Yeshiva University News » 2005 » August

2005-2006 Presidential Fellows from left to right are: Aviva (Balk) Needle, Diana Benmergui, Shalom Silbermintz, Hindy Poupko, Aliza Abrams, and Ilana Lieberson.

Aug 23, 2005 — Fourteen of Yeshiva University’s 2005 graduates have decided to spend another year on campus participating in the Presidential Fellows program established by President Richard M. Joel.

Now in its second year, the Presidential Fellows program is part of a broader effort to train top graduates at the university and expand YU’s service to the Jewish community.

“The program takes our top graduates behind the scenes of the institution they have come to know so well as students,” said President Joel. “My intention is to inspire these young people to develop leadership skills while drawing on their valuable experience as students.”

The Fellows were chosen after an intense screening process based on their academic performance, campus leadership, and concern for the Jewish community. Each fellow will work hand in hand with a senior administrator, who will mentor them and elicit their feedback as former students, said Sheldon R. Gelman, PhD, Dorothy and David I. Schachne Dean of YU’s Wurzweiler School of Social Work, who oversees the program.

“I have already gained so much knowledge about YU and the outside world,” said Malca Fink, who was president of the Stern College Student Council last year and has been working in Dean Gelman’s office since July.

Ms. Fink has “gone everywhere with the dean,” making valuable contacts in New York state and city agencies as she considers future studies in psychology or law.

Many of the new Fellows are considering careers in Jewish communal service and see their participation as a good way to test the waters.

“I hope I will gain both administrative skills and a professional network that can help me in my future career in Jewish communal work,” said Monsey native Aliza Abrams, who is working in the Max Stern Division of Communal Services.

The Fellows will attend biweekly leadership seminars covering key topics in university administration and Jewish communal leadership, and taught by Dean Gelman.

Last year’s Fellows made a substantial contribution to the university. They organized student activities across the US and Israel, developed a set of recommendations on enhancing YU’s undergraduate education, and created the Incubator Project to support community-focused programs in need of startup help.

Some of last year’s Fellows have been hired by the university. Joshua Ross is working part-time in the dean’s office at Sy Syms School of Business, and Anat Barber is splitting her time between a double master’s at NYU (where she will be studying on a Wexner Fellowship) and the Center for the Jewish Future.

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Aug 22, 2005 — The annual US News & World Report survey of America’s top universities has once again ranked Yeshiva University (YU) in the top tier of national research universities. It is named with Columbia and NYU as the top universities in the metropolitan area.

“We are pleased that US News has once again rated Yeshiva University as one of the top universities in the country,” said President Richard M. Joel. “The quality of our students, faculty, undergraduate programs, and graduate programs in medicine, law, social work, psychology and education has always been known to us, but it is encouraging to be recognized in the annual rankings.”

Yeshiva University’s rank of 45 is up one place from last year. Other schools in the top 50 include Harvard, Princeton, Yale, and Cornell.

Yeshiva University was also ranked as one of the top 50 “best value” schools –– offering a high quality education relative to its net cost.

Yeshiva University ranked 17th in faculty resources, reflecting its small class sizes and numerous faculty with doctoral degrees. In fact, Yeshiva University has the fewest classes with 50 students or more of any other national research university in the top 50, highlighting its intimate classroom experience.

Yeshiva University was also cited in the top 25 for its high 2004 graduation rate.

Other factors that account for Yeshiva University’s steady rise in the rankings in recent years include a high rate of retention among students, high SAT scores, and strong financial resources.

“While we are proud of our top-tier status, I caution against over-reliance on ranking numbers alone,” President Joel continued. “Every accredited college is the best choice for some students, regardless of rankings. The key for every student is to find the right match, not the highest ranking.”

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Aug 22, 2005 — More than 40 rabbis from the United States and Canada will gather in Teaneck, NJ, under the auspices of Yeshiva University (YU) Sept. 12-14. The two-and-a half day event, called a yarchei kallah and facilitated by Rabbi Jacob J. Schacter, senior scholar of the Center for the Jewish Future (CJF), will offer spiritual leaders in the Modern Orthodox community opportunities for study, sharing, and growth related to the many facets of rabbinic, congregational, and community life.

The gathering will focus on the upcoming High Holy Days, the holiday of Sukkot, the Book of Genesis, and the life of Rashi, the medieval biblical commentator, in honor of the 900th anniversary of his death. It will emphasize materials for sermons and feature study sessions, including with Rabbi Kenneth Brander, CJF dean. His lectures will highlight contemporary halakhic issues and creative ways to improve programming in the rabbis’ synagogues.

The yarchei kallah will also include remarks by YU President Richard M. Joel; a session with CJF staff member Rabbi Moshe Bellows, a professional coach who assists individuals and companies to achieve and attain their full potential; and group discussions with noted psychoanalyst Shana Yocheved Schacter on a broad range of personal and professional issues.

An important opportunity for the rabbinic community, the yarchei kallah concept was developed to provide an intensive and supportive learning environment within which participants can test new ideas and discuss their challenges and successes. Its primary objective is to empower rabbis to become transformative leaders in their own communities and to address the challenges of today’s Orthodox rabbinate.

Participants at the upcoming yarchei kallah will represent geographic and community settings as diverse as Los Angeles, Memphis, Charleston, Edmonton, Allentown, Vancouver, Sacramento, Boca Raton, Springfield, Baltimore, New York, and San Francisco. CJF plans to conduct similar gatherings during the coming year for a wide range of Jewish communal professionals including principals, teachers, and rabbis’ wives in communities across North America.

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Aug 22, 2005 — This year’s annual Yeshiva College Book Project theme is “Science Evolving: Ways of Knowing.” The featured book is Stephen Jay Gould’s collection of essays, Bully for Brontosaurus: Reflections in Natural History.

Click here to learn more about the YC Book Project

The Yeshiva College Book Project was founded in response to the 1994 assassination of Israel’s Prime Minister Itzhak Rabin to promote tolerance and understanding and to provide an opportunity for dialogue among students, faculty, authors, and thinkers.

Past texts discussed in the YC Book Project include: Salman Rushdie’s East, West: Stories, Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried, Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, Robert Kaplan’s Balkan Ghosts, Albert Camus’s The Plague, and Selections from the Writings of Gandhi. Both Rushdie and O’Brien visited Yeshiva College to deliver talks and meet with students.

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From left, back row: Tehilla Stepansky, Yael Saden Barach, Helen Nissim, Shani Snyder, Ilana Pister, Sarah Weinerman, Frida Friedman and Tamar Gold. Front row, from left: David Krausz and Zev Hamburger.

Aug 20, 2005 — Ten Yeshiva University undergraduates spent the summer doing research with top scientific scholars at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine as part of two programs that allow undergraduates with interest in science to participate in ongoing research projects.

The eight students in the Roth Scholars program and the two students in the University Summer Research Scholars program are paired with scientists at Einstein to learn about cutting-edge scientific research, said Barry Potvin, PhD, professor of biology at YC and chairperson of the Roth Summer Research Fellowship Committee.

“Both programs, which are funded separately, allow undergraduate science students the opportunity to experience high-level research with university scientists,” Dr. Potvin said. The students work in teams alongside graduate and post-doctorate students.

Stern student Yael Saden Barach, of Teaneck, NJ, said the Roth Scholars experience exposed her to the day-to-day life of working in a lab. “I’ve learned new techniques under the guidance of my mentor, and participated in departmental functions and seminars that have exposed me to exciting discoveries in neuroscience taking place at Einstein,” the biology major said.

Ms. Saden Barach worked in Dr. Diana Pettit’s lab in the neuroscience
department, helping to identify kainate receptor distribution in various types of interneurons in the hippocampus part of the brain. Dr. Pettit’s lab is researching the role of these receptors in modulating the rhythmic brain waves produced by interneurons, which could have applications for the treatment of epilepsy.

Most of the students are considering pursuing medical degrees. But the experience often piques their interest in research, and pushes them to apply to MD/PhD programs, Dr. Potvin said.

Each year a few of the students continue their research at Einstein, or use the experience to network with other researchers so they can participate in similar work at labs closer to the Beren or Wilf campuses.

Toronto native Ilana Pister — who studied spleen growth in mice as a result of the parasite trypanosoma cruzi, which causes Chagas’ disease — is continuing her work at Einstein during the year with Dr. Linda Jelicks. Frida Fridman, from Brooklyn, NY, has also extended her research into potential inhibitors for tumor growth with Dr. Vern Schramm at Cornell Weil Medical College.

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Aug 17, 2005 — A parent’s must-read guide to raising a child in today’s society, Balanced Parenting: A Father and a Son – A Rabbi and a Psychologist – Examine Love and Limits in Raising Children (Shaar Press: 2005) gives clear, practical advice on how to achieve the Talmud’s imperative to raise children with “the left hand pushing away while the right hand draws closer.”

Written by Yeshiva University (YU) Professor David Pelcovitz, PhD, and his father Rabbi Raphael Pelcovitz, Balanced Parenting addresses parents’ concerns about how to instill values, motivate children, and teach them to cope with anger and peer pressure.

Topics also include dealing with the at-risk child, helping children acquire self-respect, and coping with loss and terror.

“Because raising children in today’s world has become so complex, my hope is for parents to deal with children in a calmer, more balanced way,” Dr. Pelcovitz said. “I hope the book is not viewed as just theoretical, but rather it leads to practical change on the ground.”

Dr. Pelcovitz, a clinical child psychologist, is the Gwendolyn and Joseph Straus Professor of Jewish Education at Yeshiva University’s Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration. Prior to joining the YU faculty in 2004, Dr. Pelcovitz was clinical professor of psychology in psychiatry at New York University School of Medicine and director of psychology at North Shore University Hospital-NYU School of Medicine. Rabbi Pelcovitz is rabbi emeritus of Congregation Knesseth Israel in Far Rockaway, NY. His previous books are the translation and annotation of medieval Italian exegetist Sforno’s commentary on the Torah, another on Sforno’s commentary on Pirkei Avos, and Table Talk – Shabbos and Yom Tov Divrei Torah.

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Aug 1, 2005 — The Orthodox Caucus, a leadership group whose mission is to address challenges facing the Orthodox community and the Jewish community at large, will relocate to Yeshiva University’s Wilf Campus and be hosted by the Center for the Jewish Future (CJF) of Yeshiva University (YU).

The Orthodox Caucus brings together prominent rabbis, roshei yeshiva (professors of Talmud), educators, and lay leaders in common cause. “Bringing the Orthodox Caucus into the YU sphere of influence will allow top-tier Jewish leaders to draw upon the intellectual, spiritual, and educational resources of YU and strengthen their contribution to the Jewish community,” President Richard M. Joel said.

The Orthodox Caucus offers programs in approximately 10 communities in the New York metropolitan area and beyond, as well as initiatives that serve the community at large.

Fred Ehrman, chairman of the Orthodox Caucus, viewed the move to YU as an important opportunity for the organization and the Jewish community. “Our goal is to catalyze the Jewish community and its organizations in practical and meaningful ways,” he said. “Over the past 13 years, we have succeeded in spurring communities to action by raising awareness and finding creative solutions to sensitive and pressing issues. By partnering with YU, we hope to broaden the scope of our efforts to strengthen Jewish life.”

The issues the Caucus has focused on include assisting parents with developmentally disabled children; formulating policies for schools regarding substance abuse; development of prenuptial agreements in cooperation with the Beth Din of America and the Rabbinical Council of America easing the plight of agunot (chained women); educating communities about issues concerning the singles phenomenon; and guiding parents and students in selecting yeshivot and seminaries in Israel for post-high school studies.

The Orthodox Caucus has always challenged the Jewish community to improve itself; creating initiatives that have helped strengthen our moral constitution and commitment to the values articulated in our mesorah (tradition),” said Rabbi Kenneth Brander, inaugural dean of the Center for the Jewish Future (CJF). “The synergy created between the Caucus and YU through CJF will enable us to deliver a more effective message of leadership to our student community and at the same time enhance the Center’s ability to serve the Jewish people.”

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Aug 1, 2005 — Four Montrealers are participating in an innovative program at Yeshiva University (YU) this summer. Edith Baumberg and Hana Cohen, teachers at Solomon Schechter Academy of Montreal; Rabbi Yamin Benarroch, dean of students, student advisor, and teacher at Hebrew Academy in Cote St. Luc; and Shalom Spira are part of a program spearheaded by the Canadian Jewish community to train local Jewish educators and education professionals.

Canadian Friends of Yeshiva University, in partnership with YU’s Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration, initiated the program to address the critical shortage of qualified Jewish educators throughout Canada that may provide a model for other communities who share the same need.

By enlisting community support, Canadian Friends offers educators and professionals an opportunity to enhance their skills through a master’s program at Azrieli. The program meets during three consecutive summers at YU’s Wilf Campus in New York City, allowing students to continue teaching or working during the intervening months.

All students in the program receive full-tuition scholarships and a $5,000 stipend per semester for up to four semesters. In exchange, upon completion of the program, students return to Canada to be educators for at least three years in schools that represent the various streams of Jewish life there.

“The Canadian Jewish community has long suffered because many of its most talented educators have sought opportunities elsewhere,” said Dr. David Schnall, Azrieli dean. “This program encourages those who have a deep familiarity with local needs and traditions to upgrade their skills and make an important contribution to their home communities. It represents a forward-looking investment in Jewish education that can be easily replicated in communities all over.”

This summer is the second session since the program began. As part of the curriculum, participants teach at their home institutions under the supervision of an Azrieli faculty member who also runs workshops for faculty and administration at each of those schools.

“The single most important function of the Jewish community is to support a lifelong commitment to Jewish education. Every shred of data that has been generated suggests that the future of Jewish life and tradition will be decided in the classroom,” Dr. Schnall said.

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Aug 1, 2005 — The Orthodox Caucus, a leadership group whose mission is to address challenges facing the Orthodox community and the Jewish community at large, will relocate to Yeshiva University’s Wilf Campus and be hosted by the Center for the Jewish Future (CJF) of Yeshiva University (YU).

The Orthodox Caucus brings together prominent rabbis, roshei yeshiva (professors of Talmud), educators, and lay leaders in common cause. “Bringing the Orthodox Caucus into the YU sphere of influence will allow top-tier Jewish leaders to draw upon the intellectual, spiritual, and educational resources of YU and strengthen their contribution to the Jewish community,” President Richard M. Joel said.

The Orthodox Caucus offers programs in approximately 10 communities in the New York metropolitan area and beyond, as well as initiatives that serve the community at large.

Fred Ehrman, chairman of the Orthodox Caucus, viewed the move to YU as an important opportunity for the organization and the Jewish community. “Our goal is to catalyze the Jewish community and its organizations in practical and meaningful ways,” he said. “Over the past 13 years, we have succeeded in spurring communities to action by raising awareness and finding creative solutions to sensitive and pressing issues. By partnering with YU, we hope to broaden the scope of our efforts to strengthen Jewish life.”

The issues the Caucus has focused on include assisting parents with developmentally disabled children; formulating policies for schools regarding substance abuse; development of prenuptial agreements in cooperation with the Beth Din of America and the Rabbinical Council of America easing the plight of agunot (chained women); educating communities about issues concerning the singles phenomenon; and guiding parents and students in selecting yeshivot and seminaries in Israel for post-high school studies.

“The Orthodox Caucus has always challenged the Jewish community to improve itself; creating initiatives that have helped strengthen our moral constitution and commitment to the values articulated in our mesorah (tradition),” said Rabbi Kenneth Brander, inaugural dean of the Center for the Jewish Future (CJF). “The synergy created between the Caucus and YU through CJF will enable us to deliver a more effective message of leadership to our student community and at the same time enhance the Center’s ability to serve the Jewish people.”

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