NCSY (National Council of Synagogue Youth) is a world-recognized organization that has played a pivotal role in the lives of Jewish teens across the globe. With the vision of Harold and Enid Boxer a”h, the Orthodox Union founded NCSY in 1954 to provide Jewish teens with an opportunity to build a strong connection to their Jewish roots through inspiration and leadership skills.
There is an active Monteal chapter, guided by director Mindy Zobin and most recently Côte Saint-Luc’s Beth Israel Beth Aaron Congregation was the venue for a special appearance by the highly distinguished Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks. He was also in town to speak at a Federation CJA event.,
A global religious leader, philosopher, bestselling author and considered a moral voice for our time, Rabbi Sacks was recently named the winner of the 2016 Templeton Prize. He is currently the Ingeborg and Ira Rennert Global Distinguished Professor of Judaic Thought at New York University and the Kressel and Ephrat Family University Professor of Jewish Thought at Yeshiva University. He is also Professor of Law, Ethics and the Bible at King’s College London. Previously, Rabbi Sacks served as Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth between September 1991 and September 2013, only the sixth incumbent since the role was formalized in 1845. He has been knighted by the Queen.
“Upon entering the hall, Rabbi Sacks exuded a regal demeanor - he truly has gravitas,” said Zobin. “He spoke at the breakfast to the donors about a Jewish future, and how we can no longer take it for granted. By supporting NCSY teen outreach programs, we can better guarantee our kids to be engaged in their Jewish life.”
After chatting with the donors, Rabbi Sacks went upstairs to speak with 230 teens from the Jewish days schools NCSY has clubs in: Herzliah, Bialik, École Maimonides and Hebrew Academy. To them, Rabbi Sacks, addressed the idea of being engaged in one's heritage. “He related a few stories, and it was incredible to see how mutual the admiration in the room was for this great rabbi, and from the rabbi to the students,” Zobin says. “One could hear a pin drop in the room. It was clear Rabbi Sacks would have loved to spend more time with the teens had that been possible.”
The teens asked Rabbi Sacks questions such as "Why does being the Chosen People seem so difficult sometimes?" and "How can we achieve here in Montreal a better relationship between Ashkenaz and Sefardic Jews?"
Rabbi Sacks was recently in New York to give a talk at the 9/11 Museum that has been erected on the site where once the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center stood. As he explains, “It is a place of collective grief and remembrance, where the exhibits are fragments of twisted wreckage and the debris of destruction.”
Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Rabbi Sacks said what he found that most moving about the 9/11 Museum were the memorial fountains that occupy the footprint of the original buildings. “Around the side, engraved in bronze, are the names of the almost 3,000 victims,” he noted. “Unlike most other fountains, though, here the water flows downward and in the centre disappears into a black hole, an abyss. The intention was to symbolize lives lost that can never be recovered. No matter how much water flows, the emptiness is never filled.
“After the tragedies of the past few days and weeks, however, the memorial seems to have another message also. The violence never ends. Innocent blood continues to flow. Every few days there are more newly bereaved families and yet more tears.
“One must not forget that of the hundreds of Muslims dying daily, the majority are at the hands of fellow Muslims.”