Nominated and written by Adele Lerner, NCSYer
My religious journey began on National Yarchei Kallah 2011. I came interested to learn, but without much passion. The first one-on-one learning session I had was with Rael, and in that conversation he told me something that I don’t think I’ll ever forget. I mentioned how I was sure I would never keep shabbos, to which he replied, “Well, actually… you already keep 90% of shabbos. It’s the other 10% that you need.” And sure enough, a few months later, I kept that 100% shabbos for the first time.
Nominated and written by Yehoshua Szafranski, NCSYer
Rael is one of the most passionate and caring people I have ever met. I’ve constantly gained guidance, advice, and most importantly, inspiration, from him. Throughout the past few years, much of my growth has been influenced by my friendship with him. He has helped me time and again to face challenges in my life and succeed despite some crazy odds, and has pushed me to grow both as a person and as a Jew. Rael is one of the most astoundingly generous people I’ve ever met, working tirelessly and dedicating his time to creating a generation of Jewish leaders.
Nominated and written by Jessica Esther Sabbah-Dery, NCSYer
No one can become who they aspire to be on their own. I’ve had the privilege, in my time in NCSY, to be surrounded by some of the most incredible people in the world, and have learned so much from each and every one of them, and I owe the entirety of who I am today to those individuals. But, if I were to define the person who gave me the most, it would be Rael. And his shabbos onegs are one of a kind. When he speaks about the esoteric aspects of Shabbos and our inner beings, you have no choice but to contemplate and wish to be a better Jew (which he teaches us too by example). I first met Rael at my Hebrew school on a Sunday morning about three years ago. During break he came to a table I was sitting at and told us about this ” super awesome trip to Israel!” Totally uninterested I just gave him my mothers email address. My mom received the email and thought it was an incredible deal for a four week trip to Israel for only 2500 dollars. A few months later, I was sitting on a plane to Israel. Little did I know that this trip would be the best summer of my life and ultimately change my life forever. Rael’s speeches before Shabbat or in some of the holiest places in the world such as Meharat Hamachpela, the Kotel, and in Tzfat really made the trip so meaningful and helped me connect to Israel so much more. Rael has inspired me to become a Jew that is so much more connected to Israel and to her Jewish Identity; he has shaped the person that I have become and the person that I strive to be.