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Yitzhak Cohen with NCSY Award. Photo by Ilana Elbaze.

Photo by Ilana Elbaze.

Photo by Ilana Elbaze.


Ilana Elbaze


By Ilana Elbaze, June 10, 2010

The hard work finally paid off! After a successful bake sale, hours of planning and numerous e-mails, the Winnipeg NCSY youth movement was finally heading to Camp Chi in Wisconsin to join up with the other groups from the Midwest region. NCSY is the Orthodox Union of North America’s Youth Movement. The last time the Winnipeg chapter from Herzlia Synagogue sent representatives to this particular event was in 2007. This trip there was a whole new generation of NCSYers.

The chapter left on Thursday May 27th in the early morning. We drove all the way down to Minneapolis to join the group from there on their bus to Chi. As we headed off, we discussed what might await us at camp, while energetic Jewish music set the mood for our voyage. We finally reached our destination at about 11 pm.on Thursday. The vast dark camp site was already filling up with many buses from all over the region. I was able to embrace friends from past conventions and meet new people, before Rabbi Greenland, the Chief Rabbi, welcomed everyone to what was to be the last convention of the year.

In the morning, we were given various activity options. The camp offered sports of all sorts and had facilities for everyone. NCSYers who are not as athletic or sports driven made Challah and enjoyed the sun on the beach.

Right before Shabbat, everyone gathered for pictures, dancing and singing, and then, with the sun  setting, we davened Kabbalat Shabbat. The entire Shabbat experience was quite enjoyable, as dinner and more dancing took place.

Throughout the convention, many “Divrei Torah” and discussion groups and Torah learning sessions were given, and groups, led by advisors and guest Rabbis, discussed the theme of the weekend, which was individuality. Following all of the inspiring lectures and discussions, it was concluded that everyone contributed differently to society in his own special way.

 As Shabbat was nearing  an end, Rabbi Greenland gave a speech and we all sang together. Then the Havdalla service slowly replaced the last Ruach session and candles were lit across the main meeting room while the sky turned dark. I was very honoured that evening, as the Havdalla service was dedicated to me for having pushed to get a group out from Winnipeg. Our Winnipeg group made an impact and everyone appreciated that we had made the effort to come from so far away. After speeches and stories, the dancing picked up again and a light- hearted mood filled the room, followed by a bonfire and barbecue in the forest of the beautiful camp site.

In the morning, the fun continued with other activities and sessions. Many NCSYers headed off to Wisconsin Dells, a small town not far from Camp Chi, filled with intriguing shops, cafés,  museums and fun fairs. When we returned a few hours later, it was already time to prepare for the Final Banquet.

At Final Banquet, the last event at every major Shabbaton, all sorts of food was served and awards were given out to every senior, including Yitzhak Cohen from Winnipeg..Everyone cheered, danced and sang all night, getting little or no sleep and enjoying every last minute of the convention.

In the morning, we said our good-byes and drove away, most of us falling asleep as the mood slowly turned back to “reality”. Before  we realized it we had reached Minneapolis, where we had dinner with a few local friends. After a few more hours of driving, we stayed over night in Fargo, reaching Winnipeg late on Tuesday, June 1st in the morning.

 Every NCSY member who attended the convention had a memorable time. It was already decided that as a project, we would re-build our Winnipeg chapter and attempt to participate in many other conventions and even host some in the coming year. This last convention of the year left us hopeful and full of joy and energy for the upcoming year.

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Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

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