NCSY (formerly National Conference of Synagogue Youth) is an Orthodox Jewish youth group sponsored by the Orthodox Union. Founded in 1954,[1] it has members in the United States, Canada, Israel, Chile, and formerly also in Ukraine. Its slogan is Inspiring the Jewish Future. NCSY is directly supervised by the Orthodox Union's (OU) Youth Commission chaired by Martin Nachimson of California.



NCSY is the organizational successor to the National Union of Orthodox Jewish Youth, established in 1942[2] as an Orthodox youth movement[3] similar to a synagogue men's club or sisterhood.[4] Over time, its emphasis moved to outreach and teaching religious behaviors to adolescents.

Though outreach to public school youth was started by Chabad in the 1930's, the Torah Leadership Seminar, created in 1954 by DCS of Yeshiva University under Dr Abraham Stern, developed the Shabbaton model (for more details see Baal teshuva). There was a core of NCSY from two early founded regions Midwest Region (founded 1951) and Southern Region (founded in 1952 by Rabbi Abraham Isaac Rosenberg and Mr. Abe Rabhan of B’nai B’rith Jacob synagogue in Savannah, Georgia). In 1954, Harold and Enid Boxer donated the money to create a national organization from the already-existing Southern and Midwest Regions.[5]

In 1959, NCSY hired Rabbi Pinchas Stolper as the first National Director.[6]

In the 1960s there was an emphasis on NCSY Publications with many volumes written by Pinchas Stopler and then later the Aryeh Kaplan Series.They also put out the NCSY Guide to Blessings and the NCSY Bencher.[5]

During the social upheavals of the 1960s and 1970s, the Orthodox youth of NCSY strove to temper social change through religious tradition.[7] In this period, at least one NCSY chapter took public action on this point, passing a resolution rejecting marijuana and other drugs as a violation of Jewish law.[7] At the 1971 NCSY international convention, delegates passed resolutions in this vein, calling for members to "forge a social revolution with Torah principles."[7]

In the mid 1970s, NCSY started a boys camp at Ner Israel Rabbinical College in Baltimore, MD. It was originally known as "NCSY Goes to Yeshiva," and later changed it name to "Camp NCSY Sports".[5]

In 1970, the Israel Summer Institute for Jewish teens was founded. Rabbi Stolper assisted NCSY in expanding internationally into Canada, Israel, Australia, Chile, and Ukraine.

In 2007, NCSY launched a sexual abstinence campaign.[8]

The organization has produced many Jewish children's entertainers who have remained in outreach work, including Uncle Moishy and the Mitzvah Men and Zale Newman.

According to the Orthodox sociologist Chaim Waxman, there has been an increase in Haredi influence on NCSY.[9] Waxman based this on NCSY's own sociological self-study.[10]


The organization possesses an International Director within the Orthodox Union, and is subdivided into national, regional and local chapters.

NCSY is divided into geographic regions throughout North America. They are New England, Upper New York, New York-Long Island, New Jersey, Atlantic Seaboard, Central East, Southern, South Florida, Greater Midwest, Southwest, West Coast, Northwest, and Canada. Additionally, NCSY runs programming branches in Israel and now Chile and Germany. Each Region is divided into chapters. A chapter is typically a city, or a group of surrounding towns. In heavily populated Jewish areas like New Jersey, counties may have several chapters.

Many chapters in NCSY appoint or elect a group of NCSYers to serve on a chapter board,who work with the advisors or city directors to assist with programming or outreach. Many regions do the same thing, and have a regional board, who do similar things for the region. The International Board consists of representatives from many different regions.

NCSY's programming is divided into two age groups, "junior" and "senior"; these generally encompass 5th–8th grades and 9th–12th grades, respectively. Some programs span both age groups, but most programming is unique for each.


NCSY's original model was to create the regional Shabbaton, a weekend-long social and educational Shabbat experience based on learning sessions, following in the model of Abraham Stern of Torah Leadership Seminar.

Currently, while on Shabbatons kids are treated to skits, learning sessions and ebbing, where participants sit in a circle around the "circle guy" where they sing songs and do "funny" routines. They are housed either in hotels, camps, or grouped with sponsor families who take them in for the weekend.


Gary Rosenblatt of The Jewish Week has criticized the NCSY for its aggressive approach, including its goal of changing kids regardless of the damage it causes to the family dynamic or the alienation of teens from their parents. It also sometimes tends to a charismatic quality.[11]

This situation creates an implicit paradigm in which kids see the NCSY and religion in opposition to their parents... even in cases of abuse, vulnerable children might choose to follow a charismatic religious leader and keep their parents in the dark about their lives -- even if their lives were plagued by abuse. (Kress)[12]

A 54-page public report summarizing a much longer document of investigation by a special commission appointed by the OU after the Lanner affair, found the following.

The report cited “profound errors of judgment” in the way OU leaders dealt with Lanner and also noted a larger problem of “poor management practices” in the OU, including a lack of accountability by professionals to volunteer leadership, lack of involvement by lay leaders in matters of governance, lack of financial controls and a “total absence of any policies regarding basic ethical issues” in both the OU and NCSY.[13]


  • NCSY's international director concurrently heads the Jewish Student Union (JSU) which operates in many public schools.
  • NCSY works with Agudath Israel of America in running Camp Nageela Midwest.
  • NCSY Summer Kollel Program is hosted by Ohr Yerushalayim
  • NCSY has always maintained a relationship with Touro College and Yeshiva University, which offers NCSY participants scholarships and recruits both students and personnel from NCSY.

Baruch Lanner

Baruch Lanner is a former director of NCSY convicted for sexual misconduct with minors whom he had contact with through the organization. The investigation began on July 12, 2000, he was indicted in March of that same year and surrendered to authorities and entered a plea of "not-guilty" on April 20, 2000. Lanner was convicted on one account of fondling a student on June 27 of 2002.[14]

Baruch Lanner was hired by NCSY's founder Pinchas Stolper [1] in 1970 [2], and remained his superior until 1994.[3] Lanner was already threatened with suspension for sexual contact with two teenage girls in 1972. [4]

As a result of the Lanner scandal, NCSY created conduct standards, published a manual on behavior, and established an ombudsman hotline.[15]

See also


  1. ^ NCSY Background, Orthodox Union, 2000
  2. ^ Marc Lee Raphel, Judaism in America (Columbia University Press, 2003), ISBN 0231120605, p. 92
  3. ^ Barbara Binder Kadden, Teaching Jewish Lifecycle: Traditions and Activities (Behrman House, Inc, 1997), ISBN 0867050403, p. 26
  4. ^ Etan Diamond, And I Will Dwell in Their Midst: Orthodox Jews in Suburbia (University of North Carolina Press, 2000
  5. ^ a b c
  6. ^ Saul Bernstein, The Renaissance of the Torah Jew (KTAV Publishing, 1985), pp. 274, 339
  7. ^ a b c Etan Diamond, And I Will Dwell in Their Midst: Orthodox Jews in Suburbia (University of North Carolina Press, 2000), ISBN 0807848891, p. 104
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ Nathalie Friedman, Faithful Youth: A Study of the National Conference of Synagogue Youth (New York: National Conference of Synagogue Youth, 1998).
  11. ^ The Dark Side of Outreach: Does NCSY value religious observance over family harmony? Reassessing the culture of charismatic kiruv. Rosenblatt, Gary The Jewish Week 08-04-2000
  12. ^ Higher calling By Michael Kress July 19, 2000
  13. ^ News report 2001
  14. ^ "Case of Rabbi Baruch Lanner (AKA: Bernard S. Lanner, Baruch S. Lanner, Bernard Lanner)". The Awareness Center. Retrieved 2008-12-15. [dead link]
  15. ^ "NCSY Conduct, Policy, and Behavioral Standards Manual". NCSY. Retrieved 2008-12-16. 

External links

National NCSY Organizations

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