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Ilana Elbaze


By: Ilana Elbaze, Student at Gray Academy of Jewish Education Student Correspondent for the Winnipeg Jewish Review

Winnipeg youth is once again offered an amazing opportunity with Midwest NCSY, the youth movement of the Orthodox Union of North America, which is having one of its most grandiose conventions, Camp Chi. Camp Chi will be taking place at Lake Delton, Wisconsin from May 27th to the 31st. Nothing will stop us, the NCSY Winnipeg chapter from moving forward to attend it.

NCSY is a very active organization in the United States and in some places in Canada. They also offer many programs in Israel, Europe and have growing numbers of participants each year. Last December 2009, Winnipeg took part in an NCSY Conclave in Lincolnshire, Illinois. After the event, I wrote an article about the amazing experience it was for the fourteen teenagers who took part of it (which is being reprinted below). During that convention, Winnipeggers learned valuable lessons, had fun, experienced a moving Shabbat and Havdalah, and made friends across the border.

NCSY left an impact on me ever since Winter Conclave back in December. As soon as I had heard about all the other programs, I felt I simply had to get involved! Back in December, every NCSY’er had spoken about Camp Chi, its interesting programs and beautiful setting in Lake Delton. Most advisors and Rabbis I had met at the convention and alumni highly recommended Camp Chi as well. Its powerful message still remained with its previous participants. Once again, based on the very positive experience I had from the last NCSY convention I attended, I can only assume it will have the same affect as Winter Convention had on me making me even prouder to be Jewish.

So, together with a few other teenagers from the Herzlia Synagogue, we are organizing various fundraisers and are recruiting more teenagers to join us on this amazing trip. We need funds to be able to undertake the project. But, with the will and determination of our group, we will be able to raise the necessary funds to send our group. The same dedication that was felt in December is yet to come back to impact our group again.

I have never been to Camp Chi before and I would truly enjoy participating. Further on, I plan to be an active member in NCSY next year in Winnipeg and attend other international conventions. Not only will Camp Chi bring wonderful memories to all its participants, but it will also serve to  encourage them to participate in NCSY in Winnipeg next year.

Next year, I wish to see the Winnipeg chapter back on its feet with many programs, activities and of course participation in conventions in the United States. To have such a wonderful program right here in Winnipeg for Jewish teens is a bridge to raising quality leadership for our community tomorrow.

[*Below is the article written by Ilana Elbaze regarding her experience at NCSY’s conclave in December 2009.] 


By: Ilana Elbaze, [January 2010]

Just a few months ago, as I was looking at a map of regions of NCSY,  the youth movement of the Orthodox Union of North America.  I noticed that Winnipeg did not appear on the map. In an article I read about the great benefits that this youth movement had brought to Jewish communities. It made me think that, notwithstanding the wonderful opportunities for youth in our community, there was something missing.

Not long after, a group of boys at the Herzlia synagogue asked me to attend  NCSY’s Winter Conclave in Chicago, that welcomed chapters from various cities. I was intrigued and decided to go along with my younger sister, Julia, thinking that it would be a wonderful experience for us to share later on.

I was highly impressed by the dedication of that group of boys. They had gone to winter Conclave two years before, but this time, they took responsibility and helped organize the trip. As opposed to what other chapters, we, Winnipeggers went on the lookout for chaperons, were able to create an entire chapter and were actively part of the organization of the trip. Many adults also helped us, such as Herzlia’s President Sherman Greenberg, along with Harvey Cohen and Fay Rosenberg Cohen.

We had a few preliminary meetings and I started to get to know the others in the group. It would take more than that though to make a bunch of individuals into a full fledged chapter! The excitement mounted as the trip approached. We got together for a song writing session. There were many phone calls and yes, even the threat of a major blizzard. Up until the last minute we weren’t sure if we were going to be able to bus to Chicago. Finally it was decided; we would leave the night before the scheduled departure time in order to beat the storm. This early departure and our extreme motivation only made the Winnipeg chapter even more spirited and ready to conquer the Mid-West.

As we loaded the bus on the night of the 23rd of December, I could not stop thinking of what I might be doing at my first NCSY convention. Winter Conclave was a much anticipated event by the Herzlia Synagogue and by past participants.  We had an endless yet entertaining, 16 hour, bus ride with song writing. We picked up the Minneapolis chapter half way there and after a long route and a lot of bonding with the members; we finally arrived at our destination: Lincolnshire, IL, just outside of Chicago.

We waited in the lobby of the Lincolnshire Marriott until our rooms were ready. As the delegates came in to register, I couldn’t help but introduce myself. They reciprocated and I quickly made friends from all over the Mid-West. We had all come from very different places geographically, but all shared a common passion and devotion to Judaism. I was truly inspired and touched by the love the members had for our religion, traditions and for making connections with each other.

Throughout the weekend, everyone enjoyed the Conclave’s various activities. On Friday morning: ice skating; on Saturday night: skiing; on Sunday shopping or movies … BUT most especially: SHABBAT, with its dancing, its singing, its food and its joy!

How to find Joy was the theme of our weekend, and many Rabbis from the United States and Israel gave inspiring lectures on this theme. I myself had found joy, by simply meeting new friends from all over with whom I shared common interests and/or even the same love for Judaism.

I was finally witnessing and actively participating in what was referred to in the article I had read a few months earlier: “Jewish youth coming together to share a memorable Shabbaton and experience.” NCSY accomplished its mission.

Our Winnipeg chapter had not only made a successful march in but we had also made ourselves known as a devoted chapter that was ready to take any challenges, such as a 16 hour bus ride, and endless preparations. We were devoted and do truly deserve our place on the map.

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.