Yeshiva University News » 2005 » March

Mar 29, 2005 — Dr. J. Ladin, PhD, assistant professor of English at Stern College for Women, Yeshiva University’s undergraduate school of liberal arts and sciences for women, received a research fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies. Ladin’s research will focus on American poetry, specifically the history of American poetry from 1850 to 1920 and the origins of modernist poetry.

The topic stems from Ladin’s doctoral dissertation comparing the authoritative language in the 19th-century poetry of Emily Dickinson with that of 20th-century modernist poetry. In both, the professor found that absolute statements – such as those on love or death – were combined with nonsense, or literally, language whose sense cannot be determined.

“Oddly enough, the nonsense strengthens their authority because it provokes readers to imagine out what they mean,” Ladin said.

Ladin’s current research sees that phenomenon as a symptom of the widespread effects of American democracy on language and authority in public discourse.

Ladin, who also directs the Writing Center at Stern College, received a BA from Sarah Lawrence College, an MFA from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and a PhD from Princeton. Ladin has taught at University of Massachusetts, Princeton, and Reed College, as well as at Tel Aviv University as a Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence, and at the Emily Dickinson Homestead, which included a series of seminars on Dickinson’s poetry at her birthplace.

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Mar 29, 2005 — William Stenhouse, PhD, assistant professor of history at both Stern College for Women and Yeshiva College, Yeshiva University’s undergraduate schools of liberal arts and sciences for women and men, respectively, received a fellowship from The Italian Academy for Advanced Studies in America at Columbia University, which sponsors research relating to Italian history, society, and science.

Dr. Stenhouse will analyze how museums, specifically in Italy, affected historical research and writing between 1550 and 1620, a time when collectors held important cultural roles and historians used material objects to reconstruct past events, expanding the range of sources used to write history.

“I want to connect these three developments to argue that it was antiquarians’ exposure to objects in the nascent museum that inspired them to develop ways of using this type of material as historical evidence,” he said.

Dr. Stenhouse’s research is generally focused on the history of archeology. He received a BA from Balliol College, University of Oxford; an MA with distinction in combined historical studies from the Warburg Institute, University of London; and a PhD from University College London.

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Stern College for Women students Rebecca Rosenberg and Esther Flaschner greet Sen. Clinton at dinner honoring Rabbi Schneier, who looks on.

Mar 21, 2005 — More than 450 people, including Sen. Hillary Clinton, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, Israel Consul General Arye Mekel, and Israel Ambassador to the United Nations Dan Gillerman turned out at The Plaza Hotel March 20 to congratulate Rabbi Arthur Schneier on his 75th birthday. The occasion also marked Rabbi Schneier’s 50 years of leadership on behalf of religious freedom, human rights, and tolerance, and the dedication of The Rabbi Arthur Schneier Center for International Affairs at Yeshiva University.

Rabbi Schneier graduated from Yeshiva College in 1951 and was ordained at Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary in 1956.

In his tribute to Rabbi Schneier, founder and president of the Appeal of Conscience Foundation, Dr. Kissinger evoked laughter from the audience when he said, “When Rabbi Schneier asks you to do something, it is far less painful to agree than to refuse,” in reference to the humanitarian work Dr. Kissinger has done at Rabbi Schneier’s request.

Senator Clinton told a story about a mission she took with Rabbi Schneier to Shanghai, where they toured a deteriorating synagogue. Rabbi Schneier was moved to help restore the synagogue; he presented its congregation with a Torah and arranged for its reopening. Chinese officials and the Chinese press made it a point to attend this monumental event. “Rabbi Schneier recognized and respected Jewish heritage in Shanghai,” she said. “It was a small but significant step and showed the Chinese the importance of religious freedom and liberty.”

Yeshiva University President Richard M. Joel and Vice Chairman of the YU Board of Trustees Joseph Wilf presented Rabbi Schneier with a spice box in the shape of a globe, representing Rabbi Schneier’s career in global politics. They also presented Rabbi Schneier with a leather-bound Scroll of Honor containing messages of congratulations from President George W. Bush, Vice-President Richard Cheney, former President William Jefferson Clinton, the Chief Rabbis of Israel, and Pope Paul II, among many other world statesmen and religious leaders. Chancellor and former longtime president of YU, Norman Lamm, also spoke at the dinner.

Photos from Dinner Honoring Rabbi Schneier

In addition to Senator Clinton and former Secretary of State Kissinger, numerous ambassadors and other representatives attended the tribute dinner for Rabbi Schneier. Countries represented included China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Romania, Hungary, Switzerland, the Ukraine, Germany, Switzerland, Croatia, Austria, Bulgaria, and Israel.

Rabbi Schneier held back tears as he expressed gratitude to those in attendance and recounted how his grandparents died in the Auschwitz death camp and that he was lucky enough to survive. “God, you saved me,” Rabbi Schneier said. “I owe you a great deal.” Rabbi Schneier said the invitations for Sunday’s event should not have read: “An evening in honor of Rabbi Arthur Schneier” but “An Evening of Gratitude by Rabbi Arthur Schneier.”

One of Rabbi Schneier’s sayings, which he mentioned Sunday night is, “Religion is like fire – it can warm but it can also destroy.” He said much of the world is now struggling for “co-existence between those who believe in ‘live and let live’ and those we cannot negotiate with because they reject you as a person.”

It continues to be Rabbi Schneier’s mission to promote co-existence among all peoples of the world. It is for the efforts he has made in that regard throughout his life that he was honored by so many.

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High school senior Ben Fine delivers presentation at Eimatai Conference.

Mar 21, 2005 — Yeshiva high school students from around the United States gathered March 13-15 in Houston, TX, for “If We are for Ourselves, Who are We?”, a student leadership development conference. One in a series sponsored by Eimatai, an initiative of Yeshiva University (YU), it addressed balancing responsibilities related to world humanitarian issues and Jewish communal needs.

“Anyone who has kept up with tragic events worldwide cannot help but feel the need to give in some way,” said Judy Goldgrab, coordinator of educational leadership projects at YU through its Max Stern Division of Communal Services. “This conference addressed how Jewish communities can effectively respond to important world crises while simultaneously tending to local and communal needs.”

At the conference, students learned about various issues of concern in the world today, including World Poverty and Hunger, AIDS, Women’s Rights, genocide in Darfur and the Falon Gong movement. Following discussions on Jewish communal and humanitarian needs, as well as on approaches taken in the past by Jewish thinkers, participants offered opinions on how the Jewish community must balance its own wants versus those of others.

Following panel discussions, workshops, and group activities dealing with student leadership, conference participants heard from Ben Fine, a senior at Yavneh Academy of Dallas, TX, and co-founder of Students Against Terrorism (S.A.T.). S.A.T. was founded by Fine and other Yavneh students following their participation in a March 2002 Eimatai conference that focused on Israeli citizens affected by terrorism. Fine spoke on the basics of beginning and running a student-led organization, the challenges of effecting leadership from abroad, and the importance of supporting “our brothers and sisters in Israel at this crucial time.”

“The Eimatai conference is important because it unifies many high school programs around the one goal of helping others,” said Fine. “It was a great honor for Yeshiva University to recognize us as student leaders who are inspirational to other teens.”

Eimatai Yeshiva High School Leadership Conferences are an outgrowth of Torah Leadership Seminars, a popular YU program in the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s that identified and developed future leaders from among Jewish teens at public high schools. In 1999, a group of YU college students suggested a revised model of leadership development programming that would provide an open forum for student leaders to encounter complex communal issues and empower students to realize their visions. Since then, Eimatai Leadership Conferences have tapped scores of student leaders.

Past conferences have focused on relevant issues of the day, such as interaction with non-Orthodox Jews and learning about Jews from around the world. Conferences also motivate students to create initiatives at their schools, synagogues, and communities. Recent projects include letter-writing campaigns and a student-led rally—attended by some 4,000 high school students—to support Israel.

For more information, please contact Ms. Goldgrab at 212-960-5400 ext. 6015.

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Seth Waxman, far right, talks with two Cardozo student leaders.

Mar 15, 2005 — Former Solicitor General Seth Waxman spent two-days immersed in law school life, sharing his invaluable experience by discussing his recent Supreme Court victory, leading a Moot Court master class, teaching Constitutional Law, and delivering a public lecture at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law on March 7 and 8.

In a glowing introduction before the opening lecture, Prof. Susan Crawford described Waxman as “extraordinarily generous.” “Seth makes us all proud of our profession,” Crawford said.

Known for his “teaching, leading, and helping,” Waxman, a partner at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP and one of the country’s premier Supreme Court and appellate advocates, lived up to the reputation by graciously inviting the audience to interrupt with questions and injecting a bit of humor into his speech. “I could listen to that forever,” Waxman said of Crawford’s introduction. “It’s really my pleasure to be here.

Waxman’s lecture “Who (or What) is the Solicitor General’s Client?”, part of Cardozo’s Bauer Distinguished Visitor Program, covered the role and responsibilities of a solicitor general, which includes arguing in front of the United States Supreme Court and insuring that the government speaks in one voice on questions of law. “It probably was a job whose aspirations could never be filled,” Waxman said. Admitting he was unsure where to begin in the role, his response was to “show up for work everyday and figure out how it’s done,” he said, adding that arguing in front of the United States Supreme Court is “great, wonderful fun.”

Continuing the visit, Waxman, who has delivered more than 40 oral arguments in the Supreme Court, began his second day at Cardozo by teaching a Constitutional Law class. Jokingly promising a higher grade to anyone who asked a question, including the Hon. Olivier Dutheillet de Lamothe, Justice at the French Constitutional Council who was in attendance, Waxman led up to a discussion of his recent Supreme Court win in the juvenile death penalty case Roper v. Simmons.

He discussed the eighth Amendment and various cases involving the death penalty, before talking about the preparation for Roper v. Simmons, in which the court ruled on March 1, 2005, that the death penalty is unconstitutional for anyone who commits a crime when they are under the age of 18. “We needed to write the perfect brief,” Waxman said. Representing Christopher Simmons, who murdered a neighbor when he was 17-years-old and was sentenced to death, Waxman looked to “evolving standards of decency” and social science research that suggests personalities and moral character are too unreliable in someone under 18, to make his case.

After leading the class and having lunch with a group of students, Waxman served as the judge during a Moot Court master class. Second-year students Rachel Lubert and Rebecca Hagenson, national Moot Court champions, presented oral arguments in front of Waxman and fellow students.

“This was really a pleasure,” Waxman said. “It’s quite obvious why you won.” He also offered practical advice from his first-hand experience, encouraging the students to prepare and recite their most important one or two points right off the bat. Admitting that justices probably don’t want to be considered pupils, he nonetheless encouraged everyone to think of judges as students when answering their questions. “This is all about teaching,” Waxman said. “It’s about trying to explain something.”

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Cardozo's Jeremy Sussman and Andrew Pak, Henry G. Manne Moot Court Competition winners, with the competition's namesake, Henry G. Manne (center). Photo Credit: Greg Staiti, George Mason University.

Mar 15, 2005 — February was an extremely successful month for Cardozo’s moot court, as second-year students Rachel Lubert and Rebecca Hagenson of the Moot Court Honor Society won Vanderbilt University’s prestigious National First Amendment Moot Court Competition and Jeremy Sussman and Andrew Pak, also 2Ls, took top honors at George Mason University’s Henry G. Manne Moot Court Competition for Law & Economics.

“This has been a very successful year for moot court and we are just happy to be able to contribute and represent the school as Cardozo deserves,” Lubert said.

The victory at the 15th annual National First Amendment Moot Court Competition was described as “bittersweet.” Lubert and Hagenson had to not only overcome 35 other teams from law schools around the country, but also the death of their friend and team editor, Liza Suckle, who passed away only days before the competition.

“We really had no expectation of success, only the hope to honor Liza’s memory,” Lubert said. “We competed for her and hope only that we made her proud.”

The team, who also won runner-up best brief, argued a hypothetical First Amendment case that presented the issue of whether school officials could punish a student for a drawing depicting violence. They were required to argue both sides of the case: for the petitioner in the final-round and for the respondent in the semifinals.

Arguing in front of judges from the 6th US Circuit Court of Appeals, the District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee, and the Hon. A.A. Birch of the Tennessee Supreme Court, was humbling but also enjoyable. “We work so hard in preparation and it is so difficult to put yourself out there in competition, that just by doing it you’ve generally satisfied your expectations,” Lubert said.

The Sussman and Pak team, who took first place, certainly went above and beyond their expectations at the Henry G. Manne Moot Court Competition for Law & Economics. Held at the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, steps from the White House, the team had to analyze the legal and economic implications of a complex, antitrust price fixing problem. According to Sussman, the competition challenged them to learn basic economic theory and antitrust law, a class neither have taken yet, and apply it to a question with no obvious answer.

Pak, who also won best oralist, said that although the competition is only in its third year, “I have no doubt it will become an important competition in years to come.”

A highlight of the competition was the opportunity to argue in front of high-profile judges, including the Hon. Pauline Newman, US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit; the Hon. Stephen F. Williams, US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit; the Hon. Adrian Duplantier, US District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana; as well as Henry G. Manne, founder of the Law and Economics Center at George Mason University and for whom the competition is named.

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Mar 14, 2005 — More than 250 YU undergraduates and 25 students from other schools attended a special shabbaton sponsored by the Israel Club March 11-12.

The shabbaton, called “A Teetering Balance: What Kind of World Will Israel Face Tomorrow?”, took place on the Beren Campus and featured three guest speakers: Dennis Prager, syndicated radio talk show host; Ruth Wisse, PhD, Martin Peretz Professor of Yiddish Literature and professor of comparative literature at Harvard University; and Norman Podhoretz, senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

“It was a remarkable experience to witness my fellow students engaged and passionate about issues concerning Israel and the greater Jewish world,” said Hindy Poupko, president of Stern College’s Israel Club. “The students from other colleges spoke about their experiences with Israel on secular campuses.”

Students came from Queens College, University of Miami, University of Colorado, SUNY-Buffalo, and Hunter College. The shabbaton was funded by the Yeshiva University Women’s Organization.

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Mar 14, 2005 — Atlanta native Benjamin Lefkove, a senior at Yeshiva College at Yeshiva University in New York City, was listed as co-author of a paper in the December 2004 issue of Journals of Biological Chemistry for research he conducted last summer at Emory University.

Mr. Lefkove researched tuberous sclerosis, a genetic disease that causes benign and malignant tumors on the brain and in other vital organs, under Jack L. Arbiser, MD, PhD, associate professor of dermatology at Emory University School of Medicine. The paper is titled “Transgenic expression of dominant negative tuberin through a strong constitutive promoter results in a tissue-specific tuberous sclerosis phenotype in the skin and brain.” In the lab, his research focused primarily on finding a novel treatment for melanoma.

“To me, research embodies the ideals of a doctor: to use all of one’s given potential to heal and better the world,” said Mr. Lefkove, who began doing research at Emory in the summer of 2003. “Seeing my name in print is a trophy of accomplishment and a sense that I have aided in a new understanding and furthering of scientific progress.”

After graduation, Mr. Lefkove plans to continue doing research at Emory, to pursue a master’s degree in either biology or biochemistry, and to attend medical school. He will also hike the Appalachian Trail, of which he has already completed 100 miles.

He is the son of Felice and Michael Lefkove.

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Mar 14, 2005 — Yeshiva University professor Richard C. Steiner of Kew Gardens Hills achieved a once-in-a-lifetime recognition for his work as a Hebrew linguist this January, when Israel’s Academy of the Hebrew Language invited him to become one of the first two non-Israeli members in some 40 years.

The Academy of the Hebrew Language prescribes standards for modern Hebrew grammar, orthography, transliteration, and punctuation based upon the study of Hebrew’s historical development. Its decisions are binding upon all of Israel’s governmental agencies, including the Broadcasting Authority.

The Academy had to amend its constitution to allow for the election of the two foreign members, Dr. Steiner and Dr. Angel Saenz-Badillos, a European scholar. They will join other leading experts in the areas of languages, linguistics, Jewish studies, and Bible. Members of the Academy also include poets, writers, and translators.

Dr. Steiner has been a professor of Semitic languages and literature at YU’s Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies since 1975. In 1999, he served as the Gerard Weinstock Visiting Professor of Jewish Studies at Harvard University, and he is there again this semester as a Starr Fellow. He has taught Biblical exegesis and philology, comparative Semitic linguistics, and several Semitic languages, including Hebrew, Aramaic, and Arabic.

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Rabbi Mark Gottlieb

Mar 10, 2005 — Rabbi Mark Gottlieb has been appointed head of school of the Yeshiva University High School for Boys, announced YU President Richard M. Joel.

“Rabbi Gottlieb is an outstanding role model with a deep understanding of the culture and values that are at the core of our mission,” said President Joel. “He will also serve as Advisor to the Vice President of University Life on Educational Continuity. These new positions will help support a vibrant relationship between the high school and the larger university community.”

With more than 14 years of senior-level experience in higher and secondary education, Rabbi Gottlieb’s appointment is an indication of MSTA’s firm commitment to the principles of Torah Umadda (the synthesis of general and Jewish learning).

“I think (YUHS for Boys) can be a paradigm school for centrist Orthodoxy,” said Rabbi Gottlieb, “just as YU is the university flagship for modern Orthodoxy.”

Most recently, he was principal of the middle and upper schools at Maimonides School in Brookline, MA. He is currently a PhD candidate in philosophy at the University of Chicago where he earned his master’s in philosophy. He has published and presented papers on both secular and Jewish topics around the country.

A renowned talmid chacham (scholar of Jewish studies), Rabbi Gottlieb was ordained at YU’s Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary and is an alumnus of the high school and Yeshiva College.

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