Yeshiva University News » 2010 » July

Rabbi Kenneth Brander on Today’s Youth’s Views on Individuality, Community and the Future of Jewish Leadership

Rabbi Kenneth Brander is the David Mitzner Dean of Yeshiva University’s Center for the Jewish Future. The CJF will be convening leaders of the Jewish community from July 29 to Aug. 1 for the Fifth ChampionsGate National Leadership Conference in Orlando, Fla.

It comes as no surprise that in a world where many neglect the importance of community, iPhones, iPods, iMacs and iPads constantly and consistently appear as the trendiest gadgets. These devices represent a culture that desires to deconstruct the power and purpose of community, placing all importance on the needs of the individual.

Despite this societal disposition, I believe the young people of this generation possess an ever-increasing eagerness to live lives of meaning. With all the serious setbacks brought on by our new economic realities, the “Gen-Y” generation has still had the opportunity to amass so much material stuff and travel with unprecedented frequency.

Yet, they still feel hungry to live meaningful lives. Indeed, as just one example, the Yeshiva University Center for the Jewish Future sends close to a thousand young adults on various service-learning experiences across the globe annually and cannot keep up with the demand on the part of even more students to participate. Organizations around the country that work with young adults have seen a similar phenomenon and are working in partnership to create structures enabling all of us to respond to this yearning.

Read full article at The New York Jewish Week…

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Jul 26, 2010 — Chaya Batya (C.B.) Neugroschl, an educator with nearly 20 years of pedagogic, curricular and administrative experience in both Limudei Kodesh and general studies, has been named head of school of the Yeshiva University High School for Girls (Central). The appointment is the culmination of a search that involved parents, faculty, board members and YU administrators, spanning both the United States and Israel.

Prior to joining YUHSG, Neugroschl has served as assistant principal and co-director of general studies at SAR High School since 2004, where she has introduced innovative curricular initiatives and special programming. Before coming to SAR, Neugroschl was the director of admissions at Ma’ayanot Yeshiva High School for Girls, where she taught Jewish history and philosophy.

Neugroschl’s educational background is impressive. She studied for two years at Michlala in Bayit V’gan before earning her BA at Stern College for Women in 1993. She continued her studies at Bernard Revel Graduate School, and then at Harvard University, where she received her MA in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations in 1998.

“Mrs. Neugroschl brings to our school a very well developed and integrated educational vision,” noted Miriam Goldberg, chair of Yeshiva University High Schools Board of Trustees. “She has earned a well deserved reputation for working collaboratively with faculty and parents. Mrs. Neugroschl brings an established and accomplished track record of creating dynamic environments for learning, true intellectual exchange, coupled with setting standards for high levels of student growth.”

To learn more about Samuel H. Wang Yeshiva University High School for Girls visit www.yuhsg.org.

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Using the Latest Imaging Technologies, Dr. Steven Fine and a Team of Researchers are Revolutionizing the Way Artifacts are Viewed

Article Photo

Dr. Steven Fine and team member Ken Zuckerman photograph a Dead Sea Scroll fragment in Teaneck, NJ. (Courtesy of WSRP)

When the first Dead Sea Scrolls were sold to famed archaeologist Yigael Yadin in 1949 by Athanasius Samuel—the Syrian patriarch of Jerusalem, who was by then living in America—he kept a few fragments for his own collection. This past spring, a team of scholars, including Dr. Steven Fine, professor of Jewish history at Yeshiva University, set up a lab at the Patriarchate, now in Teaneck, NJ, and digitized these priceless documents.

For over three years, YU has been actively participating in a partnership with the West Semitic Research Project (WSRP), a research group founded and directed by Dr. Bruce Zuckerman, professor of religion at the University of Southern California. Over the last 30 years, Zuckerman and his colleagues have developed a wide range of imaging technologies to record and distribute high-resolution images of ancient Near Eastern texts—the latest of which, a light-imaging technology called Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI), is poised to revolutionize the way scholars visualize texts and artifacts from the ancient world. With RTI, one can even see the thicknesses of the ink strokes and where and how they cross one another on a Dead Sea Scroll.

Institutions working closely with the WSRP include Johns Hopkins University, University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign) and the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago.

Through its digital image library, InscriptiFact, scholars in 40 countries can now access more than 50,000 images of ancient inscriptions and writings, including Dead Sea Scrolls fragments now located at St. Mark’s Syrian Orthodox Cathedral in Teaneck. The fragments have long been of great interest to Zuckerman, a leading scholar of Dead Sea Scrolls, and to his friend of nearly 30 years, Fine.

“We had worked on numerous Dead Sea Scroll projects over the years. When Steve Fine came to Yeshiva, it seemed natural that we reconnect, and in a larger and pioneering capacity,” said Zuckerman. “It has been a win-win situation for everyone involved in this fruitful partnership.”

Fine, who is also the director of YU’s Center for Israel Studies(YUCIS), seized the opportunity to get his students involved in some groundbreaking research. Three years ago, with funding from YUCIS and YU’s Rabbi Arthur Schneier Center for International Affairs, a team of students from the Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies, supervised by Fine, decoded amulets dating from the sixth century CE.

Pinchas Roth and Eytan Zadoff traveled to USC to learn from Zuckerman and make use of his revolutionary technologies to decipher a magical text in Jewish Palestinian Aramaic from the Talmudic period, written on a silver scroll. Since then, Roth and Zadoff have presented their research at academic conferences and will be publishing their work in a forthcoming Festschrift in honor of Zuckerman.

Fine, who teaches students on both the Wilf and Beren campuses, has made a point to introduce students at all levels to the imaging technology offered by Zuckerman and his colleagues. By providing his undergraduate and graduate students with these technologies, his students are afforded the opportunity and independence to conduct higher caliber research. “Our students compare with any, especially in the fields of ancient Hebrew and Aramaic,” said Fine. “It is only sensible that we bring them in to share and add to the scholarly enterprise.”

Zuckerman agrees with Fine’s assessment of Yeshiva’s students. “Steve is a very imaginative and entrepreneurial scholar. He saw that he had wonderful students at Yeshiva and that I had wonderful technology at USC,” said Zuckerman. “Together, we professors and students, have broken new ground in the field of ancient philology. I am thrilled for Yeshiva and deeply impressed with the caliber and intellectual maturity of its students.”

See article in the New Jersey Jewish Standard.

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C.B. Neugroschl Will Set the Course for Continued Growth

C.B. Neugroschl
Jul 26, 2010 — Chaya Batya (C.B.) Neugroschl, an educator with nearly 20 years of pedagogic, curricular and administrative experience in both Limudei Kodesh and general studies, has been named head of school of the Yeshiva University High School for Girls (Central). The appointment is the culmination of a search that involved parents, faculty, board members and YU administrators, spanning both the United States and Israel.

Prior to joining YUHSG, Neugroschl has served as assistant principal and co-director of general studies at SAR High School since 2004, where she has introduced innovative curricular initiatives and special programming. Before coming to SAR, Neugroschl was the director of admissions at Ma’ayanot Yeshiva High School for Girls, where she taught Jewish history and philosophy.

Neugroschl’s educational background is impressive. She studied for two years at Michlala in Bayit V’gan before earning her BA at Stern College for Women in 1993. She continued her studies at Bernard Revel Graduate School, and then at Harvard University, where she received her MA in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations in 1998.

“Mrs. Neugroschl brings to our school a very well developed and integrated educational vision,” noted Miriam Goldberg, chair of Yeshiva University High Schools Board of Trustees. “She has earned a well deserved reputation for working collaboratively with faculty and parents. Mrs. Neugroschl brings an established and accomplished track record of creating dynamic environments for learning, true intellectual exchange, coupled with setting standards for high levels of student growth.”

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New York Attorney General Candidates Face off at Cardozo

Jul 22, 2010 — Cardozo School of Law hosted a debate on July 20 among the Democratic candidates vying for New York attorney general in September’s primary, drawing a packed audience to the school’s Jacob Burns Moot Courtroom to hear from the contenders – relative unknowns to voters – in this wide open race.

“This event is very much in keeping with the school’s commitment to the use of law in the public good,” said Dean Matthew Diller in his welcoming remarks at the debate, sponsored by the New York Democratic Lawyers Council. “The position of attorney general for the state of New York is one of the most important positions in our legal system in the nation.” ?

Read full article here…

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Daniel Laufer Responds to Apple’s Mishandling of the iPhone 4 Antenna Problem

Daniel Laufer, associate professor of marketing at Sy Syms
Jul 22, 2010 — Daniel Laufer, associate professor of marketing at Sy Syms School of Business and an expert in crisis management, responds to Apple’s mishandling of the iPhone 4 antenna problem. Laufer is currently a visiting professor at the renowned Korea University and was recently featured in The Korean Times.

Apple’s mishandling of its response to the iPhone 4 antenna problem could have a negative impact on consumers’ perceptions and loyalty to the brand in the future, according to an international crisis management expert.

Daniel Laufer, an associate professor from Yeshiva University in New York, said Apple’s response, which involves refusing to admit its mistake and passing the blame on other factors, leaves much to be desired.

“They’re saying this isn’t a big problem and that you can put a case (on the iPhone) and it will fix it. They say it’s not a big deal but they have to be very careful with that because how consumers are going to perceive it and how it plays out, it is going to be very crucial. Because in terms of Steve Jobs’ strategy, his strategy was not conciliatory at all,’’ he told The Korea Times.

Read full article here

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Simon Goldberg Reflects on What He Saw on a Recent CJF Mission to Germany and How the Country is Coming to Terms with its Past

Jul 21, 2010 — Yeshiva University’s Center for the Jewish Future recently sent students to Germany on a mission to learn about the Shoah and Germany’s transformation and to engage with the local Jewish community. Participant Simon Goldberg shares what he learned.

It’s blurry in Berlin, but I suspected no different. I cannot see a thing, but I know—I know that I am here for a reason.

On June 7, nine Yeshiva University students—I among them—arrived in the heart of the German capital for what would be a life-changing experience. I concede: It was unlikely that any of us truly knew the purpose of our trip. I acknowledge: We had absolutely no idea what we were getting ourselves into. I reflect.

Students prepare for departure

Upon arrival, I felt dazed: partly because I knew not what to expect from a modern-day Berlin; partly because I had not slept the night before—mostly because I was in Germany.

The airport; the sights; the black, the red, the yellow; it all became very real, very soon. As we strolled out of the terminal and first touched our feet on German soil, I struggled with internal confusion. Simon to self: If I were alive then, would I have come here in 1945? Would I have come here in 1950? I’m in Berlin. What am I feeling? What am I supposed to be feeling? Is my mere presence recognition and validation inappropriate in and of itself? Am I voicing in affirmation of the German government, perhaps consenting that it has handled properly its Nazi past? Am I forgiving? Forgetting? Do I have a right to either?

In Berlin, spaces are empty

They took us on walking tour that traced the evolution of Jewish life in Germany. We began at the foothold of what was once the first synagogue in Berlin. We stopped at a Jewish cemetery where Moses Mendelssohn is buried. In large part, the cemetery was destroyed and today could be mistaken for a park. They told us not to trust the green grass, and we didn’t. But hold on for just one moment. Flowers grow here. Could it be? And how is it that birds chirp here? That the sun shines here? Very quickly inside of me, a volcano of sorts had erupted. Amid the unprecedented levels of disorientation, I felt anger.

But I saw children running and playing and laughing, worlds removed from war, anguish and hatred. These kids, I tried so hard to trust, would not be subject to the ploys of Nazism. These kids, I believed, had a choice in the molding of a democratic ideal for a keepsake of their unmistakable identities. In this, I found solace.

Some graveyards are bigger than others

It was blisteringly hot when they took us to the dens of death.

We visited the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp in Oranienburg. Starting in 1936, it existed largely as a forced “labor” camp for political prisoners and as an institution for the military training and development of SS men and women. That is, Sachsenhausen graduated them to Auschwitz. But there was no denying that the camp functioned also as an extermination site for “enemies of the state,” among them 10,000 Red Army officers who were executed systematically by being shot in the back of the neck in the late stages of the war. Our tour guide showed us the crematorium, which was left almost entirely untouched. He told us that the history of mass-murder is the history of things you can no longer see.

In the suburbs of Berlin, lies the House of the Wannsee Conference. There, on Jan. 20, 1942, senior members of the Nazi administration met to define in writing the “Final Solution to the Jewish Question.” We stood in that room—that same room where Adolf Eichmann and Reinhard Heydrich once stood and decided to destroy the Jews of Europe. They left no Jew out, sparing not even the Jews of Albania who numbered a mere 200. Tears of agony and frustration accumulated under my eyes, waiting to explode. And they did.

An unlikely but likely Jewish future

Shabbat never ended in Berlin. We welcomed the Queen early, and bid farewell, well into the night. For lunch on Shabbat afternoon, we split up and were hosted by local Jewish families. The couple that welcomed us into their home was warm and friendly. Their boy, Kobi, was on the lookout from his window on the second floor when he spotted us, a group of wandering Jews. Kobi was shy, and his lack of fluency in English brought joy to my heart. The only languages he knew were Hebrew and German. He was intelligent for a boy in the fifth grade, and, proud to demonstrate his family’s tradition, made a blessing over his own two Challiyot at once with his father. We chatted as we passed the salad bowls up and down the table. I asked him what his favorite subjects were in school and what he learns in Yeshiva. I was touched when I realized that this boy today has opportunities that existed—at best—as stolen dreams under Hitler’s rule. Who would have ever imagined that in 2010, a young Jew in Germany would taste such freedom?

Simon with Berlin’s chief rabbi

In darkness, there is light

Standing above the plaque at the German Resistance Memorial in Berlin’s Mitte District, at the historic site of the attempted July 20 coup—the basis for the Hollywood film Valkyrie—a pool of emotions rushed to my head, heart and stomach. There, it became real. I was sincerely proud of the German officers, visionaries of peace and protectors of a Sacred Germany who sacrificed everything—albeit late in the war effort—to save the world from Hitler’s depravity. I looked to my right and admired the courage and ambition of our German tour guide, Anna, who has dedicated her life to dialogue and who spends weeks at a time exploring her country’s guilt and shame with various Jewish delegations. It was then and there when I realized an underpinning theme that guided my journey. Amid the blurriness, I saw clarity for the first time.

The author reflects at the German Resistance Memorial

The duty of a cock-eyed angel

We have to preserve hope in humanity. To achieve that, we must be willing to do our part in paving a road towards reconciliation and mutual understanding. Our task cannot be to accept forgiveness, for who are the German people of today to offer an apology and who are we—the Jewish people—to ask for one? We are in no such place. But if we fail to recognize the possibility for change in a country and a people, then we are ultimately guilty of a crime. If we are to be expressive of ethics, we must lean back and forward at once. It is the duty of history’s cock-eyed angel: to learn from history and establish it as platform on which to build a better future. And so, I turn one eye to the past, shedding a tear and screaming voicelessly in anger and desperation at all that was lost and my inability to comprehend.

I turn the other to the future.

Simon Goldberg is a third-year student at Yeshiva College majoring in history and political science. He is originally from Jerusalem and currently resides in Fair Lawn, NJ. In 2009 he founded SHEM, the Student Holocaust Education Movement at Yeshiva University.

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Young Teachers in the Legacy Heritage Teacher Training and GiveBack Fellowship Programs Fill Void in Classrooms across the Country

The 2010 Legacy Heritage Teacher Training and GiveBack Fellows
Jul 21, 2010 — In just two short years the Legacy Heritage Teacher Training Fellowship and GiveBack Fellowship at Yeshiva University’s Institute for University-School Partnership have altered the landscape of Jewish education by creating a new pipeline of talented teachers and placing them across the U.S. Already, almost 30 new teachers are instructing in 20 schools and communities, including Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Phoenix.

“Day schools today yearn for young, passionate teachers who can serve as role models and help make content engaging, relevant and meaningful,” said Joey Small, associate director of teacher recruitment and placement at the Institute.

“These fellowships attract the best and brightest in our community and provide them the training and support they need to shine in the field of Jewish education today and tomorrow,” added Dr. Scott Goldberg, director of the Institute.

Legacy Heritage Teacher fellows receive a full-tuition scholarship for three summers of coursework culminating in a master of science in education from Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration. They must also commit to teaching at a Jewish day school for two years. Each fellow is partnered with a mentor at their school and Yeshiva University provides continuous support and guidance to the mentors and the fellows throughout the school year.

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Concurrent with the Legacy Heritage Teacher Training Fellowship, the Institute coordinates the GiveBack Fellowship program, which seeks dynamic college graduates who would like to participate in a Peace Corps type of experience after college by working in a Jewish day school for a year. The GiveBack fellows, however, are not yet ready to make the same two-year commitment to teaching and graduate school as the Legacy Heritage Teacher fellows.

As a result, these fellowships have recruited fresh talent into the field. “Through the help of my Azrieli classes, mentors and peers, the fellowship has given me the tools and supportive framework necessary for me to succeed as a new teacher,” said Raphael Rosenzweig ‘07YC, a Legacy Heritage Teacher Training fellow and Judaic studies teacher at Yavneh Academy in Dallas. “With a year of experience, I am now better equipped to engage students in our tradition and texts and expand the way they think.”

Montreal native Aaron Kogut ‘09YC was searching for a “meaningful way to contribute to the Jewish community” and deferred dental school to teach as a GiveBack fellow at SCY High in San Diego. “The GiveBack Fellowship gave me the confidence and structure to become a teacher.”

Day schools are reaping the programs’ rewards. “The Legacy Heritage Teacher Training Fellowship shaped our school in a positive way and created a sense that a student can look at a Modern Orthodox guy as a role model who they can imagine themselves being,” said Rabbi Ari Leubitz, principal at Shalhevet High School in Los Angeles and mentor in the program. “The fellowship established Yeshiva University as a place committed to the education of educators.”

Elana Kermaier, assistant general counsel of the Legacy Heritage Fund, said the goal in funding the program was to improve the quality of Jewish education in communities throughout the country by encouraging the best and brightest students to pursue a career in teaching. “The passion and commitment of the fellows, coupled with the skills and support they receive through the program, have come to represent excellence in the teaching field.”

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Eleven Undergraduate Students Participate in Research Program at Einstein

Jul 19, 2010 — Eleven Yeshiva University undergraduate students are trading in time at the beach for a unique opportunity to conduct cutting-edge scientific research with top scholars at YU’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

The students are part of the overall 57 students from various colleges and universities attending the Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP) at Einstein, directed by Dr. Victoria Freedman, assistant dean of biomedical studies.

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“All SURP students participate in group seminars and are assigned to work in a research laboratory at Einstein,” said Dr. Barry Potvin, professor of biology at YU and chairperson of the Roth Summer Research Fellowship Committee. The students work in teams alongside graduate and post-doctoral students, and their results are presented as a poster at the end of the annual ten-week program in August. “The aim of the SURP program is to provide each student with the opportunity to experience the many rewards and challenges of biomedical research,” Potvin said.

The 11 YU students are clustered into three programs. Eight students—Orli Haken, Tsipora Huisman, Hadassa Klerman, Jennifer Kraut and Danielle Lent of Stern College for Women and Yair Saperstein, Michael Siev and David Sweet of Yeshiva College—were awarded scholarships through the Roth Scholars Program, which is sponsored by the Ernst and Hedwig Roth Institute of Biomedical Science Education at YU. Two participants—Yeshiva College student Daniel Poliak and Stern student Rebecca Weiss—were selected for the University Summer Research Scholars Program, which is supported by funding from the Provost’s Office. One student—Stern’s Dina Golfeiz—is participating through the Stern Einstein Research Connection (SERC), a program created by Stern alumnae to provide funding for a Stern freshman or sophomore to perform scientific research during the summer. Each program provides students with a stipend and on-campus housing.

For Daniel Poliak of Hollywood, FL, the rewards of the program have been twofold. “I have learned how a sound understanding of basic science and biochemical mechanisms assists a clinician in studying pathology.” Poliak is studying, among other topics, how light and other biochemical signals are processed in the retina. “Thus advances in the lab can have profound effects in the clinic. But it has also been meaningful to me to work in Einstein, as my late grandfather served as a full-time faculty in the OB-GYN department for 23 years.” He added, “In my small, interactive cases, I have been taught the complexity of science.”

Chicago native David Sweet, who is conducting chromosome research, credited YU for providing him with the tools to continue his quest toward becoming a doctor. “YU’s chemistry department is extremely strong and full of wonderful teachers and mentors,” said Sweet. “My experiences through my classes and advisors have solidified my desire to pursue the sciences.”

Jennifer Kraut of Baltimore, MD, took a similar stance. “Being in a small liberal arts college has allowed me to forge close relationships with many of my professors.”

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Jul 15, 2010 — On July 6-8, the National Association of Professors of Hebrew (NAPH) held its annual conference at Yeshiva University’s Beren Campus. The conference, co-sponsored by Stern College for Women and YU’s Center for Israel Studies, featured lectures on a wide range of topics related to Hebrew language, literature and culture and was attended by over 250 scholars, writers and educators.

Attendees of the three-day conference listened to scholars’ lectures on Hebrew through the historical lenses of the Biblical, rabbinic and modern periods. One of the most exciting segments of the conference was its opening ceremony, held at the YU Museum. Dean Karen Bacon, the Dr. Monique C. Katz Dean of Stern College, Dr. Zafrira Lidovsky-Cohen, associate professor of Hebrew Language and Literature and Asaf Shariv, consul general of Israel in New York, welcomed the group.

Nearly a dozen YU faculty members presented at the conference, including Dr. Richard Steiner, professor of Semitic language and literatures at Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies. Steiner’s lecture on “Linguistic Ambiguity in the Bible from the Viewpoint of the Sages and the Medieval Exegetes” was open to the public and was chaired by Ephraim Kanarfogel, The E. Billi Ivry Professor of Jewish History. Steiner marshaled evidence and texts from Biblical, rabbinic, medieval and even modern sources to track Jewish tradition’s position on the use of “ambiguous language” as a literary technique.

“Professor Steiner targeted the varying specialties of everyone in the room,” said Lidovsky-Cohen. “He made his lecture relevant to all aspects of the conference. Scholars and laypeople alike were amazed by his erudition and delivery.”

Dr. Esther Raizen, international conference coordinator of NAPH, believes that the conference signals a new era in Hebrew scholarship at YU. “NAPH is delighted to count an institution of Yeshiva University’s caliber among its active members,” commented Raizen. “The conference marks a new phase in the involvement of Yeshiva faculty and advanced students in the current discussions on Hebrew language, pedagogy and other areas that were highlighted at our meetings.”

Hannah Naveh, dean of arts at Tel Aviv University, expressed her optimism that YU faculty members will continue to pave inroads in the fields of Hebrew language and literature, and that prominent Hebrew scholars will be invited to YU to deliver lectures and full-semester courses.

Naveh added that she and her colleagues were extremely impressed with Lidovsky-Cohen’s organization of the conference that, in her words, was “carried out with perfection and professionalism.”

One key to Yeshiva University’s further interaction within the field of Hebrew literature will be Lidovsky-Cohen, who was appointed to NAPH’s advisory committee on the final day of the conference. “Yeshiva University should be a leading force in Jewish and Israel studies,” said Lidovsky-Cohen. “We have been doing a lot of research on religious studies but have left room to expand in the area of Jewish culture.”

Her sentiments were shared by Bacon, who believes that the conference went a long way to showing the academic world that Yeshiva University can be both scholarly rigorous and Orthodox. “This is a tremendous accomplishment and I am so very pleased,” said Bacon.

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