Nominated and written by Rabbi Dave Felsenthal, Director NCSY Alumni
When I was in junior NCSY, no advisor really paid much attention to this Beth Tfiloh day school kid until I met Moishe Zucker. Moishe was this big scary advisor with a heart of gold. He gave me my first sefer. He gave me my first tzitzit. He called me every erev Shabbos to wish me a good Shabbos and tell me that I was going to marry a goy. Boy he made me so angry and I was determined to prove him wrong!
Know he is still doing the same things (except for the line about marrying out) 35 years later and he has not aged at all even down to his wild hair. Now, he is looked at as the veteran, who somehow still relates to the kids and loves to teach Torah and they love to learn from him. Modern techniques like internet or texting are not his style, old fashion love and learning are his master tools. Know one would ever guess that as a young advisor he was actually cutting edge. He would take pictures of everything right up to Shabbos and right after. Then he would go to his hotel room which he turned into a black room, develop the slides and then show them at the Kumzits later Saturday night!
Today, Moishe is the most talented Mashpiah on our entire staff and probably has more chavrusas with NCSYers than anyone else. Thank G-d, some things never change!
Nominated and written by Kevin Rhine, Advisor and former NCSYer
Rabbi Moish Zucker is definitely one of my biggest role models in my life. I only met Rabbi Zucker in 12th grade when the 2 regions merged in New York, but I could tell right away that this person would be someone who could help change my life. Since I met Rabbi Zucker, I have consistently spoken to Rabbi Zucker almost every Friday before Shabbos, even if it’s just to say hi and that’s it.
I have never met a person who is so dedicated to inspiring kids and helping them grow at their pace. In my 12th grade, Rabbi Zucker was out EVERY SINGLE NIGHT, Sunday-Thursday, learning with kids throughout the New York area. The amount of kids that he has been in contact and ispired is probably more people than I will ever meet in my life. His follow up with kids is totally unmatched. Whether you are in NCSY right now, in college, married with kids, Rabbi Zucker is part of your life forever. For example, earlier this year, Rabbi Zucker organized a bris milah for a boy in COLLEGE on EREV REV YOM KIPPUR. That by iself is something really incredible. Rabbi Zucker asked me to come to the seudah, so of course I went. After the seudah, Rabbi Zucker bumped into a girl who was in NCSY 15 years ago and had a whole conversation with her and catching up. He told me that girl wasn’t frum back then, and now she sends her kids to Yeshiva Day schools. I can’t tell you how many times Rabbi Zucker has kids over at his house for Shabbos, and even alumni with their spouses and kids for Shabbos and for Yomim Tovim and Purim.
I always thought to myself: why is Rabbi Zucker so good at kiruv? Why is it that every kid who meets Rabbi Zucker is almost guaranteed to somehow in their own way come closer to Judaism? I think it’s the way Rabbi Zucker carries himself as a person. He doesn’t care about numbers, about big changes, about making the kid frum right away. He wants the kid to just take the next step. He focuses on the little things. There were so many times when I would be sitting next to Rabbi Zucker on a regional, and he would call a random kid over and just start talking to him, or when he would call over a person randomly and compliment them on their middos or the way they davened or bentched. It’s those little things that make the biggest difference in a kid’s life.
Thank you Rabbi Zucker!