Yeshiva University News » Aliza Abrams

Students Gain Unique Perspective of Germany And Connect With Local Jewish Community on CJF Program

As the spring semester drew to a close, a select group of 16 students traveled to Germany May 25-June 2 as part of Germany Close Up, a week-long program organized by Yeshiva University’s Center for the Jewish Future (CJF) for participants to learn about Germany’s contemporary Jewish community and the effects of the Holocaust on its growth.

Germany Close Up is a youth encounter program administered by the Action Reconciliation Service for Peace in cooperation with the New Synagogue Berlin – Centrum Judaicum Foundation and is funded by a grant from the German Government’s Transatlantic Program, which draws on funds from the European Recovery Program of the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology.

Remains of the Berlin Wall

The group at the remains of the Berlin Wall

Accompanied by Rabbi Yaakov Glasser, associate dean of the CJF, and Aliza Abrams, director of the CJF’s Department of Jewish Service Learning, students enjoyed a unique multi-dimensional experience that allowed them to reflect on their own Jewish identity on an intellectual and emotional level, while connecting to the local Jewish community as well.

“Traveling to Germany is an emotionally charged experience,” said Abrams. “As a Jew you are confronted with many questions and think about every step you take in Germany and every person you interact with. Our group had very meaningful interactions with both the Jewish community and members of the non-Jewish community who are committed to sharing their country’s history in an effort to ensure that a Holocaust will never happen again.” Read the rest of this entry…

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On Four CJF Winter Missions Around the World, YU Students Get Closer Look at Jewish Leadership

More than 90 Yeshiva University students spent this winter break engaged in the hands-on study of—and contribution to—vastly different Jewish communities around the world.


A student on the CJF’s “Counterpoint Israel: Winter Camp” mission teaches English at an educational camp in Kiryat Gat.

As participants on winter missions organized by YU’s Center for the Jewish Future, students traveled to Kharkov and Sumy in the Ukraine; Kiryat Malachi, Kiryat Gat and Dimona in Negev region of Israel; areas of New York that were heavily damaged by Hurricane Sandy; and cities across the Midwestern United States to make an impact and hone their leadership skills.

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In its Fourth Decade, Torah Tours Enriches Holiday Celebrations in Communities Across North America

This Simchat Torah, nearly 300 Yeshiva University students and alumni traveled to 60 communities across North America as part of the Center for the Jewish Future’s Aaron and Blanche Schreiber Torah Tours program.

Now in its fourth decade, the program sends hundreds of young men and women to synagogues all over the United States Read the rest of this entry…

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Presidential Fellowship in University and Community Leadership Celebrates Tenth Anniversary

With more than 150 alumni in an array of professional and communal careers and 15 stellar new graduates taking the reins this fall, Yeshiva University’s Presidential Fellowship in University and Community Leadership is celebrating its 10th anniversary.

Presidential Fellows 2013 Group

The highly competitive program was established by President Richard M. Joel in 2004, shortly after his arrival at YU, with the goal of transforming the University into a leadership incubator for the Jewish people. Under the supervision of YU Senior Vice President Rabbi Josh Joseph, the Fellowship places accomplished top-level YU graduates in key departments and schools throughout the institution, where they develop and oversee thoughtful and innovative projects to improve the University. They also receive close mentorship from senior University staff and cultivate a broad knowledge base and skill set to engage with the larger Jewish community.

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Four Generations Commemorate the Memory of the Holocaust at Yeshiva University Yom HaShoah Ceremony

Four generations of Holocaust survivors and their descendants took the podium at Yeshiva University’s Yom Hashoah commemoration ceremony on Monday, April 8, at a packed Lamport Auditorium on the Wilf Campus. The theme of the ceremony, organized by YU’s Student Holocaust Education Movement (SHEM), was “The Lost Generations.”

The ceremony highlighted Jewry’s imperative to keep the memory of the Holocaust alive as the generation of Holocaust survivors passes and new generations arise. The program began with a haunting recitation of victims’ names, accompanied by a medley of mournful Jewish melodies, performed on the violin by Yeshiva College Professor Yair Shahak.

“The legacy [of the victims] must never become just another number,” said Jacob Bernstein ’15YC, president of SHEM. Read the rest of this entry…


Yeshiva University Students Travel to Sao Paulo as Part of the Center for the Jewish Future’s Counterpoint Brazil Program

A group of eight Yeshiva University students traveled to Sao Paulo, Brazil from Aug. 3 through Aug. 18 as part of YU’s Center for the Jewish Future (CJF) Counterpoint Brazil program—a service-learning initiative aimed at empowering the next generation of Jewish youth.

“Counterpoint empowers teens to discover their heritage, own their identity and kindle their passion for Judaism,” explained Aliza Abrams, assistant director of CJF’s department of service learning and experiential education. “The result is a joyous mixture of lasting friendships and Jewish pride.”

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Following the success of last year’s inaugural mission to Brazil over the Sukkot holdiay, the local Jewish community and Colegio Iavne—a Jewish day school in Sao Paulo—asked YU to return. Over the course of two weeks the Counterpoint team conducted several interactive Jewish identity seminars, workshops and a Shabbaton for local high school students, as well as a memorable Tisha B’ Av program. The group also met with local rabbis, lay leaders and members of the community.

“It is very important to show our students that it is possible to study in the university and in the Yeshiva at the same time,” said Carmia Kotler, Hebrew coordinator at Colegio Iavne. “This kind of experience can increase the possibility of our students returning to the community after university and adding a lot to Jewish community life.”

The Counterpoint program has existed for more than 35 years, affecting the lives of tens of thousands of Jewish teens worldwide in countries such as Australia, Brazil, South Africa, Turkey and Israel. Undergraduates with experience in informal education serve as guides who create and run all the programming.

Led by Abrams, the Counterpoint Brazil team included YU students Adam Berman, Ezra Blaustein, Benjamin Blumenthal, Adina Borg-Blaustein, Nora Ellison, Rebekah Friedman, Zach Mammon and Elianna Pollak.

“The CJF runs programs in which a student has the opportunity to truly experience the methodology of experiential learning and see the results firsthand,” said Ellison, of San Diego, CA.

“My experience has been very positive and I am now considering a career in teaching,” said Pollak, a native of New York City who took part in a CJF program to Germany last year. “Informal education had not been my area of focus but I wanted to take this chance to experience a different and dynamic approach to education. After participating, my desire to go into the education world has only been strengthened.”

To learn more about the CJF and its upcoming programs visit


Tune into YU’s Weekly Internet Radio Show, Thursdays at 2 P.M.

Join Mayer Fertig and Miriam L. Wallach for “Who’s on Furst?” – broadcast live from Furst Hall on YU’s Wilf Campus. With barbeque season under way, Chef Boris of Pomegranate Supermarket in Brooklyn, NY will help get you ready to grill. He’ll discuss tips and techniques, bringing lots of delicious samples: fish, meat and dessert, all from the grill at Pomegranate.

Also joining the program is experiential education expert Aliza Abrams of the Center for the Jewish Future, discussing the CJF’s Service Learning Program which will send students to communities hit by natural disasters in an effort to help rebuild. Hear her experiences and what she expects to see this summer in New Orleans, LA and Birmingham, AL.  All this, plus a live report from flooded Memphis, TN and a review of the stories making headlines in the Jewish media, live Thursday at 2 p.m. on and