Yeshiva University News » 2007 » October

Dr. Ruth Bevan, director of the Rabbi Arthur Schneier Center for International Affairs, and artist Laura Murlender.

Oct 31, 2007 — Argentina’s “dirty war” nearly thirty years ago changed the life of artist Laura Murlender forever. At age nineteen, Murlender was abducted by government forces, chained, and tortured for eleven days. She is one of the few “disappeared” who survived. On October 30 at the Yeshiva University Museum, she spoke about her ordeal in public for the first time in thirty years.

Murlender’s talk was part of “From Darkness to Life,” a panel discussion dealing with the process of creating art as a crucial response to personal experiences of political oppression and human rights abuse. Moderated by Gabriel Cwilich, PhD, associate professor of physics at Yeshiva College, the panel included Rabbi Arthur Schneier, founder and director of Appeal of Conscience Foundation, and Nora Strejilevich, writer and professor of Latin American literature. Poet María Negroni, who was scheduled to appear, was represented by translator Mariano Amato.

The panelists began by describing their own experiences in Argentina during this period of state-sponsored terror. Rabbi Schneier spoke about his diplomatic visit to the country in 1981 and what he was able to accomplish there. “As a result of the Appeal of Conscience mission, 400 people [being held under martial law] were released. However, this does not bring back all of the ‘disappeared,’” Rabbi Schneier said.

Strejilevich, like Murlender, was a “disappeared,” and she talked about the power that words have had for her in coming to terms with her ordeal. “The goal of a dictatorship is to cancel history,” Strejilevich said. “Survivor narratives must defy this erasure. I struggle with the lexicon of terror and use the truth of my own word—the word of a survivor.”

Amato read from Negroni’s book La Anunciación.

The event was co-sponsored by the Rabbi Arthur Schneier Center for International Affairs and served as a supplement to the exhibition “From Darkness to Light: The Paintings of Laura Murlender,” which will be on display through November 11. This exhibition is sponsored, in part, by the Friends of Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design. For more information, call 212-294-8330, x8805 or email info@yum.cjh.org.

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Oct 31, 2007 — The inaugural public event of The Center for Jewish Law and Contemporary Civilization (CJL) drew an audience of 100 academics and members of the community to the law school on Sunday night, Oct. 28.

The crowd heard a cross-disciplinary discussion of “Military Ethics in an Age of Terrorism” by experts on Jewish, Islamic and constitutional law and moral philosophy. The panelists, who included CJL Director Suzanne Last Stone, offered their views on the impact of global terrorism on the ethics of warfare — particularly whether this relatively new threat should alter the moral constraints ordinarily imposed on combatants.

One of the problems in discussing terrorism is that it doesn’t easily fit the way we think about either war or crime, said Stone, who is a professor of law at Cardozo and an expert on the intersection of Jewish law and legal theory. “Is it war? If so, what do we do about these noncombatant civilians? But if it is a crime, how do we manage [what is] a sliding scale between perpetrators and innocents?” she asked.

Stone said she was pleased with the outcome of the discussion. “I think that it demonstrated that the perspectives of very different legal and religious traditions are very relevant to a central topic of urgent concern,” she said. “Each of the speakers was utterly frank and forthright, but also trying to convey the complexities of their tradition.”

In 2004, Stone established the Program in Jewish Law and Interdisciplinary Studies at Cardozo. It was re-launched this summer as a full-fledged center, with a broader mandate than the original focus on interdisciplinary studies. CJL will bring together scholars from a variety of traditions and fields to enhance the study of Jewish law through dialogue with Western legal theory and other religious and secular legal traditions.

The Center will develop publications and course offerings, sponsor fellowships to train scholars of Jewish studies and expand academic ties with scholars and institutions in Israel, and develop joint programs with YU’s other schools and interdisciplinary centers. The center will also organize conferences, workshops, colloquia and public events like the Oct. 28 panel discussion.

In addition to Stone, the panelists were Sohail Hashmi, associate professor of international relations at Mount Holyoke College; George P. Fletcher, Cardozo Professor of Jurisprudence, Columbia Law School; and Daniel Statman, professor of philosophy at Haifa University and a visiting scholar at CJL during October. The moderator was Arthur Jacobson, Max Freund Professor of Litigation and Advocacy at Cardozo.

CJL is Yeshiva University’s fourth interdisciplinary center, joining the Rabbi Arthur Schneier Center for International Affairs, the Center for Ethics and the Institute of Public Health Sciences.

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Judy Collins

Oct 29, 2007 — Legendary singer, songwriter and mental health advocate Judy Collins was the special guest speaker when Yeshiva University’s Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology celebrated its 50th Anniversary at a gala on Sunday, October 28 at the United Nations. After warming up the crowd with an a cappella version of her hit “Both Sides Now,” Ms. Collins spoke about the importance of psychology in her life and generally: “My life is a miracle because of the help of people like you. You are in the vanguard of all of this good work.”

The dinner honored prominent philanthropists Eugene and Estelle Ferkauf, who are the founding benefactors of the school. Mr. Ferkauf is the founder of the legendary discount retailer E. J. Korvette’s. Speaking for her husband, Mrs. Ferkauf said, “We are so glad to have this opportunity to thank those that have brought this school to such a high level of excellence.” To view photos of the dinner click here.

Drs. Moshe Anisfeld, Irma Hilton, and Lillian Zach, founding faculty at the school, were also saluted. On accepting his award for outstanding service and exemplary career, Dr. Anisfeld said, “Ferkauf has prospered on change and has responded to innovations during change.” Dr. Hilton thanked the people she has worked with in her over forty-year career: “My relationships with my colleagues and my students have been the best part of my professional career.” Dr. Lillian Zach said, “We have an outstanding school of psychology—one that enjoys an incredible national reputation.”

Dr. Kelly Posner Gerstenhaber of New York City, a member of the Ferkauf class of 1998 who is a world-renowned expert on the relationship between antidepressants and suicide in children, was cited as this year’s Distinguished Alumna. “I am thrilled beyond description to receive this honor,” Dr. Posner said.

Also honored was the late Samson Bitensky, the first chairman of the Ferkauf Board of Governors who died last year. His exemplary leadership significantly advanced the school and helped bring it to its present level of excellence and prestige. President Richard Joel called him “a visionary in business and philanthropy.”

New York City Michael R. Bloomberg issued a proclamation declaring the day of the landmark event, “Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology Day in New York City.”

Ferkauf’s nationally recognized programs prepare doctoral level psychologists and master’s level counselors for successful and rewarding careers by providing extensive coursework, practicum and externship experiences, and research opportunities.

Proceeds from the gala will benefit the school’s scholarship and expansion initiatives. The school is currently working to create additional space for classrooms, research laboratories, and faculty offices.

Dr. Robert Gordon, class of 1986, and Dr. Robin Hirtz Meltzer served as dinner co-chairs. Honorary chairs were Dr. Esther Joel, class of 1983; Dr. Giti Bendheim, class of 1991; and Dr. Carol Bravmann, class of 1982. Honorary vice chairs were Lenore Ferkauf Bronstein and Robert Bronstein, a daughter and son-in-law of the Ferkaufs; Bobby Ferkauf Kurzweil, another daughter of the Ferkaufs; Dr. Beth Myers, class of 1986, chair of the Ferkauf School’s Board of Governors, and daughter of Samson Bitensky; and Dr. Lawrence J. Siegel, the Dean of Ferkauf.

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Rabbi Leonard Matanky (left) and Rabbi Akiva Males (right), participants of the mentoring seminar.

Oct 29, 2007 — Veteran and new pulpit rabbis gathered for a novel mentoring seminar designed to train and prepare pairs of mentors and young rabbis using an outside consultant. The Alban Institute was founded in 1974 as a major resource for American congregations facing the challenges of a changing society, has recently begun working with synagogues and Jewish organizations. The seminar was conducted under the auspices of Yeshiva University’s (YU) Center for the Jewish Future (CJF) of the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary. For photos of the seminar click here.

The mentoring seminar, a component of the mentorship program provided by the Legacy Heritage Fund Rabbinic Enrichment Initiative (LHREI), was held at the Wave Hill conference center in the Bronx and brought together rabbis from all over the United States. LHREI is generously supported by the Legacy Heritage Fund Limited based in NYC.

Rabbi Edward Davis, rabbi of the Young Israel of Hollywood-Fort Lauderdale in Florida, was thankful to meet with his two junior rabbinical colleagues whom he will mentor. “Sitting together to identify the ways we can help each other work through challenges that face us as rabbis was extremely valuable,” said Rabbi Davis who has been a pulpit rabbi for 25 years.

The program began with words from President M. Joel followed by a class on leadership from Rabbi Jacob J. Schacter, Senior Scholar at CJF and University Professor of Jewish History and Jewish Thought at YU. Dr. Lawrence Peers, a Unitarian minister and Alban Institute consultant who specializes in mentoring, served as the facilitator for the seminar.

“The spiritual and mental health of our young rabbis and rebbetzins are strengthened when they receive mentoring from those who have been in the field for at least two decades,” commented Rabbi Kenneth Brander, dean of The Center for the Jewish Future. “As they become more effective leaders, their communities are also bolstered. Such activities celebrate Yeshiva’s role in the community as the premier Jewish educational institution in North America.”

Rabbi Elie Farkas, a recent graduate of RIETS and the rabbi of Kehillat Ohr Tzion, in Buffalo, New York, is getting his first taste of the professional and personal demands of a rabbinic career. “The LHREI programs are just wonderful,” he said. His reaction to yesterday’s program was very positive and he is looking forward to his ongoing relationship with his mentor, Rabbi Davis. He also appreciates the opportunity to hear from outside consultants such as the Alban Institute. Quoting from Pirkei Avot, (Ethics of Our Fathers, from the Mishna, the Jewish oral law), Rabbi Farkas said “Who is wise? He who learns from the experiences of others.”

“Such encounters reinvigorate me and reinforce my commitment to the rabbinate,” said Rabbi Howard Zack of Congregation Torat Emet, in Columbus, Ohio. “Knowing that I am here to help a younger rabbi gives me the opportunity to check my own views at the door and see things through his eyes. It’s an occasion to share my love of the rabbinate and pass along that love to the next generation.”

Rabbi Elie Weissman of the Young Israel of Plainview, Long Island, a recent graduate and new to the rabbinate will be working with Rabbi Zack, couldn’t agree more. “I’m thankful to have a mentor with such insight and experience as a teacher and as a sounding board,” said Rabbi Weissman.

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Avraham Fried (center) whips up the crowd.

Oct 29, 2007 — The doors for the Avraham Fried concert opened to a long line of students. “Ladies, one at a time!” urged the security guard as these early arrivals, mostly female, put on their blue admission bracelets and began to fill the auditorium of the Geraldine Schottenstein Cultural Center.

The free event, made possible by the philanthropy of Lori Schottenstein and the Schottenstein family, had students in both a festive and appreciative mood. “It’s an unbelievable idea to bring YU students together,” said David, a YU student from Toronto. “A free concert—it creates a healthy, happy atmosphere.” To view photos of the concert click here.

Over the past 30 years the Schottenstein family, based in Columbus, Ohio, has established a legacy of caring and community-building at YU through multiple charitable gifts. Their donations have created and upgraded academic facilities, established the YC honors program, and in 2000 built the Geraldine Schottenstein Cultural Center. Last year Lori Schottenstein, daughter of Geraldine and the late Jerome Schottenstein, initiated the Lori Schottenstein Annual Cultural Festival, a series of four free concerts to be held at YU. Avraham Fried is the second performer to appear.

Lori Schottenstein was the evening’s guest of honor. “It makes me feel like I’m 20 years old again,” Ms. Schottenstein said as she entered the auditorium. “It makes me feel very special to see the enthusiasm of the students. I hope to continue to give to students good memories from good things that happen here,” she added.

“Tonight is a gift to us from Lori Schottenstein,” President Richard M. Joel said as he greeted the crowd, “and we are delighted and honored to share that gift.” The guest of honor then received a bouquet of flowers on behalf of Stern College, and Ms. Schottenstein, clearly moved, remarked, “I’m sure my father would be very proud.”

Speeches complete, it was time for the show. The stage, dimly lit with YU blue, came alive with white lights, a conga drum beat started up, the bass kicked in, a saxophone solo snaked its way through the hall, and if you closed your eyes for a minute you may have thought you were at the Blue Note or the Village Vanguard.

Fried has produced dozens of albums and performed all across the world since he began his music career 28 years ago. His strong cantorial voice combined with the steady percussion and a twinkle of keys and strings soon had the whole audience singing and clapping. While his musicians soloed, he would sway and then kick in the air and belt out “Malechai Eloh-i-i-i-i-i-m!” He directed the crowd to chant “Ayyyyy…” in undertone as he chanted blessings above. Students joined with him as he intently sang Gesher Tzar Ma’od. Throughout the whole concert a smile never left his face.

Between songs, Fried often addressed the audience. He spoke about peace for klal Yisrael, and how Jewish songs are not solely about the music, but the divine inspiration behind it. “You know the psalm but I know the shepherd,” he said, quoting a man who once reputedly said those words to the famous tenor Luciano Pavarotti. “That is what makes us special as a Jewish people.”

The confluence of special performer and special purpose, special benefactor and special community made students like Ariela and David appreciate what they have in YU, and what they leave behind once they move on. Perhaps Ariela summed up such sentiment best. “If they made free Avraham Fried concerts every year,” Ariela quipped, “I wouldn’t graduate.”

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Oct 24, 2007 — The Yeshiva University Women’s Organization (YUWO) will celebrate its 62nd Annual Opera Benefit and Silver Anniversary Aprés Opera Gala on Saturday evening, November 10, 2007, at Lincoln Center in New York City.

Major supporters and members of the YUWO’s President Society for Torah Chesed will be honored at a gala buffet dinner in the Grand Promenade of the New York State Theater, following a performance at 8 p.m. by the New York City Opera of Massenet’s “Cendrillon” (Cinderella in French with English subtitles). The President’s Society for Torah Chesed assists Yeshiva University students through its Torah Chesed Fund, scholarships, and deserving projects.

Dinah Pinczower serves as national chairman of the board of the YUWO and she is also the founder of the Aprés Opera Gala. Inge Rennert serves as Opera Gala Advisory Chair. Jean Lindenbaum, Beatrice Peyser, Sydelle Slochowsky, and Alice Goldberg Usdan are Opera Gala co-chairmen; associate co-chairs are Dr. Derek Enlander and Denise and Michael Mandelbaum. Esther Joel, Mindy Lamm, and Dinah Pinczower serve as co-chairs of the President’s Society for Torah Chesed. Harriet Muss, Rebecca Steindecker, and the late Caron Enlander form the YUWO’s Presidium.

For reservations or information, please call the YUWO office at 212-960-0855.

Founded in 1886, Yeshiva University brings together the heritage of Western civilization and the ancient traditions of Jewish law and life. More than 7,000 undergraduate and graduate students study at YU’s four New York City campuses: theWilf Campus, Israel Henry Beren Campus, Brookdale Center, and Jack and Pearl Resnick Campus. YU’s three undergraduate schools –– Yeshiva College, Stern College for Women, and Sy Syms School of Business ––– offer a unique dual program comprised of Jewish studies and liberal arts courses. Its graduate and affiliate schools include Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Wurzweiler School of Social Work, Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology, Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration, Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies, and Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary. YU is ranked among the nation’s leading academic research institutions.

Visit http://www.yu.edu

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Oct 23, 2007 — Yeshiva College celebrated the generosity and vision of philanthropist and industrialist Michael Gamson and his wife, Barbara, and renowned New York immigration attorney Leon Wildes at Yeshiva College’s annual dinner on Sunday, October 21, 2007 at Pier Sixty Chelsea Piers in New York City. To view photos of the dinner please click here.

With their philanthropic work, the Gamsons follow the example of Mr. Gamson’s father, Dr. Bernard W. Gamson, a longtime member of the Board of Directors at Yeshiva College, who passed away in 2000. In memory of Mr. Gamson’s father, the Gamsons have endowed new state-of the-art physics laboratories at Yeshiva College. Dr. Gamson, a chemical engineer, held 30 scientific patents in the fields of chemical engineering and nuclear, retired as President and C.E.O. of Martin Marietta Aluminum. “My father would have been thrilled to see kippots and tzitzith flying under lab coats,” said Michael Gamson. “I think about the next generation. Will one of these young men cure cancer? Cure the energy crisis? My father used to say that the sky’s the limit.”

A forerunner in immigration law, Leon Wildes was honored for his prominence as a community leader. He is the founder of Wildes & Weinberg, the premier law firm specializing in immigration and nationality issues, where he serves as senior partner. In his best known case, Mr. Wildes successfully represented former Beatle John Lennon and his wife, Yoko Ono, in high profile deportation proceedings that were initiated by the Nixon administration. As a result of the case, several new aspects of immigration law were advanced.

A magna cum laude graduate of Yeshiva College, Mr. Wildes serves as a treasurer of the college’s Board of Directors. He holds Juris Doctor and Masters of Law degrees from the New York University School of Law and is an adjunct professor of law at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University. Yeshiva University President Richard M. Joel called Mr. Wildes “one of my heroes. At the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, we believe in compassionate care. Leon brings his compassionate care to the law.”

The Class of 1971 was feted at the gala, which was established the The Rabbi Sheldon S. Miller Memorial Fund. “Shelly always brought a sense of joy and warmth,” recalled President Joel. “It is wonderful to celebrate his life.”

Three alumni of Yeshiva College received prestigious Revel Awards, given in memory of the first Yeshiva University President, Rabbi Dr. Bernard Revel. The recipients were Rabbi Tzvi Flaum ’71Y of Lawrence, NY, and Congregation Knesset Israel; Rabbi Doniel Z. Kramer ’70Y of Brooklyn, NY, and VA Hudson Valley Healthcare System; and Dr. John Loike ’71Y of Jamaica, NY, and Columbia University. “These three men follow an extraordinarily proud tradition of the best and the brightest,” lauded President Joel.

For more information about the honorees, click here.

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Oct 19, 2007 — For hundreds of years cholent has been the traditional Sabbath-day meal for observant Jews in many countries. A slow-cooked stew containing meat, vegetables, potatoes or rice, legumes, and spices, it is one of the quintessential Jewish comfort foods and a dish that many look forward to from Sabbath to Sabbath.

Yeshiva University (YU) will hold its “First Annual Cholent Cook-off” in Weisberg Commons on its Wilf Campus in Washington Heights, on Thursday, November 8, 2007 at 2:45PM.

Fifteen teams of four students at Yeshiva College, the men’s undergraduate school, will prepare their dishes the night before beginning at 10:15PM. The following afternoon, a panel of discriminating palates will crown the winner.

The contest judges are Dr. Esther Joel, wife of YU President Richard M. Joel; Monita Buchwald, chef and recipe tester for Martha Stewart Living magazine; Alan Kaplan, executive chef of Prestige Catering; Meal Mart proprietor Shmeil Genuth; restaurateur Douglas Socolof (Dougie’s); chef, restaurateur, TV personality and author Jeff Nathan (Abigael’s); and cook book author and private chef Rabbi Gil Marks.

Cholent in its various forms evolved from a combination of Jewish law and economic circumstances. Jewish law prohibits cooking on the Sabbath, from sunset on Friday to sunset on Saturday. In order to have a hot lunch on the Sabbath, Jews prepare the cholent – a one pot dish – before the start of the Sabbath and let it cook overnight. Today, a slow cooker or crock pot is often used. Historically, in the Jewish towns of Europe, a community oven or the oven of the local baker was used.

The word cholent and its pronunciations vary. Ashkenazi Jews from Central and Eastern Europe call it cholent, sholet or shalet, but Sephardic Jews know it as chamin, a word that is probably French in origin.

There is no standard recipe for cholent; its ingredients are as diverse as the places where Jews have lived. In addition to geography the ingredients also were dictated by economic circumstances – when meat was scarce or too expensive the cholent would contain more starch, usually beans and potatoes. When times were good, more meat would be added to the dish. In some countries, beef is favored; in others chicken. In Sephardic communities, whole, often stuffed, vegetables such as eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, and peppers are used, as well as rice and lamb or mutton. Where Ashkenazi Jews use salt, garlic, pepper, and paprika, Sephardic Jews use cumin, hot peppers, and pistachio nuts. Today, vegetarian recipes are also popular.

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Oct 19, 2007 — Both the Wilf and Beren campuses of Yeshiva University were abuzz with excitement when the Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel, Rabbi Shlomo Amar, visited on October 15 during his recent trip to the United States. He was in the country to meet with the Rabbinic Council of America and the Orthodox Union. For photos of Rabbi Amar’s visit click here.

“We were very honored by Rabbi Amar’s visit—it was recognition of the increasingly important role that YU plays in the United States’ relationship with Israel,” said Rabbi Kenneth Brander, dean of the Center for the Jewish Future, who helped organize the visit. “He got to see for himself that at the heart of YU is a strong yeshiva with serious Talmud scholars and a high level of learning.”

Rabbi Amar was received by President Richard M. Joel; Rabbi Brander; Rabbi Hillel Davis, vice president for university life; Rabbi Zevulun Charlop, the Max and Marion Grill Dean of RIETS, and Rabbis Meir Goldwicht, Rabbi Ben Chaim, and Rabbi Hershel Schachter, roshei yeshiva [professors of Talmud]. They gave him an overview of the history of YU and discussed ways to strengthen the ties between the university and the Chief Rabbinate.

After delivering divrei bracha to students from Yeshiva University High School for Boys, the Chief Rabbi gave a shiur [lesson] on the topic of shmitah, the sabbatical year in which Jews are not allowed to work the land, and the parshat hashavua [Torah portion of the week]. It was standing room only as Rabbi Amar spoke for almost two hours to the more than 450 students and roshei yeshiva packed into the beit midrash [study hall] on the Wilf Campus.

After lunch with the roshei yeshiva, Rabbi Amar met with President Joel and others to speak about how YU can act as a resource to bridge the gap between Israel and the Diaspora.

During a meeting with student leaders he spoke about the importance of their leadership and offered the group words of encouragement about their service to the community, before davening mincha with Sephardic students on campus.

“It was a great spiritual lift for the Sephardic students to see him, to have him participate in prayer services, and to hear his shiur,” said Rabbi Elie Abadie, director of the Jacob E. Safra Institute of Sephardic Studies at YU.

Rabbi Amar made a stop at the Beren Campus for a meeting with Stern College for Women students—the first time a chief rabbi has met with students at Stern. The student body was excited to hear from such an important figure, said Rena Wiesen, president of Stern College’s Student Council. “It was an incredible opportunity to hear someone of his stature speak to students in an intimate setting,” said Wiesen, a senior. “He even took questions from us at the end.”

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Article Photo President Richard M. Joel (left) and Rabbi Naftali Weisz (right).

Oct 19, 2007 — As part of Rabbi Naftali Weisz’s formal installation, President Richard Joel traveled to Columbus, Ohio on October 14, 2007, to deliver the keynote address at the 2007 Beth Jacob Testimonial, an annual event for the 108 year old Modern Orthodox congregation. Although Rabbi Weisz, an alumnus of Yeshiva College and Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, has been leading Beth Jacob since August 2006, the event officially honored him as spiritual leader of the congregation, which serves approximately 200 families on Columbus’ East Side.

“Often, when we have rabbis occupying new pulpits, someone from the yeshiva will come and serve as an installing officer,” President Joel remarked of his trip to Ohio. “But, I also have a special relationship with Rabbi Weisz. I knew him as a student. He came into his own during my presidency.”

Having been placed by the Jewish Career Development and Placement division of Yeshiva University Center for Jewish Future, Rabbi Weisz has a unique relationship with Beth Jacob. His grandfather, Rabbi David Stavsky, had served as Rabbi at Beth Jacob for forty-seven years, until his death in 2004.

Since Weisz’s tenure began, membership has increased. In his new position, Rabbi Weisz has impressed congregants by increasing programming for youth and arranging for visits from musicians and scholars. According to Weisz, “I try to connect our synagogue and especially our youth group with their peers in the larger Jewish community.”

As a true embodiment of YU’s motto–Torah U’madda—there is no doubt that Weisz will continue to serve Beth Jacob congregants well. Weisz and his wife, Abby, reside in Columbus with their two children, Bella and Shaindee.

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