The Secret Sauce of NCSY Canada

The Secret sauce of ncsy canada



By Rabbi Glenn Black

Teens care about their futures, have passions, dreams, and goals to pursue just as we did when we ourselves were young. While they often get a bad rap for being lazy or entitled, the truth is the teens of today care a great deal about the world around them and want to have a positive and meaningful impact. They want to have agency in their lives and determine for themselves their own Jewish journeys.

It is during these fragile, upending, and critical stage of their lives—the teenage years—that we at NCSY can have the most important impact. That is because it is precisely during this stage of life when teens are discovering themselves and when they solidify ideas with regard to a host of decisions that will impact the trajectory of their lives forever: Who will be their friends, confidants and mentors? Who will they want to marry? What values will they want instill in their children?

With the fast pace of modernity and the shifting landscape of ideas that teens are exposed to, NCSY must evolve as well. That is why all our programs involve leaders and advisors that speak the language that teens relate to, allowing our teens to share their lives with openness and trust.

Teens Want the Power of Self-Expression

The vast majority of teens choose to become involved in NCSY—that is astonishing when you think about it. In earlier times, religious and spiritual life was dictated predominantly by parents and the synagogue. Today’s teens are choosing which organizations and groups they want to be a part of. In many respects, NCSY has replaced institutional life when it comes to engaging teens with programs that enrich their Jewish identities. Teens see NCSY as a safe and non-threatening mechanism for exploring how to live and express themselves Jewishly and determine what level of intensity that engagement looks like.

6 Multi-Level Programs Reach Teens Where They Are

NCSY Canada has programs for every level of Jewish engagement. In that way, we are able to reach teens where they are. From JSU and shabbatons to learning groups and trips to Israel, there is something for every Jewish teen to explore that aligns with their own comfort level of Jewish engagement.

Torah High

Teens want to learn more about Judaism in ways that are accessible and holistic—a Jewish education that allows them the freedom to ask questions freely. To that end, we offer Torah High, an after-school, supplementary school program that offers teens a wide array of accredited courses in both Jewish and general studies to choose from to supplement their public school education.

tjj-the jerusalem journey

With today’s politically charged climate and debates around Israel, teens today are exposed to a wealth of information about what is going on in Israel and the Middle East. It is important that teens experience the reality of Israel first hand—away from the debates and controversies that are stirred up on social media. NCSY runs over 26 summer programs, 21 of which are in Israel.  TJJ (The Jerusalem Journey) is NCSY’s flagship Israel program where teens explore the land through excursions from the Golan Heights to the shores of Eilat and everywhere in between, make profound friendships, and experience the spiritual essence and ancient roots of Israel.

Jewish Student Union

For social engagement and an introduction to Judaism, we offer JSU (Jewish student union clubs) that brings holiday programs and open discussions to teens’ home schools.


For those who want a more immersive experience, we offer shabbatons, getaways, and conventions, where teens enjoy a Shabbat experience that includes song, words of inspiration, connection with other teens and mentors, and local sightseeing.

Learn and EarnFor those teens who want to study Jewish ideas and source texts, we offer Learn and Earn, a weekly study program that allows teens to choose which topic to explore.


Teens have a unique desire to make a difference in the world. They no longer want to lead a life whose value is determined solely through acquisition and material success.  Our teens relate to the Jewish value of tikkun olam and social justice. That is why we offer programs, such as Live2Give, where teens engage in activities that help the less fortunate in local and international destinations.

The Secret Sauce of NCSY

Our programs are the vehicles—but our objective is to engage with the essence of our teens in order to understand them, build them up and uplift them. Our teens choose NCSY because there is no judgement there; there are no preconceived ideas about who they are and no pressure as to where we want them to go. What we want at NCSY is simple. We want our teens to become the best versions of themselves by building connections to their Jewish heritage that is authentic, personally relevant, and joyous.

For more information about NCSY and/or Torah High, call 905.761.6279 or visit NCSY Canada at | Torah High