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Dr. John Ruskay to Keynote May 22 Commencement; Joshua Gortler, Dorothy Schachne and Dr. Morton Lowengrub to be Honored

Dr. John S. Ruskay, executive vice president and CEO of the United Jewish Appeal-Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of New York, Inc., will deliver the keynote address and receive an honorary doctorate at Yeshiva University’s 83rd Commencement Ceremony on Thursday, May 22, 2014 at 11 a.m. at the IZOD Center in East Rutherford, NJ. YU President Richard M. Joel will also confer honorary doctorates upon Joshua Gortler, president of The Kline Galland Center Foundation and alumnus of YU’s Wurzweiler School of Social Work, and YU Benefactor Dorothy Schachne. Dr. Morton Lowengrub, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, will receive the Presidential Medallion. Read the rest of this entry…

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At Straus Center Event, Author Daniel Gordis Discusses The Life and Legacy of Menachem Begin

A fiery revolutionary and a Nobel Peace Prize recipient, a beloved founder of the State of Israel reviled by its first prime minister, a proud Jew but not a conventionally religious one: Menachem Begin, Israel’s sixth prime minister, was all of this and more. On April 1, Yeshiva University’s Zahava and Moshael Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought hosted an intimate evening of conversation at the Yeshiva University Museum with Straus Center Director Rabbi Dr. Meir Soloveichik and Dr. Daniel Gordis, author of the recent book Menachem Begin: The Battle for Israel’s Soul (Nextbook, April 2014), to discuss the complexities and contradictions of Begin’s life and legacy.

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Left to right: YU President Richard M. Joel welcomes guests to an evening of conversation with Rabbi Dr. Meir Soloveichik and Dr. Daniel Gordis

“The two words that probably meant most to Menachem Begin were ‘Israel’ and ‘Jewish,’ and in his mind they were inextricably linked,” said YU President Richard M. Joel as he introduced the evening’s speakers. “At Yeshiva University, we reinforce the notion that Israel and Jewish identity have to be absolute, indivisible twins. We begin tonight by celebrating this year as the hundredth anniversary of Menachem Begin’s birth.”

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Yeshiva University Celebrates Largest Class of Rabbis at Chag HaSemikhah Convocation

On March 23, no early spring chill could deny the warmth and excitement on Yeshiva University’s Wilf Campus as hundreds of voices lifted in joyful song and cheering soared high above Amsterdam Avenue. The street flooded with celebration as more than 230 new musmakhim [ordained rabbis] linked arms and hands and danced together in front of Zysman Hall, pausing only to receive hugs or words of congratulations from their esteemed Roshei Yeshiva, mentors, family and friends.

Representing the largest cohort in history, the musmakhim were celebrating their ordination from YU-affiliated Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS) at its Chag HaSemikhah. In a day filled with festive song and dance and brimming with pride, the graduates of the 2011-2014 classes joined more than 3,000 rabbinic alumni who have gone on to become distinguished Orthodox rabbis, scholars, educators and leaders around the world.

“At a very crucial time in Jewish history, you are uniquely trained and qualified to reach out to Jews of all backgrounds with an authentic Torah message,” Rabbi Menachem Penner, the Max and Marion Grill Dean of RIETS and Undergraduate Torah Studies at YU, told the musmakhim. “In you, we see the bright future of our community.” Read the rest of this entry…

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Meet the Musmakh: Rabbi Noah Cheses Builds a Spiritual Home for Yale University Students

Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS) and the Yeshiva University community will celebrate the ordination of its largest class of musmakhim [ordained rabbis] at its Chag HaSemikhah Convocation on March 23, 2014. The record class of rabbis represents an internationally diverse group, hailing from five continents and more than 50 North American cities. While most will remain engaged in either full-time post-semikhah Torah study or religious work—Jewish education, the pulpit, outreach or non-profit work—many will pursue careers in other professions, including medicine and law.

In the weeks leading up to the celebration, YU News will introduce you to several of these remarkable musmakhim

Rabbi Noah Cheses“Compassion” and “trust” were the two words that led Rabbi Noah Cheses to a career in the rabbinate. As a curious high school junior in Newton, MA, he’d approached local congregation leader Rabbi Benjamin Samuels ’94YC, ’94BR, ’96R, about his calling. “He told me that becoming a great pulpit rabbi requires opening your heart, sharing your mind and forming relationships of trust with your congregants,” said Cheses.

It was a deeply intriguing message, and Cheses took it to heart. After graduating from the Jay and Jeanie Schottenstein Honors Program at Yeshiva College, he decided to enroll in the semikha program at the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary. Simultaneously, he pursued a master’s degree in Jewish philosophy at YU’s Bernard Revel School of Jewish Studies. He also studied in YU’s Caroline and Joseph S. Gruss Institute in Israel for two years while completing coursework for his master’s degree in Family Counseling and Therapy at the Family Institute in Jerusalem. Read the rest of this entry…

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Meet the Musmakh: Rabbi Yosef Bronstein Continues His Father’s Devotion to Torah Scholarship at RIETS

Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS) and the Yeshiva University community will celebrate the ordination of its largest class of musmakhim [ordained rabbis] at its Chag HaSemikhah Convocation on March 23, 2014. The record class of rabbis represents an internationally diverse group, hailing from five continents and more than 50 North American cities. While most will remain engaged in either full-time post-semikhah Torah study or religious work—Jewish education, the pulpit, outreach or non-profit work—many will pursue careers in other professions, including medicine and law.

In the weeks leading up to the celebration, YU News will introduce you to several of these remarkable musmakhim

Yosef BronsteinAs a young boy growing up in Bayswater, NY, the prominent Torah scholars at Yeshiva University-affiliated Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary were household names in the home of Rabbi Yosef Bronstein. His father, Rabbi Chaim Bronstein, was a musmakh of the yeshiva and had worked as an administrator there since before Yosef was born. “The study and teaching of Torah were heavily-emphasized values in our home,” recalled Bronstein. “We regarded the faculty at RIETS as respected Torah leaders and role models.”

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Stern College Biology Professors Alyssa Schuck and Jeffrey Weisburg Engage Students in Novel Cancer Research

What’s in an apple? Maybe, just maybe, the secret to kicking cancer.

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Dr. Jeffrey Weisburg and Dr. Alyssa Schuck

According to research by Dr. Alyssa Schuck and Dr. Jeffrey Weisburg, Doris Kukin Chair in Molecular Biology—both clinical assistant professors of biology at Stern College for Women, apples, along with cranberry juice, pomegranates, and green and black tea, contain common cancer-fighting compounds: nutraceutical polyphenols. Found in natural foods and plants, these polyphenolic extracts were proven by Weisburg’s and Schuck’s studies to be selectively toxic to cancer cells, leaving normal cells unaffected.

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Meet the Muskmakh: Rabbi Tsvi Selengut Works to Rebuild Shul and Community Struck by Hurricane Sandy

Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS) and the Yeshiva University community will celebrate the ordination of its largest class of musmakhim [ordained rabbis] at its Chag HaSemikhah Convocation on March 23, 2014. The record class of rabbis represents an internationally diverse group, hailing from five continents and more than 50 North American cities. While most will remain engaged in either full-time post-semikhah Torah study or religious work—Jewish education, the pulpit, outreach or non-profit work—many will pursue careers in other professions, including medicine and law.

In the weeks leading up to the celebration, YU News will introduce you to several of these remarkable musmakhim

Rabbi Tsvi SelengutRabbi Tsvi Selengut, a native of Teaneck, NJ, was only three months into his first full-time position in the rabbinate when he faced the challenge of a lifetime.

Selengut had planned to pursue semikhah [rabbinical training] since his teenage years. “Increasingly, people feel their lives lack meaning,” he said. “There is a real thirst out there for spirituality and satisfaction. Being a rabbi allows you to reach out and help people find the meaning that they want and need.”

After graduating from YU’s Sy Syms School of Business with a degree in marketing (“which has actually come in very handy as a rabbi,” he noted), Selengut enrolled in RIETS to assemble the tools he would need for a successful career as a pulpit rabbi. Read the rest of this entry…

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Alumnus and Former YU Rosh Yeshiva to Receive Israel’s Highest Honor

Rabbi Dr. Aharon Lichtenstein will be awarded the Israel Prize in Jewish religious literature this year on May 6, Israel’s Independence Day. The announcement was made Sunday, February 23, by Israel’s Education Minister Rabbi Shai Piron.

Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein

Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein

A renowned author and scholar, Rabbi Lichtenstein is a former Rosh Yeshiva at YU’s Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS) and Rosh Kollel and director of the RIETS Caroline and Joseph S. Gruss Institute in Jerusalem.

Born in France in 1933, he graduated Yeshiva College and earned his semikhah [rabbinic ordination] at RIETS, as well as a PhD in English literature from Harvard University. In l971, after serving as RIETS Rosh Yeshiva for several years, he immigrated to Israel, joining Rabbi Yehuda Amital as co-Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat Har Etzion in Alon Shevut.

“Rav Lichtenstein—in his manner, bearing, teaching and philosophy—continues to illumine our world in ways unique and distinct.  How wonderful that the Medinah has chosen to recognize this, and how what Rav Lichtenstein is serves as a critical component of what Israel has to be,” said President Richard M. Joel. Read the rest of this entry…

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Meet the Musmakh: Rabbi and Physician Eytan Cowen Cares for Others’ Well-Being, Inside and Out

Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS) and the Yeshiva University community will celebrate the ordination of its largest class of musmakhim [ordained rabbis] at its Chag HaSemikhah Convocation on March 23, 2014. The record class of rabbis represents an internationally diverse group, hailing from five continents and more than 50 North American cities. While most will remain engaged in either full-time post-semikhah Torah study or religious work—Jewish education, the pulpit, outreach or non-profit work—many will pursue careers in other professions, including medicine and law.

In the weeks leading up to the celebration, YU News will introduce you to several of these remarkable musmakhim

Rabbi Eytan Cowen of Toronto, Ontario, did not set out to become a rabbi.

20140220_RIETS_Eytan_Cohen_028He always knew that he wanted to help others—but he interpreted that desire as an imperative to care for their physical well-being. So, inspired by his parents’ altruistic example, he attended the University of Toronto and went on to graduate from medical school with a specialty in naturopathic and integrative medicine. An active member of Hatzolah Toronto, Cowen maintained a solid learning schedule in the Kollel Dirshu as he devoted the next 10 years of his life to building up his practice in Toronto, together with his wife, Sy Syms School of Business graduate Caroline Sarah Bitton, and their children.

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Program for Jewish Genetic Health Educational Weekend in Pittsburgh Commemorates YU Alumnus

The Program for Jewish Genetic Health (PJGH), a joint initiative of Yeshiva University and its Albert Einstein College of Medicine, visited Pittsburgh earlier this month to deliver a weekend full of educational programming surrounding Jewish genetic health issues, in commemoration of the 10th yahrzeit [anniversary of death] of YU alumnus “Mikey” Butler ’02YC. Butler was afflicted with cystic fibrosis (CF), a Jewish genetic disease, and fought it valiantly and bravely until his untimely passing in 2004 at the age of 24.

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Mikey Butler z”l received his diploma from then-President Rabbi Norman Lamm during a surprise ceremony at Pittsburgh International Airport.

The Mikey Butler Yahrzeit Weekend was the brainchild of his mother, Nina (Novetsky) Butler’78S, who sought a way to honor Mikey’s memory while delivering community outreach to the Pittsburgh Jewish community. After learning about the PJGH bringing a weekend of educational programming on Jewish genetic issues to Memphis a year earlier, she worked with PJGH personnel to develop a series of talks for a host of different audiences, including students, parents, young professionals and medical professionals. The events drew approximately 700 Pittsburghers over the weekend. Read the rest of this entry…

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