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.

Esther Tsvaygenbaum

Advisor and TJJ Assistant Program Director

Nominated and written by her TJJ Bus  7 NCSYers

It’s hard to know how to describe Esther or the impact she had (and still has) on me. Esther has this way of connecting to people, of getting to know them and connecting in a real, profound way. The care and sincerity she shows, and the way she gives of herself, was something I had never seen before or found in anyone else. It was so clear to everyone on the bus how much she cared about us and how she would go out of her way for us and would do anything for us. Her obvious passion for Torah, Israel and Judaism was contagious and inspiring. Her ability to connect and relate to me and the other TJJers on our bus, is what has literally changed my life.

I have never met a person more CRAZY, wacky, fun, and hyper, and yet so deep, passionate, refined, sensitive, kind, caring, or inspirational, as her. In order to understand who Esther is, why she is so inspirational to so many, and why she is my role model, you have to know some background. Esther was a TJJer herself in high school, and went on her own journey full of tests and trials. After TJJ, her passion for Torah, Israel, and Judaism kept increasing and eventually won over her. The way she fought for her Judaism, and the way she took responsibility to find her answers, and how hard she fought to make Torah and Judaism central in her life even amongst circumstances she had, blew me away. I remember thinking that if someone so cool, so deep, so fun, so normal, someone who has many similarities to me, and someone I really relate to, would do so much for it, then there must be something there. And that maybe I could do it too.

She taught me what it means to be a Jew, what it means to have Israel as our homeland, what it means to be part of the Jewish people, Jewish pride, a newfound Jewish identity, and much, much more. She taught about the beauty of shabbos, and showed me what a relationship with Hashem could mean. More importantly, she showed me and taught me that there is so much beauty and depth in Judaism, and both inspired me and challenged me to seek it.

I would always stay after her nightly chabura to keep on discussing the topic or to ask her any question I may have had. We had these amazing talks about things that I never got to ask before, or I never got a satisfactory answer for before, or I didn’t even realized I cared about before. Those discussions drove me to continue exploring the depths of Judaism that Esther discussed with me and introduced me to.

I am so happy that Esther plays a leading role in TJJ now because knowing the effects she can have on one bus, I’m happy that TJJ as a whole gets to be touched by her. There is truly no one like Esther. I am so happy and so lucky that she was my advisor, but even more so, a lifelong role model and a lifelong friend.