Recently, approximately 50 NCSY staff members from across Canada joined together for two days of Infrastructure; that is, two days of team building, relaxing, and strategizing for the future of NCSY. On the second of these two days, I presented our new campaign called “Generations, the campaign for Jewish identity.”
“Generations” is the boldest, most auspicious strategic campaign that NCSY Canada has ever embarked on in its 65-year history. It is our Vision 2025, 7-year plan to impact generations of Jews through targeted and innovative outreach on a scale that has never been attempted before. In short, our aim is to reach 18,000 teens in the next 7 years, a three-fold increase from our current numbers.
This vision was borne with the realization that the under 30-year demographic are marrying out of the Jewish faith at a rate of 58 percent. That is a number that will most surely increase, as the trend seems to be on an upswing. Although NCSY Canada has made a significant impact across Canada, I know that we can do better. We must do better.
When presenting this vision to our NCSY staff, the challenge was to get everyone on board, as we ask them to think bigger than ever before.
So how to inspire others to adopt a vision that seems to reach beyond the stars? We have only to look back to our ancestor Avraham who paved the way.
During the original covenant forged between Hashem and Avraham, Hashem asked our forefather to step outside his tent to see to count the stars (Bereishis 15:5).
And He took him outside, and He said, “Please look heavenward and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” And He said to him, “So will be your seed.” הוַיּוֹצֵ֨א אֹת֜וֹ הַח֗וּצָה וַיֹּ֨אמֶר֙ הַבֶּט־נָ֣א הַשָּׁמַ֔יְמָה וּסְפֹר֙ הַכּ֣וֹכָבִ֔ים אִם־תּוּכַ֖ל לִסְפֹּ֣ר אֹתָ֑ם וַיֹּ֣אמֶר ל֔וֹ כֹּ֥ה יִֽהְיֶ֖ה זַרְעֶֽךָ:
Was Hashem really asking Avraham to count all the stars in the heavens? That would be impossible!
It was impossible then, and it is impossible now to count all the billions of stars in the galaxies. The naked eye can only see approximately 5000 to 10,000 stars in total.
So what was the message Hashem was sending Avraham and by extension us, his descendants?
I believe that Hashem was addressing Avraham to lead a nation for whom nothing would be impossible. In effect, Hashem is communicating, “I know that there are billions of stars out there, but go out count them. Do the impossible. Become a nation of the impossible. Take the responsibility for the Jewish nation and, through them, the world. And if you do, I will give you the strength and abilities you never knew you had.”
“Im tuchal”—If you can take on the responsibility. If you can even begin the impossible. Then “ko yiheye zarecha,” then your children will follow your example.
Bold Jewish ideas that are eternally relevant need bold Jewish people to perpetuate them to pass them on. NCSY Canada has set an “impossible” goal that I believe is possible. I know that our staff has the talent, drive, and, more importantly, the belief in the importance of this mission. Future generations of Jews depend on it. Perpetuating a vibrant, passionate Judaism among our young people is not just a goal; it is an absolute imperative. I am proud of NCSY’s legacy of reaching teens, who have come back from our programs and classrooms at Torah High to report that they feel that it is more important to marry a Jewish spouse and raise their children with a Jewish identity.
Let us build the next generation together! Wishing our NCSY families and supporters a happy, prosperous, healthy new year filled with Hashem’s blessings.