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Yeshiva University and Montefiore Health System Reach Agreement to Establish Joint Venture for Einstein

February 4th, 2015 by azimmer

Dear Members of the YU Community,

I am pleased to report that our ongoing work has resulted in a dynamic plan to create a joint venture for the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. The Montefiore Health System and Yeshiva University made an announcement confirming that the key terms of an agreement have been reached, with the unanimous endorsement of their respective Boards. The parties are committed to finalizing this as soon as possible.

The announcement read as follows:

“Building on the agreement originally announced in May, the Boards of Trustees of Montefiore Health System and Yeshiva University announced today that they have agreed on the principal terms of an agreement with respect to the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. While subject to final documentation and regulatory approval, the parties are proud to continue their longstanding relationship as part of Einstein’s future as a top-tier medical school and research institution.

The agreement deepens the bonds between Montefiore and Einstein, further integrates the institutions’ faculty, students, and staff, and aligns operations to best advance science and medicine. Montefiore and Yeshiva look forward to sharing further details about this historic agreement in the months ahead.”

The primary objective of the agreement is to further strengthen Einstein for the future by preserving its position as a world-class medical school and research institution, and identifying new opportunities for growth that will benefit students, faculty and staff. This also ensures the continuation of the special relationship YU undergraduates have with Einstein.

After receiving the appropriate approvals, we will all be able to witness a landmark event in our history, which reflects Einstein’s evolution from a time of discrimination and quotas into a world-class research institution to an integrated medical center of learning, exploration and patient care. With Montefiore, our historic commitment to medical education will move forward with excellence while YU furthers its unique mission as a center for Jewish learning, Jewish values and a premier educational experience. And, once finalized, this transaction will help to propel YU toward its goal of stabilizing its finances within the next three years.

In sum, this agreement allows us to responsibly address the educational, research, financial and faith-based issues crucial to the YU community. We’re now able to move forward together with this joint venture, excited that Einstein has the opportunity to make advances in ways we have yet to imagine.

Richard M. Joel

Faculty Fast Facts

January 29th, 2015 by azimmer

Rabbi WiederRabbi Jeremy Wieder is the Joseph and Gwendolyn Straus Professor of Talmud in Yeshiva University’s Mazer Yeshiva Program, an Adjunct Professor of Bible at Yeshiva College and a prolific lecturer on Talmud, Bible and Jewish law. A 1991 YC graduate, he received an M.S. in American Jewish History from the Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies and rabbinical ordination from RIETS and holds a PhD in Judaic Studies from New York University. Rabbi Wieder was one of the first Americans to win the International Bible Contest.

1. What is your favorite aspect of your job at YU?
I most enjoy the dialogue and discussion that I get to have with students both in the beit midrash in morning seder and during shiur itself.

2. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
Patent law, which combines science and law, the two disciplines that I find most intellectually engaging and stimulating.

3. What is the communal responsibility of a rosh yeshiva at Yeshiva University?
I can speak only for myself and how I perceive my role. First and foremost, I am privileged to teach Torah to our students, including many who will become educators and rabbis in our community.  This commitment to teaching students extends beyond their time in our Yeshiva, as I find that I am called on by former students to provide guidance as they encounter complex halakhic issues that demand a high level of halakhic expertise.  I also feel a responsibility to teach Torah in the community more broadly, whether by online dissemination of shiurim given in the Yeshiva or by teaching Torah in contexts that extend beyond the walls of the Yeshiva.

I am very aware that even as we are commanded to observe Torah and mitzvoth, we live in a world in which fealty to Torah and to halakhah is voluntary. I firmly believe that Torah gives meaning and value to our lives and that we ought to turn to Torah and halakhah for guidance on how to lead our lives, even when the answers aren’t those that we would come up with on our own. I aspire to teach Torah in a way that inspires others to see this as well.

4. What is your goal as a rosh yeshiva and Bible teacher, both academically and with regards to the kinds of values you would like to help instill in your students?
Academically, I hope to help my students develop the textual skills that will enable them to be lifelong learners of Torah, broadly construed. More importantly, I aspire to help them create a connection to Torah that will foster ongoing commitment to Torah and to community after they leave the walls of the Yeshiva, and hopefully to be passionate about that commitment.

5. What would your current and former YU students be surprised to learn about you?
One of my favorite activities is to recharge my batteries by running on the trails in Palisades State Park above the Hudson River. Those who know me well like to comment on my “back to basics” running footwear; I like to keep it as close to barefoot as possible.

Chana (Freiman) Stiefel ’90S: A Lifelong Love of Reading Translates Into a Career As a Children’s Book Author

January 29th, 2015 by azimmer

Chana StiefelShe’s the author of more than two dozen non-fiction books for kids and has worked in educational publishing for more than 20 years—but Chana (Freiman) Stiefel ’90S, originally of North Miami Beach, was almost going to write legal briefs for a living.

As a student at Yeshiva University’s Stern College for Women, Stiefel had planned to continue to law school, but nurtured a love of writing while majoring in English and minoring in Art History. “Aside from making some great friends at Stern, I got to participate in extracurricular activities like writing for The Observer and Besamim literary journal,” said Stiefel. “Stern was also able to connect me to some great internships, including one at Edelman Medical Communications, which really got me thinking more seriously about pursuing journalism as a career.”

When graduation drew near, Stiefel recalled standing before a mailbox with two envelopes in her hand—one, an acceptance to law school, and the other, an acceptance to journalism school.

“Journalism won,” she said.

At New York University, Stiefel earned a Master’s in Journalism as part of a specialized program for Science, Health and Environmental Reporting. At the same time, she interned at Scholastic, Inc, where she first immersed herself in the world of children’s writing. She interned at SuperScience, a children’s science magazine, and, after graduating from NYU, stayed at Scholastic and eventually worked her way up to Senior Editor at Science World, a science magazine geared toward middle-school students. She also began freelancing, which is how she came to write her first book for children in 2003, Wind: From a Whisper to a Howl (Pearson Learning Group).

“Writing books and articles for kids is a great way to be involved with education and make science enjoyable for kids by allowing them to apply the lessons they learn at school to real-life events,” Stiefel explained. “I’d always loved books growing up, and found a lot of value in the experiences of my parents reading to me when I was very young. To be able to write now and share that love of reading with children, including my own, is very rewarding.”

Since 2003, Stiefel’s written more than two dozen books for kids about almost every natural disaster out there, as well as wildlife, skyscrapers, the history of fingerprints, and many other science and history-related subjects.

Stiefel’s favorite books that she’s worked on include “Ye Yucky Middle Ages” – a three-part series consisting of Ye Castle Stinketh, Sweat Suits of Armor, and There’s a Rat in my Soup, published by Enslow in 2012. “I had to do a lot of research to write those books, but it was so much fun to make history come to life,” said Stiefel. She is currently working on a new non-fiction book for National Geographic Kids, entitled Let’s Talk Trash, about garbage on land, at sea, and in space.

Stiefel is also branching out to fiction and at work on a novel geared for middle grade readers—a switch in genres which she called liberating. “Writing fiction is less fact-oriented than writing non-fiction, and the process has been very exciting,” she explained. “It’s been allowing me to flex my creative muscles in a different way.”

Stiefel also has a picture book called Daddy Depot, set to be published by Feiwel & Friends (MacMillan) in 2016, about a young girl who grows upset with her father and attempts to return him to a “daddy depot.”

Stiefel has kept up with YU over the years, and was recruited by Dr. Scott J. Goldberg, currently YU’s Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning, to help write a series of eight case studies for the Institute for University-School Partnership in 2011-2013. She’s looking forward to attending her class reunion on May 17th at the Grand Hyatt in New York.

“It will be great to reconnect with friends I haven’t seen in many years,” said Stiefel.

Stiefel is married to Dr. Larry Stiefel ’90E, a pediatrician at Tenafly Pediatrics (in whose office, perhaps, you’ll find some books penned by Chana Stiefel), and they have four children: Judah, Abby, Maya and Joshua. The Stiefels live in Teaneck, NJ.

Stiefel often visits schools to impart to young students the power of the written word. She is available to teach writing workshops and for speaking engagements, and can be contacted through her website, www.chanastiefel.com.

Faculty Fast Facts

January 5th, 2015 by azimmer

Professor_Steven_FineDr. Steven Fine, a historian of Judaism in the Greco-Roman World, was recently named the Dean Pinkhos Churgin Chair in Jewish History at Yeshiva College. He earned his BA from the University of California at Santa Barbara, his MA from the University of Southern California, and his PhD from Hebrew University. A cultural historian, Fine’s research focuses on relationships between the literature of ancient Judaism, art and archaeology. Fine’s blend of history, rabbinic literature, archaeology and art, together with his deep engagement with historiography and contemporary culture, is expressed in a broad range of publications.


1. What did you do before you joined YU as a faculty member?
I was the Jewish Foundation Professor of Jewish Studies at the University of Cincinnati. I came to YU a decade ago.

2. What is your favorite aspect of your job at YU?
My students, my colleagues, and the fact that Jewish history has existential consequences for many of my students.

3. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
My profession lets me explore my dreams to my heart’s content—from my trips into the world of the ancient rabbis, Chazal, to the archaeology of the Beit Hamikdash and even to within inches of the Arch of Titus menorah. On top of that, I get to travel on my voyage with the most amazing group of women and men: undergraduate students, graduates and faculty embarking on their own careers. What could be better?

4. What is your goal as a Jewish historian, and what is your goal as a teacher?
My goal is to help my students understand the human condition through the lens of the Jewish past, and to make the world—especially the Jewish world—better through clear-sighted knowledge and exploration. I teach intellectual rigor, openness, respect for our historical subjects, human dignity and concrete skills that I hope students will bring into their future lives.

5. What would your current and former YU students be surprised to learn about you?
I’m not sure, since I am very open with my students about myself.  One thing that won’t surprise them, though, is that my profession is a kind of calling, and that I truly love what I do, and love them.

Ike Sultan ’14YC, ’17R, ’17A: Making Halacha Accessible to the Masses

January 5th, 2015 by azimmer

MTA and BTA 60th ReunionFormer President George W. Bush served as the keynote speaker at Yeshiva University’s 90th Annual Hanukkah Dinner and Convocation, but the Point of Light ceremony—which honors outstanding students, faculty and alumni each year who best exemplify the values and spirit of Yeshiva University—might have been the highlight of the night most eagerly anticipated. Ike Sultan’14YC, ’17R, ’17A, was the youngest alum honored this year for his work creating Halachipedia, a website modeled off Wikipedia that seeks to share, distribute and make halacha [Jewish law] more accessible to any and every English speaker interested in Torah.

Sultan’s site receives more than 300 hits a day and has more than 3.5 million total visits so far. But lest you think he’s resting aimlessly on his laurels, Sultan also leads a Data Structures lab at Yeshiva College, teaches a weekly session at Yeshivat Noam’s middle school in Paramus, New Jersey, and participates in Camp Morasha’s Beit Medrash Program, all while pursuing a graduate degree at YU’s Azrieli  Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration and semicha [rabbinic ordination] at YU-affiliated Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary, where he is also a shuir [class] assistant to Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Hershel Schachter.

These extraordinary achievements are typical of a Point of Light.

Sultan grew up in West Orange, NJ, where his family helped found and build the Sephardic minyan. “I was brought up in a family and a community that strongly valued chesed, Torah, Israel, and commitment to others,” said Sultan. “I decided to attend YU because of its incredible Jewish community and yeshiva atmosphere, the rabbis who model Torah, scholarship, and ethics, and, of course, the opportunity to pursue a degree from a great college.”

Sultan majored in Computer Science and minored in Mathematics.  But his fondest memories from YU had to do with Torah learning. “On Friday nights, there were few people in the Beit Midrash and I had no later classes to get to as I did during the week,” he explained. “I could learn something outside of the fixed schedule of a seder and as late as I wanted. I also loved spending time at Rav Schachter’s house for Shabbos meals, Purim mesibahs and the like.”

In 2009, while celebrating Shavuos, Sultan was learning at home during the night as per yom tov tradition and idly commented to one of his brothers that if Wikipedia is able to do collect, organize, and present such a large amount of information on any given topic in such an accessible manner, then it must be possible to do the same with halacha.

“Torah is infinite in quality and quantity, but it has gotten easier for people to find the pertinent sources and information that they’re looking for with modern seforim that organize information,” explained Sultan. “Why not take it to the next level with the internet. It wasn’t a novel idea, but the hard part was actually making it happen.”

“Actually making it happen” entailed recruiting his brother Daniel to set up the software for the site and put it on the Internet. Sultan took over from there. That fall, in Sultan’s first year of studies at Shaalavim in Israel, he started writing on a few topics of halacha and put them online.

“It took a while before we started getting a significant amount of hits and took even longer to get volunteers to help contribute,” said Sultan, “but I knew it would be a work-in-progress.  Today we have close to 500 pages and nearly 10,000 footnotes. And we’re just getting started!”

Sultan’s long-term plan for the site is to continue to grow the content by adding more topics and a more diverse array of halachic opinions from YU poskim (halachic authorities) and Sephardic and Ashkenazic poskim, as well as improve upon design features, such as adding a new editor interface, a transliteration feature for the search engine and a dynamic link for every source to see the text in full. Sultan also hopes to branch out to include other languages, and points to initial content that’s now offered in Spanish.

It’s a big task—but Sultan is gratified by the stream of positive feedback. “Whether it’s a quiet thank you, an e-mail from anywhere in the world or an esteemed honor like being a Point of Light at the YU Hanukkah Dinner, I’m appreciative of each and every word of praise,” he said. “I’ve also gotten positive feedback from my rabbis at YU. These things go a long way toward keeping me motivated to continue this project.”

Sultan, who has been a student in Rav Schachter’s shiur for four years and is in his second year of serving as a shiur assistant, is proud to credit Rav Schachter with being a genuine role model. “I’ve learned from Rav Schachter both professionally and personally. Professionally, I see how he deftly manages a very busy schedule entailing learning, teaching and deciding weighty halachic questions. Personally, I’ve learned from his tremendous level of patience, concern for his students, interesting stories, and his consistent passion for his learning and teaching.”

Sultan continued, “I’ve also been inspired by Rabbi Mordechai Willig (another YU Rosh Yeshiva), from whom I’ve learned a great deal and asked many halachic questions. He gives generously of his time and has agreed to review many of the Halachipedia articles.”

Sultan spoke of his YU experience before hundreds of friends and supporters of YU during the Point of Light ceremony moderated by President Richard M. Joel. “I was proud to be honored and appreciated that I might be able to inspire others about YU by telling my story and how YU has helped me on my journey. YU is a wonderful institution that really tends to the needs of all of its students, cares about making the campus experience complete with a yeshiva feel, and encourages the growth of budding scholars both in Torah and all of the sciences of the world.”

Sultan plans to pursue a career in Jewish education and utilize technology to make a positive impact on the lives of students, inspiring them to reach great heights in both the spiritual and academic realms.

Getting to Know Suzy Schwartz ’84S, YU’s New Assistant Vice President of Alumni Relations and Annual Giving

January 5th, 2015 by azimmer

Suzy SchwartzIn November, YU welcomed Suzy (Greenman) Schwartz as its new Assistant Vice President of Alumni Relations and Annual Giving. But Schwartz is no stranger to YU: she’s a former Assistant Dean of YU’s Center for the Jewish Future (CJF), and she is also a proud Stern College for Women alumna and proud YU parent.

Though she’s familiar to many of us, we decided to feature a Q&A with her to refresh our memory and learn more about her. We know you will appreciate getting to meet her personally in the coming months as she continues the strong work begun by Barbara Birch, her predecessor, and expands the YU alumni program both on the national and international levels.

Q: What is your YU background?

A: I was an English/Communications major at Stern College and then studied Marketing with a specialization in Advertising for an MBA.  I spent most of my professional career in advertising at BBDO, the worldwide advertising agency network, where I helped multi-national clients build world-class brands. I joined Yeshiva University in 2010 as Assistant Dean of its Center for the Jewish Future and remained there until early 2014.

Q: What excites you about this new role directing the alumni effort of YU? 

A: I’m excited to work with a very talented team of professionals to tap into a network of passionate and committed alumni. Our YU network extends to every corner of the world, where our alumni are accomplished professionals leading vibrant Jewish lives as community builders. I’m looking forward to engaging our alumni by bringing the scholarship and creativity of today’s Yeshiva University to them and, in turn, tapping our alumni to offer their wisdom and experience for the benefit of our students at YU today.

Q: What distinguishes YU alumni from alumni of other universities? 

A: If YU students are extraordinary, it stands to reason that our alumni are in a league of their own. After successfully navigating a robust college course load while engaging in a rigorous dual curriculum, our alumni are uniquely poised for success. The YU alumni network is a powerful engine that fuels personal, communal and professional connections for students and alumni for years to come.

Q: Why is it important for alumni to give back to their alma mater? How can someone with, say, more limited funds get involved with giving back to YU?

A: Yeshiva University is a constant in our lives that, more often than not, we take for granted.  It is important for alumni to give back because it’s the most meaningful way we can show our gratitude and appreciation for what we’ve been given: a stellar Jewish and secular education, preparation for our professional careers and a lifelong network of friends. Giving back is something all of us can do whether by offering career opportunities for students and alumni, serving as ambassadors for YU in the greater Jewish community, and of course, partnering financially to help YU achieve its mission.

Q: Can you tell me a little bit about your family?

A: I was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, and married a Midwesterner from Columbus, OH. We live in Teaneck, NJ, and have four amazing children. Our oldest daughter is a Stern graduate, teacher, and a graduate student in Azrieli, one son is a junior in the Sy Syms School of Business, one son is enrolled in the S. Daniel Abraham program at Yeshivat HaKotel, and one daughter is a junior in high school.

Q: What is one “fun fact” about you that most people don’t know or would be surprised to learn?

A: I’ve spent time on six out of seven continents.


YU Alumni Give Back

November 26th, 2014 by azimmer

coreyhOctober 30th was a memorable night at the Yeshiva University Annual Undergraduate Phonathon, hosted by the Office of Alumni Affairs and Annual Giving. Young alumni volunteers returned to the Wilf Campus after their workdays to phone their peers and ask them to support their alma mater, as well as enjoy good food and fellowship. Volunteers included Suzanne Mazel ’11S and Jack Voystock ’12YC, Lea Epstein ’11S and Ben Sanders ’12YC, Yael Refah Mandel ’12S, Ephie Mandel ’12SB and Eli Shavalian ’14YC, several of whom also volunteered their time to phonathon as undergrad students.

The group, who reached out to graduates of the last decade, informed them about the importance of giving back and encouraged their participation through annual gifts.

Young alumni donors who made a gift that evening were inducted into the Gold Society. The Gold Society—Graduates of the Last Decade—was created for our young alumni. These alumni play a vital role in seeing that current and future students have the same opportunities they had as students, and their support helps increase Yeshiva’s ranking and the value of its degree.

“I decided to volunteer with the annual Phone-A-Thon because I know that I wouldn’t have been able to attend such a great university if it wasn’t for the support of others,’ said Elliot Shavalian, who currently works as YU’s Assistant Director of Admissions. “I know that as a young alumnus, I might not be able to give back so much monetarily, but I know that whatever I can contribute will really go a long way. Whether it’s a few hours at a Phone-A-Thon, or $36 to join the GOLD Society, my involvement really matters.”

“Participating in the phone-a-thon as an alumna demonstrates my firm belief in the mission, quality, and necessity of YU. As a recent graduate, financial contributions can only be so much; but contributions of time can be wide-reaching.,” said Suzanne Mazel. “My husband, Jack, also participated, as we both share the conviction that a YU undergraduate education is an investment worth making. We’re happy to meaningfully show gratitude and appreciation to our alma mater.”

Thanks to Suzanne, Jack, Lea, Ben, Yael, Ephie and Eli for their help fostering a culture of philanthropy and giving among the young alumni of Yeshiva University. They helped secure donations from their peers, and they prove that all graduates can make a difference!

Faculty Fast Facts

November 26th, 2014 by azimmer

ProdanDr. Emil Prodan, a professor of Physics at Yeshiva, received his PhD from Rice University in theoretical physics and has an MS in theoretical physics and an MS in mathematical physics. He was previously a fellow of the Princeton Center for Complex Materials. He received postdoctoral training from University of California at Santa Barbara/University of Southern California and Rice University.

1.  What did you do before you joined YU as a faculty member?
I was a fellow of the Princeton Center for Complex Materials at Princeton University. I used theoretical physics, mathematics and computers to study the electron transport in molecular electronic devices and the possibility of making a topological quantum computer using non-abelian fractional quantum states of matter.

2. What is your favorite aspect of your job at YU?
Teaching-wise, I am thrilled to see that the students in both introductory and advanced classes continue to remain engaged with the subject and participate to the class with interesting questions and comments. Research-wise, the best aspect is my liberty to explore different research directions and the luxury of being able to take the time to read and study difficult science pieces. While my research field was and probably will remain the physics of condensed matter, the techniques and the frameworks used in my research have constantly progressed.

As opposed to other departments, where the pressure from the peers and the pressure to publish at any cost may force one to stick with the main research flow of the department, thank to the moral and material support at Stern, I’m able to constantly study new theoretical techniques, especially advanced mathematics such Operator Algebras and Non-Commutative Geometry. Mastering these fields to a point where I could apply them to condensed matter physics and produce original contributions took years. I am not sure if I could have accomplished that if I was in a different place.

3. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
I never thought of doing anything else because the research was always so interesting and captivating.

4. What is your goal as a scientist, and what is your goal as a teacher?
The materials science, which presently drives the technical revolution we witness all around us, became extremely complex and it will be difficult to sustain its progress at the present breakneck speed.  Theoretical Physics and Mathematics, and here I mean real mathematics with all its big guns, will play an increasing role in this aspect. One of my goals is to show how that works and what are the benefits of it. As a teacher, my goal is simple and very clear: to convince the students that they have the power to change the world for the better and to help them believe in that.

5. What would your current and former YU students be surprised to learn about you?
I’m a pretty good soccer player.

Naomi Kaszovitz ’87S, Former College Player Turned Coach, is an Ace

November 26th, 2014 by azimmer

Naomi Kaszovitz, women's tennis coachShe has served as head coach of the Yeshiva University women’s tennis team since 2009 and was recently named the women’s tennis Skyline Conference Coach of the Year for the 2014 season, but Naomi Kaszovitz ’87S was already playing sports at YU—as a student athlete.

A native of Oceanside, N.Y. (Kaszovitz grew up a good friend of President Richard M. Joel, also from Oceanside), and a graduate of HALB and HAFTR, Kaszovitz attended Stern because it was “the natural next step” for her and indeed proved to be a perfect fit.

“I say I majored in both Marketing, and friends,” she laughed, “because as much as I enjoyed taking business, economics and PR classes for my shaped major, I also had great times in the classroom and the dorms with my friends, who I remain very close with today.”

But while she excelled in the classroom, Kaszovitz also excelled on the court. She played on Stern’s basketball team—where she was honored as MVP in 1986—for three years and on the tennis team for two years. “Bonding with fellow teammates was fun, and playing teams that outsized us was challenging but great experience,” she recalled.

Kaszovitz also worked part time for YU’s Office of Admissions, where she represented Stern College at various high schools in the tri-state area, and served as corresponding secretary of Student Council, where she helped organize student events.

Nearing graduation, Kaszovitz felt a growing uncertainty about the advertising and marketing world and decided to attend law school. “Like many applying to graduate programs, I wasn’t ready to go into the real world yet,” she explained. Despite little time to prepare, Kaszovitz aced her LSATs and enrolled in YU’s Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, proving she could shine in any number of court systems.

After she graduated Cardozo, Kaszovitz went to work at the Queens Family Court to prosecute cases involving child abuse and neglect, what she called “heartbreaking work, yet rewarding.”

“I did that for five years and then, after the birth of my third child in 1995, decided to transition into the family business, with my father and brother, which was insurance,” she said. She still works at The Rampart Group today, located in Lake Success, NY.  During this time, Kaszovitz remained an active tennis player—she’s a member of the United States Tennis Association (USTA)—and participated in competitive leagues around the tri-state area, which has included first-place finishes in several tournaments.

In 2009, Kaszovitz’s friend and former Stern roommate, Felicia Feder Bernstein ’87S, saw a posting for a tennis coach at Stern. She immediately sent it Kaszovitz’s way. Kaszovitz met with Joe Bednarsh, YU’s Director of Athletics, Physical Education, and Recreation, and the rest is history.

“During the interview, I could see Naomi’s passion for YU and Jewish women’s athletics,” said Bednarsh. “It’s always special to have a former YU student-athlete come back to coach a team and even more special when it’s a two-sport athlete, like Naomi. Naomi understands everything our students have to deal with in the classroom, on the court, and in their communities; she went through it herself. I am proud to have her working with our young women and have her represent the department and the university.”

For Kaszovitz, it’s been interesting to be on the other side of the athletics scene at Stern. “The program has really changed 180 degrees since I was a student,” she mused. “I don’t think we belonged to any conference then, we practiced once a week and generally, we didn’t have the most systematic program. But athletics has become so much more intense. We practice every night now, with matches on Fridays and Sundays, which means that everyone who participates is fully dedicated.”

The traditional tennis season lasts about 6-8 weeks in the months of September and October, and usually comes to a close just as midterms begin. Sometimes, though, there’s an overlap, which means students are frantically studying their notes on the sidelines of the tennis courts between matches.

“My student athletes are extremely dedicated to both academics and athletics,” said Kaszovitz. “They’ll email me ahead of time with questions about scheduling to make sure they can organize all the work they have. It’s been great getting to know them and be able to have an influence on the next generation.”

This past year—her fifth as the tennis coach—Kaszovitz has enjoyed being at the helm of a more seasoned team of veteran players, who, with the addition of several strong tennis players and a student from Israel, took the team to the playoffs last season. Under Kaszovitz, the team finished 7-4 overall and 4-2 in Skyline Conference regular season play. The Maccabees finished third place in regular season to qualify for the Skyline Conference playoffs for the first time in over a decade.

This year is also the first one Kaszovitz doesn’t have any assistant coaches, which really makes her recent honor as the women’s tennis Skyline Conference Coach of the Year for the 2014 season that much more impressive.

“The honor was very gratifying, if unexpected, and I was humbled to receive it from my fellow coaches,” she said.

For Kaszovitz, the opportunity to coach the Stern College tennis team is a perfect way to meld two of her great passions in life: athletics and Yeshiva University.

“I’m proud to convey the message of Torah Umadda to today’s students. I emphasize that we are role models on and off the court and must behave with respect in sports and in everything else, and to always be a Kiddush Hashem,” she said proudly.

Kaszovitz is also grateful for the opportunity to give back to her alma mater in this way. “YU continues to provide so much to me, my family and the Jewish community at large with its extensive programming and outreach,” she said.

Kaszovitz’s children, Alex and Sarah, graduated Yeshiva University in 2014. Alex is starting work at an accounting firm while studying in YU’s Master’s of Accounting program and studying for his CPA exam. Sarah and her husband Netanel Goldstein ’13 YC are both at Hunter College studying for their Master’s in Special Education. Sarah teaches at Yeshiva Har Torah, while Netanel is also studying towards semicha at RIETS and teaches at TABC High School’s Sinai program (their one-month old son, Avi, is Kaszovitz’s team’s newest mascot). Kaszovitz also has sons Joshua and Eitan: Joshua is attending Yeshivat HaKotel in Israel this year, and Eitan is a junior at the David Renov Stahler High School (DRS) in the Five Towns. Kaszovitz credits her family and her husband, David, for his support in all that she does, including the many evenings of missed dinners due to coaching each night during the tennis season. She admits she couldn’t do it without the help (and dinners) of her mother, Beverly Skolnick, who encourages her love of sports and is her tennis partner and biggest fan.

In addition to coaching tennis at Yeshiva, Kaszovitz was a children’s tennis coach at Camp Lavi from 2002-2013. She ran a comprehensive tennis program, which included individual and group practice drills, games and tournaments. Last summer, she ran the tennis program at Camp Kaylie for Girls, a camp that integrates children of all abilities. Kaszovitz is also actively involved in many communal organizations such as Young Israel of Lawrence- Cedarhurst,     i-Shine of Chai Lifeline, Bikur Cholim, and the UJA Federation.

When it comes to balancing everything on and off the court, Kaszovitz finds inspiration in her student athletes. “It’s a juggle to balance everything,” she admits, “but it’s all about time management. I learned it as an athlete, and I’m still learning it from my students today.”

Kaszovitz lives in Cedarhurst with her family, most of whom know better than to challenge her to a game of tennis—that is, challenge her and expect to win.

Faculty Fast facts

November 3rd, 2014 by azimmer

Josefa SteinhauerDr. Josefa Steinhauer received her PhD from Columbia University and is an assistant professor of Biology at Stern College for Women, where she teaches Genetics and Molecular Biology to upper-level science majors. Her laboratory uses the Drosophila testis to elucidate molecular mechanisms of intercellular signaling and to discover how the somatic support cells communicate with the sperm cells in order to direct and support their development.


1. What did you do before you joined YU as a faculty member?
I was a postdoctoral research scientist at NYU Langone Medical Center.

2. What is your favorite aspect of your job at YU?
In the two classes that I teach, students learn in detail about the research process that leads to seminal scientific discoveries. I also love that I am able to run a research program here with several research students. It’s very rewarding for me and the students to actively contribute to scientific understanding today and to be part of the larger research community.

3. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
My dream job is to work at a zoo.

4. What is your goal as a scientist, and what is your goal as a teacher?
My goal as a scientist is to be able to stick around long enough to see how discoveries from my lab fit in with those from other labs as scientific understanding progresses. My goal as a teacher is to hone my students’ analytical skills and help them realize that it is within their power to understand their world.

5. What would your current and former YU students be surprised to learn about you?
I wanted to be a fashion designer when I was a child. I did not become interested in science until high school.