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About The Trip

Summer 2017

Recorded Tisha B’av Kumzitz Video – August 1, 2017

Watch this truly inspiring Tisha B’Av event. Participants from NCSY’s Kollel and NCSY’s 12 other summer programs gathered at the Kotel. This is guaranteed to lift you up.

2 Seconds Everyday!

Relive every moment of NCSY Kollel 2017 with two seconds from every single day this summer!!

Director’s Message: “Preparation”

Please do not search your emails to check if this is a resend from the first week of the summer.  We assure you that the title of this week’s email is no mistake.

It’s true that the start of the NCSY Summer Kollel would have been an apt time to highlight all the advance work that contributes to such a special program.  Much of what we have shared provides a brilliant example of our Sages’ teaching that “there is no holiness without preparation.”   The work of our local NCSY Kollel staff and the tireless efforts of the great team at the National NCSY offices in New York provide the platform for all of our later successes.  Our programming design and early summer educational agenda are both focused on acclimation and adaptation to the six remarkable weeks to follow.  The events over a summer on NCSY Kollel do not just happen, rather they are the direct consequence of simple preparation.

But this spirit is equally central to our last days together as well.  It may be a bit counter-intuitive, but we eschew a complete focus on reflection and memories as the program winds down.   Instead, these moments are defined by their spirit of preparation and forward thinking.

This is certainly true on an administrative level, where the work for summer 2018 has already begun.  Pre-Registration for next summer starts now, calendars are close to finalized, and campus improvements are being worked on as we speak.  The NFL and NBA sometimes boast of their cultural footprint by pointing out that they are “12 month” leagues, with GM meetings, drafting of new players, transactions, and practices all capturing the attention of fans and supporters.  Well, NCSY Summer is a 12 (13 in a Jewish leap year) month league too, with post summer review, reunion events, follow up programming, detailed planning, trip itineraries, staff hires, and training sessions filling the fall, winter, and spring months.

But it is even more important to note how “preparation” is a dominant concept during our last week on a more educational level.  The NCSY Kollel experience extends far beyond its six week run.  It is not only through the deep impressions and memories that each NCSYer enjoys, nor is it limited to the vital and invaluable relationships that will further develop and mature in the months and years ahead.  It is all of that, and also a clear sense of purpose and mission to enhance our lives in the places to which we return, and to insure that NCSY Kollel is not reduced to the confines of Beit Meir or a single summer.

This past Sunday’s Leil Iyun provided a perfect model for this.  We explained to the NCSYers that the special evening of learning actually had two primary themes.  On the surface level, there was one unified topic, “Relationships,” and each of the 10 world-class offerings addressed a different aspect of it.  But more subtly, the theme of the night was our anticipated return.  In all of the discussions, whether they centered on family, friends, or community, there was a subtext of applying lessons from NCSY Kollel to life beyond.  The language of our examples shifted from our sports courts and dormitory, and moved towards the scenarios and situations the NCSYers will likely encounter in the days to come.

Significantly, this was communicated by the prominence of some of the presenters themselves, not only the substance of the presentations.  The learning culminated in a special wrap-up talk delivered by Rabbi Efrem Goldberg of the Boca Raton Synagogue.  Rabbi Goldberg is always a scintillating speaker, but his visit at this point in the summer was especially meaningful because of the opportunity it provided to further the partnership and connection between the summer learning and the shuls at home.  Perhaps the most gratifying part of a wonderful evening was seeing the Florida NCSYers greet Rabbi Goldberg, learn with him, and, yes, prepare for their further interactions back in Boca.

Rabbi Goldberg was just one of many visitors who fit this profile.  Over the summer we’ve welcomed an almost endless stream of visitors to our Beis Medrash and campus.  These have included a dozen or so other summer programs, outstanding Torah leaders and visionaries, inspiring speakers, and a host of outstanding community leaders from the OU, NCSY, and other organizations and Torah institutions.  But, without any insult to these individuals, we have been most excited to host many representatives of schools, shuls, and NCSY Regions from which our NCSYers have come.  This week alone we had visits from 2 NCSY Regional Directors, another 3 City Directors, 3 school principals, and 2 shul rabbis. This speaks to the very high level of cooperation and collaboration that exists between NCSY Kollel and its partners.  Perhaps most importantly, it speaks to our understanding that we are working to prepare NCSYers for whatever comes next.  We do not operate on an educational island or, G-d forbid, in opposition to any of these influences or forces.  Not only is there harmony between the different parties, but also there is true synergy and support.

Somewhat surprisingly, this mentality was evident even in the spectacular context of our mega-Tiyul to Eilat.  The picturesque hikes provided images and view points that were as memorable as they were moving.  From my perspective, some of the most important scenes did not involve majestic mountains or colorful canyons.  Most notably, I would refer to the incomparable setting for our morning prayers.  Atop Masada or on the awesome hilltops of Eilat there was a prayer experience like no other.  But while the minyanim were wholly unique, they were neither apart from nor irrelevant to our more standard prayer opportunities.  Daybreak on a mountaintop would be extraordinary if it stopped there.  But we endeavor to prepare our NCSYers for a lifetime of meaningful prayer through these experiences.  Our hope is that one Tuesday on top of the world will inform on more mundane prayers for a long time to come.  Is this guaranteed to work?  Unfortunately not.  But it is part of our mission statement and a major factor in our preparations throughout the summer.

Similarly, on hikes and trips like this, the most valuable moments are not necessarily the most grandiose.  Each mountain climb and bus ride provides occasion for bonding and mentorship that are second to none.  This is not a hypothesis, but an observable fact.  Our Eilat excursion, like all of our tiyulim, saw NCSYers and staff in deep conversation about both the immediate opportunities and challenges before them, but also about the road that lies ahead.

It should be reiterated that preparation applies to our talented staff as well.  When we provide the highest caliber staff training sessions, we are not only endeavoring to enhance the quality of their performance while with us this summer, but we are fully cognizant that we are shaping tomorrow’s leaders and building our communities through our development of teachers and investment in their growth.

In truth, this has been a theme of the entire summer, not just the last stretch.  Take, for example, Yom NCSY.  Much has already been described about the great energy and enthusiasm at that uplifting gathering.  But two yearly traditions may have escaped full attention.  There are highlight videos for all of the tours and buses and a number of other entertaining presentations.  In the middle of it all, there are two short video clips that speak volumes.  The first depicts the wide range of NCSY programming options throughout the year.  These programs appeal to a diverse audience and cater to our entire population on NCSY Kollel.  There are co-ed and single gender programs, learning ventures and more social activities, Chessed Missions and public school clubs.  NCSY’s Community Beis Medrash Program has started to bring NCSY Kollel style learning to locations across North America.  In the second video, new summer programs for 2018 were introduced.  In both instances, even while enjoying and celebrating the here and now, there is always a thought about what comes next.

And so, this has been, appropriately and predictably, a week of great climaxes and exuberance.  The learning and league championships provided thrill after thrill.  Eilat and our final run of Mini Tiyul programs gave a final boost to our love of the land.  The banquet siyum was great and meaningful fun.  We enjoyed the entertainment from our first ever NCSY Kollel Choir and a fantastic Talent Show.   The Shlomo Katz concert at our Shabbos Nachamu Melava Malka brought the house down.  200+ were still pushing after midnight at our closing Mishmar program.  But the realest story was one of preparation.  Not for the summer or an event, but for the day after and the further steps and growth that await us.

Now that theme comes together in real time as we enjoy a last Friday together and get ready for Shabbos.  It is truly preparing for a Shabbos of preparation.  The anticipation for a Shabbos of spirit and togetherness is at an all-time high.  We are sure that it will not disappoint.

Through it all, we will be thinking of next Shabbos and preparing to bring NCSY Kollel home.


Looking forward,

Moshe Benovitz

Chaburah Spotlight – Chaim Levtov

This is Chaim Levtov’s first summer on NCSY Kollel. After being a Madrich on NCSY Camp Sports in Baltimore, he wanted to teach and guide teenagers in our homeland in Israel. He hails from the glorious city of Great Neck, NY. He has a diverse background which starts off with four years in DRS high school, shana alef in KBY and most of shana bet in Netiv Aryeh in the old City of Jerusalem. He is currently a psychology major in Lander College for Men and hopes to pursue a career in psychology and mental health.

The four boys in Chaim’s Chaburah all come from diverse backgrounds and school settings throughout the New Jersey and New York area. This is Moishy Greenfield’s first summer on NCSY Kollel. He hails from Monsey and will be going into 11th grade in Heichal Hatorah. Next we have Ariel Haymov, who also has the pleasure of attending the Kollel for his first summer. He is from Woodmere and will be going into 11th grade this year in DRS. Thirdly, we have Shmuel Gopin, who has joined the Kollel for the first time. He lives in Bergenfield, NJ and will be attending 11th grade in Frisch this upcoming year. Last but not least, we have Zach Shapiro, who lives in Lawerence, NY and decided to join the Kollel for the first time. He will be entering 11th grade in Yeshivat MAY this upcoming year.

In addition to Chaburahs, Chaim is also running the “Sfardy Party” this summer on Kollel. This is a unique opportunity for all the campers with a rich Sfardy background to appreciate their Sfardy culture with great torah from R’ Ovadya Yosef zt”l, accompanied by great food and singing. It is definitely an experience never to forget!

Chaburah Spotlight – Rafi Selevan

Born in Fair Lawn, New Jersey, but bred in Teaneck, New Jersey, Rafi Selevan attended both TABC and the Frisch school. Coming out of Netiv Aryeh Shana Bet, Rafi is looking to lead an all-star Chaburah.

The Chaburah features Elie Mandel from the 5 Towns, Issac Forgash from Teaneck, Gavriel Kaplan from Teaneck, David Shwartzstein from the 5 Towns, and last but not least, Moshe Goldring from Miami. The Chaburah is learning sugyas pertaining to different tefillot said in davening, from the gemara all the way down to the siddur itself. Additionally, the Chaburah delves into the deep world of aggadata, trying to figure out the message chazal was trying to convey. Although these are the official topics of the Chaburah, any given day can lead to any topic that one of the members wants to discuss, ranging from who won in leagues yesterday to why we do mitzvot.

Throughout the summer, the Chaburah has developed into a close unit both during the allotted time for Chaburah and out. Whether on Ben Yehuda or in the Beis Medrash, there seems to be a constant “chill” going on. The summer has gone great so far, and with this Chaburah, it only seems to be getting better.

2017 Summer Recap Video!!

Check out the amazing recap of NCSY Kollel 2017, the Best.Summer.Ever.!!!

Banquet Night

With only days left before boarding the planes home at Ben Gurion, NCSY Kollel began the end of summer “festivities” with a luxurious banquet at Yeshivat Reishit.

This was, of course, after our second to last morning seder and the quarterfinal rounds in both the hockey and basketball playoffs, not to mention the NIT Basketball semifinals.  Tomorrow’s sports schedule may be the most exciting of the summer, with four semifinal games on tap, as well as the NIT Championship game, both 3-on-3 Tournament Championship games, and a host of All-Star games, such as NCSYer vs Rebbe basketball and Staff vs NCSYer ultimate frisbee.

Following the early sports period today, eight buses took us all the way to Beit Shemesh for the annual end of summer banquet.  This included awesome food, a seforim presentation for our Rabbeim, a siyum on Maseches Makkos by Akiva Goldman, a performance by the NCSY Kollel choir, an exciting NCSY Kollel Talent Show, and the airing of the summer recap video.  A great time was had by all, but obviously with the bittersweet feeling of knowing that the summer is winding down.

We will be sure to take advantage of every second of our final regular day on NCSY Kollel 2017 tomorrow as we say goodbye to the Best. Summer. Ever.

Chaburah Spotlight – Menachem Mermelstein

On top of a hill in a far away land, planted right in front of the most sought after air conditioner in camp, one can find one of the most dynamic Chaburahs in all of NCSY Kollel. Led by Menachem Mermelstein from Manhattan, NY, a proud alumnus of MTA, KBY and the Mir Yeshiva, seven post eleventh graders are guided through an intense study of sugyas in shas relating to rov, chazaka, and sfeikos.

Each Chaburah member provides a unique personality which allows the Chaburah to thrive and grow together. Asher Schreier (Woodmere, DRS) brings the fun and energetic attitude, which is key to pumping up the guys. Jakey Friedman (West Hempstead, DRS), cool, calm and collected, yet ready at all times to stir the pot if need be, is one of the hardest workers in the group. Ari Cohen (Boca Raton, KYHS) is the Chaburah’s designated reader, which, coupled with his thoughtfulness and diligence, makes him a powerful force. Yoni Grossman (West Hempstead, Rambam) is the resident expert on anything rov and chazaka, while also bringing a pleasant yet intense attitude to Chaburahs every day. Zeve Kornwasser (Teaneck, MTA) can be found learning in the beis at all hours of the day while also leading his hockey squad deep into the playoffs, which can only be attributed to his tremendous work ethic. Yehuda Benovitz (Ramat Beit Shemesh, DRS), in between knocking down big three pointer after big three pointer, can be found getting the Chaburah going with his on point questions and answers to the hardest questions that the Chaburah faces, in addition to all the witty comments sprinkled in throughout the day. Lastly, Ezra Rotblat (Teaneck, TABC) is the guy who makes all the magic happen, with his incredible ability to take all the personalities in the Chaburah and create one cohesive unit, all while working tirelessly to make sure that he understands every detail in every sugya.

The Chaburah is looking forward to finishing the summer on a high note, and being able to use all that they have gained to enhance their senior year, while creating relationships that will last for years to come.

Final Tiyul Day

In the words of many NCSYers today, Kollel saved its best tiyul for last with an amazing day in Eilat.

Options ranged from extreme to chill to somewhere in between, and departure times ranged from 6:00 AM to as early as 11:30 PM last night.  That departure belonged to the extreme hikers of the Harei Eilat Tiyul, who drove all the way down to Eilat through the night to begin an intense hike up Eilat’s mountains in the early hours of the morning and daven shacharis at sunrise atop the mountain.  The second option, the Masada tiyul, left at 2:30 AM to do the same on Israel’s most famous mountain, climbing up and davening with the sunrise.  The final tiyul, fondly known as the “Ezra Teichman Tiyul” (paying homage to the creator of the tiyul option) was the most relaxed, leaving at 6:00 AM to go straight to Eilat and meet the other tiyulim for the second part of the tiyul day.

That part was the iconic “fun boat” of Eilat.  All three tiyulim found themselves chilling on boats in the middle of the Red Sea, jumping off the sides to swim and taking speedboats out for banana boating and tubing.  Following the boats, tiyulim either stopped at the famous Ice Mall in Eilat or, in the case of the relaxed option, visited Eilat’s aquarium, before all three tiyulim made the trek back to Beit Meir, where they were greeted with Maariv and a Burgers Bar dinner.

An amazing tiyul day capped off an incredible summer of tiyulim, and we are ready to take advantage of the rest of this week as we finish off a summer we will never forget!

Playoffs and Tiyul Prep

The second day of league playoffs proved to be as exciting as the first, if not more; that excitement led perfectly into our tiyul prep for tomorrow’s trips to Eilat.

The day was filled with upsets and “bracket busters,” rendering many NCSYers Bracket Challenge predictions incorrect and dashing the hopes of free Burgers Bar from plenty.  Hockey also saw its share of upsets, including the lowest seed advancing, and two of the four first round games went to intense, unlimited, sudden death overtime.  With the quarterfinals coming up Wednesday, the intensity promises not to let up.

Following the sports period, NCSYers had practically no time for their excitement to settle down as they immediately turned their attention towards tiyul prep for tomorrow.  The first tiyul option, an early morning Harei Eilat hike, actually left at 11:30 PM(!) in order to make it to Eilat in time for a pre-sunrise hike.  The other options all leave slightly later, with only Masada leaving before davening shacharis (at 2:30 AM, to be precise), but all are expected to be amazing, albeit a little tiring.

As the summer winds down, the excitement of every jam-packed day only increases, and we can’t wait to take advantage of our remaining time on Kollel!