Summer Institute for Jewish teens was founded. Rabbi Stolper assisted NCSY in expanding internationally into Canada, Israel, Australia, Chile, and Ukraine.

By 2015, NCSY Summer Programs included The Anne Samson Jerusalem (TJJ), NCSY Kollel, NCSY Michlelet, NCSY GIVE (Girls Israel Volunteer Experience), NCSY JOLT (Jewish Overseas Leadership Training), NCSY BILT (Boys Israel Leadership Training), and other summer programs. There were 1097 participants in NCSY Summer in 2015.

The organization has produced many Jewish children's entertainers who have remained in outreach work, including Uncle Moishy and the Mitzvah Men and Zale Newman.

According to the Orthodox sociologist Chaim Waxman, there has been an increase in Haredi influence on NCSY.[19] Waxman based this on NCSY's own sociological self-study.[20]

David Bashevkin is currently the NCSY director of education.[21]

Organization[edit]

The organization possesses an International Director within the Orthodox Union, and is subdivided into national, regional and local chapters.

NCSY is divided into geographic regions throughout North America. They are New England, Upper New York, New York-Long Island, New Jersey, Atlantic Seaboard, Central East, Southern, South Florida, Greater Midwest, Southwest, West Coast, Northwest, and Canada. Additionally, NCSY runs programming branches in Israel and now Chile and Argentina. Each Region is divided into chapters. A chapter is typically a city, or a group of surrounding towns. In heavily populated Jewish areas like New Jersey, counties may have several chapters.

Many chapters in NCSY appoint or elect a group of NCSYers to serve on a chapter board, who work with the advisors or city directors to assist with programming or outreach. Many regions do the same thing, and have a regional board, who do similar things for the region. The International Board consists of representatives from many different regions.

NCSY's programming is divided into two age groups, "junior" and "senior"; these generally encompass 5th–8th grades and 9th–12th grades, respectively. Some programs span both age groups, but most programming is unique for each.

Programming[edit]

NCSY's original model was to create the regional Shabbaton, a weekend-long social and educational Shabbat experience based on learning sessions, following in the model of Abraham Stern of Torah Leadership Seminar.

Currently, while on Shabbatons kids are treated to skits, learning sessions and ebbing, where participants sit in a circle around the "circle guy" where they sing songs and do "funny" routines. They are housed either in hotels, camps, or grouped with sponsor families who take them in for the weekend.

NCSY Summer[edit]

NCSY Summer runs 18 different trips to Israel, Europe, and North America. The trips have fluctuated every year, with new programs released and other programs cut.

Boys Trips:

  • Camp Sports - "Camp Sports enables participants to hone their athletic skills while learning Torah with their friends and advisors in a fun and relaxed atmosphere. A unique aspect is that teens also go on over 15 exciting day and night trips including paintball, major and minor league baseball games, water tubing, biking, hiking, amusement parks and more, in less than 30 days!"[22]
  • Kollel - "NCSY Kollel’s sterling reputation is based on the unique combination of learning, trips, sports and relationships, which results in the summer of a lifetime. On NCSY Kollel, you have the opportunity to understand, strengthen and intensify your commitment to Israel and the Jewish people."[23]
  • RTC - "RTC is an all-boys, three-week, non-stop adventure that travels to the exciting locations on the East Coast of the United States. Intense sports leagues combined with amazing trips and adventures makes RTC the place to be for high school boys during the second half of the summer."[24]

Girls Trips:

  • Camp Maor - "Step into the spotlight and explore their passions for the performing arts on a beautiful campus located in the Pocono Mountains. No matter your level of experience, education or training, girls at Camp Maor have the opportunity to learn from professional artists in acting, dancing and vocal performance."[25]
  • Euro GO-"Participants on Euro GO will have a chance to enjoy the thrill and beauty of some of the worlds’ richest Jewish history. Travel Europe and Israel for four weeks on this all-girls program in a Torah environment, with great advisors and staff."[26]
  • GIVE - "GIVE (Girls Israel Volunteer Experience) is a chesed (volunteering) program in Israel focused on giving back to the land and people of Israel. Along with daily learning, touring and awesome night activities, girls on GIVE grow in their passion for chesed, love of Judaism and personal connection to Israel."[27]
  • GIVE West - "GIVE West is an all-girls volunteering program in the United States. GIVE West travels to the West Coast, stopping in hot spots like Phoenix, San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Yosemite, Portland, and Seattle. Participants have the chance to learn Torah with inspiring advisors, do incredible Chesed activities with new friends, and travel the West Coast from a different perspective!"[28]
  • Michlelet - "Spend the summer on Michlelet and have the summer of a lifetime! Michlelet is an incredibly balanced program that incorporates interactive learning, meaningful chesed trips, touring the land of Israel and, most of all, fun."[29]

Coed Trips:

  • Euro - "Euro is an amazing way for teens to tour Europe and Israel while simultaneously exploring their Jewish heritage. Euro provides teens with memories and inspiration that last a lifetime and truly gives them the Best. Summer. Ever."[30]
  • Hatzalah Rescue - "Hatzalah Rescue is a co-ed travel program for teens looking to learn CPR, hemorrhage control, and how to be a first responder. On Hatzalah Rescue teens will be certified as EMR’s, volunteer on an ambulance, assist in the Hatzalah logistics center, all while learning the intricacies of Hatzalah and their daily operations."[31]
  • Israel ID - "Israel ID is for teens looking to tour Israel while having an all inclusive fun-filled summer. Your journey through the land of Israel begins with the plane landing in Tel Aviv and continues through Tzfat, Jerusalem, Eilat and more."[32]
  • JOLT - "JOLT is a life-changing experience that provides teens with a rare opportunity to visit Poland, work directly with unaffiliated Jewish children currently living in Germany, and visit Israel. JOLT requires strong leadership skills and motivation, but also includes touring and exciting activities."[33]
  • JOLT Israel - "JOLT Israel is for teens who want to become leaders and for teen leaders who are looking to enhance their leadership skills. The highlight of the program is running a camp for siblings of children with chronic illnesses for 10-days."[34]
  • Next Step Internships - "Your internship experience will provide you with a solid framework to work on your career goals while exploring our shared heritage in the land of Israel!"[35]

Affiliates[edit]

Allegations[edit]

Baruch Lanner is a former director of NCSY convicted for sexual misconduct with minors whom he had contact with through the organization. The investigation began on July 12, 2000, he was indicted in March of that same year and surrendered to authorities and entered a plea of "not-guilty" on April 20, 2000. Lanner was convicted on one account of fondling a student on June 27 of 2002.[36]

Baruch Lanner was hired by NCSY's founder Pinchas Stolper [1] in 1970 [2], and remained his superior until 1994.[3] Lanner was already threatened with suspension for sexual contact with two teenage girls in 1972. [4]

At the time, in 2000 one journalist, Gary Rosenblatt of The Jewish Week argued that the Orthodox community had failed to deal with Lanner properly, and argued that NCSY workers often put the ends above means, sometimes with insufficient regard to the family dynamic or the alienation of teens from their parents. It also sometimes tends to a charismatic quality.[37]

In response the Orthodox Union set up a special commission of investigation. A 54-page public report summarizing a much longer document of investigation, found the following.

The report cited "profound errors of judgment" in the way OU leaders dealt with Lanner and also noted a larger problem of "poor management practices" in the OU, including a lack of accountability by professionals to volunteer leadership, lack of involvement by lay leaders in matters of governance, lack of financial controls and a "total absence of any policies regarding basic ethical issues" in both the OU and NCSY.[38]

As a result of the Lanner scandal, NCSY conducted a thoroughgoing internal review and reformed its structures and running. It created conduct standards, and published a manual on behavior. NCSY has also established an ombudsman hotline.[39]

Menachem Chinn is the former leader of the Twin Rivers chapter of NCSY who was convicted of molesting two children under his supervision. Having taught at Shalom Torah Academy in East Windsor and Morgansville, New Jersey, Chinn was first arrested on April 20, 2017 after a former student of his accused him of molesting him in Chinn's home.[40] A week following the initial arrest, a second accuser came forward, revealing that he, also a former student of Chinn, had been repeatedly molested throughout his education at Shalom Torah Academy.[41] Menachem Chinn admitted to both instances of rape and pleaded guilty, thereby serving only a suspended 5-year sentence of prison time.[42][43]

Lawsuit[edit]

In October 2011, NCSY was sued by a former advisor and employee for violation of the US Fair Labor Standards Act. The class action lawsuit claims that she had to work much longer hours than the allowed 40-hour work week.[44] [45]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Nathan-Kazis, Josh (October 14, 2009). "Rabbis Still Want Role in Abuse Cases". The Jewish Daily Forward. Archived from the original on October 11, 2012.
  2. ^ Yeshiva University (April 2, 2009). "Yeshiva College Honors Student Zev Eleff Publishes Book on History of NCSY". Yeshiva University. Archived from the original on October 11, 2012.
  3. ^ "Jewish Teen Summer Trips". Retrieved 2020-02-10.
  4. ^ NCSY Background, Orthodox Union, 2000 Archived April 10, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ "Jewish Teen Summer Trips". Retrieved 2020-01-28.
  6. ^ "Home". NCSY Relief Missions. Retrieved 2020-01-28.
  7. ^ "NCSY ALUMNI -". NCSY ALUMNI. Retrieved 2020-02-10.
  8. ^ "Sex-abuse Conviction of Rabbi Closes Difficult Chapter for Orthodox | Jewish Telegraphic Agency". www.jta.org. Retrieved 2018-06-19.
  9. ^ "Second victim alleges sexual assault by local rabbi". New Jersey Jewish News | NJJN. Retrieved 2018-06-19.
  10. ^ "NCSY Conduct, Policy, and Behavioral Standards Manual (Updated: 9/10/2016)". NCSY. Retrieved 2020-01-28.
  11. ^ Alex, Dan; er. "New victim says NJ teacher at Jewish school touched him sexually". New Jersey 101.5. Retrieved 2020-01-28.
  12. ^ Marc Lee Raphel, ''Judaism in America'' (Columbia University Press, 2003), ISBN 0-231-12060-5, p. 92. Books.google.com. Retrieved 2012-07-04.
  13. ^ Barbara Binder Kadden, ''Teaching Jewish Lifecycle: Traditions and Activities'' (Behrman House, Inc, 1997), ISBN 0-86705-040-3, p. 26. Books.google.com. Retrieved 2012-07-04.
  14. ^ Etan Diamond, And I Will Dwell in Their Midst: Orthodox Jews in Suburbia (University of North Carolina Press, 2000
  15. ^ a b c "About us". Cbaj-albany.org. Archived from the original on 2012-02-19. Retrieved 2012-07-04.
  16. ^ Saul Bernstein, ''The Renaissance of the Torah Jew'' (KTAV Publishing, 1985), pp. 274, 339. Books.google.com. Retrieved 2012-07-04.
  17. ^ "The Brightest Jewel". The Jewish Press. December 14, 1962. Last year I was asked to participate as an advisor to the annual convention of the NCSY. ... Words are too poor to describe the scene as children from irreligious homes gathered in a synagogue ... joined in Kabbalas Shabbos (Friday night prayers) ... at first awkwardly, and later with sureness and confidence. The Sabbath Queen herself tapped her toes in happy rhythm.
  18. ^ a b c Etan Diamond, ''And I Will Dwell in Their Midst: Orthodox Jews in Suburbia'' (University of North Carolina Press, 2000), ISBN 0-8078-4889-1, p. 104. Books.google.com. 2000-10-30. Retrieved 2012-07-04.
  19. ^ "Winners and Losers in Denominational Memberships in the United States - Chaim I. Waxman". Jcpa.org. Retrieved 2012-07-04.
  20. ^ Nathalie Friedman, Faithful Youth: A Study of the National Conference of Synagogue Youth (New York: National Conference of Synagogue Youth, 1998).
  21. ^ Bashevkin, Dovid. "Jonah and the Varieties of Religious Motivation." Archived 2016-10-12 at the Wayback Machine Lehrhaus. 9 October 2016. 2 October 2017.
  22. ^ "Home - Camp Sports". campsports.ncsy.org. Retrieved 2020-02-10.
  23. ^ "Home - Kollel". kollel.ncsy.org. Retrieved 2020-02-10.
  24. ^ "RTC - the premier second-month travel camp for boys". rtc.ncsy.org. Retrieved 2020-02-10.
  25. ^ "Home - Camp Maor". campmaor.ncsy.org. Retrieved 2020-02-10.
  26. ^ "Euro GO -". eurogo.ncsy.org. Retrieved 2020-02-10.
  27. ^ "Home - GIVE". give.ncsy.org. Retrieved 2020-02-10.
  28. ^ "Home - GIVE WEST". givewest.ncsy.org. Retrieved 2020-02-10.
  29. ^ "Home - Michlelet". michlelet.ncsy.org. Retrieved 2020-02-10.
  30. ^ "Home - Euro". euro.ncsy.org. Retrieved 2020-02-10.
  31. ^ "Hatzalah Rescue -". hatzalahrescue.ncsy.org. Retrieved 2020-02-10.
  32. ^ "Home - Israel ID". israelid.ncsy.org. Retrieved 2020-02-10.
  33. ^ "Home - JOLT". jolt.ncsy.org. Retrieved 2020-02-10.
  34. ^ "Home - JOLT Israel". joltisrael.ncsy.org. Retrieved 2020-02-10.
  35. ^ "NEXT STEP: ISRAEL INTERNSHIPS". Next Step Israel. Retrieved 2020-02-10.
  36. ^ "Case of Rabbi Baruch Lanner (AKA: Bernard S. Lanner, Baruch S. Lanner, Bernard Lanner)". The Awareness Center. Archived from the original on October 15, 2008. Retrieved 2008-12-15.
  37. ^ The Dark Side of Outreach: Does NCSY value religious observance over family harmony? Reassessing the culture of charismatic kiruv. Rosenblatt, Gary The Jewish Week 08-04-2000
  38. ^ "News report 2001". Jewishjournal.com. Retrieved 2012-07-04.
  39. ^ "NCSY Conduct, Policy, and Behavioral Standards Manual". NCSY. Archived from the original on 2008-12-11. Retrieved 2008-12-16.
  40. ^ "Jewish academy teacher from East Windsor charged with sexually assaulting 12-year-old boy". Retrieved 2018-05-15.
  41. ^ "Teacher, youth minister charged with sexually assaulting 2nd student". NJ.com. Retrieved 2018-05-15.
  42. ^ "Guilty East Windsor child molester avoids prison time with suspended sentence". Retrieved 2018-05-15.
  43. ^ Writer, Philip Sean Curran, Staff. "East Windsor rabbi takes plea deal in sex assault case and avoids jail (Updated)". CentralJersey.com. Retrieved 2018-05-15.
  44. ^ "Youth group adviser sues Orthodox Union over unpaid overtime". Archived from the original on 2011-10-31.
  45. ^ "Lunger v. Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America (Orthodox Union)".

External links[edit]