Since Hurricane Sandy hit, New Jersey NCSY has worked with NECHAMA: The Jewish Response to Disaster, to provide food and cleanup services to afflicted areas. Over the last month, New Jersey NCSY developed a relationship with local officials in Hoboken, a city that suffered severe flooding and damage during the storm. When Rabbi Yaakov Glasser, Regional Director of New Jersey NCSY, suggested running a carnival for the area as the kickoff event to New Jersey NCSY’s annual Winter Regional Convention this month, Hoboken officials were delighted with the idea.
“In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, we decided that instead of the usual Thursday night recreational activity at the [convention] hotel, we’ll give students the opportunity to make a real difference,” said Rabbi Glasser. “Teens came from all over New Jersey, from all spectrums of religiosity — from totally unaffiliated to completely Orthodox — to run a carnival in Hoboken for children who were affected by the Hurricane. It was also an opportunity for teens to build leadership skills as they grow into the future generation of Jewish leaders.”
The free carnival was a smashing success with 300 attendees. Games, clowns, magicians, manicures, balloons, face painting and more brought smiles to everyone’s faces. The entire carnival was sponsored by New Jersey NCSY and staffed entirely by New Jersey NCSYers. A kosher dinner was also provided and sponsored by New Jersey NCSY and Five Star Catering. The carnival took place in a tent provided by the Hoboken Housing Authority. New Jersey NCSY continues to be in contact with city officials regarding what programs they can run in the future and would like to make this a yearly event.
“When NCSY runs these activities, not only does it empower teens to know that they can make a difference, but it also is an amazing Kiddush Hashem, (Sanctification of God’s name),” explained Rabbi Ethan Katz, Associate Regional Director of New Jersey NCSY.
“Helping these kids have fun is fun for us too,” said Hennie Silverman, a junior at Ma’ayanot Yeshiva High School and member of New Jersey NCSY’s regional board.
The Thursday capped off New Jersey NCSY’s annual Winter Regional. The teens also spent Friday volunteering at a variety of locations, including cleaning up the damage from Hurricane Sandy, helping out at a food pantry, reading to the blind and visiting senior citizens.
“This is what kids need to get out of the mood of the hurricane,” said Rabbi Katz.” Our tagline is ‘Inspiring the Jewish Future’ and this is how we do it. We teach that they can make a difference.”