More than eighty local Jewish teenagers experienced an incredible summer as they traveled with NCSY on twelve different summer programs to Europe, Israel and all over the United States. They were part of a group of more than a thousand Jewish teenagers from all over America who dedicated their summers to Jewish experiential learning and leadership training through social action, Israel advocacy and holocaust education.
Southern NCSY programs engage over 2,300 Jewish high school students throughout the school year. The organization reaches out to students in public and private schools, both Jewish and secular, through the use of its Jewish Student Union (JSU) Clubs.
“JSU clubs are a great place to meet teens and to help them get excited about their Jewish identity,” said Rabbi Eli Zians, South Palm NCSY director. “We have a great time getting together, eating kosher pizza and doing activities. That is only the beginning. Our programs are powerful. We want the effect to go beyond the forty-five minutes spent together at a meeting.”
Rabbi Zians also serves as NCSY international director of JOLT, Jewish Oversees Leadership Training) Program, which only accepts forty participants nationally, nine of whom are from South Florida. During their five weeks together, JOLTers spent time in Poland, learning about their Jewish past, partnered with the Lauder Foundation to create a camp for non-affiliated Jewish children in Denmark and finally experienced Israel advocacy training and Jewish leadership workshops in Israel.
Other local teens elected to spend their entire summer in Israel on programs such as TJJ (The Jerusalem Journey), GIVE (Girls Israel Volunteer Experience), Ambassadors, a program dedicated exclusively to Israel advocacy training, and a host of others.
In addition to JSU clubs, NCSY offers weekly programs for Jewish teenagers and three regional conventions annually. For a full schedule of events, visit www.southern.ncsy.org.
About the Author: Shelley Benveniste is South Florida editor of The Jewish Press.
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