July 13, 2024
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July 13, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

NCSY Honors Rabbi Ethan Katz at Ben Zakkai Dinner

This past Sunday night, New Jersey NCSY gathered together at the Cradle of Aviation Museum to pay tribute to their esteemed regional director, Rabbi Ethan Katz, who was honored with the Ezra Ben-Zion Lightman Memorial Award at the annual Ben Zakkai dinner. The Ben Zakkai Society is NCSY’s national scholarship fund. Rabbi Katz was honored for his service to New Jersey NCSY.

In the past four years, New Jersey NCSY has flourished in ways that no one could have ever imagined. The region, one of the largest in the country, grew from having 1,000 teens attending events to over 2,000 teens. While four years ago New Jersey NCSY ran 400 events per year, they now run over 800 events per year. This past year alone, New Jersey NCSY had the largest number of public-school teens attend NCSY summer programs in New Jersey history. Almost every one of the public-school teens who attended a summer program this year has chosen to take upon themselves a mitzvah every week, such as lighting Shabbat candles, making Kiddush, saying Havdala, or being involved in a weekly online learning Chabura. In addition, New Jersey NCSY had their first public school shabbaton, which was sold out at over 100 teens. New Jersey NCSY has partnered with almost every yeshiva high school in New Jersey. The number of chesed missions run by the region has likewise doubled annually to a record-breaking 18 chesed missions this year.

The growth has come under the leadership of Rabbi Ethan Katz, who has been the regional director of New Jersey NCSY since 2013, together with his incredibly dedicated staff. His dedication, commitment and leadership has shown no bounds. According to NCSY’s international director, Rabbi Micah Greenland, Rabbi Katz has “developed a well-earned reputation for doing whatever it takes to get the job done. He frequently puts entire programs on his own back, working early mornings, late nights and long weekends to bring teens closer to Torah and mitzvos.” Rabbi Katz heads virtually every chesed mission, where he can be seen breaking down walls and laying the dirt, as he feels that no job is beneath him. He teaches thousands of teens what it means to be a true leader.

Four years ago, Dr. Murray Leben, chairman of New Jersey NCSY, said, “Rabbi Katz has long proven himself as an extraordinary leader and passionate outreach professional. He has the talent, creativity and experience to guide our region to remarkable success.” Dr. Leben was recently asked to comment on this, and he said, “Rabbi Katz has been a trailblazer in the area of teen experiential involvement. The chesed missions have been the brainchild of Rabbi Katz and have allowed hundreds of our teens over the past 10 years an experience of a lifetime. Our children are exposed to tikkun olam, leadership roles, profound life and philosophical issues, as well as the plight of struggling communities in a safe, caring, wholesome and Torah-true environment. These missions are life-changing at times and always hugely impactful on the lives of our children. Kudos have to go out to Rabbi Katz for an amazing program.”

Joey Bodner, member of the youth commission and chairman emeritus of New Jersey NCSY, had high praise for Rabbi Katz as well. “Teenagers today need to have solid role models. Rabbi Katz combines the very best of a Torah lifestyle along with teaching our teens to be responsible and involved in the lives of those around them. May he continue to inspire our children for many years to come!”

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