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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.

Faculty Fast Facts

September 23rd, 2014 by azimmer

NechamaPriceNechama Price ’01S, ’06A, ’19BR, the new director of the Stern College Graduate Program for Advanced Talmud Studies (GPATS), has been a professor of Judaic Studies and Bible at Stern College for Women since 2004. Prior to that, she completed the GPATS program at Stern in 2003, received her Master’s in Jewish Education from the Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration in 2005 and her Master’s in Bible from Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies in 2008. She is also a graduate of Nishmat’s Yoetzet Halacha program and is a yoetzet in Englewood, NJ.

1. What did you do before you joined YU as a faculty member?
Since being a student at Stern College, I’ve never really left the campus. After Stern, I studied at Azrieli, Revel and GPATS. Immediately after completing GPATS, Rabbi Ephraim Kanarfogel, the E. Billi Ivry University Professor of Jewish History, Literature and Law and Chair of the Rebecca Ivry Department of Jewish Studies, offered me the opportunity to teach Hilchot Niddah, and learn in the Beit Midrash with Stern women. Four years later, I became a full-time instructor. Each step in this process was an opportunity to learn and grow.

2. What is your favorite aspect of your job at YU?
I love my students, their excitement for Torah, and the enthusiasm they bring to the classroom. I enjoy developing relationships with them in and outside the classroom.

3. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
None! I am very happy in my role at Stern, being a Kallah teacher, Yoetzet Halacha for a number of communities in NJ, and now director of GPATS. However, I’ve learned that you never know what new opportunities will come your way.

4. What is your goal as a Jewish scholar and what is your goal as a teacher?
My goal is to spread the love of Torah to as many people as possible. More specifically, my goal is to inspire women to learn Torah and empower them in their shemirat hamitzvot.

5.What would your current and former YU students be surprised to learn about you?
I never learned Gemara until after high school.

6. How do you plan to advance women’s learning as the new director of GPATS?
I am so excited to be able to give back to the program that transformed my life. My GPATS experience developed my skills in Gemara and Halacha, while enabling me to grow in understanding the halachic process and reinforcing within me an unceasing appreciation for Chazal. My new role will allow me to facilitate similar, and enhanced, opportunities for a new generation of women to engage with Gemara and Halacha after their college years, to develop women who are role models for their peers, and to help form women leaders who can better serve on behalf of Am Yisrael.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T: Find Out What It Means to Ilana Weiss ’03S, Associate Executive Director of RESPECT

September 23rd, 2014 by azimmer

Ilana_Weiss2As summer turns to fall and the air turns cool and crisp, students return to the classroom and parents everywhere are reminded of a familiar worry: This may be the year that their children encounter a feared and legendary phenomenon, otherwise known as the class bully.

Not if Ilana Weiss ’03S has anything to say about it, though. As the Associate Executive Director of RESPECT, a non-profit dedicated to preventing school bullying, Weiss helps provide many schools and communities in Nebraska with educational theatre assemblies and theatre-based training sessions for students on bullying and healthy peer and friend relationships. A lot of her job is writing—to school administrators, or grant writing—and she credits her skills in that area to her time at Yeshiva University’s Stern College for Women.

Growing up in Fair Lawn, NJ, in a traditional family, Weiss started to become more observant during high school, and joined the Orthodox Union’s youth movement, NCSY. “By the time I was a senior, I was committed to Torah observance and I wanted to attend Stern so I could develop my Judaic knowledge and skill set,” Weiss explained. “I also wanted to be in an environment that was conducive to a Torah-observant lifestyle.”

At Stern, she did an “art-shaped major” with a focus on graphic design, thinking that she would parlay her high school yearbook layout design experience into a career. But, by her own admission, she was more adept at the technical elements of graphic design than its artistic potential. She focused on developing strengths in other areas, including writing.

“Of all of the courses I took, I think the one that I remember the most and gave me the greatest number of tools was my very first English Composition course with Professor Manfred Weidhorn,” said Weiss. “I will never use a dangling participle because of him. I do a lot of writing in my job and I know that much of my skill in that area was honed in his class.” Weiss also loved her courses with Rabbi Dr. Basil Herring (who would later become one of her bosses). She made time to enjoy the city with her friends and roommates, and participate on Torah Tours and other service trips to assist Jewish communities across the country.

During her junior and senior years at Stern, she worked at the Rabbinical Council of America, while Rabbi Herring was its Executive Vice President. “My experience at the RCA was my first real office experience and allowed me to feel like I was a part of history,” said Weiss. “On a single day, I could be going through the archives of the older generations and then handling the intake of applications for new rabbis. During my first weeks working there, I typed a letter dictated by the President of the RCA to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and faxed it over. It was a small task, but it seemed pretty significant to me.”

Weiss won a spot in YU’s prestigious Presidential Graduate Fellowship program following her graduation. Working in the Office of Undergraduate Admissions and getting a feel for nonprofit management proved to be an invaluable experience. Weiss specifically highlighted the usefulness of learning the fundamentals of public speaking and networking, as well as fundraising. “The knowledge and experience that has stemmed from the Fellowship has been a real asset to the positions I’ve had since,” said Weiss.

After finishing her Fellowship, Weiss married Yaakov (Jeffrey) Weiss ’03YC, ’05R, ’07AZ, whom she had met at her roommate and fellow Presidential Fellow’s engagement party. And so began a period of jet setting for the couple.  They spent their first year married living in Israel. While Yaakov completed his semicha at the Gruss Campus in Jerusalem, Weiss interned in the fundraising department of the Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel, where she acquired invaluable grant writing experience. The couple then spent a year in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where Yaakov found a job as a congregational rabbi and Weiss worked as a Jewish educator and program coordinator. Finally, they moved to Omaha, NB, where Weiss worked at the Institute for Holocaust Education, which, at the time, was a division of the Plans States region of the Anti-Defamation League.

In 2010, she began working at RESPECT, and founded its first Student Advisory Committee. “I quickly began taking on more responsibilities, and was eventually promoted to become the Education Director and then the Associate Executive Director, my current position,” said Weiss. In her current role, she performs an array of tasks, including grant writing and reporting; overseeing the Student and Community Advisory Committees; handling the publicity and communications for the organization; and working with schools throughout Nebraska to create specific program packages for each school according to its budget and needs. And, each year, she organizes a major conference for educators, counselors and other youth-serving professionals on bullying prevention, which draws between 75-100 people.

The organization creates programs tailored for schools with very young students and features kid-friendly costumes and catchy songs teaching children about how to make and treat friends, and it also creates programs for schools with students in high school and college, which can include a discussion about what to do if they’re in an abusive dating relationship. The programs are all performed by professional actor-educators under the supervision of RESPECT’s Executive Director, who is a child psychologist. RESPECT produces about 200 programs each year. Weiss’s job is more in the background, working to get the funding to provide the programs and coming up with ideas on developing new programs and publicizing them.

While there’s no typical workday, a recent one looked like this:  Weiss had a 7:30 a.m. meeting with RESPECT’S Community Advisory Committee to get feedback on a new program before it was presented to students, followed by a meeting with staff to discuss how to update additional programs, and then a phone meeting with a school principal to brainstorm ideas for a sustainable anti-bullying campaign at his school. Finally, Weiss worked on various grants and administrative duties.

“RESPECT’s work setup is very different from most other companies and organizations in that we are a very small administrative staff and we all work according to our own schedules,” said Weiss. “I usually work from home or out of coffee shops. This is a huge plus for me as a mom, because I can always make time for my kids, and on days that are less busy, I can pick my kids up a little earlier. When I am very busy, if I need to be somewhere for personal reasons, I can take some time off during the day and get back to work at night.  I don’t think there are many jobs out there with so much flexibility, but that’s also a challenge; Not being in an office at the same time as everyone else means I have to be clear in phone calls, emails and text messages about what needs to be done and who is doing it. I keep a to-do list for every little task so I don’t miss anything.”

In addition to her work with RESPECT, Weiss also runs regular events for children of the three synagogues—one Orthodox, one Conservative, and one Reform—for the Federation: A Synagogue Discovery Tour for 1st and 2nd graders, A Mitzvah Fair for 3rd and 4th graders and an Historical Jewish Omaha Tour for 4th and 5th graders.

Weiss and her husband have three daughters: Naama, 5, Meira, 2 ½, and Adira, 7 months. They enjoy life in Omaha, where Weiss said the people are extraordinarily friendly and nothing is ever more than 20 minutes away—even in rush hour. And Weiss relishes being one of the relatively small number of Orthodox Jews in Omaha, where she knows others look to her and her family as an example of what it means to be an Orthodox Jew.

“It was my experiences through YU on Torah Tours that sparked my interest to live in a smaller Jewish community, where every person makes a difference,” said Weiss. “Here in Omaha, I essentially live Torah Tours all year long.  In fact, the way that I came to work for RESPECT is that I was giving a class for women on Simchas Torah in a style that I came up with during my Torah Tours experiences, and it just so happened that the Executive Director of RESPECT had started attending our shul and came to my class, and she offered me a job soon after!”

That Weiss works for an organization dedicated to helping others, though, is no coincidence, especially given her professional history working for so many worthy causes.

“I can’t imagine working for a cause that I didn’t care for strongly,” she declared. “As a mom now especially, I want to know that the time that I spend away from my children is filled with meaning, and I feel blessed that I can find purpose in what I do every day.”

Faculty Fast Facts

August 26th, 2014 by azimmer

Daniel TsadikDr. Daniel Tsadik is an Assistant Professor of Sephardic and Iranian Studies at the Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies. He received his PhD from Yale University in 2002 and wrote a book in 2007 called Between Foreigners and Shi‘is: Nineteenth-Century Iran and its Jewish Minority (Stanford: Stanford University Press). Dr. Tsadik was recently granted tenure along with seven other faculty members from across YU’s undergraduate and graduate schools, in fields ranging from art history to mathematics and Judaic studies. His teaching and research interests include the history of the Jews in Islamic lands; modern Iran; Shi’i Islam; Iran’s religious minorities; and Iran’s Jewry.

1. What did you do before you joined YU as a faculty member?
I taught at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem in its Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies Department and its History of the Jewish People Department.

2. What is your favorite aspect of your job at YU?
I love interacting with students, teaching them and learning a lot from them.

3. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
I would be probably teaching kids in elementary school or own a small bookstore.

4. What is your goal as a scholar, and what is your goal as a teacher?
In general, I would be happy to further explore and research the history and culture of Iran and its Jews; specifically, I would like to pursue my projects on Iranian Jewry’s rabbinical literature and on Shiite perceptions of Jews and Judaism. My goals as a teacher are to  make the material I teach as clear and as enjoyable as possible, and to make my students understand the significance of the material for their past and occasionally for their present, as well.

5. What would your current and former YU students be surprised to learn about you?
I almost got accidentally shot when I was 20 years old during my army service by my own commander.



Ross Gordon ’05SB: Accidental Entrepreneur

August 26th, 2014 by azimmer

Ross GordonWhen Ross Gordon ’05SB took over operations for the Morg Mart, the popular student-run convenience stand in the basement of Yeshiva University’s Morgenstern dormitory on the Wilf Campus, he was just looking for a way to make a few extra dollars. Instead, he says, his entrepreneurial spirit began to flourish.

“Our famous Wednesday Night Chinese Food became a campus hit, and students flocked to the crowded basement to get their General Tso’s and hear tunes from Credence Clearwater Revival, which became our customary soundtrack,” said Gordon.

Gordon had originally majored in Marketing at YU’s Sy Syms School of Business, intending to go into advertising, but after a few English Composition courses, he realized his passion for writing. He switched his major to English with a focus in creative writing, planning to be a copywriter at an ad agency, with a minor in Business.

“Once I was in the English program, my writing continued to improve every semester,” said Gordon. “I won ‘Best Short Story’ in the annual writing contest in 2004, which was definitely one of the highlights for me at YU. I also found a lot of other outlets at YU for the things I loved, like playing basketball on the varsity team for a semester and a stint playing in the YU jazz band.”

“After Gordon graduated, he found it difficult to break into the advertising industry; many candidates had worked on their portfolios for their entire time at college, and competition for jobs was stiff. “Because I was getting married and needed a job, I took an unpaid internship at a small web-design firm run by Sholom Strick ’99SB,” said Gordon. “The internship became a full-time position by the end of the summer and was a do-it-all role as a copywriter, project manager, account manager, and garbage taker-outer, and I quickly learned the ins and outs of the web-design process.”

After two years, the firm closed, and Gordon got a job as a digital project manager at Arc Worldwide, the marketing services arm of Leo Burnett Worldwide, Inc., that specializes in digital communications, direct and database marketing, promotions and brand navigation. There, he played a more creative role on a few different projects by offering ideas and coordinating the process, and was eventually approached by the Vice President of Creative, who wished to gauge Gordon’s interest in becoming a copywriter. “Of course, I said yes right away,” said Gordon.

In his role as a copywriter, Gordon worked on national campaigns for Purina, Whirlpool, Kellogg’s, and a few other major brands. “My main account was Purina and I helped re-brand Fancy Feast,” said Gordon, who, despite this coveted role for any copywriter, admits to not being a cat person. “At one point, Purina had a competition among a few different agencies for an interactive campaign. Each agency had to vote on their favorite idea, and my idea won.”

In 2008, Gordon quit ARC to start his own digital advertising agency, at first called Tribe9 Interactive, which focused on affiliate marketing. Gordon further refined his skills in writing and digital branding for a diverse group of companies, including those dedicated to home improvement. Eventually, the company morphed into CraftJack, a lead generation/software company dedicated solely to home improvement contractors. In June 2012, the company was acquired by HomeAdvisor (itself owned by IAC).

Shortly after, Gordon helped found a subscription commerce company called Mystery Tackle Box, which sends a monthly box of fishing supplies to subscribers. “A lot of people don’t realize that the fishing market is a $45 billion industry,” said Gordon. “More people fish than play baseball. Fishing is especially huge in the South, where plenty of people fish exclusively in their free time. I grew up in Minnesota and had become interested in the industry early on, so it made sense to start a company that focused on it.”

Mystery Tackle Box has grown to become the leading subscription company in the fishing space. Encouraged by its success, Gordon next founded a fishing lure manufacturing company called BioSpawn Lure Company, which launched to an auspicious start this past summer.

“I wasn’t one of those kids who set up a lemonade stand at five years old and just knew he was going to be a captain of industry,” said Gordon. “Even with my Morg Mart experience, I didn’t envision going into business. I became an entrepreneur in a very organic, steady way, and woke up one day to realize that I owned three companies.”

For Gordon, the biggest challenge is staying focused on one project at a time. “I have a lot of ideas and see a lot of opportunities and I always want to get involved, but starting a company is a lot of work and sometimes taking on too much at once can be a distraction,” said Gordon. “But there is nothing as rewarding as seeing something you thought of and built being used by tens or hundreds of thousands of people. Getting daily e-mails of gratitude for building a great service is a wonderful feeling and helps encourage me in times of doubt.”

Gordon partially credits his success with his experience at YU, where the writing fundamentals he learned there still play a major role in everything he does. “The YC classes I took made me a better writer, thinker, and doer, and I strongly encourage anyone thinking of majoring in business to consider taking a few extra classes in YC, particularly writing classes,” he said.

For budding entrepreneurs at Syms who are hoping to one day build their own successful companies, Gordon suggests this tried but true simple tip: hard work. “An idea is important but it’s also virtually worthless if you don’t put in the work and attention to detail,” he explained. “It’s the execution of an idea that makes a company ultimately successful.”

Gordon lives in Chicago with his wife, Alyssa ’04S, and their three children: Caley, 6, Coby, 4, and Zack, 3 months.

Alumni Who Hire Summer Interns Pay it Forward

August 26th, 2014 by azimmer

The partnership between alumni and current students provides an essential professional network that benefits everyone. Hundreds of alumni participate in programs of the YUCareer Center, including student mentorship, participation on career panels, and opportunities to hire students as interns at their own companies.

“Yeshiva University alumni are an amazing resource for career information and the most ardent advocates of our students in the job market today,” said Jocelyn Coalter, the Director of Employer and Alumni Relations. “They give so much of their time and energy to help YU students succeed and achieve their goals. Here at the Career Center, we feel very strongly that one of our roles is to facilitate and manage those alumni-student connections.”

Daniel Krul ’10SB, a senior analyst at Sunrise Securities, hired four students to intern in his firm this past summer. Working at Goldman Sachs for five years both during college and after graduating from YU, Krul met many alumni and saw firsthand the strong network of committed alumni willing to offer professional assistance.

“When I first began working at Goldman, I had a mentor named Dorian Levy ’01SB, who worked at Lehman Brothers, and I spoke to him weekly,” said Krul. “I asked him why he helped in this way, and he told me that there was a YU alum who mentored him when he was just starting out and he wanted to pass that benefit along. It inspired me to continue carrying that torch, and I’ve helped recruit and train YU students for interviews at Goldman and other major banks in this industry.”

Krul is just one of over 300 alumni who are part of YU Info Link, a database of alumni available to assist with career development . Alumni conduct mock interviews or discuss graduate school programs and careers with aspiring students.  They also regularly visit campus to conduct one-on-one informational interviews about their industry.  The Career Center manages a “Women in Business” mentoring program and co-coordinates an accounting mentoring program. Recently, the Career Center collaborated with the pre-law advisor to initiate a pre-law mentoring program.

“Yeshiva University’s mentoring program for pre-law students provides incredible engagement potential among alumni and current students,” said Eliana Baer ’06S, an attorney at Fox Rothschild LLP who mentored two pre-law students last year. “Not only that, but the larger alumni community benefits.  A strong alumni network makes for a stronger Yeshiva University, and increases the value of each of our degrees. For Yeshiva University to continue to be a strong university, a strong alumni network is essential.”

The YU alumni network is already quite vibrant, enhanced by the interconnectedness of our alumni through families, communities and the professional world.  As Krul said, “Yeshiva University’s alumni network is unique, and if utilized correctly, doesn’t compare to any other university’s network that I’ve encountered,” continued Krul. “The extent to which a YU alum will help a current student is unparalleled.”

With so many ways to give back, alumni can easily find the right fit for them:

  • The Career Center coordinates more than 100 programs and events each year for students. Last year, more than 90 alumni participated in programs such as Being Orthodox in an Unorthodox World, How to Succeed at Work, Mock Interview Night, Careers in Psychology, and Hot Tech Careers. Alumni and their firms can recruit students by posting internship and job opportunities, presenting company and career information sessions on campus, attending career fairs, and conducting on-campus interviews. The Career Center currently works with several thousand alumni in this capacity. To post a job or internship, click here.
  • Every year, 20-40 sophomores participate in a job shadowing program over their winter break in January. Students visit the work site of an employer in their field of interest for a day, learning more about that career path and industry. The Career Center also coordinates site visits where a group of 10-20 students can tour a company and hear about the different types of opportunities available.

And, when alumni reach out and give back, it inspires ripple effects for future students.

“Over the years, I have had the pleasure of providing various internship and other job opportunities to Yeshiva students, and I am confident that they will do the same for the students who come after them,” said  David Rabinowitz ’80YC,  Director of Equity Research and Head of International Equities and Portfolio Manager at ING Investment Management, who has taken interns in his department last few summers.

The Career Center invites alumni who might have creative ideas regarding programming or ways to contribute their assistance to contact Jocelyn Coalter at coalter@yu.edu or 646-592-4140.

The Center for the Jewish Future Marks Its Ninth Counterpoint Israel

August 4th, 2014 by azimmer

Glasser-199x300This summer marked the ninth year that Yeshiva University’s Center for the Jewish Future (CJF) operated Counterpoint Israel, which is tailored for Israeli teens from low socio-economic development towns in Southern Israel. This program is operated in collaboration with local municipalities and the mental health agencies in the region. Rabbi Yaakov Glasser, the newly-installed David Mitzner Dean of the CJF, wrote the following in light of the situation in Israel this past summer that saw many programs change course:

“In past years, our students were greeted enthusiastically by the government, the communities, the campers, and their families; this summer, they were greeted as well with missiles, and we needed to reorient to ensure they were always within close proximity of communal bomb shelters. Counterpoint and all other summer programs were forced to shut down in Kiryat Gat and Kiryat Malachi. Along with our partners in the South, we have searched for ways to provide the Israeli teens with a sense of continuity – an opportunity to enjoy what Counterpoint has to offer – in a careful and safe way. Dimona has been under attack, and as a result we transported the teens from Dimona to a campsite in Arad, so that they too can have the summer experience they had been waiting for. “