Yeshiva University News » 2010 » August » 30

Gad Elbaz Concert, Sponsored by Lori Schottenstein, Caps off Exciting Orientation Week

Neon lights—green, blue and red—flickered across the stage. The sustained rasp of a cymbal and a deep, echoing bass filled the theater. More than 300 students began a slow, steady clap, raising their hands high above their heads, as Gad Elbaz took the stage at Yeshiva University’s Geraldine Schottenstein Cultural Center on Thursday night, August 26.

Mah shlomchem? [How are you]?” he called to the crowd. “You ready to have fun?”

The overwhelming response? “Yeah!”

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=svFIMRjYqV8&feature=player_embedded

That fun was made possible by Lori Schottenstein, whose family, based in Columbus, Ohio, has established a legacy of caring and community-building at YU through multiple charitable gifts, and who herself has already brought other megawatts in the Jewish music world, like Avraham Fried and Dudu Fisher, to the University. Those concerts, like Thursday’s, were free for YU students and booked to the hilt.

‘Simcha’ can mean a lot of things. It can mean song, and it can also mean participation, involvement,” noted Dr. Karen Bacon, The Dr. Monique C. Katz Dean of Stern College for Women, in her address to students before the concert. “Our whole University is about involvement—intellectual involvement in the classroom, spiritual involvement on Shabbat—and I think that’s Lori’s hallmark and a theme in Gad Elbaz’s music as well.”

[flickrslideshow acct_name="yeshivauniversity" id="72157624840835264"]

Elbaz, an Israeli Jewish singer, has already achieved international success at age 26 with three number one hit songs, “Halayla Zeh Hazman,” “Or” and “Al Neharot Bavel.” His music appeals to both observant and secular listeners by mixing original and biblical texts with ballads, harmonies, Middle Eastern rhythms and modern pop. And he believes that dynamic can make music like his a powerful tool in uniting Jews from different communities and lifestyles.

“He makes this great soulful music; it has a rock feel, but it’s religiously oriented,” explained Sy Syms School of Business senior Or Pikary, who grew up on Elbaz’s work. “And it’s awesome to have a free chance to hear him.”

“Awesome” pretty much sums up the energy in the Cultural Center that night. Glow sticks were tossed out into the audience, becoming neon headbands, necklaces and bangles. Students rose to their feet and joined arms, swaying slowly as they sang “Jerusalem of Gold” in unison, while Elbaz kept time and later joined the audience.

“Having an Israeli artist perform is a great way to cap off Orientation,” said Naomi Friede, who along with four other Stern College women staffed the registration table and also snagged an autograph and a picture with Elbaz. “A lot of new students are just coming back from Israel, and it’s great to have an Israeli performer to show them that connection continues here, too.”

For Eli Shavalian, a freshman psychology major, the concert was just one example of the vibrant atmosphere that drew him to YU. “If you go to the Web site, there are all these exciting events lined up,” he said. “There are so many things offered. I figured, why not try them all?”

In addition to Lori Schottenstein’s concert series, her family’s donations have also established Yeshiva College’s Jay and Jeanie Schottenstein Honors Program; the Jerome and Geraldine Schottenstein Residence Hall for Stern College on East 29th Street; the Schottenstein Student Center on West 185th Street on the Wilf Campus; and, in 2000, the Geraldine Schottenstein Cultural Center, where Thursday night’s concert took place.

The coolest part of the night? “Hands down, that brocha he just made,” said Zvi Wiesenfeld, referring to the operatic, cymbal-dusted blessing Elbaz recited before taking a sip from his water bottle.

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Rivka Weiner instructs her class at Azrieli's Hebrew Ulpan.

Aug 3, 2010 — “Let’s come up with a sentence that uses this phrase,” said instructor Rivka Weiner, in Hebrew, to the group of students in her Ulpan (a Hebrew term for an intensive Hebrew language course). “‘As the result of this’, that occurred. Anyone?”

Rabbi Enan Francis, principal of Southern Connecticut Hebrew Academy, raised his hand. “I came to the Ulpan. As the result of this, I can teach my students in Hebrew.”

Francis is one of 15 teachers, graduate students and administrators participating in a summer course for Judaic studies instructors to strengthen their Hebrew instructional skills. Offered June 28 – Aug. 5 by Yeshiva Univeristy’s Institute for University-School Partnership, a division of the Azrieli Graduate School for Jewish Education and Administration, the Ulpan includes a wide range of Jewish denominations and communities, from Aliza Geller, a graduate student in the Jewish Theological Seminary’s William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education, to Stefanie Wisselman of the Hillel School of Tampa, Fl.

“Many day schools have a mandate to graduate fluent Hebrew speakers, but lack enough Judaic personnel with the skills to support ongoing immersion in the language,” explained Dr. Scott Goldberg, director of the Institute and expert in second language acquisition. “This program begins to answer this need for well-trained Judaic studies teachers who can support Hebrew language development and Jewish learning with the necessary social understanding of American youth.”

The Ulpan builds confidence and familiarity with Hebrew by engaging teachers in an immersive three-part program. In the mornings, Weiner, who also teaches at Stern College for Women and is a doctoral candidate at Azrieli, instructs participants in language and introduces new classroom methodologies with a heavy emphasis on innovative technology—all in Hebrew. Participants put their learning into practice by modeling lessons for Deganit Ronen, associate principal of Judaic studies at SAR Academy, and Anne Gordon, adjunct instructor of Judaic studies at Yeshiva College, and receive a solid grounding in dikduk [grammar] from Dr. Moshe Sokolow, associate dean of Azrieli.

“We have to connect to the teachers who are challenged by the Hebrew language and show them how to connect to their own students,” said Weiner. She sees interactive technology as a valuable cross-cultural tool. By employing pictures, video and audio clips and creating her own computer games online, Weiner demonstrates how teachers can create an immersive Hebrew experience for students even if their own language skills are still developing.

The Ulpan includes not only teachers already in the field, but also Azrieli students. “Azrieli has a tradition of professional and academic excellence in preparing mehanhim [religious studies teachers],” said Dean David Schnall. “Our goal is to promote their facility in Hebrew for conversation and understanding, but also as a platform for Jewish learning. We hope not just to advance fluency among teachers, but to build their capacity to instruct and inspire students for whom Hebrew is very likely a second language. We are proud to offer this program and we look forward to extending it further as needs dictate and resources permit.”

For Francis, who drives four hours each day to attend, the Ulpan is worth the commute. “Our goal this year is to create a meaningful, Hebrew-speaking environment in our classrooms,” he said. “The Ulpan produces a culture of Hebrew speakers, from those [teachers] who could barely make conversation to those who possess a whole lexicon of Hebrew vocabulary from advanced degrees and study in Israel, but have no idea how to put words together.”

The program’s response has been so enthusiastic that the institute plans to offer the Ulpan again next summer and is considering an alternative version during the year.

To visit the Ulpan’s blog, which features exercises and links to audio and video clips used in class, go to http://www.milim-israel.blogspot.com.

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Aug 30, 2010 — Neon lights—green, blue and red—flickered across the stage. The sustained rasp of a cymbal and a deep, echoing bass filled the theater. More than 300 students began a slow, steady clap, raising their hands high above their heads, as Gad Elbaz took the stage at Yeshiva University’s Geraldine Schottenstein Cultural Center on Thursday night, August 26.
OK
Mah shlomchem? [How are you]?” he called to the crowd. “You ready to have fun?”

The overwhelming response? “Yeah!”

[flickrslideshow acct_name="yeshivauniversity" id="72157624840835264"]

That fun was made possible by Lori Schottenstein, whose family, based in Columbus, Ohio, has established a legacy of caring and community-building at YU through multiple charitable gifts, and who herself has already brought other megawatts in the Jewish music world, like Avraham Fried and Dudu Fisher, to the University. Those concerts, like Thursday’s, were free for YU students and booked to the hilt.

‘Simcha’ can mean a lot of things. It can mean song, and it can also mean participation, involvement,” noted Dr. Karen Bacon, The Dr. Monique C. Katz Dean of Stern College for Women, in her address to students before the concert. “Our whole University is about involvement—intellectual involvement in the classroom, spiritual involvement on Shabbat—and I think that’s Lori’s hallmark and a theme in Gad Elbaz’s music as well.”



Elbaz, an Israeli Jewish singer, has already achieved international success at age 26 with three number one hit songs, “Halayla Zeh Hazman,” “Or” and “Al Neharot Bavel.” His music appeals to both observant and secular listeners by mixing original and biblical texts with ballads, harmonies, Middle Eastern rhythms and modern pop. And he believes that dynamic can make music like his a powerful tool in uniting Jews from different communities and lifestyles.

“He makes this great soulful music; it has a rock feel, but it’s religiously oriented,” explained Sy Syms School of Business senior Or Pikary, who grew up on Elbaz’s work. “And it’s awesome to have a free chance to hear him.”

“Awesome” pretty much sums up the energy in the Cultural Center that night. Glow sticks were tossed out into the audience, becoming neon headbands, necklaces and bangles. Students rose to their feet and joined arms, swaying slowly as they sang “Jerusalem of Gold” in unison, while Elbaz kept time and later joined the audience.

“Having an Israeli artist perform is a great way to cap off Orientation,” said Naomi Friede, who along with four other Stern College women staffed the registration table and also snagged an autograph and a picture with Elbaz. “A lot of new students are just coming back from Israel, and it’s great to have an Israeli performer to show them that connection continues here, too.”

For Eli Shavalian, a freshman psychology major, the concert was just one example of the vibrant atmosphere that drew him to YU. “If you go to the Web site, there are all these exciting events lined up,” he said. “There are so many things offered. I figured, why not try them all?”

In addition to Lori Schottenstein’s concert series, her family’s donations have also established Yeshiva College’s Jay and Jeanie Schottenstein Honors Program; the Jerome and Geraldine Schottenstein Residence Hall for Stern College on East 29th Street; the Schottenstein Student Center on West 185th Street on the Wilf Campus; and, in 2000, the Geraldine Schottenstein Cultural Center, where Thursday night’s concert took place.

The coolest part of the night? “Hands down, that brocha he just made,” said Zvi Wiesenfeld, referring to the operatic, cymbal-dusted blessing Elbaz recited before taking a sip from his water bottle.

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