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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.


Other speakers who offered words of comfort, introspection and Torah included Rabbi Yona Reiss, the Max and Marion Grill Dean of YU’s Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary; Rabbi Kenneth Brander, the David Mitzner Dean of YU’s Center for the Jewish Future; Dr. Gabriel Cwilich, director of the Jay and Jeanie Schottenstein Honors Program; and Dr. Ruth Bevan, YU’s David Petegorsky Chair in Political Science.

The memorial also featured students’ expressions of sorrow. A statement originally delivered by Robbie Parker, father of victim Emilie Parker, was read at the gathering, as well as a poem challenging the audience to weep for people they had not met. YU’s student acapella group, the Y-Studs, performed an emotional rendition of Esa Einey, a song reflecting the feeling of helplessness and dependence on G-d many felt after the tragedy.

A special Kel Maleh Rachamim [G-d, full of mercy] prayer was recited for the victims by Rabbi Yosef Blau, mashgiach ruchani at YU, and postcards were distributed enabling the audience to make donations to the Children’s Center of Hamden in their memory. The Children’s Center helps children in Connecticut who are struggling with mental health issues. The event—which was organized by the Torah Explorations of Ideas, Questions and Understandings Club (TEIQU), the Yeshiva Student Union, the Torah Activities Council, the Student Organization of Yeshiva, Yeshiva College Student Association, the Sy Syms School of Business Student Council and the Stern College for Women Student Council—raised $500 for the Center.

The evening concluded with a candle-lighting ceremony led by Josh Botwinick, co-president of TEIQU with Rachel Weber, who read out the name of each victim as their face and age were projected on a screen before the crowd. In all, 27 candles were lit by members of the student body, faculty and administration of YU in memory of the Newtown victims.

To make a donation in memory of the victims, contact the Office of Student Life on either campus this week.