How many Jews do you think there are in Queens who are completely lost from their heritage? You’d better sit down for this one. The answer is tens (if not hundreds) of thousands! In the Queens public school system alone, there are over 10,000 Jewish boys and girls who know nothing about Yiddishkeit. It’s a tragedy of immense proportions.
Now here comes the real question. How many people are doing something about it? How many people are working to bring them back? The answer is: far too few. Into this stage enters Netzach Outreach. Headed by Rabbi Yoav Babakhanov, the staff of Netzach has been tirelessly working – and achieving – this vital task for many years now. Throughout the year, they bring in teenagers to learn Torah in any of their eight locations around Queens: from Jamaica Estates to Rego Park, Fresh Meadows, Forest Hills, two separate locations in Kew Gardens Hills, and other sites. There are 500 public school students enrolled in their database for this year alone. The participants are taught Torah – all according to their level. Some learn Chumash or Halachah, and others learn Gemara.
As of December 2018, there are 37 learning sessions that take place weekly across Queens, with different students attending different classes. There are separate programs for the boys and for the girls. There is a Shabbos Minyan every week for the boys, with a parallel program for the girls in the Girls’ Teen Lounge. Netzach also has planted itself in Forest Hills High School – the largest high school in Queens. Out of the 4,000 students in the school, over 1,800 are Jewish! The school administration requested that Netzach come to the school and establish a club to educate the Jewish students in that which is so rightfully theirs.
There are currently over 20 paid teachers retained on the Netzach staff – young men and women who are doing their part to bring back all the lost souls. The students are thirsty for Torah. Hundreds of teenagers come to learn! There are even 40 of the students enrolled in an in-depth Gemara class four times a week! Not only do they learn, but they are also tested on the material and even receive financial incentives for doing well on the tests.
Netzach also provides summer learning programs for the unaffiliated youth, bringing hundreds of public school students into the beis midrash every year. Every summer, they manage to enroll over 30 of their participants in mainstream or kiruv yeshivos – with a total of over 200 just from these last two years! Netzach also often provides financial assistance in the form of scholarships or tuition assistance. Netzach Outreach seems to currently be the single largest kiruv program that exists for Jewish teens – definitely in the tri-state area, and seemingly in the entire country, as well.
In conclusion, Netzach Outreach is doing its part. Now here is where you come in. Netzach need your help. Kiruv costs money, plain and simple. Teachers need to be paid, participants work for their incentives, and scholarships aren’t cheap.
Netzach needs your help to do its wonderful work. Netzach is scheduled for an all-or-nothing Charidy campaign on Monday and Tuesday, December 10-11, to raise $250,000 in 36 hours. Will you do your part? Be as generous as you can. Netzach needs you. The teenage youth of Queens needs you. Klal Yisrael needs you. In the z’chus of your helping Hashem have nachas from His children, may you always be blessed with nachas from yours.
To contact Netzach Outreach, please call 718-600-4652 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Netzach Outreach is a 501c3 org. Address: 147-42 76th Road, Flushing, NY 11367.
Shaya Winiarz is a student of the Rabbinical Seminary of America (Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim). He is also a mohel, lecturer, columnist, freelance writer, and author of Making a Difference: The Story of Reb Dovid Winiarz. He can be reached for bris milah, speaking engagements, or freelance writing at email@example.com.