Men’s Basketball Coach Honored with Court-Naming Ceremony and Scholarship Fund

On Sunday, May 6, Yeshiva University’s Alumni Office celebrated the 40-year career of men’s basketball Coach Jonathan Halpert ‘62YUHS, ‘66YC, ‘78F with a court-naming ceremony in his honor at the Max Stern Athletic Center on the Wilf Campus. The event included the unveiling of Halpert’s signature on the men’s basketball court, a tribute video and the launch of the Coach Jonathan Halpert Scholarship Fund, an endowment that will be awarded annually to children of YU alumni living in Israel wishing to study at the University.

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Halpert, who took over the Maccabees roster in 1972, is the longest tenured men’s basketball coach in New York City history.  He was named coach of the year in the NCAA’s Skyline Conference twice, and at one point compiled a streak of 15 consecutive winning seasons.  Above all, Halpert has served as a role model for core Jewish values to three generations of Yeshiva University students.

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Mayor Bloomberg Addresses Students and Alumni at Syms Awards Ceremony

On May 3, graduating seniors of Yeshiva University’s Syms School of Business received heartfelt congratulations and career advice from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg at the 2012 Annual Syms School of Business Gala Awards Dinner.

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The event, held at the Museum of Jewish Heritage, celebrated the 25th anniversary of the business school, which now has over 3,000 alumni, and the graduating class of 2012. It also honored students and faculty who excelled within their fields and demonstrated exceptional character.

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Political Experts Discuss the Role of Religion in the Presidential Race at Robbins-Wilf Program

While religion has sharply divided voters in recent elections over issues related to same-sex marriage, abortion and separation of Church and State, and despite a Mormon heading the ticket of a major political party for the first time, religion appears less likely to affect the upcoming presidential election between President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney. That was the consensus among three veteran political and religious analysts who came together on Yeshiva University’s Beren Campus to discuss the impact of religion on the 2012 presidential race as part of Stern College for Women’s Dr. Marcia Robbins-Wilf Scholar-in-Residence Program on April 30.

Prof. Bryan Daves, Jeff Greenfield, Anna Greenberg and Dr. Peter Steinfels discuss the impact of religion on the presidential election at the YU Robbins-Wilf Scholar-in-Residence Program.

The event, which took place at the Schottenstein Cultural Center, addressed the role religion has played historically in presidential politics and the way that role has evolved in recent years. The panel included Jeff Greenfield, anchor of PBS’ “Need to Know”; Anna Greenberg, leading pollster and senior vice president at Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research; and Dr. Peter Steinfels, co-director of the Center for Religion and Culture at Fordham University and a former religion columnist for The New York Times.

According to the panel, two factors seemed to explain the diminished impact of religion on this election: the struggling economy and the public’s tiring of religion’s role in previous elections. The group also discussed media coverage of religion in politics, with a focus on Romney’s candidacy as the first Mormon to run for president. “Mass media’s coverage of religion is not necessarily to be celebrated,” said Greenfield. “It’s very simplistic. Anyone who has a set of religious beliefs which is not familiar to most Americans is in for a tough time.” However, he felt Romney’s faith would ultimately make little difference to Americans at the voting booths. “The economy so overhangs everything else,” said Greenfield. “People will vote for Romney thinking, ‘He’s going to get the economy going, he knows how to put people to work,’ or Obama thinking, ‘He’s going to protect the middle class from those crazy Republicans.’ ”

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Greenberg agreed that religion would play a diminished role, but warned the audience to look for its influence at the margins. She referenced recent controversy about the Obama administration’s proposal to include birth control coverage in health insurance policies. “In this kind of election, some of these seemingly random issues can play an important part in shifting a small number of people in critical ways,” said Greenberg.

Speakers also noted that the way in which religion affects voter choice has changed.  Today, it is not denomination but rather religiosity that influences how Americans vote. The more religious a voter is the more likely they are to vote Republican, the less religious the more likely to vote democratic. “Religion has always been an important factor in presidential elections,” said Steinfels. “What has changed is that religious practice has become an identifier. Once upon a time, if you were a Catholic, you were more apt to vote Democratic, and it didn’t make a difference if you were a regular church-goer or not… now it does.”

“This year is poised to be a very close election with the electorate sharply divided on their choice for president,” said Professor Bryan Daves, director of the Robbins-Wilf program, a member of the political science department at YU, and the event’s moderator. “In recent elections, matters of faith and social issues have played an important role in determining the outcome. Yeshiva University, with its dual mission of Torah U’madda, is a perfect venue to host a discussion with three prominent experts on religion and politics.”

“The topic was so relevant because many students are voting in their first presidential election and this is no doubt going to be a defining election in American history,” said journalism major and political science minor Yaelle Lasson, a Stern College sophomore. “Hearing from Anna Greenberg, a revered and prominent woman making a difference in the public sphere, was especially meaningful for me. I find her social media research fascinating and hope to implement social media use in advocacy law after college.”

Though panelists shared a sense of surprise that religious issues didn’t seem to be a focus in the 2012 election, they didn’t all feel that was necessarily bad.

“This is a country where not so long ago, religious differences were not just profound but debilitating,” said Greenfield. “They served ill purposes. The fact that the country has opened up virtually any civic job you can think of to the point where they really don’t care what religion you are—I think that’s a healthy thing.”

Harvard Economist Details the Positive Impact of Cities at Annual Brody Lecture

A sizable crowd filled the seats in Weissberg Commons on the evening of May 2 to hear Harvard Economics Professor Dr. Edward Glaeser discuss the importance of cities at the annual Alexander Brody Memorial Lecture.

Citing economic and historical data, Prof. Edward Glaeser makes the case for the expansion of cities.

Delivering a fact-filled and fast-paced address accompanied by detailed slides of graphs and pictures, Glaeser’s lecture, titled “Triumph of the City: Why Cities Are Our Best Hope for the Future,” offered selections of his research as found in his recently published and similarly titled book Triumph of the City: How Our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, ­Greener, Healthier, and Happier (2011, The Penguin Press).

Using a host of economic data along with historical and personal anecdotes, Glaeser delved deeply into an explanation of how cities help move humanity forward in beneficial ways.

He began by showcasing how at the turn of the 21st century, more than half of humanity lived in cities. Additionally, countries that have large cities are far more prosperous. Commenting on this, he mentioned how he sees no reason to be saddened by the demise of diminishing country life. “Some people will mourn a bucolic lost world,” he said. “But they have never been to rural India with its unending cycles of poverty and disease.”

The reason for success following the growth of cities might at first seem puzzling since urban centers originally sprung up to serve a very specific need of easing transportation concerns. This is why cities like New York and Boston grew around rivers and ocean harbors, because transporting goods by water proved significantly easier than doing so over land, he explained.

“Nowadays, cities are a paradox because the Internet has made proximity obsolete,” said Glaeser. “So why don’t we all just live in rural Montana and leave the congestion of cities behind?”

To answer this question, he offered the examples of Detroit and Seattle in the 1970s. Both northern cities suffered massive job losses in that decade because of factories moving to warmer climates or out of the country, and both suffered large population declines. Yet Seattle has bounced back while Detroit still suffers. The reason for this is because Seattle had a more educated workforce with many more bachelor degrees while Detroit’s workforce was less so. So Seattle fostered an entrepreneurial atmosphere from which came Starbucks, Microsoft and Costco, reviving the city, according to Glaeser.

To further illustrate this example, he discussed how artistic innovation was nourished in the area around Florence during the Renaissance and how the development of the first skyscrapers in Chicago in the late 19th century was a truly collaborative effort.

Through his study, Glaeser has concluded that for cities to truly flourish, “human capital is more important than physical capital”—meaning creating an educated and inquisitive population is more important to the success of a city than tall buildings and cutting-edge transportation infrastructure.

He closed by describing how the future of the planet depends on the proper growth of cities across the world, saying if China and India—with their increased urbanization—do not build cities vertically with proper public transportation, then the resulting rise in gas prices and carbon emissions could be calamitous for the planet. In essence, the future of our world depends on the proper growth of cities.

“The lecture was very informative,” said Yoni Bardash, an economics major at Yeshiva College. “It gave a very detailed description of the role of the city in relationship to the development of the country and the world economy.”

The Alexander Brody Memorial Lecture is held in memory of YU’s first economics professor, who was well-respected for his scholarship in both secular and biblical studies.

Donation to YU in Honor of David J. Azrieli’s 90th Birthday will Bolster School of Jewish Education

For most, birthdays are times for receiving gifts. For David J. Azrieli, however, a milestone birthday is the time to give a gift—a $10 million donation from the foundation he established to Yeshiva University’s Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration.

The $10 million donation to YU in honor of David J. Azrieli (pictured above) is the largest single donation ever made by the Azrieli Foundation.

The gift, in honor of Azrieli’s 90th birthday, is the largest single donation ever made by the Azrieli Foundation. It will strengthen the Azrieli Graduate School, named in 1983 to train Jewish educators, specifically teachers and administrators at Jewish day schools and other organizations across North America. As an expression of gratitude to David J. Azrieli the school dedicated its current issue of Prism, an Interdisciplinary Journal for Holocaust Educators, in his honor to mark this special milestone.

The Azrieli Graduate School is now the country’s largest post-graduate institution for Jewish education and has 260 students enrolled in various programs of advanced study, training and research in pursuit of master’s and doctoral degrees. The Azrieli School’s dean, Dr. David J. Schnall, recently announced that the school has received accreditation to award New York State Teacher Licenses in secular elementary, middle and high school subjects.

The $10 million will be used primarily to make available scholarships for the school and to help attract more men and women to the field of Jewish education.

“The entire Yeshiva University family is inspired and strengthened by this gift, especially during a time when Jewish education at North America’s more than 800 day schools is being challenged because of the economic downturn,” said YU President Richard M. Joel. “This historic gift will help graduate students pursue their career dreams and will strengthen the future of Judaism throughout hundreds of Jewish educational institutions.”

Azrieli, a Yeshiva University Trustee since 1987, escaped the Nazis and landed in Israel in 1942, where he served in Israel’s Seventh Brigade in the War of Independence. He studied architecture at Technion – Israel Institute of Technology before moving to New York, where he studied at Yeshiva University for a year. He eventually moved to Montreal, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Montreal’s Thomas More Institute. Azrieli, a life-long learner, earned his Master’s Degree in Architecture from Carleton University in Ottawa at age 75.

Azrieli is well-known in Canada, the US and Israel as a developer, architect and philanthropist. He revolutionized retail shopping in Israel, building the country’s first enclosed mall in 1985. Today, he owns 14 Israeli malls and coined the Hebrew word “canion” which combines the Hebrew words for “shopping and parking.”

As a philanthropist, Azrieli established the school of architecture at Tel Aviv University, a chair of architecture at Technion and the Azrieli Institute for Israel Studies at Concordia University in Montreal, where he lives.

He is a major donor to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem and inspired the Azrieli Holocaust Survivor Memoirs Program, which collects, publishes and disseminates the written memoirs of Holocaust survivors—a project that was initiated and is managed by his daughter, Dr. Naomi Azrieli, who chairs the Azrieli Foundation.

“The gift comes from a great personal friend and a truly heroic friend to Yeshiva University,” said Dr. Herbert C. Dobrinsky, YU’s vice president for university affairs, who encouraged David Azrieli to name the graduate school in 1983. “This and all of David’s gifts will help generations of Jewish children to know about their identity and their heritage.”

“My family and my father can think of no better way to celebrate a 90th birthday,” said Dr. Naomi Azrieli, who oversaw the gift. “Seeing young people graduate from this school and move on to teach Judaism to the next generation has been one of my father’s greatest joys.”

Daniel Hershkowitz, Minister of Science and Technology, Shares Insight with Students

The Yeshiva University community enjoyed the opportunity to converse with and learn from Israeli Minister of Science and Technology Daniel Hershkowitz in a jam-packed evening on April 30.

Minister Hershkowitz meets with President Joel

Minister Hershkowitz and President Joel

Throughout the afternoon and evening, Hershkowitz met with students, faculty and administrators in a variety of settings to learn about the unique educational model of YU and share some of his insights.

“It is my first time at Yeshiva University and I am very glad to be here,” said Hershkowitz. “It would be wonderful if we had a similar kind of institution in Israel.”

Upon his arrival to the Wilf Campus, Hershkowitz was greeted by President Richard M. Joel and proceeded to meet with Yeshiva College Dean Barry Eichler and a number of senior faculty members to discuss common issues of interest regarding university life and current research underway at YU.

“As the day progressed, it was clear that YU had made a new friend with whom we could cooperate in our close relationship with the State of Israel as academics devoted to our teaching and research, and in the continued quest for strengthening Jewish life here and abroad,” said Dr. Lawrence Schiffman, vice provost for undergraduate education, who took part in a number of meetings with the minister throughout the evening.

At 8 pm, Hershkowitz delivered a short address in Furst Hall introducing an event sponsored by the Neuroscience Society, Medical Ethics Society, Yeshiva College Biology Majors Board, the Yeshiva College Philosophy Club, the Honors Program and the Stern College for Women Neuroscience Club.

The minister described the fast paced rate of technological change wrought by advancements in computer technology. To illustrate this, he offered as an anecdote a common occurrence that he encountered as a graduate student: when he discovered a citation for a journal article not held by his library, he would have to send away for it, often to another country. “If I was lucky,” he said, “I would receive the article in a month. Now with computer databases, I can retrieve an article in seconds.”

Minister Hershkowitz met with Provost Lowengrub (left) and members of the YU faculty.

According to Hershkowitz, this improvement has led to an explosion of new research and journal publications, allowing people to delve deeper into sub-specialties of specific disciplines than ever before. With people so hyper-specialized, Israel now encourages more interdisciplinary collaboration in the sciences in order to maximize its scholars output and creativity. This is why Israel is currently focusing the attention of its research centers on the four interdisciplinary fields of neuroscience, marine biology, nanotechnology and computer technology. “When different fields come together, we can do amazing things,” said the minister.

In closing, the minister offered a parable from the Book of Exodus to describe the compatibility of scientific inquiry and Jewish culture that he was pleased to encounter at YU.

“We were delighted to have Minister Hershkowitz address the Neuroscience Society,” said Neuroscience Society President Daniel First. “Neuroscience is one of the hottest fields of scientific research today, and it was fascinating to hear how Israel is playing a prominent role in its advancement.”

Minister Hershkowitz earned a doctorate in mathematics from the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology in 1982. He has served as the rabbi for the Ahuza community near the northern Israeli city of Haifa. In early 2009, he won a seat in the Knesset as the Chairman of the Habayit Hayehudi party, a national religious party, and was shortly thereafter named Minister of Science and Technology.

Jewish Matchmaking Alliance Holds Inaugural Conference at Yeshiva University

Representatives from 12 Jewish matchmaking organizations from North America and around the world met on Wednesday, April 25 on Yeshiva University’s Wilf Campus for the inaugural meeting of the Jewish Matchmaking Alliance (JMA). Developed as the brainchild of YU’s Center for the Jewish Future’s (CJF) YUConnects and SawYouAtSinai, JMA has drawn enthusiastic support from various matchmaking organizations. Its stated mission is “to increase collaborative efforts by leading organizations in developing constructive projects, professionalize education and pool resources geared towards enhancing opportunities available for the Orthodox Jewish singles population.”

YU Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Mordechai Willig, opened the conference with words of inspiration to all those working for this important common goal. At the meeting, each organization shared its successful program initiatives and ideas, and its approach to addressing the singles issue. Subsequently, attendees participated in facilitated conversations examining common obstacles in matchmaking, dating and event planning.

“While many matchmaking organizations may focus on different age groups and religious preferences, there are several commonalities in the dating and matchmaking process across the spectrum,” said Dr. Efrat Sobolofsky, director of YUConnects. “The meeting was a wonderful platform to start making inroads together in the dating arena. By working together to bring singles together, so much can be accomplished. It was a dream come true and a real kiddush Hashem.”

Participants came from across the Tristate area and Toronto, as well as Australia, Montreal and Israel, via conference call. Organizations represented at the conference included Chabad, Gateways, JSMatchpoint, Kesher, National Council Young Israel, Neve Kesher, Orthodox Union, Sasson V’Simcha (Canada), Sasson V’Simcha (Israel), SawYouAtSinai, Shalom Task Force, Sheefa Links and YUConnects.

“JMA brings together an incredible amount of experience and expertise—more than any of us can access individually,” said Rabbi Mendel Kastel, CEO of The Jewish House in Sydney, Australia. “…JMA will help raise the profile of this very important issue.”

One hot-button discussion topic was the need for consistency and the possibility of standardized certification in matchmaker training across the gamut of organizations. Matchmaker education can include interviewing skills, addressing sensitivity or concerns of clients, while assisting them in navigating relevant technology and databases, and recognizing when to refer individuals to a therapist.

Other topics included community training programs for singles and peer matchmakers, running joint singles events, the need for community financial backing, and how to best facilitate the matchmaker-client relationship.

“This is a fantastic first step,” said Suzy Schwartz, assistant dean of the CJF. “Networking and collaboration have already begun,  conversations started about joining together to share best practices as well as deficiencies, and everyone in attendance hopes that together we will be more successful than working alone.”

SawYouAtSinai founder Marc Goldmann agreed. “The open discussions… general networking that created immediate dividends, and the chizuk that everyone in the room received was incredible to witness,” said Goldman.

The JMA plans to hold meetings on a quarterly basis, hosted by alternating organizations. Learn more about

Yeshiva University High Schools Present Annual Dinner of Tribute on May 16

Yeshiva University High Schools (YUHS) will hold their Annual Dinner of Tribute on Wednesday, May 16, 2012 at Congregation Ahavath Torah in Englewood, NJ. This year’s honorees include Harvey and Deena Wrubel, Rabbi Tanchum Cohen and Rabbi Zvi Lew.

Harvey and Deena Wrubel

Harvey and Deena Wrubel are YU Benefactors and pillars of the Teaneck, N.J community. Strong supporters of a host of worthy organizations in the United States and Israel, the Wrubels are deeply involved in The Rosenbaum Yeshiva of North Jersey, Yeshivat Sha’alvim and their shul, Congregation Bnai Yeshurun. The YU High Schools are proud to honor the Wrubels by dedicating and naming Yeshiva University High School for Boys’s (YUHSB) Beis Medresh Katan Program in memory of Harvey’s father, Mr. Julius Wrubel z”l. The Wrubels are the proud parents of four children and four grandchildren.

Rabbi Tanchum Cohen

Rabbi Tanchum Cohen, a popular maggid shiur at YUHSB, is the founding rebbe of the Beis Medresh Katan Program. He is a graduate of RIETS and Yeshiva College and was a Wexner Kollel Elyon Fellow for four years. Rabbi Cohen serves as assistant rabbi of Congregation Beth Abraham in Bergenfield, N.J. and he and his wife, Yaffa, are the proud parents of six children.

Rabbi Zvi Lew

Rabbi Zvi Lew

Rabbi Zvi Lew is the Israel guidance adviser at Yeshiva University High School for Girls (YUHSG) and wears many hats. He teaches 10th grade chumash and 11th grade kashruth/halakha, advises YUHSG’s champion Torah Bowl team and delivers a regular Friday shiur to returning alumni. A product of Yeshiva College and RIETS, Rabbi Lew resides with his wife, Elana, and their four children in Kew Garden Hills, where he also gives several regular shiurim throughout the community.

For reservations or for more information about the dinner, please contact Rabbi Moshe Kinderlehrer at 212-960-5489 or email, or visit

Ambassador Yehuda Avner to Speak at May 24 Commencement; Honorees Include Alan Willner, Eleazer Hirmes and Ethel Orlian

Former Israeli diplomat, Ambassador Yehuda Avner, will deliver the keynote address and receive an honorary doctorate at Yeshiva University’s 81st Commencement Ceremony on Thursday, May 24, at the IZOD Center in East Rutherford, NJ.

Ambassador Yehuda Avner

Avner, an author of two books, served as speechwriter and secretary to Israeli Prime Ministers Levi Eshkol and Golda Meir, and as an adviser to Prime Ministers Yitzhak Rabin, Menachem Begin and Shimon Peres.

Visit the commencement page for dates, locations, directions and information on ceremonies for all Yeshiva University schools and affiliates.

President Richard M. Joel will also confer an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters upon Dr. Alan Willner and Eleazer Hirmes. Willner, a 1982 graduate of Yeshiva College, is a highly decorated physicist, who has published more than 950 papers on his research in optical technologies. Currently a chaired professor of engineering at the Viterbi School of Engineering at the University of Southern California, he holds 24 patents. His research has been supported by institutions such as Cisco, the Department of Defense, Google, Hewlett Packard, Intel, the National Science Foundation and the National Security Agency.

Dr. Alan Willner

Hirmes’ family relationship with Yeshiva University dates back to the early years of the 20th century, when his father, Rabbi Abraham P. Hirmes, left the Slobatka Yeshiva in Lithuania to pursue his rabbinical ordination at YU-affiliated Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary. Eleazer attended YU High School and graduated from Yeshiva College in 1944. He received an MBA from New York University and spent 60 years practicing as a CPA, becoming a noted philanthropist in the Five Towns of New York. Hirmes and his wife Greta have set up a scholarship fund in honor of his parents.

Eleazer Hirmes

Eleazer Hirmes

Ethel Orlian, the associate dean of Stern College for Women, will be awarded the Presidential Medallion. Orlian has spent more than 50 years as a student, teacher and administrator at Yeshiva University. A graduate of YU High School and Stern College, she began her YU career as a researcher, but left to live in Israel before returning to Stern in 1979 as the assistant to Karen Bacon, dean of Stern College for Women. Known to generations of Stern College women, she has remained at the college since—serving as assistant dean and academic counselor and teaching chemistry prior to her appointment as associate dean.

Ethel Orlian

“Each of our honorees embodies a different piece of the principles of Yeshiva University, their commitment to the Jewish people, the State of Israel, their hometowns and to the University itself,” said President Joel. “We hope they inspire our graduates to leave our school for success now, but know they always have a home at YU.”

In all, more than 1,400 undergraduate students from Yeshiva College, Stern College for Women and Syms School of Business, as well as graduate students in the fields of law, medicine, social work, education, Jewish studies and psychology, will be awarded degrees from YU during its commencement season.

Learn more about the honorees here.

Zach Charles Named to All-Conference Men’s Tennis Team for Fourth Consecutive Year

Yeshiva University Men’s Tennis standout Zach Charles was selected by the coaches of the Skyline Conference to the 7-man All Conference First Team, which was announced this morning by the league office. Charles makes his fourth appearance on the first team, an accomplishment that speaks to his talent and love for the game.

Zach had one his best season this year, which is not yet done, winning 7 of his 9 singles matches. His only losses this season at first singles came to First Team member Brendan Keeling of Purchase and the conference’s Player of the Year from Farmingdale, Justin Vijungco. In doubles play, Zach is currently 6-3, playing all matches in the first position. Yeshiva has one remaining match, against Sarah Lawrence, on May 2.

Zach has always played first doubles and first singles matches, and holds a career record of 21-12 in singles play and 18-16 in doubles play (not including matches that injuries forced him to retire from).  “Zach has been a critical part of the YU tennis program for the last four years”, said Men’s Tennis Coach Jeff Menaker.  “His legacy as a top singles player in the Skyline Conference will endure. It has been a pleasure coaching him these past two seasons.”

“It is an honor to be voted to the First Team all 4 years of my career”, said Chalres. “I really appreciate my opponents recognizing the work I’ve put in over the years. I also have to thank my coach, teammates and athletic staff for their help these years. It’s been a great ride and I am glad to leave on top.”

The All-Conference Team release can be viewed here. Get the latest Yeshiva University Athletics schedules, scores and news at

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