This month has been a special one for NCSY and Torah High. The culmination of months and months of preparation finally came down to one night at our Celebrating the Spirit of Youth Gala, where we honoured Jeff and Honey Rubenstein, Gerald and Sheryl Hartman, and, posthumously, Harold Jacobs, former persident of the OU, and his wife Pearl. It was amazing to see so many of our friends and supporters get behind a cause that will change the face of how young Jews relate to and embrace their heritage for generations to come. I am proud to say that we raised more than $4 million in support of our generations campaign and thank Paul and Chavi Jacobs, for establishing the Chesed Fund to support four of NCSY’s social action programs in honour of Paul’s parents, honourees Harold and Pearl Jacobs z”l. We have set the lofty goal of reaching 18,000 teens over the next 7 years!
Chanukah was celebrated by hundreds of teens across Canada through the recreational and educational programs of NCSY and Torah High. On the final night of Chanukah, more than 200 teens gathered at the RINX arena where they spent time together in honour of the holiday. They sang traditional melodies of the brachot (blessings) and maoz tzur as they lit the menorah and listened to words inspiration from Rabbi Mark Rose, Director of NCSY Ottawa. Close to 2000 students across the county shared in NCSY Chanukah education! And in Torah High classrooms across the city, the beautiful candle light of the menorah lit up the faces and souls of our pupils, as they learned about the historical relevance of the story—standing up to the forces of assimilation and modernity that distance us from our heritage and who we are as a people and a nation.
The story of Chanukah reminds us of the gift of the Torah, containing the incredible stories of our ancestral fathers and mothers as well as the traditions, customs, and laws that unite us around a common cause. That cause is to signal our devotion to God, thank Him for his blessings, and stay steadfast in our commitment to His purpose for us to improve the world around us.
As the last Chanukah candle is lit, my hope and purpose is to ensure that its light continues to permeate NCSY and Torah High as we continue our mission to inspire teens to raise the banner of their heritage with pride.