OVER THE FIRST weekend in January, seven young people from New Jersey were among the 350 participants — most of them public school students — from North and South America who participated in Aspire: The NCSY Yarchei Kallah, an annual event of immersive Torah study sponsored by the Orthodox Union’s National Council of Synagogue Youth (NCSY).
The theme of this year’s event, which was held at the Ocean Place Resort and Spa in Long Branch, was “Find Your Story.”
Before the four-day gathering, on Jan. 1, the young participants joined over 90,000 celebrants at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford for the 13th Siyum HaShas, which marked completion of the seven-and-a-half-year Daf Yomi program cycle of Talmud study.
Yarchei Kallah is designed and managed by NCSY’s education team, led by director of education Rabbi Dovid Bashevkin. The teens took part in one-on-one, group, and lecture learning with speakers from around the world, including Rabbi Dr. Meir Y. Soloveichik, director of Yeshiva University’s Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought, and Rabbi Dr. Akiva Tatz, author of “The Thinking Jewish Teenager’s Guide to Life.” Former pro basketball player Michael Sweetney, who now serves as assistant coach of the Yeshiva University basketball team and head coach of the girls’ varsity team at New York’s Ramaz School, addressed the teens on self-pride and gratitude. Entertainer Zusha performed.