Thirteen years ago, two preteen boys joined Minneapolis Junior NCSY. They were the best of friends, and they did everything together, including participating in NCSY throughout their years at St. Louis Park High School.
Beginning in 2010, Max Segal (top l.) and Aaron Burton (top r.) participated in nearly 600 NCSY events between them, everything from JSU clubs and Shabbat dinners, to Latte & Learns and Dinner & Learns, to regional Shabbatons and summer trips to Israel.
“I was just 11 years old when I went on my first Shabbaton,” recalls Max, “and from then on NCSY changed my life forever.”
“NCSY has played such a massive role in my life,” adds Aaron. “They truly helped shape into the person I am today.”
Max and Aaron, now 24, are still “doing everything together,” with both celebrating their respective weddings just weeks apart this summer. Max married Yaeli Adar from Brooklyn and is currently living in Jerusalem and learning in the Mir Yeshiva. Aaron is married to Ellie Winkler from Staten Island and is currently living on Long Island, where Aaron works as a sales rep for Keser Royal Wine.
And if there is one thing they agree on, it’s how NCSY – building upon the strong Jewish foundation they received at home – made a lasting impact on their lives.
Max says he became deeply connected to NCSY because its staff, including then Minneapolis NCSY Director Rabbi Tzvi Kupfer (pictured above) and Assistant Director Mindy Daitchman, were so relatable.
“It was amazing to meet people who I could connect to who were also so passionate and inspired by their Yiddishkeit [Judaism],” says Max.
He credits NCSY for helping him reach the decision to spend a gap year in Israel after high school. He and Aaron both learned in Derech Yeshiva in Jerusalem.
“Now, almost seven years later, I’m still here in Israel, married [and] spending my time learning,” says Max.
But physical distance hasn’t kept Max from staying connected to NCSY.
“I’m still very connected to many of my NCSY advisors and friends. Almost not a week goes by without speaking to one of them,” he says.
Aaron agrees, saying the relationships he built at NCSY are still strong today and “will last a lifetime.”
“I have so many amazing role models, friends, and rebbeim that I met over the years who became some of the closest people in my life, many of whom I am still very much in touch with today,” Aaron says. “They have taught me so many lessons and have given me so many different experiences.”
“This was such a special moment because Tzvi played a huge role to help me get where I am today,” he says.
Both Aaron and Max say NCSY impacted their futures in ways they never could have imagined when they walked into their first Minneapolis NCSY event more than a decade ago.
“If it weren’t for NCSY I may have never gone to Israel to study in yeshiva after high school,” says Aaron. “If it weren’t for NCSY I may have never grown religiously and spiritually. If it weren’t for NCSY I may have never moved to New York and met my wife.
“I owe so much to this amazing organization.”
Max echoes this sentiment.
“The incredible staff and the friends I made on NCSY made it possible for me to become who I am today. Thank you, NCSY,” he says.
This story, and so many others, are only possible thanks to the generous support of community members like you. Thank you!