Jake Litwin may be living on the opposite side of the country but he still carries the lessons he learned in NCSY on the West Coast with him. At a 9th grade shabbaton, Jake met Solly Hess and Rabbi Effie Goldberg and from then on his involvement with West Coast NCSY only grew until, eventually, Jake was a regional board president, where he did things from speaking at events to inspiring others as a leader in his community to singing havdala at regional shabbatons.
Since his time in NCSY, Jake took a gap year at Netiv Aryeh and spent additional time at Torat Shraga in Israel and is currently a student at Yeshiva University. But just because he’s on the East Coast doesn’t mean he hasn’t taken those leadership skills with him. In addition to being a catcher on YU’s baseball team, Jake is part of two acapella groups, the Y-Studs, a group made up of mostly other Yeshiva University students, and Tizmoret, a group out of Queens College. “My time in NCSY really gave me leadership skills, especially with public speaking. It was something I had to work on and I had practice talking in front of all kinds of people. Before Shabbatons, Rabbi Effie would walk around the Pico area with me and we’d go over everything. A lot of what I do has become easier for me because of NCSY. Even singing in front of crowds at NCSY havdalas helped me.” The Y Studs, who were flown to perform at the SCY Tunes fundraising concert in San Diego, are working on their first CD to be released as sefirah rolls around.
What’s next for Jake? He hopes to finish his studies at Yeshiva University and graduate with a degree in Business Intelligence and Marketing Analytics. After that, he hopes to return to his community in Los Angeles to live, work, contribute to the community, and also continue singing and performing. “I’ve sung at weddings and I’d like to continue doing that. Sharing performances with the crowd, sensing those vibes, knowing that people are enjoying your work is such a great feeling.” A few words of advice Jake lives by that he picked up in NCSY: “Even if you’re nervous, don’t let your nerves take over. Let your mind and heart be in charge. Only you can convey the message you want to give. You’re the voice so don’t back down from giving it.”