NCSY helped transform Scott Shulman into the Jewish leader he is today. Born and raised in Columbus, Ohio, Scott first got involved with NCSY in 6th grade, joining the Central East region. Scott demonstrated his leadership at a young age by joining the Junior NCSY board in middle school. His NCSY involvement and leadership opportunities increased as he moved through high school, where he held several VP positions in his local chapter, and was even offered a spot on the Regional Board. However, at the end of 11th grade, Scott made the difficult decision of skipping senior year and going to learn in Israel, thus ending his NCSY career earlier than intended.
For Scott, leaving NCSY meant leaving a community that created genuine Judaism for him and his peers. As Scott put it, “NCSY universally creates strong passion and priceless value in experiencing authentic Judaism.” One such moment that remained with Scott was the takeaway message imparted by Tzali Freedman, when he ended a shabbaton by telling hundreds of Jewish teenagers, “YOU are the future leaders of the Jewish people!” Scott reminisced, “I remember feeling challenged in a way never before. NCSY reaches out to thousands of teens each year to tell them that they matter; they better be ready to contribute to their people and the world at large.”
Although Scott’s NCSY experience ended over a decade ago, its impact has stuck with him throughout the years, from learning in Israel, to studying at Yeshiva University, and even at his current position in the OU, where he works as a Program Director for the Israel Free Spirit Birthright team. It is undeniable that Scott embodies the necessary qualities and skills of a strong Jewish leader. When Scott began at the OU, Israel Free Spirit had a two man team, and sent off less than 10 trips a year. Today, 6 years later, they send more than 60 trips a year and have around 20 national staff members. Scott played a vital role in turning Israel Free Spirit into an integral partner for Birthright Israel. As Scott put it, “it is a huge Kiddush Hashem that Birthright looks at us as a leading trip organizer, both qualitatively and quantitatively.”
In less than three weeks Scott, his wife, and two beautiful children are yet again contributing to the Jewish people by making aliyah. They are going to live in the Ramat Shiloh community of Ramat Beit Shemesh. In Israel, Scott will continue his strong Jewish leadership by continuing his work with Birthright, getting involved in his community, and giving shiurim. In parting, Scott leaves us with a profound message he received from NCSY: “This world is increasingly becoming a crazy place. You can’t wish that away. However, you can choose to be on the good side of crazy. Connecting yourself to Judaism and Jewish mentors is the best chance you have at confronting the world from a good place!”