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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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Aug 2, 2010 — Hundreds of leaders representing more than 80 Jewish communities descended upon Disney World’s Magic Kingdom by the busload. However, they weren’t at the legendary theme park to meet its famous characters or experience the rides, but for a rare opportunity to take a peek “behind the curtain” and learn from one of the most successful global business operations. The group—in Orlando for the Fifth Annual ChampionsGate National Leadership Conference presented by Yeshiva University’s Center for the Jewish Future (CJF)—explored best practices and methods utilized by Disney on a private tour provided by the Disney Institute, an authority in leadership training.

The theme of the conference, which ran from July 29 – Aug. 1, was “Tomorrow Begins Today: From ‘Best Practices’ to ‘Next Practices.’” It aimed to inspire participants to collectively adapt innovative and creative approaches to how they address challenges and growth opportunities in their respective communities and organizations.

“At ChampionsGate, we convene as a community of community leaders,” said Rabbi Kenneth Brander, The David Mitzner Dean of the CJF. “It is a celebration of the synergy between the Yeshiva and Jewish communities around the world. Together we have come to the recognition that it is time to no longer focus on the best practices, but rather on the next practices in dealing with these challenges.”

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The conference—made possible with the support of Mindy and Ira Mitzner ’81Y, University Trustee and chair of the CJF advisory council who provided his ChampionsGate resort as the conference venue—has grown from a gathering of 40 in 2006 into a highly anticipated annual event drawing 360 rabbis, lay leaders and Jewish community professionals this year.

“At ChampionsGate, we gather the leaders of our community to take our communal pulse, celebrate our accomplishments, confront our challenges, advance our values, nourish our spirits and rededicate ourselves to the sacred task of building community,” said Yeshiva University President Richard M. Joel. “This was Mindy and Ira’s vision, and they have willed it into reality with their leadership and generosity.”

The program addressed key issues facing the Jewish community and featured University deans, faculty and administrators including Rabbi David Hirsch, rosh yeshiva at RIETS; Suzanne Last Stone, professor of law at the Cardozo School of Law and director of Cardozo’s Center for Jewish Law and Contemporary Civilization; Rabbi Edward Reichman, MD, associate professor at the Einstein; and Dr. Efrat Sobolofsky, director of YUConnects.

“Yeshiva University’s desire to be marbitz [spread] Torah U’Madda is not merely theoretical,” said Dr. Rachel Rabinovich, president of Denver Academy of Torah. “Under the leadership of President Joel, YU and the CJF continue to provide their deep resources to further the mission and strengthen the infrastructure of innumerable communities like ours.”

Building on the conference theme of next practices, four leadership forums—Funds, Family, Faith and Future—were designed utilizing new and innovative methodologies to engage and encourage interaction among participants. Each track employed a unique facilitation technique known as “scenario planning”—a process introduced by Royal Dutch Shell and a best practice currently used by multiple Fortune 500 companies.

Dr. Scott Goldberg, director of University-School Partnership at YU’s Azrieli Graduate School, facilitated a forum on “Faith: Infusing Jewish Life and Rituals with Greater Passion and Spirituality” and encouraged participants to interact through Twitter during his forum, demonstrating how technology can be used as an inspirational tool.

Josh Joseph, YU vice president and chief of staff, led a track on “Future: Training and Inspiring the Next Generation of Jewish Community Leaders,” and asked participants for their suggestions on what issues the Orthodox community will face in 2020. The lively forum also featured a video presentation, filmed and edited during the session by Uri Westrich, a former YU presidential fellow.

“Throughout the year, we are involved in ongoing conversations with community leaders,” explained Rabbi Ari Rockoff, director of community partnership at the CJF and conference organizer. “These programs were designed using their feedback.”

Josh Kahane ’01Y, an attorney from Memphis, was excited to have the opportunity “to discuss challenges and strengths” with both professional and lay leadership from across the country. “Living and working in a community on the cusp of real Jewish growth, it is important to strengthen my understanding of the YU philosophical model as we continue to create an identity for our young Modern Orthodox community,” said Kahane.

A highlight for many participants was a thought-provoking and open panel discussion on Shabbat entitled, “Orthodoxy’s Big Tent: Where Do We Put the Stakes?” The diverse panel—moderated by Ira Mitzner—featured President Joel; Rabbi Yona Reiss, The Max and Marion Grill Dean of RIETS; Dr. Karen Bacon, The Dr. Monique C. Katz Dean of Stern College for Women; Rabbi David Stav, chair of the Tzohar organization in Israel; Gary Rosenblatt; editor and publisher of The Jewish Week of New York; Rabbi Yakov Horowitz, founder of Project Y.E.S.; C.B. Neugroschl, newly appointed head of school at Yeshiva University High School for Girls; and Barry Shrage, president of the Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Boston.

“Rabbi Brander and President Joel eloquently articulated the challenges facing our generation and the inspired leadership it will take to squarely address them,” said Rabbi Horowitz. “As a member of the Charedi community, I feel that we all face similar challenges and we need to work together to find solutions. I was very proud to be part of this uplifting weekend.”

On the final day of the conference, Rabbi Heshy Glass, head of school at Los Angeles’ YULA High School, reflected on his ChampionsGate experience. “It was great meeting and networking with my counterparts from around the country,” he said, motioning to his peers seated around the breakfast table. “We will definitely be following up with each other throughout the year.”

See Rabbi Brander’s op-ed in The Jewish Week on the future of Jewish leadership.

Read the CJF Dean’s Report.


Feb 2, 2010 — While the past year’s economic difficulties have led to a challenging employment market, there are a number of opportunities available in the Jewish communal and educational fields. For all those aspiring to such careers, the Yeshiva University Center for the Jewish Future and the Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration’s Institute for University-School Partnership are holding their annual Jewish Job Fair on Thursday, February 18 at 6 p.m. at YU’s Wilf Campus at 500 West 185th Street, New York City. Last year’s event drew over 300 people, including YU students and alumni, as well as members of the broader Jewish community.

Dozens of Jewish day schools and community organizations from across the country will be in attendance to accept and review resumes and conduct interviews. Participating organizations include Manhattan Jewish Experience, the Orthodox Union, the Institute for Public Affairs, Areyvut, Anti-Defamation League, Project Extreme and SawYouAtSinai. Day schools include Manhattan Day School, SAR Academy, Stern Hebrew High School of Philadelphia, Yeshivat Noam, Westchester Day School, Yeshiva Toras Emes, Ramaz School, Magen David Yeshiva, Akiba Academy of Dallas, Greenfield Hebrew Academy of Atlanta, Chicagoland Jewish High School, Yeshivah of Flatbush Joel Braverman High School and Yeshiva of Central Queens.

In addition to teaching positions and other career prospects, the fair offers a wide array of opportunities ranging from fellowships and scholarships for master’s programs and internships. The fair is being hosted in conjunction with Yeshiva University’s Career Development Center.

This event is free and open to the public. For more information, to register your organization or school, or to submit a resume visit


Jan 28, 2010 — On Thursday, February 11 at 6 PM, Yeshiva University (YU) Center for the Jewish Future (CJF) and San Francisco’s Congregation Adath Israel will bring together renowned thinkers in their respective fields to discuss “Jewish Ethics and the Internet” at Twitter Headquarters, suite 600, 795 Folsom Street, San Francisco.

The conference will attempt to answer questions such as how is the internet changing the employer-employee relationship; are status updates and tweets making us more narcissistic; and will it be harder to repent for past transgressions when a record in print, picture and video is permanently imprinted for all to see?

“As a great research university with a seminary at its heart we are gratified to participate in such an endeavor,” said Rabbi Kenneth Brander, The David Mitzner Dean of the CJF. “It celebrates our responsibility as a society and as Jews to look at modern technology through the prism of values and the norms and mores of our Jewish tradition.”

Speakers will include Deborah Shultz, Procter & Gamble’s advisor on social media & emerging technologies; Auren Hoffman, CEO of Rapleaf and Business Week columnist; Marcia Hofmann, staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation; Dr. David Pelcovitz, Straus Professor of Psychology and Education at YU’s Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration; and Del Harvey, director of Trust and Safety at Twitter.

“The internet and social networking sites are growing so fast that it’s hard for people to think through all of its ramifications,” explained Adath Israel’s Rabbi Joshua Strulowitz, a YU graduate and conference moderator. “The goal of this conference is to bring a Jewish perspective to the flurry of new ethical issues that are raised.”

To register for the conference ($50 online, $65 at the door) visit or contact for more information.


Jul 1, 2009 — Yeshiva University, through its Center for the Jewish Future (CJF), will introduce a Torah learning program at Lincoln Square Synagogue this summer for women of all ages who want to pursue advanced Talmud and Judaic study. The Women’s Beit Midrash Fellows Program, which takes place July 6-29, affirms the University’s status as a pioneer in developing Orthodox Jewish women as scholars, teachers and community leaders.

The program, focusing on “Crisis, Hope and Leadership in Jewish Tradition,” will provide women of all ages and Jewish educational backgrounds with the knowledge and tools to become Judaic scholars, community leaders and role models for the Orthodox community.

See The Jewish Channel’s coverage of the program here:

The program is a component of the CJF’s annual Manhattan Beit Midrash Community Program, which has offerings for men, women and youth at Lincoln Square Synagogue.

Highlighting this year’s Women’s Beit Midrash Fellows Program will be a mini-course on Mondays and Wednesdays led by Elana Stein Hain, who completed advanced studies in Talmud at YU’s Graduate Program in Advanced Talmudic Studies (GPATS) and is the community scholar at Lincoln Square Synagogue, the first woman to hold such a position at the prominent New York house of worship. The position is sponsored by the CJF.

Hain’s mini-course, “Chabura: Sugya Survey Workshop,” will focus on a sampling of sugyot [Mishnaic texts] which are ripe for both the yeshiva/Brisker (Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik) method as well as academic perspectives. The workshop will include 30 minutes of chavruta [group study] helping participants develop and sharpen their learning skills.

“Women are partners in the leadership of the Jewish community,” said Rabbi Kenneth Brander, the David Mitzner Dean of the CJF. “What this program does is provide the tools for them to grow intellectually and develop the knowledge necessary to take on this role. It’s an outgrowth of our commitment to women’s leadership and Jewish education that dates back 40 years to the founding of Stern College for Women, the Midreshet Yom Rishon held weekly on campus, the GPATS program and numerous leadership fellowships for women.”

In addition to Hain, the faculty for the Women’s Beit Midrash Fellows Program includes Rabbi Moshe Kahn, a faculty member of Stern College, the GPATS program, and the Drisha Institute, who will address “The Call of the Shofar: A Halakhic Analysis” on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays; and Dr. Shawn Zelig Aster, assistant professor of Bible at Yeshiva College, who will focus on “Sefer Yeshayahu: Text and History” on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. In addition, Rabbi Brander will give a special shiur [lecture] on “Justice, Human Rights and Morality: The Ethics of Warfare” on Tuesday, July 14 from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m.

For adults of all ages, there is a rotating scholar series on Tuesday evenings, a three-week course on Wednesdays, July 8, 15 and 22, and a morning program. Among the faculty will be Rabbi Hayyim Angel of Congregation Shearith Israel of New York and instructor at Yeshiva College; Yael Leibowitz, an adjunct professor at Stern College; Rebbetzin Smadar Rosensweig, professor of Bible at Stern College; Dapha Fishman Secunda, director of women’s programming at the CJF; Dr. Shai Secunda, the Jacob and Hilda Blaustein Postdoctoral Fellow in Judaic Studies at Yale University; Rabbi Dr. Jacob J. Schacter, University Professor of Jewish History and Jewish Thought and senior scholar at the CJF; and Rabbi Dr. Jeffrey Woolf, senior lecturer in Talmud at Bar-Ilan University.

Among the topics they will address are: “Jeremiah’s Confrontation with the Religious Establishment”; “Maimonides’ Analysis of Sefer Iyov”; “Yehudah and David”; “Theological Reflections of National Suffering”; “Interactions between Judaism, Islam, and Christianity”; “Reflections on Tisha B’Av”: “Our Patriarch Avraham”; and “Notes from the Destruction in Eichah Rabbah.”

For more information on YU summer programs or to register, please contact or call 212.340.7700 x 430.


Feb 23, 2009 — While the current harsh economic conditions have led to a bleak employment market, there are industries and professions that have job openings, including those in the Jewish communal and educational fields. For all those aspiring to such careers, the Yeshiva University Center for the Jewish Future is holding its inaugural Jewish Job Fair this Thursday, February 26 at 6 p.m. at YU’s Wilf Campus at 500 West 185th Street.

Hundreds of candidates, including students and alumni of YU, have already submitted resumes for consideration, and dozens of Jewish day and high schools and community organizations from across the country will be in attendance to accept and review resumes and conduct interviews.

Participating organizations include Isralight, Jewish Community Center Association of North America, National Council of Young Israel and University Jewish Chaplaincy in London. Day schools include Akiva Hebrew Day School in Southfield, MI, Columbus Torah Academy in Ohio, Yeshivat Rambam in Baltimore, and Torah Academy of Philadelphia. There are also numerous organizations and day schools in the New York/New Jersey/Connecticut region.

The fair is being held in conjunction with the Institute for University-School Partnership, Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration, YSU, TAC, the Career Development Center and the Jewish Social Enterprise Training.

For information and registration, visit


Rabbi Ronald Schwarzberg directs the Gertrude Bienenfeld Department of Jewish Career Development and Placement at the Center for the Jewish Future.

Dec 10, 2008 — With Jewish communities emerging throughout the U.S. and across the globe, the need for qualified rabbis and educators has grown. The search for a suitable rabbi often can be a daunting task.

Serving as the community arm of Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS), Yeshiva University’s (YU) Center for the Jewish Future (CJF) assists congregations, schools, organizations and communities in their search for rabbis. For over a century, RIETS, the Western hemisphere’s leading center for Torah learning, has trained over 2,700 of the world’s most distinguished Orthodox rabbis, scholars and teachers.

“We’ve place hundreds of rabbis over the years,” said Rabbi Ronald Schwarzberg, director of the Gertrude Bienenfeld Department of Jewish Career Development and Placement at CJF. “With our talented pool of RIETS and Rabbinical Council of America rabbis we are able to match communities with candidates who are best prepared to meet their needs.”

Rabbi Moshe Davis, a Yeshiva University and RIETS graduate, began serving as an assistant rabbi of Houston’s United Orthodox Synagogues in August after working with CJF’s Rabbinic Placement Office. “They demonstrated keen, hands-on knowledge of many of the Jewish communities across America,” said Rabbi Davis of CJF staff. “I felt that I had people advocating on my behalf.”

Rabbi Chaim Strauchler, spiritual leader of Shaarei Shomayim, a 700-family member congregation in Toronto, credits RIETS and CJF for where he is today. “My experience at RIETS gave me the basic skills that are crucial to my work as a teacher of Torah,” said the former Rhodes Scholar. “The exposure to the personalities of both chaverim [friends] and rabbanim have guided my work as a communal rabbi.”

As for the process, “the CJF served as the shadchan [matchmaker] to connect me with Shaarei Shomayim,” said Rabbi Strauchler. “They were involved in every step of the process, providing advice from the interview stage through the contract phase and beyond. My family and I love our community and our shul.”

Another YU graduate, Rabbi Elchanan Jay Weinbach, approached CJF with a somewhat complex request: “Find me a position that will allow me to do something truly meaningful for the world of Jewish education.” In a short time, CJF approached Rabbi Weinbach about Shalhevet School in Los Angeles.

“Throughout the challenging process, Rabbi Schwarzberg and his staff were there to lend support and advice,” said Rabbi Weinbach, who now serves as the head of school at Shalhevet. “Thanks to the support from YU and CJF, my wife Yocheved [Stern College for Women ’89] and I are living the Jewish educator’s dream.”

Rabbi Zvi Engel recently began serving as rabbi of Congregation Or Torah in Skokie, IL. “The Rabbinic Placement Office gave me a high level of confidence in their ability to shepherd me throughout the entire search process,” said Rabbi Engel. “They guided me towards congregations that were appropriate for me and my family.”

CJF Rabbinic Programming follows rabbis into the field, encouraging professional growth, providing guidance and counsel, and supporting the personal development and wellbeing of rabbis and their wives. An array of such programs are provided by the Legacy Heritage Fund Rabbinic Enrichment Initiative (LHREI), including skills building, seminars, conferences, Web resources and tools for networking. LHREI is generously supported by Legacy Heritage Fund Limited.

“The CJF has remained in constant contact with me,” said Rabbi Strauchler. “I have benefited from a close connection with Rabbi Jacob J. Schacter, who has given so much to young rabbis through the LHREI Yarchei Kallah program,” he said, referring to YU’s University Professor of Jewish History and Jewish Thought and senior scholar at CJF.

David Nadler, head of Shaarei Shomayim’s rabbi search committee, was pleased with CJF’s efforts throughout the process. “Rabbi Schwarzberg and his staff started by visiting Toronto for a day of meetings with rabbis, community leaders and the search committee,” said Nadler. “They vetted all the candidates and allowed our shul to have finalists that represented the elite of RIETS. We are very pleased with the results of our search. ”

To find out more information about CJF’s Gertrude Bienenfeld Department of Jewish Career Development and Placement, contact or visit


Feb 7, 2008 — The phenomenon of post-high school study in Israel is no longer a phenomenon. It has become a mass movement within the Orthodox community. A new Web site,, developed by Yeshiva University’s Center for the Jewish Future (CJF) and based on the efforts of the Orthodox Caucus, will help students and parents, and Israel guidance counselors to select the right program of Israel study from among 60 schools and to navigate smoothly through the year in Israel.

The Guide to Israel Schools aims to assuage parents’ concerns about separating from their child for an extended period with research on topics ranging from the goals and benefits of the year in Israel to what to do if a child becomes homesick. The Web site also provides a valuable tool by listing extensive scholarship opportunities of which many parents may not be aware.

The CJF site will help parents and students define their goals and expectations for the year in Israel: increased Torah knowledge, life skills in adaptability and independence, and a deeper connection to the land of Israel.

“Programs are vastly different from one another. It is our hope that this information will help parents and students investigate the institutions’ religious and philosophical bent,” said Rabbi Kenneth Brander, dean of CJF. In addition, the site provides resources that rabbis, psychologists and social service professionals have written to assist in coping with psychological and physical challenges that may present themselves.

“At its core, the year in Israel can be so beneficial for the exact same reason that the college experience can be beneficial, namely, that at this critical stage of their lives, students are ripe for separating from their families on a certain level and finding their own voice and values,” says Rabbi Jay Goldmintz, headmaster of Ramaz Upper School and a graduate of YU’s Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology and Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary, on the Web site.

The year in Israel gives students the unique opportunity to continue the process of separation individuation in a Torah environment. Schools in Israel are able to expose students to the richness and breadth of Jewish tradition which cannot be accomplished in a high school setting. Students in these programs are enabled to learn on their own and hone their skills as they nurture a lifelong commitment to learning.


Sep 6, 2007


Leading Experts to Explore Cutting-Edge Technology

New York, NY, September 6, 2007 – Young couples facing the challenge of infertility have many more options today due to extraordinary advances in medical research. However, Orthodox families must reconcile not only the medical and ethical issues inherent in addressing fertility problems, but also the parameters of Halakhah (Jewish law).

A groundbreaking conference, “Partners in Creation: Fertility, Modern Medicine and Jewish Law,” co-sponsored by Yeshiva University Center for the Jewish Center which will examine fertility issues, will be held on Sunday, October 14, 9:30 am-5:30 pm at Yeshiva University’s Wilf Campus in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan. The conference, organized by the Yeshiva University (YU) Student Medical Ethics Society (MES) and funded by the Fuld Family, will provide participants with both an overview and in-depth information on technologically advanced medical practices in use today that help families struggling with infertility. For the first time, the final session will focus on newly developed technologies and medical procedures from a halakhic (Jewish legal perspective.

In addition to plenary sessions dealing with general aspects of infertility treatment, participants will be able to choose from a series of specialized tracks, each geared toward comprehensive analysis of the most pressing issues in the field. A sampling of topics includes egg donation, artificial insemination, pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, and halakhic infertility, among others. The keynote address will be delivered by the Chief Rabbi of Great Britain, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks. Individual sessions will be guided by preeminent rabbis and physicians who are leading experts in the fields of reproductive medicine and Halakhah.

“Reproductive technology, one of the most rapidly advancing fields in modern medicine, continues to generate profound ethical quandaries as it explores new and uncharted frontiers,” said Dr. Edward Reichman, associate professor of clinical emergency medicine at YU’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine (AECOM). “This conference, by bringing together some of the greatest minds in both reproductive medicine and Jewish law, will beautifully illustrate how the Jewish tradition continues to address cutting-edge science in a practical and relevant way.”

The Student Medical Ethics Society is a student-run organization with the goal of promoting education and awareness of medical ethics at YU. Dedicated students work alongside committed professors and teachers to translate complicated topics into
language the lay person can understand. MES is especially focused on issues of medical ethics relating to Torah values. MES was founded in 2005 by a group of undergraduate students with the support of YU’s Center for the Jewish Future (CJF) and has grown from a small group of students with shared interests to running large-scale events with university-wide participation. This is the second annual conference it has hosted. The Society also hosts genetic testing events to help combat the high incidence of various genetic diseases in the Jewish community.

Preregistration is required and will be open to all those who have an interest in learning more about the ethics of infertility. Admission is $20, $15 for YU alumni, $10 for RIETS rabbinic alumni, $10 for students, and $5 for YU students. For Early Bird Discount please register before September 27. The conference is accredited by AECOM to offer 6 AM PRA category 1 credits. To register please go to


Feb 8, 2007 — Yeshiva University Center for the Jewish Future (CJF) has developed what is believed to be the first formal program at any rabbinical school in America designed to give rabbis’ wives the opportunity to meet with professionals to discuss issues of self, family, and community in a safe and supportive environment. The second Annual “Rebbetzins’ Yarchei Kallah” program will take place from February 12-14 at Congregation Keter Torah in Teaneck, NJ.

The conference is for wives of rabbis who are participants in the Yarchei Kallah Program which is part of the Legacy Heritage Fund Rabbinic Enrichment Initiative.

Rabbis’ wives face an increasingly complex series of opportunities and challenges in the 21st century. Many seek their own identities while striving to assist their husbands and fill the traditional role of a rabbi’s wife. Until recently, there wasn’t a “road map” that addresses their evolving role and provides them with guidance on how to navigate family and professional responsibilities.

“Rabbis’ wives play a pivotally important role, indeed many roles, in their communities,” said Rabbi Jacob J. Schacter, the internationally prominent rabbi who serves as Senior Scholar of the CJF and is directing this initiative. “Contemporary Orthodox Jews, from rabbis and rabbis’ wives to lay leaders and community members, are sophisticated, intelligent and rooted professionally and culturally in the secular world while living traditional Jewish lives,” said Rabbi Schacter. “We must ensure that they have the tools and guidance necessary to lead these lives creatively and intellectually, now and in the future.”

Over 40 rabbis’ wives, from 32 cities throughout the US and Canada will attend this conference where they will partiicipate in sessions such as “The Blessing and Fulfillment of Being a Rebbetzin,” “Physical and Mental Abuse in Families,” “Raising Healthy Children.” In addition, they will have mentoring sessions in which more experienced rebbetzins will provide insights and respond to questions raised in the sessions.