From left to right, top row: Victor B. Geller, Rabbanit Malke Bina, Professor Moshe Kaveh, Rabbi Shlomo Riskin. Bottom row, left to right: YU Chairman of the Board Morry J. Weiss, President Richard M. Joel, Chancellor Norman Lamm.
Mar 24, 2006 — Yeshiva University (YU) held an inaugural academic convocation in Israel on March 23, honoring four Israeli educators who embody YU’s philosophy of Torah Umadda, which balances the interaction between tradition and modern society –– the hallmark of Modern Orthodoxy.
“A strong link to Israel is one of the tenets of this university,” explained YU President Richard M. Joel. “To paraphrase Yehudah ha-Levi, ‘Our hearts are in the East, and we are in the uttermost West.’ We are looking for new ways to underscore our visceral connection to Eretz Hakodesh.”
More photos and coverage of the event are available here.
More than 500 people attended the academic convocation, where honorary doctoral degrees were awarded to Rabbanit Malke Bina, founder and educational director of MaTaN, The Sadie Rennert Women’s Institute for Torah Studies in Jerusalem; Victor B. Geller, a retired Jewish communal administrator, author, and lecturer, who played a leading role in YU’s Max Stern Division of Communal Services; Prof. Moshe Kaveh, an internationally renowned physicist who serves as president of Bar-Ilan University; and Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, chief rabbi of the city of Efrat and founder of the Ohr Torah Stone educational institutions.
“These leaders reflect our vision of Torah Umadda –– the tapestry of living a Torah life while being an integral part of Israeli society at large,” President Joel said. “I am proud that we could honor them in this first Yeshiva University academic convocation in Israel.”
The convocation was the closing event of a weeklong colloquium: “Torah Umadda in the 21st Century: Engaging Israel, Engaging the World,” that began March 17. The colloquium included an Alumni Family Shabbaton, a Chag HaSemikhah, and daily academic symposia in Jerusalem, Ra’anana, Modi’in, and Ramat Beit Shemesh.
More than 600 people attended the family Shabbaton, where people from across Israel joined together to share their experiences as YU alumni and olim. Alumni were overjoyed to see old friends and receive updates on what is happening at YU.
Sunday afternoon featured a special Chag HaSemikhah and Yom Iyun for the 32 musmakhim in Israel. The day was highlighted by lectures and divrei Torah given by Rav Zalman Nechemia Goldberg, Rabbi Zvi Sobolofsky, Rabbi Daniel Mann, Rabbi Moshe Dovid Weissman, Rabbi Menachem Raab, Rabbi Assaf Bednarsh, and Rabbi Aaron Rakeffet.
Later Sunday, President Richard M. Joel, Rabbi Ozer Glickman, and David Martin discussed how careers in law related to Torah Umadda at a special program in Ra’anana.
“Torah Umadda in the World of Medicine” lived up to its title Monday night with a presentation combining cutting-edge medical research, historical genealogy and halakhic ethics. Dr. Susan B. Bressman presented her recent findings on dystonia, Parkinson’s Disease and Ashkenazi Jews, and Professor Avraham Steinberg explained the halakhic and ethical aspects of screening for Jewish genetic diseases.
As a special treat, the audience was introduced to Dr. Allen Spiegel, dean-designate of Albert Einstein College of Medicine and vice president of medical affairs. More about that program is available here.
On Tuesday, YU in Israel hosted a continuing education course and discussion on “A Sense of Community: Internal and External Boundaries” with a keynote speech by Dr. Stanley Schneider and a response by Dr. Reuven Schindler; a panel discussion on building community; and an update on Wurzweiler School of Social Work by Dean Sheldon R. Gelman.
On Tuesday night in Modi’in, Rabbi Riskin discussed “Religious Zionism and Building Community,” in a program sponsored by the nearly 3,000 alumni of Yeshiva University’s undergraduate schools living in Israel. Mr. Morry Weiss, Chairman of the Yeshiva University Board of Trustees, greeted the audience.
Innovations and challenges in education was the topic of Wednesday’s program “Educating Our Children to Stay on the Derech,” featuring Faranak Margoles, Dr. Bill Reinfeld, Rabbi Dov Lippman, and Rabbi Moshe Lichtman.
Seven of Yeshiva University’s Presidential Fellows traveled to Israel to help with the program and to tell alumni about their roles.
“The academic convocation brought the week’s events full circle,” said Diana Benmergui, the Jesselson Family Presidential Fellow in the Department of Student Affairs on the Beren Campus. “It made the message of ‘Bring Wisdom to Life’ even more evident. These great leaders took their education and experience and brought it to life. I can only look forward to following in their footsteps.”
More about the Fellows’ trip can be found here.