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.”