60 Faces of NCSY

Often, a person has no idea of the impact he or she has made on someone else. 60 Faces of NCSY was created to change that. The people we feature every day were nominated by NCSY alumni and NCSYers to express gratitude to someone that inspired them.

Eric Portnoy

NCSY Alumnus

Written and nominated by Miriam Bursky-Tammam, NCSY Alumna

I met Eric on an NCSY shabbaton in Great Neck, NY. We got to talking and I saw how genuinely curious he was about Judaism. He didn’t come from a home with any religious background and he was sort of dragged into NCSY by a friend of his, but once he had a taste of the culture and the practices, he kept looking for small ways to find more.

Slowly Eric came to learning the Torah, he started learning about davening, he started learning about Tefillin; he kept wanting to find out more. His curiosity took him many places- it took him to a beautiful Shabbat experience at home by the family of a friend he made through NCSY, it took him to a Pesach Seder by one of his NCSY advisors, it took him to a college where he knew he would have a Jewish community and this winter it took him on Birthright where he got to experience the land of Israel in a very personal and tangible way.

Eric is an inspiration to me because he has shown me that no matter how intimidating it can be to approach something so foreign and impermeable, if you see truth in it and genuinely want to make it your own, no amount of trepidation can stop you. He also showed me that your past does not have to define your future and that you can direct yourself on the path that will take you where you want to go and will help you make yourself the person who you want to become!