Cracking the Code of Nonprofit Innovation

October 28 YU Student Hackathon Focuses on Giving Back to Jewish Communal Organizations

Yeshiva University students will host their fourth annual hackathon from Saturday night, October 28 at 8:30 p.m. to Sunday night, October 29 at 8:30 p.m. in the Heights Lounge on the Wilf Campus, 515 West 185th Street, New York City.

30670769795_eea915f064_kOn college campuses around the world, hackathons—24-hour technological innovation marathons—are becoming increasingly popular as a way to encourage creative thinking and partnerships. But because they typically occur on Saturdays, religious Jews can’t participate. The YU Hackathon provides a unique forum for observant Jews to connect, brainstorm and partner together to build anything from apps to code for robots or self-driving cars, all in a single 24-hour window.

This year’s event features a special focus on giving back by developing creative ways to use technology to help the Jewish community. A Nonprofit Fair will take place during the hackathon, where participants will be able to meet with representatives from nonprofit companies and learn about their organizations and careers in their area, and hear tech talks from professionals in a wide range of fields. These professionals will also be available to mentor students and offer insight or feedback on the projects they’re working on throughout the event.

Students will also design apps and programs for a number of clubs on campus whose goal is to serve the Jewish community or perform acts of chessed [kindness], such as the Random Acts of Kindness Club, YU Tamid, the Gift of Life Club and iGive.

“This year, our goal is for young adults in the Jewish community to have a chance to give back to their community either through coding or creativity,” said student Dafna Meyers, co-organizer of this year’s hackathon. “We aim to combine the technology of the 21st century with our love for our community and show that we can use technology to make significant contributions to these organizations.”

The hackathon is organized by YU Hackers in collaboration with the Yeshiva Student Union, the Stern College for Women Student Council, the Yeshiva College Student Association and the Sy Syms School of Business Student Council. The event is free and open to students at any high school or college between the age of 16 and 26. Knowing how to write code isn’t a requirement to participate—in fact, backgrounds in any field are welcome, and participants will be able to engage in a variety of workshops throughout the day to pick up new tech skills.

“Yeshiva University’s hackathon is one of the only hackathons that does not take place on Shabbat, and there is nowhere else I would be able to participate in a hackathon, daven with three minyanim throughout the hackathon, go to my morning seder shiur, and then come back and win the competition,” said event co-organizer Yaakov Hawk. “There is no other institution, and no other hackathon, where something like that would be able to happen.”

For student Ari Kaye, who has participated in previous hackathons on campus and has also been involved in this year’s event, the hackathon plays an important role in the student experience at YU: “It’s critical because it provides myself and others with the space and tools to think big and create what we may originally have thought impossible.”

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