June 10, 2014

Joe Macy: Survivor. Supporter. Builder.

From the moment he was introduced to NCSY, holocaust survivor Joe Macy was hooked and passed on the passion for three generations.

Joe Macy grew up in a very observant family in Hungary, and he was a teenager when Hitler rose to power and unleashed a wave of terror across Europe. He survived several concentration camps, including Auschwitz, and lost most of his family. When he arrived in America a few years after the war and settled in Fairfield, Connecticut, he maintained a deep commitment to tradition and kept a kosher home. He embraced his American identity and worked hard to instill that value in his children.

When NCSY approached Ahavath Achim, the local Orthodox shul, in the late 1960s to ask if the congregation would host a Shabbaton, Macy immediately became involved. He was amazed at the passionate display of yiddishkeit that was the hallmark of the NCSY spirit.

“My father was simply wowed by what he saw,” said his daughter Toby Schaffer, who, with her sister Barbara, became actively involved with NCSY after an official chapter was founded in Fairfield. “Right then and there, he became a devoted supporter and was determined to imbue both his children and his community with a love of being Jewish and a commitment to observance.”

Joe Macy (right) giving inspiration to an NCSYer at National Yarchei Kallah in 2012.

Joe Macy (right) giving inspiration to an NCSYer at National Yarchei Kallah in 2012.

Barbara eventually became a regional officer, and she and Toby both attended NCSY events regularly. They became observant and are proud to have observant families today. Toby’s daughter, Dr. Pamela Singer, served as president of the New England region.

“My grandfather had to build from scratch when he came to America, and he has,” said Singer. “He has taken advantage of all the opportunities in life and makes every second count. NCSY is part of that potential he sees in the every day, and the personal imperative I know he has always felt to make sure his family has a strong connection to Judaism.”

Macy, she noted, hasn’t slowed down at all in his more advanced years and still works full-time. “My grandfather is an inspiration to his entire family and to those in NCSY who are forming their own relationships to their heritage,” Singer said proudly.

Macy, along with his beloved wife, Julia, a”h, made regular financial contributions to NCSY for over 40 years, but it is also his love and enthusiasm for NCSY’s mission that have greatly enriched his family and the New England Region and NCSY at large.

“When I first experienced an NCSY Shabbaton, after being somewhat afraid to embrace Orthodox Judaism publicly, I realized that it was possible to bring my old world to life again here in a new world,” said Macy. “I didn’t have to be afraid and discard traditions that I thought were lost in the ashes of Europe. I could rekindle that spark and go beyond anything that I ever imagined.”


Help us finish Kol HaTorah Kulah and raise $1,000,000. Click here to sign up to learn or sponsor a learner in the NCSY at 60 Learn-a-Thon.