|Predecessor||Torah Leadership Seminar|
|Founder||Harold and Enid Boxer|
|Type||Jewish youth organization|
|Legal status||Subsidiary of a 501(c)(3) non-profit religious organization|
|Headquarters||11 Broadway, New York City, New York, United States|
|Rabbi Micah Greenland|
|National Conference of Synagogue Youth|
NCSY (formerly known as the National Conference of Synagogue Youth) is a Jewish youth group under the auspices of the Orthodox Union. Its operations include Jewish-inspired after-school programs; summer programs in Israel, Europe, and the United States; weekend programming, shabbatons, retreats, and regionals; Israel advocacy training; and disaster relief missions known as chesed (kindness) trips. NCSY also has an alumni organization on campuses across North America. Over the past several decades, NCSY has been the subject of two child sexual abuse scandals involving chapter advisors and directors. NCSY, and its parent organization, the Orthodox Union, say that they have taken significant steps to address such abuse from an organizational standpoint.
Though outreach to public school youth has been around since the early Young Israel movement, NCSY's most relevant precursor is the Torah Leadership Seminar, created in 1954 by the Division of Communal Services of Yeshiva University under Dr. Abraham Stern, which developed the concept of a shabbaton. 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 Abe Rabhan).
In 1954, Harold and Enid Boxer donated the money to create a national organization from the already-existing Southern and Midwest Regions.
In 1959, NCSY hired Rabbi Pinchas Stolper as the first National Director in the United States.
In the 1960s there was an emphasis on NCSY Publications with many volumes written by Pinchas Stolper and then later the Aryeh Kaplan Series. They also put out the NCSY Guide to Blessings and the NCSY Bencher.
In March 1961 the New England Region of NCSY was formed, and its records list "First Youth Commission Chair: Dr. Marvin Antelman a”h."
During the social upheavals of the 1960s and 1970s, the Orthodox youth of NCSY opposed social change, choosing instead to emphasize religious tradition. 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. At the 1971 NCSY international convention, delegates passed resolutions in this vein, calling for members to "forge a social revolution with Torah principles."
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.
By 2015, NCSY Summer ran more than a dozen different trips to Israel, Europe, and North America. The trips have fluctuated every year, with new programs released and other programs cut. In 2015, there were 1,097 participants in NCSY Summer.
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 since 2012. Waxman based this on NCSY's own sociological self-study.
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 or turfs throughout North America, setting up several different regions in the Northeastern United States due to the high number of participants there as well as regions spanning the rest of the United States, Canada, and Central America. Additionally, NCSY runs programming branches in Israel, Chile, and Argentina. Each region is divided into chapters, which typically span a city or a group of surrounding towns. In heavily populated Jewish areas like New York and New Jersey, counties may have several chapters.
Many chapters in NCSY appoint or elect a group of participants 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 Summer runs more than a dozen different trips to Israel, Europe, and North America. The trips have fluctuated every year, with new programs released and other programs cut.
NCSY's disaster relief program sends participants to cities within the United States to work with local humanitarian organizations. As of 2020, NCSY has sent "missions" (not to be confused with Christian missions, which proselytize Christianity) to around 100 cities in the United States, and worked with organizations such as Habitat for Humanity.
Baruch Lanner was hired by NCSY's founder Pinchas Stolper, and remained his superior until 1994. In 2000, the Jewish Week released a report detailing Lanner's sexual abuse of children that participated in his programs. He was convicted for sexual misconduct with minors who attended his programs through NCSY, where he was a director.
In 2000, Gary Rosenblatt of The Jewish Week wrote a story on Lanner entitled "Stolen Innocence," where he detailed Lanner's misconduct and how he was able to keep it from being published thus far. Lanner resigned the day after it was published, and the story later won an award for "meritorious journalism." He argued later that year that the Orthodox community had failed to deal with Lanner properly, and argued that NCSY workers often put the ends above means, sometimes with insufficient regard to the family dynamic or the alienation of teens from their parents. It also sometimes tends to a charismatic quality.
In response, the Orthodox Union set up a special commission to investigate the charges. A 54-page public report summarizing a much longer document of investigation, criticized the Orthodox Union, with the Jewish Journal commenting that:
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.
As a result of the Lanner scandal, NCSY has pledged to better its management practices. It created conduct standards, and published a manual on behavior. NCSY has also established an ombudsman hotline, which currently leads to voicemail.
Menachem Chinn, a former teacher and NCSY chapter leader, was arrested on April 20, 2017 after a former student of his accused him of molesting him in Chinn's home. A week following the initial arrest, a second accuser came forward, revealing that he, also a former student of Chinn, had been repeatedly molested throughout his education at Shalom Torah Academy. Menachem Chinn admitted to both instances of rape and pleaded guilty, thereby serving only a suspended 5-year sentence of prison time.
In October 2011, NCSY was sued by a former advisor and employee for violation of the US Fair Labor Standards Act. The class action lawsuit claims that she had to work much longer hours than the allowed 40-hour work week. The case was terminated on 10 February 2012.