Yeshiva University News » 2011 » April » 29

SDA Israel Program Students Raise Money and Spirits for Children’s Hospital

Yeshiva University’s S. Daniel Abraham (SDA) Israel Program, in partnership with Here4theYear and Jerusalem’s Alyn Pediatric Rehabilitation Hospital, coordinated several exciting and meaningful volunteering opportunities and programs during Bein Hazmanim for students in Israel who were not planning to return home for the Passover holiday.

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“We thought it would be a great idea for our students to get involved with a meaningful cause during their time off,” said Rabbi Ari Solomont, director of the SDA Israel Program.

One such program included a charity bike ride in partnership with Alyn Hospital. Students raised funds, visited patients, met with staff and then set out on a bike ride from Jerusalem to Beit Shemesh. Aside from Alyn being known for its revolutionary rehabilitative care, the hospital is known for their 5 day charity bike ride that benefits the children of Alyn each year, the largest charity sporting event in Israel. Students were joined on the ride by hospital staff, and YU staff and Israel advisors, as well as two time Israeli Olympian, Tour D’ France competitor and triathlon champion, Erez Cohen.


Students Document Holocaust Testimonies as Part of Yeshiva University High Schools’ Oral History Film Project

Growing up as Jews firmly entrenched in the Jewish education system, learning and hearing about the Holocaust was commonplace. Since we were children, we have been exposed to the atrocities of one of the darkest episodes of human history.

Students interview Rabbi Gershon Yankelewitz as part of the Names, Not Numbers program.

Students interview Rabbi Gershon Yankelewitz as part of the Names, Not Numbers program.

But viewing a documentary or reading a book is one thing. Bearing witness is another.

Through the extraordinary work of Mrs. Tova Fish-Rosenberg and Dr. Geoffrey Cahn, select seniors at the Yeshiva University High School for Boys, as well as five other yeshiva day schools, have been given the opportunity to make sure that the memories and experiences of those who went through the Holocaust—both those who perished and those who survived to tell their stories—are preserved.

The Names, Not Numbers program was designed in order to transform traditional history lessons into a lively, interactive, nontraditional curriculum that involves individuals who have actually lived through the history being taught.

Students are split into groups and spend months learning about the history of the Holocaust, filming and interviewing techniques, and researching a survivor that has been assigned to them. All of this preparation leads up to the climax of the project, which is a filmed interview with their group’s Holocaust survivor. The students then spend the next two months editing and consolidating the video of the interview into a 15-minute segment. These segments stand as their own film but are also incorporated into a larger documentary titled Names, Not Numbers.

The Names, Not Numbers program has helped to both preserve the memories of those who suffered during the Holocaust as well as instill modern-day students with a sense of duty to combat anti-Semitism and other forms of hatred and intolerance. Speaking with survivors is perhaps the most effective way to demonstrate the importance  of the charge to never forgot the victims of the Holocaust and to bear witness for those who are no longer with us.

The author, Michael Guggenheim of Passaic, NJ, is a senior at Yeshiva University High School for Boys. As part of the Names, Not Numbers Program, Guggenheim’s group interviewed Rabbi Gershon Yankelewitz, rosh yeshiva at YU’s Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS). A portion of their interview can be seen below.

About Rabbi Gershon Yankelewitz: Born in Lubcza, Poland in 1909, Rabbi Yankelewitz studied in the Radun Yeshiva until the death of its founder, the Chofetz Chaim. Rabbi Yankelewitz then continued his studies at the legendary Mir Yeshiva in Russia, before being forced to flee from the Nazis at the start of World War II. The entire yeshiva relocated to Kobe, Japan before eventually settling in Shanghai, China—where they remained until 1947. Rabbi Yankelewitz has given a daily shiur at RIETS for nearly 60 years.

Rabbi Yankelewitz's copy of the Rambam's Mishna Torah, printed in Shanghai during World War Two.

Presentations of the Names, Not Numbers films are shown each year at their respective high schools at a culminating event honoring the interviewees and showcasing the students’ work. This year’s screenings will be at Yeshiva University High School for Boys (MTA) on May 11 and Yeshiva University High School for Girls (Central) on May 18. The films have also been shown in synagogues, camps and community centers on Kristallnacht, Yom Hashoah and Tishah B’av.

Read more about Names, Not Numbers here.