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.

Rabbi Akiva Naiman

East Bay and BILT Director

Nominated and written by Ariel Cohen, NCSYer

Rabbi Akiva Naiman is an outstanding person. Not has not only shown me his deep love for Hashem and Judaism, but he presented it in a way that enables everyone to love it. Rabbi Akiva is SO dedicated to NCSY and his NCSYers. He constantly praises people and really boosts their confidence with his support. He treats every NCSYer no matter who they are as his own child. If we have any time of problem Rabbi Akiva is always there and willing to help and gives amazing advice.

Rabbi Akiva encouraged me to go on TJJ this past summer. I agreed to go because I trusted Rabbi Akiva and I knew he knew what was best. I went on TJJ and my entire life changed. As I was on TJJ, I slowly got into the mode of becoming more religious. What pushed me even more was knowing the support Rabbi Akiva would show for me when I returned home. When I got home was the real test.

Because of the LNL’s Rabbi Akiva taught and because of his constant support I was able to continue on my path. But it is not just support that Rabbi Akiva showed me, it was his overall attitude. Being fun, enthusiastic, and a super chill person while still being religious. I had always thought that religious people never had much fun, but Rabbi Akiva showed me by example his contagious happiness. The best part about Rabbi Akiva is that he acts this way to every single teen in NCSY. Every single person Rabbi Akiva meets, he is sure to include and invite to everything possible. He invites everyone over for shabbat dinner and never wants anyone to have to experience shabbat alone. Rabbi Akiva always makes sure we have meals for chagim and shabbos.

Rabbi Akiva goes above and beyond what he needs to. If I did not have Rabbi Akiva to look up to, I do not know how I would deal. Rabbi Akiva is my inspiration. When I come home from school on Monday and see him at LNL, so excited about teaching Torah, it reminds me how amazing Judaism, Hashem, and Torah is. Without Rabbi Akiva constantly reminding me the incredible depth of Judaism and Hashem, I might have let the people in my grade take me down. But thanks to Rabbi Akiva and Hashem I am able to stay on track. Thank you for inspiring me, Rabbi Akiva!


Nominated and written by Molly Werthan, NCSY Alumnus

Rabbi Akiva has inspired me in more ways than I can even begin to count. Since day one, he has been there to guide me and support me as I found myself and my Judaism at NCSY. He has taken the time to thoughtfully answer each and every one of my questions, and through this he has opened my eyes to a world full of beauty and awe called Judaism. I have never met someone who is so passionate and dedicated to their job, to kiruv, and especially to a group of goofy teenagers. He constantly embodies incredible middos and serves as a role model to teens in many different NorCal Jewish communities. To me, one of the most inspirational things about Rabbi Akiva is his ability to inspire others. I hope that one day I will be able to inspire others as well as he does, and I know that if I can inspire even a fraction of the amount people he has, I will be doing very well.


Nominated and written by Shmuel Oles, NCSYer

During this summer I went on the NCSY summer program BILT. It was incredibly inspirational and taught me the deeper meaning and values in Judaism. Rabbi Naiman was the most inspiring figure there, with his deep theological discussions, personal stories, advice, and his meditation sessions. The summer would have been nothing without him. I now wear Tzitzit everyday, meditate everyday, and have found meaning in davening. Thank you for making him director of BILT as it was an amazing experience and THE BEST SUMMER EVER!