Yeshiva University News » 2012 » December

Student Leaders to Spend Winter Break Making a Difference, Deepening Relationships in Israel, Nicaragua, Mexico and the U.S.

Yeshiva University’s Center for the Jewish Future (CJF) will be sending 91 outstanding undergraduate students on service learning, experiential education and humanitarian aid missions across three continents during the University’s upcoming winter intersession.

Students on a previous mission to Nicaragua set the foundation for a library in San Juan del sur.

From January 10-20, the student leaders will take part in an array of hands-on community building projects in Israel, the United States, Nicaragua and Mexico while developing their own leadership, teaching and advocacy skills.

Building on the success of the “Counterpoint Israel” summer program, 39 YU students will run a series of Counterpoint “Winter Camps” for over 450 Israeli teens in Jerusalem, Kiryat Malachi, and Dimona that will focus on English enrichment and self-exploration through art. Throughout the 10-day service learning mission, the students will guide Israeli teens through the process of developing a personal narrative and using multiple mediums to create multidimensional autobiographies. Read the rest of this entry…


Jeffrey Gurock on the Absence of a Chief Rabbinate in America

In 1893, Rabbi Chaim Yaakov Vidrowitz was looking for an advantage in his struggle for leadership of the immigrant Orthodox community on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Two other outstanding rabbinical sages also aspired to have the final say among downtown’s religious Jews.

Jeffrey S. Gurock is the Libby M. Klaperman Professor of Jewish History at YU

A far more famous luminary, Rabbi Jacob Joseph, had been brought from Vilna in 1888 by the Association of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations and was trumpeted as “Chief Rabbi of New York City.” He was charged to lead a “religious revival” in Gotham. But Rabbi Joshua Segal, of Galician stock, had preceded Rabbi Joseph to the U.S. and was unwilling to play second fiddle in town and gathered around him a score of congregations that designated him “Chief Rabbi of the Congregations of Israel of New York.”

To put his calling card in higher relief against such stiff competition, Rabbi Vidrowitz declared himself “Chief Rabbi of America.” When asked by contemporaries, or so the story goes, “Who gave you the right to be so designated?” the unapologetic candidate replied, “I hired a sign painter; the shingle that we hung out was all that I needed.” Read the rest of this entry…


Yeshiva Alumnus Rabbi Sidney Kleiman Reflects on 100 Years of Judaism in America

Rabbi Sidney Kleiman has seen a few things in his day.

Rabbi Sidney Kleiman, America’s longest-serving and oldest active congregational rabbi, turns 100 in January.

As he approaches his 100th birthday this January, Kleiman is the longest-serving and oldest active congregational rabbi in the United States. He graduated Yeshiva College in 1935, pursued post-graduate work at YU’s Bernard Revel Graduate School for Jewish Studies and received semikha [rabbinic ordination] from Rabbi Moshe Soloveichik, father of Rav Joseph B. Soloveichik, at YU-affiliated Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary, before becoming the rabbi of New York City’s Congregation Adereth El on East 29th Street in 1939.

Kleiman has served as rabbi of the historic synagogue for more than 60 years, through the Depression, World War II, and all of Israel’s wars. He has also welcomed many of YU’s Stern College for Women students into Adereth El to share in its Shabbat services as the college opened more and more dormitories in the Midtown area. Kleiman stepped into his current role of rabbi emeritus in 1999 and continues to advise current shul leader Rabbi Gideon Shloush, who is also an adjunct instructor of Jewish studies at Stern College.

Kleiman sat down with YU News just a few weeks before his milestone birthday—which he will celebrate with his beloved congregation at a dinner in his honor at the Museum of Jewish Heritage on January 6—to share his memories of Yeshiva and his thoughts on how American Jewry has weathered, and even flourished, over the past century. Read the rest of this entry…


New York City Mayoral Candidate Bill Thompson Meets with President Joel, Tours YU Campus

President Richard M. Joel greets NYC mayoral candidate Bill Thompson.

Bill Thompson, former comptroller of New York City, visited Yeshiva University on Tuesday, December 18, 2012. Thompson, a 2013 New York City mayoral candidate, was greeted by Yeshiva University President Richard M. Joel and Vice Presidents Rabbi Joshua Joseph and Jeffrey M. Rosengarten. Together they discussed Yeshiva University’s mission, and toured the YU campus, including the beit midrash and 185th street pedestrian plaza.


YU Community Commemorates Victims of Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting

On December 20, Yeshiva University students remembered the victims of the tragic Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre with grief, poetry, music and prayer at a commemorative gathering in Weissberg Commons on the Wilf Campus.

President Richard M. Joel led a host of University leaders who delivered moving addresses and personal reflections on the tragedy.

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A Look Back at Some of the Memorable Moments of 2012 at Yeshiva University

From Orientation, the Celebrate Israel Parade and Commencement to Purim Chagigot, the Ring Family Film Festival, and Yom Hazikaron and Yom Haatzmaut celebrations, 2012 proved to be another memorable and eventful year at Yeshiva University.

2012: Year in Review from Yeshiva University on Vimeo.

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Reception Honors Yeshiva University Employees Celebrating Milestone Anniversaries

On Wednesday, December 19, President Richard M. Joel and Yeshiva University’s Human Resources Department hosted a program and reception honoring YU employees on the Manhattan campuses who celebrated milestone anniversaries during 2012. The ceremony, held in Weisberg Commons on the Wilf Campus, recognized milestones ranging from ten to 50 years of service.

One of Yeshiva’s longest-serving employees, Dr. Herbert C. Dobrinsky, vice president for university affairs, received special recognition for his 50 years of service. Read the rest of this entry…


The Jewish Week Interviews Dr. Jonathan Fast on the Tragedy in Newtown

Jonathan Fast, an associate professor at Yeshiva University’s Wurzweiler School of Social Work, is the author of the 2009 book Ceremonial Violence: A Psychological Explanation of School Shootings (Overlook Press). The six-year research project involves case studies of school rampage killings since 2000. He believes such incidents stem mostly from the inability of young people to cope with a sense of shame that is too common in a society in which people feel easily excluded. Fast, 64, who lives in Greenwich, Conn., spoke to The Jewish Week about the Newtown elementary school massacre. This is an edited transcript.

Dr. Jonathan Fast

Dr. Jonathan Fast is an associate professor at Wurzweiler.

Q: You became fascinated by the topic of teen rampages after counseling a student who wanted to blow up his urban Connecticut high school. What happened?

A:  I didn’t think he would carry it out and I don’t think he had bombs, though he certainly did know how to make them. My feeling was that if he came in and told me about it, it was a sign that he wanted me to stop him from doing that. I had a choice between reporting him and ruining the therapeutic relationship he was trying to start with me. The outcome was that I helped him, and today he has become a very successful chef.

Your studies have involved kids who attack their own schools. In Newtown, it was an adult who came to a school he didn’t attend. What can you apply from your research?

I believe he grew up in this community [in Newtown] and that he was taken out of the school system and [partially] home-schooled. As a hypothesis, comparing him with what happens in a lot of other school shooting cases, he apparently had a lot of difficulty with communication. Read the rest of this entry…


Students, Faculty and Alumni Illuminate Yeshiva University Hanukkah Dinner

Students, faculty and alumni who embody the mission of Yeshiva University were recognized as “Points of Light” during the dinner portion of Yeshiva University’s 88th Annual Hanukkah Dinner and Convocation, held at New York City’s Waldorf=Astoria on December 16.

Points of Light Dr. Marina Holz and Helen Unger.

“There are so many lights that shine brightly at Yeshiva University. Tonight, we focus on individuals who serve as exemplars of the past, present and future of Yeshiva University,” said President Richard M. Joel, who invited each Point of Light on stage to light a symbolic candle on a menorah.

The Points of Light included Helen Unger, a senior at Stern College for Women, and Dr. Marina Holz, assistant professor of biology. Unger grew up in Cleveland, Ohio where she attended public school before enrolling in Stern College’s S. Daniel Abraham Honor’s Program. Under Holz’s tutelage, Unger’s research in the breast cancer field has won numerous awards, including the Toby Eagle Memorial Scholarship in Cancer Biology and a position in the highly selective Sloan-Kettering Undergraduate Research Program. Unger is also the first YU student to receive the Thomas Bardos Science Education Award for Undergraduate Students.

“I wanted an environment where being an Orthodox Jew wouldn’t be at odds with my secular education,” Unger said of her decision to attend Yeshiva University. “Moreover I value a small learning environment, and the direct mentorship I received at YU more than speaks to why I chose to come here.” Read the rest of this entry…


White House Chief of Staff Keynotes Hanukkah Convocation; $1.4 Billion Capital Campaign Announced

White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew delivered the keynote address at Yeshiva University’s 88th Annual Hanukkah Convocation and Dinner on Sunday, December 16 at The Waldorf=Astoria in New York City. President Richard M. Joel bestowed an honorary doctorate upon Lew, calling him “perhaps one of the highest-ranking Orthodox Jewish advisers to a head of state since the Abarbanel” and an embodiment of the value-infused and driven lifestyle members of the YU community seek to lead.

“We are the world’s Torah-informed University, charged with the sacred undertaking of engaging the world around us with our wisdom and our values and yes, our actions,” said President Joel. Read the rest of this entry…