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Neal’s Fund Helps Student Entrepreneurs Create Startups That Give Back

While all entrepreneurs and startups begin with a good idea, most are also driven by the bottom line. But at Yeshiva University, a new fund is enabling students to apply that hybrid of inspired innovation and business acumen to endeavors that seek to make a difference, not a profit.

Gabriel Simkin, left, and Daniel Benchimol, right, are student entrepreneurs whose startups received grants from Neal's Fund.

Gabriel Simkin, left, and Daniel Benchimol, right, are student entrepreneurs whose startups received grants from Neal’s Fund.

Called Neal’s Fund and established in memory of Neal Dublinsky ’84YC, the fund provides micro-grants to student social entrepreneurs founding startups that will benefit the broader Jewish and global communities.

Dublinsky grew up in Queens, New York, and graduated with honors from Yeshiva College before attending the New York University School of Law. In 1987, at the age of 24, he was diagnosed with advanced stage of lymphoma, just as he was beginning his career as a corporate attorney in Los Angeles, California. Despite medical setbacks, Dublinsky fought his illness and succeeded in living a full life for another 23 years, often providing support based on his own experiences to others struggling with cancer.

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Yeshiva University Faculty Receive Grants from U.S. Department of Defense Agency 

Two Yeshiva University faculty members have been awarded grants by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, the United States Department of Defense’s official Combat Support Agency for countering weapons of mass destruction.

Sergey Buldyrev

Dr. Sergey Buldyrev’s grant analyzes the catastrophic cascade of failures in interdependent networks.

Dr. Sergey Buldyrev, professor of physics at Yeshiva College, is a principal investigator on a multi-year $450,000 grant analyzing the catastrophic cascade of failures in interdependent networks. Picture the connections between power grids, waterworks, Internet cables and other systems—if one part of one system goes down, it initiates a domino effect on each network it’s connected to, taking others down with it. “Supposing a terrorist attacks a certain power station—they’re smart enough to find the one most likely to cause a computer shutdown, which could shut off control of gas or water,” said Buldyrev. “Everything could shut down. This catastrophic collapse of infrastructure—the ‘cascade of failures’—is what people imagine when they think about what might happen at the end of the world.”

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Azrieli Online Master’s Program Provides Teachers Around the Globe with Degree in Jewish Education

When Jana Libidensky, an educator and rebbetzin living in Chile, was ready to take her teaching skills to the next level, she knew exactly what school she wanted to attend: Yeshiva University’s Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration.

The fact that it was located more than 5,000 miles away didn’t trouble her in the least. That’s because Azrieli is making cutting-edge Jewish education accessible to teachers and communities across the globe with a fully accredited online master’s degree.

azrieli online image“What’s most exciting about this opportunity is providing students around the world with the same extraordinary Azrieli content that in the past was only available to those who could come in and meet us,” said Azrieli Dean Dr. Rona Milch Novick. “Our online program combines all the knowledge, skills and affinities that accrediting bodies believe is important for modern teachers to have, but melds it with an appreciation for Jewish tradition and Jewish education that isn’t normally available to many teachers in their local communities.”

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Wurzweiler’s Block Program Offers Israelis Cutting-Edge Social Work Education

As a high school English teacher in Jerusalem, Rivkah Weiss found students frequently turned to her for advice and guidance. But although she loved helping them navigate the personal challenges they faced, Weiss was frustrated by the sense that she could only do so much for them. “I felt like I was limited in my capacity to help them and had this strong desire to further develop my skillset so I could expand my work in this area,” she said.

2014 graduates of the Israel Block Program, left to right: Amikam Schweber, Zvia Altar and Yehuda Ish Shalom

2014 graduates of the Israel Block Program, left to right: Amikam Schweber, Zvia Altar and Yehuda Ish Shalom

Weiss decided to begin her master’s degree in social work at the Wurzweiler School of Social Work’s Block Program in Israel. Consisting of three summers of formal classroom social work education at Yeshiva University’s Wilf Campus in New York City and two years of supervised field experience in Israel, the program is designed to enable aspiring Israeli social workers to gain cutting-edge training without having to relocate.

“The Block Program allowed me to remain in Israel where I live throughout the year and at the same time complete my studies in three summers,” said Weiss. “Wurzweiler and the Block Program particularly are known for their high academic standards and success rate in terms of job placements, and my fellow students and I also became a very close-knit group of religious and secular Israeli, American and Canadian men and women.”

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Medical Ethics Kollel Yom Rishon to Discuss Ethical and Halachic Implications of BRCA Screening and Elective Egg Freezing

On Sunday, February 15, Yeshiva University’s Student Medical Ethics Society, Center for the Jewish Future, Abraham Arbesfeld Kollel Yom Rishon and Millie Arbesfeld Midreshet Yom Rishon will partner to present a two-part program, “Taking Control: Ethical and Halachic Implications of BRCA Screening and Elective Egg Freezing.” The event will take place at the Schottenstein Center on Yeshiva University’s Wilf Campus at 560 West 185th Street, New York, NY, 10033, beginning at 9:30 a.m.

The first half of the program, “Testing for Cancer Risk in the Jewish Community: Medical and Halachic Perspectives,” will feature a discussion led by Dr. Edward Reichman, professor of emergency medicine and professor of education and bioethics at YU’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and Dr. Nicole Schreiber-Agus, director of the Program for Jewish Genetic Health. Reichman and Schreiber-Agus will provide halachic and medical insight into the prevalence of BRCA gene mutations in Ashkenazi Jewry and the ways that genetic testing and counseling can reduce the risk of carriers developing certain cancers in the future.

The second part of the program, “Oocyte Cryopreservation: Freezing Eggs, New Technologies to Help Single Women and Cancer Patients,” will take a close look at the painful question of whether Orthodox Jewish women who may not be able to have children later in life—whether because of illness, future cancer treatments, or marriages close to or beyond menopause—should take advantage of a new medical technique called oocyte cryopreservation, which enables women to freeze their eggs and maintain the potential for the future conception of a child. As cryopreservation technologies are constantly being re-innovated and improved, Rabbi Dr. Zalman Levine, the director of the Fertility Institute of New York and New Jersey, and Rabbi Kenneth Brander, an expert in reproductive technology bioethics and halacha in addition to his position as vice president for university and community life at YU, will give an overview of the emerging halachic discussions that arise in this ever-changing field.

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Yeshiva University, Baylor University and Catholic University of America Presidents Reflect on Unique Role and Mission of Religious Universities

Before an overflow crowd gathered at the National Press Club’s Edward R. Murrow Room, Yeshiva University President Richard M. Joel, Catholic University of America President John Garvey and Baylor University President Ken Starr discussed a number of issues facing higher education and specifically faith-based universities, including government ratings systems, academic freedom and the value of a faith-based education.

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YU President Richard M. Joel (Robert Rogers/Baylor Marketing and Communications)

President Starr began the conversation, titled, “The State of Higher Education and the Calling of Faith-Based Universities,” by noting that one of America’s oldest laws, the Northwest Ordinance, had already deemed “religion, morality and knowledge” a necessary combination for “good government and the happiness of mankind,” suggesting that education grounded in religious and ethical principles was considered essential to the cultivation of the mind as well as spirit. Speaking of the shared values-driven missions of institutions such as YU, Baylor and CUA, President Starr said, “I think we all agree that education is more than a transmission belt, it’s more than attending classes and doing lab work. But what is it?” Read the rest of this entry…

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Koren Ani Tefilla Siddur Named National Jewish Book Award Winner

The Koren Ani Tefilla Siddur, the Hebrew/English weekday siddur [prayer book] with translation by Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, Kressel and Ephrat Family University Professor of Jewish Thought at Yeshiva University, and commentary by Rabbi Dr. Jay Goldmintz, adjunct professor at YU’s Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration, has been named a Winner in the Jewish Book Council’s 2014 National Jewish Book Awards.

Ani Tefilla - Ashk openThe Koren Ani Tefilla Siddur is an engaging and thought-provoking siddur for the inquiring high school student and thoughtful adult. It is designed to stimulate an intellectual, visual, and emotional connection to the prayers for every user. The unique, multi-tier commentary consists of four categories: Biur Tefilla, Iyun Tefilla, Hilkhot Tefilla and Ani Tefilla, each designed to enrich one’s understanding and connection the prayers. Additional features include three different layouts for the amida [silent prayer] that allow users to maximize their concentration, inspiring narratives, a collection of ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ on prayer, tips on enhancing one’s kavana [concentration], and more.

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On Center for the Jewish Future Missions, Students Help Haiti and Explore American Jewish Communities 

Over a whirlwind eight days, 36 Yeshiva University students took part in a humanitarian aid mission to Haiti and actively participated in the inner workings of small Jewish communities across the United States as part of two winter service learning programs organized by YU’s Center for the Jewish Future (CJF). The undergraduates signed on to expand their educational horizons through the missions, from January 10-18, with one group of 15 students on the JDC (American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee) Insider’s Trip to Haiti and another group of 21 on Jewish Life Coast to Coast.

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Michal Segall, a participant on the mission to Haiti, teaches songs to students at the Prodev school in the town of Zoranje.

“For some, winter break is a chance to relax and reenergize before the beginning of a new semester,” said Rabbi Yaakov Glasser, David Mitzner Dean of CJF. “But for these students it was a life-transforming experience that instilled a deep commitment to the broader Jewish community and the world.” Read the rest of this entry…

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Six-Week Program to Explore Jewish Ethics and Israel’s Foreign Policy

Yeshiva University’s Center for the Jewish Future (CJF) will present the spring installment of its Community Beit Midrash program beginning February 3 with a six-week series of talks by two distinguished members of YU’s faculty, Ambassador Danny Ayalon, Rennert Visiting Professor of Foreign Policy Studies, and Dr. David Shatz, University Professor of Philosophy, Ethics and Jewish Thought. The program is open to the community and runs for six consecutive Tuesdays at 215 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10016, on YU’s Israel Henry Beren Campus.

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Left, Professor Danny Ayalon; right, Professor David Shatz

The first lecture of each day, titled “Israel’s Foreign Policy: Diplomacy in Practice,” will be delivered at 10:30 a.m. by Ayalon. The second lecture, at 11:45 a.m., will be presented by Shatz on “Pursuing the Right and the Good: Themes in Jewish Ethics.”

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Program for Jewish Genetic Health Initiative Provides First Affordable Testing for Common Ashkenazi BRCA Mutations to Low Risk and Uninsured

An unprecedented initiative from the Program for Jewish Genetic Health, a nonprofit organization affiliated with Yeshiva University and Albert Einstein College for Medicine in conjunction with Montefiore Health System, will enable men and women of Ashkenazi heritage to undergo testing for the three most common Ashkenazi Jewish BRCA mutations at a fraction of the commercial price. The first of its kind in the United States, the initiative will provide testing to individuals regardless of their BRCA-related cancer histories or their insurance or financial situations, which have been barriers to date.

450853983“Most insurance companies currently require people to already have had family members with cancer if they want to be covered for  genetic testing,” said Dr. Susan Klugman, medical director for the Program for Jewish Genetic Health,  director of the division of reproductive genetics at Montefiore and professor of clinical obstetrics and gynecology and women’s health at Einstein. “We aren’t willing to wait for that.”

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