Yeshiva University News » 2009 » January

Marjane Satrapi’s 'Persepolis' is one of the movies on show at the festival.

Jan 29, 2009 — Francophiles and all who love great cinema will have reason to rejoice come February. For the very first time, Yeshiva University hosts the Tournées Film Festival, February 5–23. This festival brings the best of contemporary French films to the YU community.

The full schedule of movies is available here.

The theme of the festival is “Identity at the Margins: Power, Justice, Change.” Matthew Udkovich, lecturer in French at Yeshiva College and organizer of the Tournées Film Festival, explained that YU could choose from 100 French film thanks to a grant from FACE Council.

“After narrowing down our choices, we realized that in each of the seven films selected, there was a struggle—people, both individuals and groups, seeking to define themselves and meeting with opposition from the establishment in the form of a country, corporation, history, or family,” Udkovich said.

“From Marjane Satrapi’s autobiographical depiction of her conflicted homesickness in ‘Persepolis’ to Bouchareb’s recounting in ‘Indigènes’ of the African soldiers fighting for the French ideals of liberté, fraterité, and égalité that seemingly leave them out, iterations of this struggle bring different outcomes in each film,” he added. Read an interview with Udkovich on the new Arts@YU blog here.

The line-up of films is diverse enough to appeal to different groups within the YU community. “Young artists might find inspiration in the art collective featured in ‘Chats Perchés’; young women and immigrants might find empowerment in ‘Le Plafond de Verre’; future lawyers might find motivation in ‘L’Ivresse du Pouvoir,’” Udkovich said.

Admission to the seven recent French films is free with a valid YU ID card. A $2 donation is kindly suggested for others.

The Tournées Film Festival at Yeshiva University is co-sponsored by the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures; the Department of English; the Department of Sociology; and the Department of Jewish History.
All films will be shown with English subtitles.

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Jan 29, 2009 — The AVI CHAI Foundation has given a grant to fund Religious Understanding in Adolescent Children (RUACH), a new project of the Institute for University-School Partnership at Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration. The two-year collaborative initiative between the Institute and eight Jewish day schools will explore creative means of promoting growth in students’ relationships with God and their religious actions and beliefs.

“Our objective is to create deeper spiritual connections for students and more religious purposefulness in Jewish schools,” said Dr. Scott Goldberg, director of the Institute and one of the project’s principal researchers.

“High school is a very dynamic time in the course of a young Jewish person’s life,” said Goldberg. “Being connected to, and aware of, the divine in Judaism will undoubtedly have a positive effect on the Jewish identities and lives of youth impacted by RUACH.”

The eight high schools participating in RUACH are geographically and ideologically diverse. They include:
- Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School (CES-JDS) in Rockville, MD
- Hebrew Academy of Long Beach’s Davis Renov Stahler Yeshiva High School for Boys (HALB-DRS) in Woodmere, NY
- Ramaz Upper School in New York City
- Salanter Akiva Riverdale High School (SAR) in the Bronx, NY
- Maimonides School in Brookline, MA
- Weinbaum Yeshiva High School (WYHS) in Boca Raton, FL
- Marsha Stern Talmudical Academy—Yeshiva University High School for Boys and Samuel H. Wang Yeshiva University High School for Girls, both in New York City

“Studying and attempting to develop growth in crucial areas of students’ inner, religious lives, meaningfully fulfills AVI CHAI’s goals regarding religious purposefulness,’” noted Jordan Rosenberg, RUACH’s project coordinator and a rabinical student at YU’s Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary. “Religious purposefulness can result in a well developed and thoughtful approach to our religious and spiritual traditions that we at YU are uniquely poised to accomplish,” he said.

Dr. David Schnall, dean of Azrieli, pointed out that, “Combining our Jewish traditions and the best theory and practice from academia represents an exciting fit for YU and the AVI CHAI Foundation.”

Dr. David Pelcovitz, Gwendolyn and Joseph Straus Professor of Jewish Education at Azrieli and a senior fellow at the Institute, is partnering with Goldberg in conducting research for RUACH. “Developing religious growth is an area that is not well understood, though virtually everyone would agree that nourishing spirituality in our children is important for religious continuity, their psychological well-being as well as their Jewish identity and religious growth,” Pelcovitz, a noted psychologist and expert in religious development, said.

The Institute and participating schools will also interact through meetings and conferences sponsored by YU. The knowledge gained during the course of the RUACH project will also be used to upgrade the Azrieli curriculum to benefit current and future students. Its findings and best practices in the area of religious purposefulness will be disseminated through colloquia, publications and workshops for Jewish educators.

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Jan 26, 2009 — On February 24, the students and rabbis at Yeshivat Mercaz Ha’Rav and Yeshivat Yerushalayim LeTze’irim in Jerusalem will commemorate the first anniversary of the tragic massacre of eight young students in a shooting spree last year with the dedication of eight Torah scrolls, one for each victim. They won’t be alone: thanks to an initiative called B’lev Echad, spearheaded by YU student Jeremy Joszef, the event will be broadcast live from Israel to schools, communities, and institutions around the world.

B’lev Echad, meaning “with one heart,” was founded to unite Jews around the world on the anniversary of the shootings. It was created when a New York family, choosing to remain anonymous, decided to donate eight Torah scrolls in memory of the eight students as a way to “unite the Jewish people with these families and for the Torah and mitzvot that their children literally died for,” Joszef said.

“Jewish literature tells us that a prerequisite to accepting the Torah was unity – “K’ish echad b’lev echad” [as one man with one heart] – and this is exactly why we named this dedication event B’lev Echad,” Joszef said.

The team helping Joszef, which includes six Yeshiva University students and alumni, hope that the initiative, which is not aligned with any religious institution or political group, can inspire Jews across the religious spectrum to join in a worldwide Torah learning initiative and mitzvah campaign in honor of the slain students. B’lev Echad has recruited hundreds of volunteers worldwide, many of which are Yeshiva University students, to help network this initiative.

On each of the eight days leading up to the Hachnasat Sefer Torah [installation of the Torah scroll], B’lev Echad will encourage people to reflect on and put into practice ethical Jewish principles representing each victim. This “8 for 8 Mitzvah Project” will focus on gratitude, refraining from gossip, self improvement, charity, honoring parents, hosting guests, acts of kindness and Jewish unity.

The B’lev Echad is also inviting schools, synagogues, and community centers around the world to complete a Torah learning project in memory of the students to show solidarity. It is distributing a Torah learning packet that participants can use to prepare for the event. The siyum [conclusion of the learning project] will take place at the anniversary event and will be part of the broadcast.

Although the initiative is unaffiliated with any other organizations, Joszef said he appreciated the impact his experiences at YU have had on him as a leader in the Jewish community. “YU has taught me from day one that being a Jew is not just about the Torah that we learn in the beit midrash [study hall], but what we do with that Torah once we leave it.”

For more information, to sign up your school, community, or institution, or to sign up as a volunteer, please visit www.BlevEchad.com.

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Jan 26, 2009 — Expressing sensitivity to the growing challenges presented by the current economic downturn both institutionally and to families of its current and prospective students, Yeshiva University announced today that it will not raise tuition at the undergraduate level for the 2009-2010 academic year. Moreover, YU will increase the amount of scholarship support it awards annually.

“Like much of the educational world, we are experiencing some painful belt-tightening. But we cannot waver in our mission to offer the finest academic enterprise and an experience steeped in Jewish values and tradition,” said President Richard Joel. “Despite the fact that many universities are raising tuition, we’re mindful of the unique pressures on our undergraduate parents, who are also paying private Jewish day school and yeshiva tuition for multiple children in addition to college. As a result, we must do everything we can in these challenging times to make our unique undergraduate experience affordable and accessible.”

Watch a video of President Joel talking about the tuition freeze here.

Unlike other colleges and universities, at YU undergraduate students are required to participate in a dual academic program combining a full complement of college-level Jewish studies courses with a traditional liberal arts and sciences or business education.

President Joel said that base undergraduate tuition at YU will remain at $31,594 for the 2009-10 academic year for all incoming and current students. Room and board fees will increase only $250 per semester.

In addition, the level of both academic and need-based scholarship aid will increase over last year. YU provides approximately $31 million in assistance each year, with about 70 percent of students receiving some form of financial aid.

Moreover, the University has instituted a new supplemental scholarship program for students who enter in fall 2009 after a first year in Israel, which will provide a 50 percent reduction in tuition for their last year if they have committed when they enter to a fourth year on campus.

“We prepare our students not just to make a living, but to live a life worth living,” said President Joel. “Our students not only receive an excellent education but are also ready to make significant contributions to the betterment of the Jewish people and society. This is our compact with the Jewish community. Now, more than ever, this is of paramount importance.”

Simply stated, he said, “our children – and our community – cannot afford to do without a YU education.”

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Jan 26, 2009 — Yeshiva University’s (YU) will hold its annual SOY (Student Organization of Yeshiva) Seforim Sale from February 1 to 22 on YU’s Wilf Campus in Manhattan, Belfer Hall, 2495 Amsterdam Avenue. Last year the acclaimed Judaica book sale drew more than 15,000 people from the tri-state area. Students, educators, and parents flock to the sale to take advantage of discounted prices on the latest of more than 10,000 titles in rabbinic and academic literature, as well as cookbooks, children’s books, musical recordings, and educational software.

The Seforim Sale has become a highlight for the Yeshiva University community, as students and alumni congregate to visit their alma mater, see old friends, and add books to their personal libraries.

“We expect another big turnout this year,” said Ophir Eis, CEO of the SOY Seforim Sale. “Aside from all the discounts available, we have a number of great events planned.”

The sale, North America’s largest Jewish book sale, is managed exclusively by students who run the entire operation from ordering to setting up the premises, marketing, and all the technology the project entails. Proceeds support SOY’s myriad of initiatives, which include student activities on campus and outreach programs in the Jewish community.

Scheduled events at the sale include:
• Alumni night on February 3, featuring a performance by the Maccabeats, the YU men’s a cappella group
• Live acoustic performance by Six13 on February 4
• A lecture by Dr. David Pelcovitz and Rabbi Steven Eisenberg on February 5 entitled,
“What happens when your child isn’t you: Understanding the religious change after year(s) of study in Israel”
• Musical performance by Aryeh Kuntsler on February 12
• Family Storytelling with Peninnah Schram, Professor of Speech and Drama at YU’s Stern College for Women on February 15
• Emunah cooking demonstration and book signing on February 16

For a complete listing of dates and times, to purchase gift certificates, or to view the online catalog, visit www.soyseforim.org.

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Jan 22, 2009 — When he heard about US Airways flight 1549 crash landing in the frigid Hudson River, Rabbi Gideon Shloush raced to the NY Waterways terminal to see how he could be of help. He met with survivors and offered them counseling and prayers as they arrived back on land.

“It was a surreal experience. The place was a fortress,” said the rabbi, the coordinator of professional rabbinic education, advisement and placement for the Center for the Jewish Future/Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary. Rabbi Shloush also leads Congregation Adereth El in the Gramercy section of Manhattan, where many Stern College students pray. “I went up to the barricades, showed them my ID and explained that I am a rabbi here in midtown and they took me right in.”

Rabbi Shloush was featured on FOX NEWS with Shepard Smith on the day of the incident.

He was surrounded by survivors wrapped in blankets, detectives, police officers, people from the Mayor’s Office, community relations officers and people handing out American Red Cross blankets and food and water.

He met with two scuba-divers who were still head-to-toe in their full gear. “I thanked them for their heroic work and told them that they were messengers of God in helping to save lives.”

“To look someone in the face who just survived a plane crash is remarkable. You see their level of appreciation to be alive,” Rabbi Shloush said. “Their lives are forever changed. As that plane was about to hit the river they knew well that there was a good chance that they were going to die.”

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Jan 22, 2009 — Yeshiva University offers a leadership initiative which provides a unique opportunity for graduates of Yeshiva College, Stern College for Women and Sy Syms School of Business. Qualifying graduates of the class of 2009 will be selected to spend 11 months (August 1, 2009 – June 30, 2010) as Presidential Fellows in University and Community Leadership. Fellows will be challenged to get involved in and affect many aspects of campus life while engaged in an in-depth learning experience.

The fellows, who will be selected competitively, will be assigned to a University or college office, be mentored by a University administrator, and participate in a leadership seminar, for which they may earn up to three graduate credits per semester.

Fellows will be involved in many aspects of University operations, will be responsible for special projects and will have the opportunity to interact with University administrators, faculty, and invited academic and communal leaders. Students who are selected will receive a salary of $24,000 plus fringe benefits for the year.

During 2009-10, fellowship placements may be available in the following departments:
• Office of the President
• Office of Academic Affairs
• Office of the Vice President for University Life
• Department of Institutional Advancement
• Office of the Vice President for Business Affairs and Chief Financial Officer
• Office of the General Counsel
• Office of Communications and Public Affairs
• Office of Administrative Services
• Office of Admissions
• Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration
• Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary
• Stern College for Women Dean’s Office
• Sy Syms School of Business Dean’s Office
• Wurzweiler School of Social Work Dean’s Office
• Yeshiva College Dean’s Office
• Office of the Dean of Libraries
• Center for the Jewish Future
• Center for Ethics
• Career Development Center
• Office of Student Affairs
• Office of Athletics and Physical Education
• Yeshiva University High School for Boys
• Yeshiva University High School for Girls
• Office of Energy Programs & Sustainability

In addition to adding energy, inspiration and commitment to Yeshiva University, it is our hope that the fellows will gain skills and perspectives that will serve them well in whatever graduate or professional enterprise they choose to pursue.

Students should consider this fellowship regardless of their career objectives if they think that a year of service to the community and exposure to university administration will be of value and interest to them.

The online application form for the Presidential Fellowship is available here.

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Jan 22, 2009 — Yeshiva University will hold its annual SOY (Student Organization of Yeshiva)Seforim Sale from Feb. 1-22 on YU’s Wilf Campus in Manhattan. Last year the acclaimed Judaica book sale drew more than 15,000 people from the tri-state area.

Students, educators, and parents flock to the sale every year to take advantage of discounted prices on the latest of more than 10,000 titles in rabbinic and academic literature, as well as cookbooks, children’s books, musical recordings, and educational software.

The Seforim Sale has become a highlight for the Yeshiva University community, as students and alumni congregate to visit their alma mater, see old friends and add books to their personal libraries.

“We expect another big turnout this year,” said Ophir Eis, CEO of the SOY Seforim Sale. “Aside from all the discounts available, we have a number of great events planned.”

The sale, North America’s largest Jewish book sale, is managed exclusively by students who run the entire operation from ordering to setting up the premises, marketing, and all the technology the project entails. Proceeds support SOY’s myriad of initiatives, which include student activities on campus and outreach programs in the Jewish community.

Scheduled events at the sale include:
- An alumni night on Feb. 3, which will feature a performance by the Maccabeats, the YU men’s a cappella group
- Live acoustic performance by Six13 on Feb. 4
- A lecture by Dr. David Pelcovitz and Rabbi Steven Eisenberg on Feb. 5 entitled, “What happens when your child isn’t you: Understanding the religious change after year(s) of study in Israel”
- Musical performance by Aryeh Kuntsler on Feb. 12
- Family Storytelling with Peninnah Schram, Professor of Speech and Drama at YU’s Stern College for Women, on Feb. 15
- Emunah cooking demonstration and book signing on Feb. 16

The sale takes place at Belfer Hall, 2495 Amsterdam Avenue in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan. For a complete listing of dates and times or to view the online catalog, visit www.soyseforim.org.

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Jan 22, 2009 — Yeshiva University High School for Boys (YUHSB) senior, Eli Putterman won a $5,000 college scholarship as one of two National Winners of the Siemens Award for Advanced Placements (AP).

Of all high school males in the country, Eli had the highest number of perfect scores on the eight AP exams considered for the award which include biology, calculus, chemistry, computer science, environmental science, physics, electricity and magnetism, and statistics.

The Siemens Award for Advanced Placements provides $2,000 scholarships each year to students from each of the 50 states who have earned the greatest number of perfect scores on the eight eligible AP exams. Two additional national winners (one male, one female) are named and receive $5,000 scholarships.

Eli’s other achievements include National Merit Scholarship semifinalist in 2008; 2nd place in the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) Physics Bowl 2008 Division II; Bausch & Lomb Honorary Science Award winner 2008; first author, “The Square Cat,” American Journal of Physics vol. 76 (2008); Research Science Institute participant, 2008; as well as National Honor Society officer 2008.

Putterman, a Bergenfield, NJ native who plans to study in Israel at Yeshivat Har Etzion next year and then pursue his bachelors degree in math and physics, is undecided which college he will attend.

He singled out his AP calculus and physics teacher, Dr. Edward Berliner, for his support and guidance. “Over my four years in high school, he has been the driving force behind my academic success. Dr. Berliner has encouraged my interest in science and opened many doors to enable me to pursue that interest.”

Dr. Berliner, who served as Eli’s teacher and faculty advisor had the utmost praise for his student. “Eli is truly a very special student who possesses the rare gift of imparting just as much to the instructor as he receives.”

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Jan 21, 2009 — The grand ballroom of Jerusalem’s Ramada Hotel was awash in sopranos and altos on the evening of Jan. 17, as thousands of young women gathered for the 11th Annual Kol Chatan v’Kol Kallah Inter-Seminary Choir Competition, co-sponsored by Yeshiva University and the social action group Kedma.

The competition has grown exponentially in the last decade, from an informal contest in a coffee house to a much-anticipated bonanza in which groups from 16 different religious programs for post-high school young women each present a five-minute song (and, usually, dance) presentation.

This year, the songs revolved around the themes of “Land of Israel” and “Weddings.” More than 2,000 girls and women from all over Israel came to enjoy the show, which is judged by a panel of 18, one woman from each seminary and two representing YU.

Proceeds from the event were donated to a fund for needy brides, administered by Rabbanit Bracha Kapach, who was awarded the Israel Prize for her extensive work in assisting the poor. Even before the ticket booth opened at the competition, advance sales had exceeded 40,000 shekels.

“We want to make a statement,” said Danielle Sacks, a choir singer from Midreshet Lindenbaum, before the contest started. “We worked hard together, we’re having a great time and we’re gonna sing our hearts out.”

Ayala Maurer, a London native learning at Sha’alvim for Women, said that her entire school had been preparing for this event for three months, noting that non-choir members helped create costumes and posters to raise school spirit. “Being from London, I didn’t know so much about YU,” Maurer said. “I see it’s a great organization that does good things. Everyone here is going to Stern!”

Those who are planning to attend YU next year indeed expressed pride that the University was supporting the competition.

School spirit, though, was focused entirely on the seminaries, and high-pitched chants of “Michlalah! Michlalah!” and “MMY! MMY!” filled the auditorium whenever there was a break in activities. In welcoming the students, President Richard M. Joel joked, “There is no man on the face of the earth more intimidated than I am right now.”

He also acknowledged that war was raging in Gaza and Southern Israel, telling the all-female audience, “As soldiers are fighting, as people are in pain and in fear, we are not ignoring that. Our singing is what is possible because they care about our futures and are working to protect it.”

Dr. Karen Bacon, The Dr. Monique C. Katz Dean of Stern, also addressed the students. “This event represents the unleashing of the creative energies of Jewish women in the name of chesed [loving kindness], medinat Yisrael [the State of Israel] and Jewish unity,” Dean Bacon said. “This year is so special for all of you, and I know you’ll want to continue the type of relationships you have here with Israel and with Torah. At YU, that relationship is very firm.”

The first-place prize went to Midreshet Harova, whose cast of 49 young women, including 41 singers, wove together songs by Matisyahu and Blue Fringe with Israeli flag movements, a dvar Torah and costumes evocative of the Old City’s Jewish Quarter – including two students dressed as cats. Their theme was “If I Forget Thee, Jerusalem.”

The Tomer Devorah seminary and Michlalah won the 2nd and 3rd place awards, respectively. The performance by Tomer Devorah combined strong vocals, gymnastics and synchronized dance moves with songs and monologues emphasizing Jews’ strength despite tragedies throughout history. The Michlalah students featured strong, soulful soloists and a performance that included gymnastics and a message on the importance of reveling in the values of our own culture.

Darchei Binah won a special mention for raising the most funds for Rabbanit Kapach’s wedding fund.

Other participating seminaries were Midreshet Yeud; Midreshet AMIT; Bnot Torah Institute (Sharfman’s); Tiferet; Machon Maayan; Midreshet Tehilla; Midreshet Lindenbaum; MMY; Midreshet Moriah, Nishmat; Sha’alvim for Women; and Baer Miriam.

Overall, the choir competition proved to be “one more example of how we can channel the talents and strengths of these young women in a way that combines fun, chesed, creativity and Torah values,” said Stephanie Strauss, assistant director of Yeshiva University’s S. Daniel Abraham Israel Program. “It allows the students to work as a team and to express their Judaism through song and dance – just as they will have opportunities to do if they choose to attend Yeshiva University.”

“This event shows that YU is involved in the lives of students in Israel,” said Shira Preil, who is studying at Michlalah on her way to the Stern College Honors Program next fall. “They brought us together to have fun and do a mitzvah.”

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