Presidential Fellows Give Back to the University While Studying Community Leadership

The seventh cohort of Yeshiva University’s Presidential Fellowship in University and Community Leadership, a program that prepares top graduates for leadership roles through mentorship, graduate study and hands-on experience, began its yearlong tenure in roles across the University this month.

The Presidential Fellowship, established by President Richard M. Joelin 2004, pairs each of this year’s 16 fellows with a senior mentor in departments that span the institution, from the Office of the President to the YU Museum. Fellows will have the opportunity to learn leadership techniques in situ as they observe and work closely with their mentors. They will also contribute to the University, in both departmental capacities and beyond, as they develop innovative initiatives and work on projects of importance to YU.

In addition, these handpicked new alumni, selected through an intensive screening process based on academic performance, campus leadership and involvement within the Jewish community, will learn about YU from the inside out. That includes everything from brainstorming solutions to the most pressing crises facing the Jewish world today to studying management techniques for nonprofits and learning about organizational infrastructure.

“The program has motivated its participants to reflect on the positive experiences they have had at Yeshiva University and examine the opportunities in the Jewish community—in both lay and professional capacities—in light of their interests and skills,” said President Joel. “The fellowship inspires them to reach for the nobility and responsibility that come with leadership.”

For some, the fellowship presented the perfect opportunity to put their appreciation of a meaningful undergraduate experience into action. “Yeshiva University gave me so much to be thankful for,” said Zehava Birman of Brooklyn, NY and a graduate of Stern College for Women who will be working in the Center for the Jewish Future’sLeadership Training department. “Not only was I not ready to leave YU, but I wanted to give back to the University and the Jewish community as a whole.”

Jennifer Poliak of Hollywood, Florida, wanted to enhance the leadership skills she had already cultivated as a student. “Aside from being a rigorous school, YU allows for its students to be involved and spearhead programs and projects,” explained Poliak, who studied political science for her undergrad and will work in the Office of the General Counsel. “Being a presidential fellow fosters this same sense of responsibility.”

Alumni of the fellowship have certainly proved that true. They have gone on to work in every field from Jewish communal service with the Orthodox Union and the UJA-Federation of New York to key positions at firms like Ernst & Young and Goldman Sachs. Other fellows have pursued graduate study in public service, psychology, law, dentistry, medicine, the rabbinate and fine arts.

The fellowship is directed by Rabbi Josh Joseph, YU vice president and chief of staff, and coordinated by Elysia Stein ’04S, a former presidential fellow.

The 2010-11 Presidential Fellows are listed below, along with their placements:

• Susan Berger, The Beatrice Diener Presidential Fellow; Stern College for Women, Office of the Dean
• Zehava Birman, The David Mitzner Presidential Fellow; Center for the Jewish Future, Leadership Training Department
• Rachael Fried, The Ronald P. Stanton Presidential Fellow; Office of Communications and Public Affairs
• Daniel Gordon, The Toni and Irving Rosen Presidential Fellow; Office of the President
• Clara Hersh, The Jesselson Family Presidential Fellow; Yeshiva University Museum
• Evan Hertan, The Robert M. Beren Presidential Fellow; Yeshiva College, Office of the Dean
• Deena Klein, Presidential Fellow; Office of Student Affairs, Beren Campus
• Judah Leeder, Presidential Fellow; Office of Grant Support
• Benjamin Mizrahi, The Sy Syms Presidential Fellow; Sy Sym School of Business, Office of the Dean
• Eitan Novick, The Doris and Aaron Turk Presidential Fellow; Office of the Provost
• Joseph Offenbacher, Presidential Fellow; Office of Student Affairs, Wilf Campus
• Jennifer Poliak, The Robert M. Beren Presidential Fellow; Office of the General Counsel
• Ester Stiefel, The David Mitzner Presidential Fellow; Center for the Jewish Future, Office of the Dean
• Daniella Weprin, The Eisenberg Presidential Fellow; Department of Institutional Advancement
• Sam Weprin, The Ronald P. Stanton Presidential Fellow; Office of Admissions
• Aliza Wolynetz, Presidential Fellow; Office of the Vice President for Business Affairs

To sponsor a fellow or for more information, please contact Susan Meyers at 212-960-0885 or