As I commuted to the OU this past Monday, I was astounded by the ease with which I got from point to point. "Oh, its vacation week!'" I remembered, appreciating the relative emptiness of the subway system. The reason this caught me by surprise was that in the NCSY world, we had not only just concluded our longest non-summer program of the year, but probably the most mind-blowing….NCSY National Yarchei Kallah!
This past week, 320 public school teens from around the country converged for 5 days in Stamford, Ct and Teaneck, NJ to spend their vacation week focused on learning Torah. In my opinion, this year's highlight could have been when Rabbi Yosef Mendelovitch spoke with the participants about what it meant to stand up as a Jew when all the odds and forces were against you. However, I had a personal moment when two colleagues came to visit Yarchei Kallah. These two, who were raised with a strong Jewish and Torah background, stood with me in front of Ballroom "B" which was converted into the Yarchei Kallah beit midrash this week. I asked them if they had spoken to any of the participants about their Yarchei Kallah experience; they hadn't. So I randomly asked the next NCSY'er who walked by to come over and tell us about herself. The girl smiled explaining that she was a high school senior from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and had been coming to NCSY since she was in 9th grade. I asked her about her plans for next year and her face brightened further as she said that she was going to seminary in Israel and that will make her the first member of her family to ever attend yeshiva! Now that's a highlight!
Have a great month!