Blog with Springboard

The Springboard blog highlights the experiences of Jewish teens and Jewish teen professionals participating in community programs across Chicagoland and beyond. Dive into blogs about different Jewish teen events, leadership programs, trip opportunities, and more! Join us in celebrating the unique perspectives and contributions of Jewish teens and professionals in the Jewish community. To post a blog, please email

Springboard Blog

Springboard Blog

Happy Third Night of Chanukah: How NCSY Brings Light to My Life by David Gaffen

(Community Spotlight) Permanent link

Chanukah is a time for making the world brighter. Each night of Chanukah we’ll be featuring stories from teens serving on the Jewish Teen Alliance of Chicago (JTAC) sharing how adding their Jewish experiences add light to our community. JTAC members are representatives of Chicago’s amazing teen programs. For the third night, we will hear from David about his experience with NCSY.

My name is David Gaffen, and I am representing NCSY on the Jewish Teen Alliance of Chicago (JTAC) this year. Undoubtedly, NCSY has played a major role in my life and the lives of countless Jewish teens around the world.  

My involvement began eight years ago when I was invited to my first ever Shabbaton in St. Louis, MO. I have been involved with NCSY ever since and have loved every minute of it! Throughout the years, I have crossed paths with inspiring Jewish leaders who have been an integral part of my Jewish journey. All in all, I have learned a ton about myself and Judaism through meaningful programming. Since my first Shabbaton when I was in 5th grade, I have made it a priority to attend each one that NCSY offers throughout the year: it’s the perfect opportunity to meet new friends, reconnect with old ones, and have fun. 

My absolute favorite program I have attend is the ‘Conclave’ Shabbaton. Jewish teens from across the Midwest come together and spend Shabbat together; it gives us the chance to learn, grow, and be inspired by one another. The opportunity to connect with rabbis and advisors and spend Shabbat together is the best. It has allowed me to take a step back, redefine myself as a Jewish teen, and grow during my Jewish journey. 

As an NCSY board member, I help plan events and programming for the Chicagoland community. My favorite part of being on board is getting to be creative with planning programming for other teens. NCSY has been a crucial part of the development in my Jewish Identity. I have been able to grow with my peers and really understand who I am as a Jew in this secular world! 

David Gaffen

About the Author: David is a senior at Ida Crown Jewish Academy. He is actively involved with NCSY and holds a leadership position on their regional board. David enjoys Jewish learning and being involved in the community!