new jersey - chanukah ignite 2011

New Jersey - Chanukah Ignite 2011
New Jersey - Chanukah Ignite 2011
New Jersey - Chanukah Ignite 2011
New Jersey - Chanukah Ignite 2011
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New Jersey's Chanukah Ignite 2011



    Rael and Aliza Blumenthal, City Directors of the Teaneck branch of NCSY, spent their summer leading a group of 42 public school teens on a tour of Israel.

    The Jerusalem Journey (TJJ) is a program aimed exclusively at public school students who have a very limited background, explained Rael. Many of them have not had a bar or bat-mitzvah and have never been to Israel. This trip provides a kick start into understanding what Judaism is all about.

    At their recent reunion Shabbaton, participants enjoyed Friday night dinners at local families followed by an Oneg at the home of Shimmie & Alissa Horn. Over the weekend, the group heard from 9/11 survivor Martin Fineberg speak about appreciating lifes gifts and from L.A. sports and celebrity agent David Fishoff, who told the enthralled audience that they can be successful without giving up their Jewish lifestyle. They were welcomed to the community by Rabbis Shalom Baum and Steven Pruzansky.

    NCSYs summer program TJJ participants Rachel Rettig, Ilana Bandler and Temima Nugiel.

    Ari & Deborah LewitterHes a Paramedic; shes an EMT and a lifeguard. Together, exceptional couple Ari and Deborah Lewitter devote their time to saving lives.

    Their inspirational qualities dont end there. Ari and Deborah give their time and money to many charitable organizations. But their involvement in NCSY is unmatched. As NCSY board members, they have attended almost every single Shabbaton for the last 12 years.What draws the Lewitters to NCSY? Its such a unique program, Ari says. Its one of the few kiruv programs that also engages religious teens.

    The Journey Continues

    Continued on next page...






    Dear friends and partners,

    Were very excited to share w

    ith you some

    of the outstanding things tha

    t are going

    on in the New Jersey region i

    n this special

    local edition of IGNITE. Even

    though its

    only been a few months since

    the school

    year began, we have already e


    tremendous growth. Take a

    look inside

    and enjoy! Wishing you and y

    our families a

    happy Chanukah!

    - Rabbi Yaakov Glasser

    E D I T I O N

    Number of teens involved in NCSY

    Number of programs we run each year

    Number of public and private schools we service students in

    Number of NCSY public school clubs in New Jersey

  • Deborah adds, The fact that they also nourish kids who come from frum backgrounds is very important. You can come from yeshivas your whole life and know whats expected of you. But NCSY takes religion and makes it exciting. Mitzvos become something you want to do, something fun, not just a chore. NCSY provides the heart to Torah observance.

    Ari and Deborah both attended NCSY while growing up in New Jersey he in Long Branch, she in Trenton. While married, they continued to participate in the annual NCSY fundraiser in their shul. Then in 1999 nearly 25 years after they last attended an NCSY Shabbaton they were invited to join an NCSY Regional Convention. They fell in love with NCSY all over again. It reminded us how much we loved Shabbatons when we were younger.

    After that, Ari and Deborah became heavily involved. They helped create an active layperson board. They were also two of the key figures in writing many of NCSYs policies that ensure participants are safe and secure. Ari and Deborah donated a Sefer Torah in memory of Deborahs father that travels with NCSY around the country. Youve got to be the one to stand up and make sure it flourishes, Deborah said. You cant wait for someone else. We had a 16 year old and a 6 month old and we wanted to make sure there would be a strong NCSY for them when they grew up.

    Ari and Deborah are determined to ensure that their enthusiasm is passed down to their children. Their older daughter who was president of NJ NCSYs Highland Park chapter and a member of the regional board is now studying at the NCSY Bar Ilan Program in Israel while their younger daughter is very involved in Junior NCSY. They are unique kids, Ari says. They have been to almost every Regional Convention. He is proud to watch NCSY grow in its reach and impact. Its great to see, he says, how they get more and more kids involved each year. And they are doing tremendous work. Im shepping nachas.

    While at the Shabbatons, Ari and Deborah let the professionals handle the kiruv and they focus on making sure all the kids are safe. When it was pointed out to Deborah that they are true lifesavers, not just through their EMT, paramedic and lifeguarding duties but also through their involvement with NCSY too, a beam spread across her face. I never thought of it like that. But I guess its true.

    ... Donor Spotlight continued

    Determined and single-minded, Allie Belfer knew from a young age what she wanted to achieve. NCSY was not part of that plan.

    Ive always wanted to be a doctor and help people, she says. So, at age 14, Allie began studying at Manmouth County Academy of Allied Health Services, a school dedicated to health sciences.

    From Manalapan, NJ, Allie comes from a traditional family that enjoys spending Friday night dinners together as well as celebrating the Jewish festivals. Allie thrived at school but soon realized that this new environment presented many challenges. It was difficult. I was the only person in my school that took off key Jewish holidays, she says. She struggled with maintaining the traditions that had been such an integral part of her life until that point.

    My parents and brother tried to encourage me to join NCSY, she recalls, But I had no interest at that point. Allie was single-minded in her focus on medicine and engagement with Jewish organizations was a low priority.

    Later that year, Allie attended an NCSY event honoring her brother Samy who had recently become NCSYs Regional President and confesses that she was pleasantly surprised. Everyone was so nice to each other, she says. No one was judgmental in the slightest, and I actually started looking forward to spending time with people who were like me and understood me. She also began to form a close relationship with one of the chapter advisors Raizel Garfinkel.

    Allies involvement with NCSY continued to grow and at age 17, Allie applied for

    The Jerusalem Journey Ambassadors (TJJA) a popular NCSY summer program that trains top Jewish youth leaders to become advocates for Israel. She was one of just 40 students selected from all over the country to take part in the five-week trip.

    On her return, Allie was handpicked by local advisors to become president of NCSYs Englishtown chapter, which thrived under her direction. She brought a record number of teens to the 2011 Spring Regional Shabbaton and was awarded the title NCSYer of the Year.

    Last December, Allie encouraged by mentor Raizel and with the support of her parents decided to start observing Shabbat. It was very hard at first but as time went on it became really rewarding. Its the best decision I have ever made!

    Since then, not only has Allie been accepted into the Brandeis pre-med program, but she has also decided to spend six months at an NCSY-affiliated seminary in Bet Shemesh, Israel. I heard about Machon Maayan when I was on TJJA, she says. I know that Ill have a great time and the opportunity to learn more about my Judaism.

    As for Allies future plans, her days of ambivalence are truly in the past and she wants to stay active as an NCSY leader. Once Im back and settled in at Brandeis, I would love to become an advisor for one of the chapters near Boston.

    Isnt it funny how things change? she says with a smile.

    Allie Belfer

    Allie Belfer (middle) studying at NCSYs Yarchei Kallah Scholars Program with Monmouth County Co-Director Yardena Bannett (right) and another advisor.

    Youve got to be the one to stand up... You cant wait for someone else.

  • DonalD Trump General Counsel speaks To nJ nCsY sTuDenTsJason Dov Greenblatt, Executive Vice President and General Counsel of The Trump Organization, spoke to fifty or so teens at Monmouth County NCSYs weekly Latte & Learning program about making Shabbat and Yom Tov a priority while working. Mr. Greenblatt is one of the top executives working with Trump and was involved with structuring Mr. Trumps side of the transaction for the popular television program, The Apprentice. Greenblatt shared several personal stories with the NCSYers. In one, he told how after days of working around the clock trying to put together an eight-hundred million dollar deal, he realized that a three-day Yom Tov was quickly approaching and that he would not be able to complete the transaction on time. With trepidation, he informed Mr. Trump that because of religious reasons, he would have to leave the deal and return after the Holiday was over. He was very relieved when Mr. Trump proved to be understanding and supportive of his choice. Mr. Trump told me to go and be with my family he said. Hearing from a successful lawyer who chooses to risk everything in order to keep Shabbat & Jewish holidays has a certain wow appeal! Teenagers love that. He makes it cool to be observant, said Rabbi Dovid Cofnas, Director of Development for New Jersey NCSY. Jason feels very strongly about upholding traditional Jewish values and wants to transmit that to the next generation. His talk made a great impact, he said.

    nJ nCsY senDs Team To nashville DisasTer areaRabbi Ethan Katz, Associate Regional Director of NJ NCSY, ran a Chesed Disaster Relief Mission to Nashville with students in Torah Academy of Bergen County (TABC) and Fair Lawn High School. Teaming up with Southeast Nashville Recovery, the teens assisted with the cleanup