The youngest of the Jewish youth movements in the United States affiliated with a major denomination of Judaism, NCSY turns 60 this year. Founded by the Orthodox Union in 1954 as the National Conference of Synagogue Youth, it has connected more than 250,000 Jewish teens with Jewish life, and helped pioneer activities that introduce Judaism outside of a synagogue setting.
The Jewish Week recently spoke, via email, with Rabbi Micah Greenland, the new international director of NCSY, who was a member of the organization during his youth and lives in his native Chicago. The conversation has been edited.
In 1945, my grandfather was listed as “Mr. A. — a specimen Orthodox Jew” in Milton Steinberg’s book “A Partisan Guide to the Jewish Problem.” The interview with him is summarized in these words: “The misgiving that haunts him most persistently is over his children. … His great fear is that they will depart from the way he walks, either repudiating his postulates or rebelling against the hardship he gladly endures, or simply refusing to be different from almost everyone else. Against such eventualities he is putting up a game fight.
Parents already reeling from the high cost of active Jewish life may soon be facing a difficult choice for their high school children between tuition scholarship for day school and a summer camp or summer-in-Israel experience.
Voicing strong concerns about their children’s safety and mistrust of current policies of the National Conference of Synagogue Youth (NCSY), more than 100 parents, rabbis and lay leaders this week called for far greater parental supervision of the Orthodox Union-sponsored youth group.
Representatives of the 20 synagogue chapters of the Etz Chaim region of NCSY, the nation’s largest (comprising all of New Jersey as well as Allentown, Pa., and Monsey, N.Y.), met at a closed session in Springfield, N.J., Tuesday night.
The sex abuse scandal that rocked the Orthodox Union’s National Conference on Synagogue Youth three years ago is “now behind us,” insists the group’s newly appointed national youth director, Zale Newman, who has announced a major recruitment effort.
Newman, a 35-year veteran of NCSY activities — almost all on a volunteer basis — is retiring from a lucrative financial services business in Toronto to assume the top post of the youth organization, which focuses on outreach to teenagers.
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