July 18, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

NCSY Teens Are Happy to Help in Houston

Over the past month, I have read many articles written by teens who have been to Houston on NCSY missions over the past month. They describe in detail the very physical experience they had while tearing down walls, ripping out kitchens, helping people move their belongings and so much more. The articles were well written and tell a wonderful story. I would, however, like to focus on a different aspect of the experience NJ NCSY had while in Houston on its many missions this past month.

NCSY is in the teen and education business. We run fantastic leadership training programs that inspire and educate our teens, setting them on the path to be our future leaders. This month we took over 60 volunteers to Houston. That was a small number relative to the 200 teens who wanted to go and wanted to help. The atmosphere and willingness to volunteer were just amazing. Parents were pleading with us to allow their children to join. “My child just wants to do something good” and “It’s Elul—please let the kids have the zechut of more Mitzvot” were two of the common themes we heard from the parents. The teens were willing to sacrifice their last few days of vacation and more than happy to make up any missed school work.

While in Houston our teens rose to the occasion. We are not in the business of disaster relief—other organizations do that better than we ever could. The actual details of the jobs that were performed by our volunteers are quite impressive. But more important than what they did in Houston is why and how they did it! At NCSY we have seen that when a challenge is put forth to teenagers they will not only meet, but surpass the challenge. There wasn’t anything that they were not prepared to do.

When the students from Bruriah were asked if they preferred to have a night activity or to deliver beds to people in need, they were happy to help others by carrying beds up three flights of stairs. Words cannot describe the emotions as we delivered beds to an Israeli family. The father, a war veteran with four children, told us that his children had not slept in a bed in a month and their backs and necks were hurting. The students from Heichal were thrilled to help families knock down walls and bleach their homes to remove mold. Our Frisch students got up early for Slichot, then spent their days ripping out floor boards as well as working in a food bank. The Maayanot teens as well as TABC and public school teens heard a warm welcome from their flight attendant who specifically welcomed the Jewish teens from NJ who came to help!

It has been inspiring for me and the staff of NJ NCSY to teach and lead our teens and watch their growth, development and selflessness as they have been willing to give up any plans they had in order to help other people in need. The examples are endless of what they are willing and capable of doing. In NCSY we challenge our teens to be the best they can be. These teens are our future leaders!

Lastly, we want to express tremendous thanks to our investors, without whom these trips would not be possible. They are truly our partners in educating and inspiring our children.

By Rabbi Ethan Katz

 Rabbi Ethan Katz is the regional director of NJ NCSY.

 

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