Yeshiva University News » 2009 » July » 01

Jul 1, 2009 — Yeshiva University, through its Center for the Jewish Future (CJF), will introduce a Torah learning program at Lincoln Square Synagogue this summer for women of all ages who want to pursue advanced Talmud and Judaic study. The Women’s Beit Midrash Fellows Program, which takes place July 6-29, affirms the University’s status as a pioneer in developing Orthodox Jewish women as scholars, teachers and community leaders.

The program, focusing on “Crisis, Hope and Leadership in Jewish Tradition,” will provide women of all ages and Jewish educational backgrounds with the knowledge and tools to become Judaic scholars, community leaders and role models for the Orthodox community.

See The Jewish Channel’s coverage of the program here:

The program is a component of the CJF’s annual Manhattan Beit Midrash Community Program, which has offerings for men, women and youth at Lincoln Square Synagogue.

Highlighting this year’s Women’s Beit Midrash Fellows Program will be a mini-course on Mondays and Wednesdays led by Elana Stein Hain, who completed advanced studies in Talmud at YU’s Graduate Program in Advanced Talmudic Studies (GPATS) and is the community scholar at Lincoln Square Synagogue, the first woman to hold such a position at the prominent New York house of worship. The position is sponsored by the CJF.

Hain’s mini-course, “Chabura: Sugya Survey Workshop,” will focus on a sampling of sugyot [Mishnaic texts] which are ripe for both the yeshiva/Brisker (Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik) method as well as academic perspectives. The workshop will include 30 minutes of chavruta [group study] helping participants develop and sharpen their learning skills.

“Women are partners in the leadership of the Jewish community,” said Rabbi Kenneth Brander, the David Mitzner Dean of the CJF. “What this program does is provide the tools for them to grow intellectually and develop the knowledge necessary to take on this role. It’s an outgrowth of our commitment to women’s leadership and Jewish education that dates back 40 years to the founding of Stern College for Women, the Midreshet Yom Rishon held weekly on campus, the GPATS program and numerous leadership fellowships for women.”

In addition to Hain, the faculty for the Women’s Beit Midrash Fellows Program includes Rabbi Moshe Kahn, a faculty member of Stern College, the GPATS program, and the Drisha Institute, who will address “The Call of the Shofar: A Halakhic Analysis” on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays; and Dr. Shawn Zelig Aster, assistant professor of Bible at Yeshiva College, who will focus on “Sefer Yeshayahu: Text and History” on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. In addition, Rabbi Brander will give a special shiur [lecture] on “Justice, Human Rights and Morality: The Ethics of Warfare” on Tuesday, July 14 from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m.

For adults of all ages, there is a rotating scholar series on Tuesday evenings, a three-week course on Wednesdays, July 8, 15 and 22, and a morning program. Among the faculty will be Rabbi Hayyim Angel of Congregation Shearith Israel of New York and instructor at Yeshiva College; Yael Leibowitz, an adjunct professor at Stern College; Rebbetzin Smadar Rosensweig, professor of Bible at Stern College; Dapha Fishman Secunda, director of women’s programming at the CJF; Dr. Shai Secunda, the Jacob and Hilda Blaustein Postdoctoral Fellow in Judaic Studies at Yale University; Rabbi Dr. Jacob J. Schacter, University Professor of Jewish History and Jewish Thought and senior scholar at the CJF; and Rabbi Dr. Jeffrey Woolf, senior lecturer in Talmud at Bar-Ilan University.

Among the topics they will address are: “Jeremiah’s Confrontation with the Religious Establishment”; “Maimonides’ Analysis of Sefer Iyov”; “Yehudah and David”; “Theological Reflections of National Suffering”; “Interactions between Judaism, Islam, and Christianity”; “Reflections on Tisha B’Av”: “Our Patriarch Avraham”; and “Notes from the Destruction in Eichah Rabbah.”

For more information on YU summer programs or to register, please contact or call 212.340.7700 x 430.


William Ackman is managing member and portfolio manager of Pershing Square Capital Management.

Jul 1, 2009 — William Ackman, managing member and portfolio manager of Pershing Square Capital Management, captivated over 70 alumni with his keen insights into today’s financial markets and tomorrow’s economic future at a recent Yeshiva University Wall Street Committee reception held on June 22 at the offices of Credit Suisse.

A member of the Board of Dean’s Advisors at Harvard Business School, from which he received his MBA, Ackman has been known to grab headlines for his risky, bold and usually highly successful investments—for which he has earned a reputation as an “activist” investor. In 2008, Ackman created a fund that bet solely on the rise of Target Corp’s stock. The fund plummeted nearly 90 percent, eventually rebounding partially.

“William Ackman inspired alumni and Wall Street veterans to work hard but set aside time for family, to be confident yet humble and to persevere against obstacles,” said Evelyn Havasi-Stavsky ’82S, ’85C, a member of Stern College’s Board who is co-chair of the YU Wall Street Committee with Lawrence Askowitz ’87YC, a member of the Yeshiva College Board. “His investment lessons included looking for investments in companies with great management.”

Ackman shared an anecdote about how he passed up an opportunity to publish a book as a Harvard undergraduate after others warned him that it would flop. In hindsight, he said, the work may well have turned out to be very successful. “The best investments happen when you have the confidence to believe that you are right,” he concluded. “Of course, being right is never enough. You have to work with the delicate balance between conviction and humbleness.”

Ackman also revealed his thoughts on one of his investments, General Growth Properties (GGP), a publicly traded real estate investment trust. Calling GGP one of the best investments to get involved in today, Ackman predicted that the company would make a huge recovery after recently filing for bankruptcy.

Asked about his impressions of the Bush and Obama administrations, Ackman admonished President George W. Bush for addressing the needs of General Motors and other failed automotive companies too late into his administration. On the flipside, Ackman called President Barack Obama’s lending strategy regarding the automobile industry fair but stated that he “did not like all the ways it was orchestrated.”

Overall, he praised Obama’s “all-hands-on-deck” philosophy and his attempt to “get the most capable people on board his cabinet and financial teams.” But Ackman was critical of the administration for bailing out companies by excessive use of tax payers’ money. “I feel that you have to start at the holding companies, and only as a last resort, can you look to the pockets of the American people,” he noted.

Askowitz, the event’s introductory speaker, spoke about the uniqueness of Yeshiva University and its “commitment to excellence in the realms of Torah and Western culture.” Askowitz said that the evening’s presentation was an extension of the far-reaching wisdom imparted to him during his college years.

See photos from the event here.