Dear Yeshiva Family,

I hope that you, your families and your loved ones are all safe and well. Having borne the brunt of Sandy’s initial impact, I want to report to you on Yeshiva’s response on an institutional and communal level.

One of the great pleasures of my position is the opportunity I have to work with extraordinary professionals who demonstrate exceptional goodwill. This manifests itself every day in myriad ways. However, it must be said that in times of stress and crisis, true colors always show even more clearly than before.

The performance of the staff of Yeshiva University during the Sandy superstorm cannot go unmentioned. This past week brought out the very best of our team here at Yeshiva and we have never been more aware of their professionalism and dedication. We speak often of a “Yeshiva community” or a “Yeshiva family”—those ideas have gained renewed meaning and significance throughout this ordeal.

YU students distributed food, water, batteries and flashlights to residents of Manhattan’s Lower East Side, have volunteered throughout New York City and are continuing to respond to Jewish and non-Jewish organizations regarding volunteer opportunities as they arise. Specifically, we will be sending more students to continue working on Long Island in various communities over the next few weeks. We have been in touch with communities in the tri-state area to assess their needs and see where we can be helpful. In addition, we are developing a supplies drive, hopefully to include not only our student body, but the entire community. We are collecting items being specified by shelters and other relief organizations and will distribute more information about this drive as it becomes available.

On behalf of this entire institution I express profound appreciation to members of various departments within Yeshiva, who in some cases even placed themselves in harm’s way to ensure that each and every student would be cared for. In many cases, they stayed on campus, working above and beyond the call but always with a smile, ensuring that our community stayed strong and positive during this severe test.

I must also thank those from our wonderful Washington Heights community who eagerly provided home hospitality for hundreds of our students who were in need of it.

Finally, I wish to acknowledge the student body of Yeshiva which rose to the occasion and dealt with a range of challenges gracefully and with good will. Though the winds have calmed, the pain continues in the broader New York community and beyond. Our students have answered the call by volunteering on various disaster relief missions in the area. In perhaps the greatest testimony of who we are here at Yeshiva, so many of our students have become involved in showing the same caring to those still in distress as was shown to them.

We must remember that education is about more than just an intellectual pursuit but becoming a whole person with a mandate to matter in the world—and our students and community could not have modeled that idea better this week.

If there is any way we can help you or your community, please do not hesitate to contact us. For all communal needs please contact Elana Honick at honick@yu.edu.

Sincerely,

Richard M. Joel