July 15, 2024
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Hundreds Attend 20th Annual Ben Zakkai Honor Society’s National Scholarship Reception

New York—The 20th anniversary celebration of the Ben Zakkai Honor Society’s NCSY National Scholarship Reception was held at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in downtown Manhattan on February 8. Two hundred guests attended as four former NCSY participants were welcomed into the prestigious honor society, and four awards were presented for devotion to NCSY and dedication to inspiring the Jewish future.

The evening was dedicated to the memory of Rabbi Louis and Rebbetzin Helen Ginsburg z”l, one of the founding couples of NCSY. Rabbi Pinchas Stolper, the first director of NCSY, flew in from Chicago to welcome the Ginsburgs’ grandchildren to the event. After a video presentation featuring the Orthodox Union’s Executive Vice President Allen I. Fagin, dinner Chairs Dr. David and Vivian Luchins began the proceedings discussing the history of NCSY and the personal histories of the multiple honorees and inductees.

“The reception provides necessary scholarships to some of NCSY’s highest-impact programs and makes a substantial difference in the lives of those teens,” explained NCSY International Director Rabbi Micah Greenland, who delivered the reception’s greeting.

This year’s four inductees to the Ben Zakkai Honor Society come from different parts of North America and serve NCSY in various capacities. Rabbi Ben Gonsher and Karen Steinberg both work for Southern NCSY, as chief relationship officer and CEO, respectively. Rabbi Adam Simon is director of San Diego NCSY and Rabbi Arieh Friedner is the director of Cleveland NCSY.

“The Ben Zakkai Honor Society is a remarkable group of NCSY alumni,” said Greenland. “It’s essentially our Hall of Fame and it allows our most distinguished graduates to work together on projects that benefit the Jewish community.”

After the induction ceremony, the program segued into the evening’s honorees. Nechama Kamelhar of Brooklyn NCSY received the Rebbetzin Ella & Rav Aharon Soloveichik Award, named after the Orthodox luminaries and early supporters of NCSY. Dalia and Rabbi Dr. Matis Shulman of Teaneck, NJ received the Ezra Ben Zion Lightman Memorial Award, named after a beloved NCSY advisor who died tragically at a young age. David and Fran Woolf of Toronto received the Enid & Harold H. Boxer Memorial Award, named after the founders of NCSY.

The evening concluded with a speech by Rabbi Chaim Wielgus of Brooklyn, who received the Rebbetzin Elaine & Rabbi Pinchas Stolper Service Award, named after NCSY’s first director.

Each year, a select group of nominees is voted on by the membership of the society, which was established in 1965 and is named after the Tanna (Mishnaic sage) who is credited with leading the Jews after the destruction of the Beit HaMikdash. Proceeds from the dinner, which was first held in 1995, provide scholarships for Jewish teenagers to attend NCSY summer programs and other major events.

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