Yeshiva University News » YU Spotlight

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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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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Study Co-Authored by Abraham Ravid Highlights Impact of Directors on Movies’ Financial and Critical Success

Film studios looking to strike gold with their next release should worry less about signing A-list actors and more about landing a proven director, according to new research conducted by Dr. S. Abraham Ravid, professor of finance at Yeshiva University’s Sy Syms School of Business.

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Sy Syms Professor of Finance S. Abraham Ravid coauthored the study

“Experienced directors, who have survived Hollywood because of their skills and success, have a large, measureable effect on the financial and critical success of every film they make,” said Ravid. “It’s much more important to choose the director than the star.”

Ravid’s study, conducted in collaboration with Kose John of New York University and Jayanthi Sunder of the University of Arizona, shows that directors are drivers of both financial value and esthetic success of movies. Using a unique hand-collected data set that covers the entire career path of all film directors who directed their first film in 1985-86, Ravid’s work follows the directors for 25 years. In addition to finding that experienced directors can have a crucial, positive impact on the financial and critical success of their film project (as opposed to stars, who had no demonstrated impact in a previous study conducted by Ravid), his findings disprove the popular Hollywood adage that directors are only as good as their last movie.

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Students Present North America’s Largest Jewish Book Sale February 1 – March 1

The students of Yeshiva University  will hold their annual Seforim Sale, North America’s largest Jewish book sale, from February 1 to March 1, 2015, in Belfer Hall, 2495 Amsterdam Ave on YU’s Wilf Campus in Manhattan. The sale is operated entirely by YU students—from ordering to setting up the premises, marketing and all the technology the project entails.

yu seforim sale spotLast year the acclaimed Judaica book sale drew more than 12,000 people from the tri-state area and grossed more than $850,000 in sales. The annual event provides discounted prices on the latest of more than 10,000 titles in rabbinic and academic literature, cookbooks and children’s books. The 2015 Seforim Sale will also offer a wide range of music and Judaica options from around the world.

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President Richard M. Joel’s Statement on The Tragic Attacks in Paris

Yeshiva University joins with France, with the Jewish community and all who cherish freedom around the world to reject all forms of violence, including those in the name of religion. Our thoughts are with the families, loved ones and everyone affected by these acts of terror.

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Leading Online Torah Study Resource Surpasses Major Milestone 

Begun as an ad-hoc gathering of shiur [lecture] recordings, YUTorah has become a formidable force in the spread of Torah learning worldwide, reaching a major milestone upon passing the 100,000 shiur mark this January.

yutorah“The growth of YUTorah has been exponential,” said Rabbi Robert Shur, director of YUTorah since 2007. “What started in 2004 with a little over 1,000 shiurim grew to 10,000 about two and a half years later. It took another five years to get to 50,000, with the second 50,000 taking less than three years.”

The list of contributors and lecturers is extensive, from across Yeshiva University and around the world. While some contributors have just a handful of recordings, there are 20 rabbis or lecturers with more than 1,000 uploaded to the site. Rabbi Hershel Schachter, Nathan and Vivian Fink Distinguished Professorial Chair in Talmud, and Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz, a daf yomi [daily Talmud study] contributor and host of the “Ten Minute Halacha” series on the site, each have more than 4,000. The recent addition of some 3,500 shiurim of Rabbi Moshe Weinberger, mashpiah at YU, now available free to the public for the first time, helped YUTorah break the 100,000 mark. Read the rest of this entry…

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Revel Student’s Research Examines Daily Legalities of Biblical Life Through a Comparative Lens

Judaism relies heavily on its legal library: written discussions of the law are almost synonymous with the religion, describing practices that date back to the beginnings of the Bible and beyond. But what did those practices actually look like in the day-to-day lives of ancient Israelites? Like many civilizations of the time, the Jews of the biblical era used papyrus for everyday business affairs; few artifacts from the era survive to illustrate how the rules and regulations found in the canonical Torah were observed.

20141223_yael_wermuth_06For Yael Landman Wermuth, a doctoral student at Yeshiva University’s Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies, the key to understanding these texts lies not so much in the history of ancient Jews, but in that of their neighbors.

Landman Wermuth’s doctoral thesis examines areas of biblical law through a comparative lens, drawing on examples from the contemporary Mesopotamian and Hittite law codes, which contain many similarities to that of the Bible, as well as ancient Near Eastern contracts, letters, trial records and other documents that offer a glimpse of legal practice in everyday Mesopotamian life. Read the rest of this entry…

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Columnist George Will and NYU President John Sexton Discuss “Baseball, Tradition and God” at Straus Center Event

A rapt audience of 200 filled the seats of Yeshiva University’s Shenk Community Shul on Wednesday, December 17, to hear Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist George Will and New York University President John Sexton discuss baseball and its relationship to religion and democracy. The event, titled “Baseball Tradition, and God,” was the latest in a series of “Great Conversations” presented by YU’s Zahava and Moshael Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought.

George Will, Rabbi Meir Soloveichik and John Sexton discuss "Baseball, Tradition, and God."

George Will, Rabbi Meir Soloveichik and John Sexton discuss “Baseball, Tradition, and God” at December 17 Straus Center event.

Introducing Will and Sexton as “two extraordinary athletes of the mind,” Rabbi Dr. Meir Soloveichik, director of the Straus Center and moderator of the talk, opened his remarks by asking if baseball is simply a game or does it also teach us about the virtues of love, loyalty, fidelity and faith. He also connected the discussion to Chanukah, citing the clash of Hellenistic and Jewish culture.

Will, a Chicago Cubs fan, said he appreciates baseball for the game itself but asked why we, as a society, care so much. “We attach ourselves to a team and acquire a tribal identity.”

Rabbi Soloveichik said that Cubs fans accept “their fate with good cheer” and that it builds strong character—even if you try hard and long enough you’ll still lose. Read the rest of this entry…

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Students, Faculty and Alumni Honored as Points of Light at 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 90th Annual Hanukkah Dinner and Convocation, held at New York City’s Waldorf-Astoria on December 14.

“The lesson of Hanukkah is that the Jewish people must cast the light of our values onto the world,” said YU President Richard M. Joel. “Tonight, we publicize the lights that represent the past, present, and future of Yeshiva University.”

Read more about the Points of Light below. Read the rest of this entry…

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Michael Gamson, Judith Weiss and Anita Zucker Honored at Yeshiva University’s 90th Hanukkah Convocation and Dinner

Former President George W. Bush was the special guest and keynote speaker at Yeshiva University’s 90th Annual Hanukkah Convocation and Dinner at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City on Sunday, December 14. More than 750 people came to show their support for the University and to witness YU President Richard M. Joel confer an honorary doctorate upon the 43rd U.S. president.

“What an honor it is to have you as part of the Yeshiva University family,” said President Joel in his introduction of President Bush. “We celebrate you for the steadfastness of your integrity, for your commitment to democracy, and your clarity of vision that only in a democratic society can people achieve and grow and thrive. Put simply, you taught Americans that democracy is a condition for civilization.”

He added, “We applaud you for the loyalty of your friendship and commitment to the State of Israel and the Jewish people.”

In his keynote address, President Bush said, “Yeshiva University is a prestigious university and I am proud to accept this degree.” Read the rest of this entry…

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