Nominated and written by Ari Hoffman, Director of NCSY Seattle
I wanted nothing to do with NCSY as a teen until I met Ari Kahn. Ari and a group of NCSYers were placed at my house for a local shabbaton in Scarsdale. I was not signed up, nor did I want to be. I was in my living room reading on a Friday afternoon dreading who would be the random people placed in my home when I heard a noise from outside and saw a car coming down the block blasting music with a bunch of guys bouncing around inside having the time of their lives. Ari was the driver. He came right up to the front door and when I answered it asked if I was coming on the shabbaton. I told him no and within 5 minutes he convinced me I should go and I would have the time of my life. Ari has a way of talking that whatever he says you know to be the truth and that something exciting and something sage is going to come from his words. I spent the weekend with him and the guys and figured that was the end of it until my phone rang a few nights later. It was Ari telling me he had a regional application with my name on it. All I had to do was say yes. That was 18 years ago and I am still involved in NCSY thanks to him.
Ari became my advisor, then my mentor as an advisor and through it all was always my friend. Shabbasim at the Kahn’s was something everyone in NCSY looked forward to and always felt honored to be invited. While some NCSYers ditch sessions on a shabbaton in NY NCSY teens would ditch sessions just so that they could go to Ari’s sessions. Most teens requested their friends to room with on a shabbaton. We would request Ari. Any teen who was in NY NCSY in the 90’s has had “a talk” with Ari Kahn that changed their lives. Now when I see Ari on staff conventions it is like I am an NCSYer again looking up to my advisor, the big brother I never had.