NEW YORK, N.Y. – Rabbi Simon Taylor has been appointed the new regional director of New England NCSY, it was announced recently by a spokesperson for NCSY, the national Jewish youth organization of the Orthodox movement.
Prior to his appointment, Taylor, a native of England, worked for AISH UK as director of London schools and director of the organization’s national advisor program. Previously, he also served as a chaplain in the British Armed Forces, where he provided pastoral care to teenagers in the Army Cadet Force.
The decision to relocate to the United States with his wife, Leanne, and their four children, was both difficult and easy, says Taylor.
“NCSY brings the largest opportunity to connect with Jewish teens around the world – reaching collectively 20,000 teens annually,” he says. “The opportunity to reach out to so many people was very appealing, and an opportunity I couldn’t match in England.”
Taylor’s first involvement with NCSY came in 2012, when he arrived in the U.S. as a scholar-in-residence for NCSY’s National Yarchei Kallah, a program designed for public school teens to study Torah and connect with their Jewish heritage during their winter break. The young rabbi’s enthusiasm caught the eye of Rabbi Micah Greenland, current international director of NCSY and then director of NCSY’s Midwest Region.
“Rabbi Taylor is a dynamic Jewish educator with an incredible track record of engaging teens from the United Kingdom,” Greenland says. “He’s an incredibly high-energy person who built a magnificent, successful program with teens from diverse backgrounds working for AISH UK, and the teens love him. There’s no doubt that he’s the best person for the position.”
Taylor succeeds Rabbi Uri Grossberg and Devora Weinstock, who served as New England NCSY interim directors for the 2014 school year. Rabbi Shmuel Miller led the region for 10 years prior to that.
Taylor, who holds rabbinic ordination from both Israel and England, visited Boston last spring to spend time with teens from the region and New England NCSY staff members. The trip helped cement his decision to join the NCSY family.
“The staff and region were fantastic and a great team to join,” he says. “There was so much potential to expand and develop the program that my wife and I knew we had to take on the challenge.”
After his first months on the job, Taylor and his team have already organized events across the New England NCSY region, which covers Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. He also has plans to expand programming to Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.
Asked about the differences between teens in the UK and America, Taylor stresses their similarities.
“Youth in both countries do seem to have more or less the same interests and challenges,” he says. “They all want to be empowered and loved, to have fun, to feel part of something authentic, and to meet and share good times with other like-minded teens.”