Yeshiva University News » Center for the Jewish Future

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 jcareerplacement@yu.edu or visit www.yu.edu/cjf.

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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, www.yu.edu/cjf/gis, 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.

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Sep 6, 2007

YESHIVA UNIVERSITY CENTER FOR THE JEWISH FUTURE CO-SPONSORS CONFERENCE ON MEDICAL ETHICS OF FERTILITY, MODERN MEDICINE, AND JEWISH LAW

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 www.yu.edu/medicalethics

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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.

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Feb 5, 2007 — Yeshiva University Center for the Jewish Future 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 2nd Annual “Rebbetzins Yarchei Kallah” program will take place from February 12-14 at Congregation Keter Torah in Teaneck, NJ.

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.

“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 Dr. Jacob J. Schacter, the internationally prominent rabbi who serves as Senior Scholar of the Center for the Jewish Future and is directing this initiative. “We must ensure that they have the tools and guidance necessary to lead these lives creatively and intellectually, now and in the future.”

The multi-disciplinary Center for the Jewish Future, established in 2005 by Yeshiva University, harnesses the educational resources, commitment to service, and intellectual capital of the university and its undergraduate, graduate and professional schools to articulate a vision for the future while transforming that vision into reality. The center maintains departments focusing on rabbinic, professional, and lay leadership training and education, national youth learning programs, community development, scholarship, research, web-based activities and more.

Founded in 1886, Yeshiva University brings together the heritage of Western civilization and the ancient traditions of Jewish law and life. More than 7,000 undergraduate and graduate students study at YU’s four New York City campuses: the Wilf Campus, Israel Henry Beren Campus, Brookdale Center, and Jack and Pearl Resnick Campus. YU’s three undergraduate schools –– Yeshiva College, Stern College for Women, and Sy Syms School of Business ––– offer a unique dual program comprised of Jewish studies and liberal arts courses. Its graduate and affiliate schools include Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Wurzweiler School of Social Work, Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology, Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration, Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies, and Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary. YU is ranked among the nation’s leading academic research institutions.

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Nov 16, 2006 — Yeshiva University’s Center for the Jewish Future (CJF) is working with the American Jewish World Service to send 15 students to Central America in January for the university’s second humanitarian mission.

The YU delegation will travel to Guatemala from January 7-14 to help them with sustainable development and building projects.

American Jewish World Service (AJWS) is an international development organization that helps thousands of people in Africa, Asia, and the Americas move beyond poverty, illiteracy, disaster, and war. AJWS believes that empowering individuals and communities regardless of race, religion, or nationality advances human dignity and transforms the world for the better.

Upon acceptance to the program, students are obligated to attend seven hours of mandatory orientation sessions. It is at these sessions where vital information will be distributed, and important issues regarding the trip will be discussed.

The Center for Jewish Future will ensure that this trip is run in full accordance with halakha.

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Jun 19, 2006 — The Graduate Program in Advanced Talmudic Studies (GPATS) at Stern College for Women will expand this fall to offer an intensive two-year senior fellowship to two program graduates. It will be the first program of its kind in the United States.

The two inaugural fellows are Elana Stein and Esti Honig, both of Teaneck.

The GPATS fellowship is open to women who have completed the two-year curriculum. The senior fellows will continue their rigorous study of Talmud and Halakhah and play a leading role in expanding GPATS educational programs in various communities. They will also receive leadership training on topics such as public speaking and leading group discussions through Yeshiva University’s Center for the Jewish Future (CJF).

The goal of GPATS is to develop women as both Judaic scholars and role models for the Orthodox community. Launched in 2000, the program is funded by the AVI CHAI Foundation and is directed by Dr. Ephraim Kanarfogel.

“Highly educated women are needed as scholars, as educators, and as role models,” said Rabbi Shmuel Hain, rosh beit midrash (head of the learning program) of GPATS. “The senior fellows, with the help of the CJF, will be better prepared to take on these leadership roles in the Orthodox community.”

Over Shavuot, nearly all of the GPATS students served as scholars in communities across North America, from Nebraska to Ohio to Boston to New Jersey.

On May 24, the program graduated 11 women, the largest class in its history. They will receive a certificate in Advanced Talmudic Studies in recognition of their two years of intensive study of Talmud and Halakhah.

Many of this year’s graduates also pursued graduate degrees in education and this fall will teach at a variety of high schools and colleges.

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Feb 8, 2006 — While traveling through Germany on winter break, Yeshiva College sophomore Noah Cheses struggled to shake off the ghosts of the past.

Standing in the square where Hitler delivered many of his speeches, Mr. Cheses pictured throngs of Nazis with swastikas over their hearts, raising their hands in salute. “It was hard for me to separate the Nazis of the past from the German pedestrians now walking through that same square,” Mr. Cheses said.

Mr. Cheses was part of a student deluegation sent to Germany by the Center for the Jewish Future to learn about contemporary attitudes in that country.

Like him, the 19 other students on the trip arrived with a tainted image of Germany, but found that the more they spoke with the students, teachers, politicians, and everyday people they met, the more that image began to fade.

“I saw Germany from a new perspective,” he said. “I could not blame the youth for what their grandparents chose to do, especially when they were sincerely attempting to establish a new Germany, marked by religious tolerance and compassion.”

The students traveled to Munich and Berlin, and visited Sachsenhausen concentration camp, the Holocaust Museum, and the Lauder Yeshiva, where the Yeshiva College students in the group learned with their local counterparts.

The YU delegation met with officials from the Ministry of Education for Bavaria, Klaus Schutz—the former German ambassador to Israel who was the mayor of East Berlin—and German-Jewish leaders and community members.

The Center for the Jewish Future organized the trip with Bridge of Understanding, which, since its inception in 1994, has brought more than 500 American Jews to Germany.

“We wanted students to discover modern-day Germany and learn about its Jewish history and political views towards Israel,” said Aliza Abrams, Presidential Fellow at the CJF and a Stern College for Women alumna, who helped coordinate the trip.

The center also explored ways to assist in strengthening Jewish life in Germany, Ms. Abrams said. All students on the trip have since volunteered to return to Germany to help its Jewish community.

“The trip put the past in perspective,” said Stern senior Yardanna Platt. “It was an intense examination of where Germany is now, in relation to its past, and how it is moving forward.”

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Jan 10, 2006 — Yeshiva University students who will be in Israel during winter break will interact with former Gush Katif residents as part of “BeLevav Shalem,” a special program sponsored by The Center for the Jewish Future (CJF).

On January 16, students will visit communities displaced from Gush Katif to learn about their situations following the Gaza disengagement. That evening, students are invited to a panel discussion at the Menachem Begin Conference Center that will focus on the social, religious, and emotional aspects of the disengagement.

On January 18, students will volunteer in greenhouses with former residents of Gush Katif. In the evening, participants will have dinner with young Israelis to learn more about the realities of life in Israel.

Students on both the Wilf and Beren campuses of Yeshiva University collected toys for the children of displaced families and will present them to the families during their visit.

“This is a terrific opportunity for Yeshiva University students, no matter their political opinion, to help Jews in need,” said Rabbi Kenneth Brander, dean of The Center for the Jewish Future. “I am proud of the students who are leading this initiative. Their willingness to use their vacations for such an important event speaks volumes about their commitment to Medinat Yisrael (the state of Israel) and Am Yisrael (the people of Israel).”

The Center for the Jewish Future works with YU’s colleges, schools, and affiliates to shape programs to train Jewish lay and professional leadership, develop initiatives and strengthen existing ones, and deliver services to its students and the broader Jewish communities.



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Jan 5, 2006 — For some students, winter break is a time for relaxing after a tough semester. But for many Yeshiva University students, the time will be spent helping people in the United States, Central America and Israel.

Sixteen undergraduate students from YU are traveling with the American Jewish World Service (AJWS) to Las Bendiciones in Central Honduras in January as part of the university’s first Alternative Break.

Las Bendiciones is a remote village in the province of San Jeronimo with no electricity. The YU group will stay in the village for the week and work alongside community members to build a school. While there, students will interact with the villagers and learn about issues relevant to the developing world. Upon their return, the students will initiate follow-up projects, including fundraising, raising awareness about poverty, AIDS, fair trade, and other issues affecting developing nations.

American Jewish World Service (AJWS) is an international development organization that helps thousands of people in Africa, Asia, and the Americas move beyond poverty, illiteracy, disaster, and war.

Twenty students will travel to Germany with YU’s Center for the Jewish Future to meet with Jewish leaders and community members and learn about modern Germany. As part of the German government-sponsored Bridge of Understanding program, students will have an opportunity to experience modern German society, culture and politics first hand.

Students will meet with Jewish communal leaders, rabbis, and German political leaders. They will meet with some of the German students and share programming ideas.

With the influx of immigrants from the former Soviet Union, Germany’s Jewish population has risen from about 30,000 in 1990 to about 100,000 in 2000, making it the fastest growing Jewish community worldwide.

YU students and alumni on the Blanche Schreiber Torah Tours will be traveling to three communities to share their Jewish knowledge and enthusiasm for learning. Groups will visit Beit David Highland Lakes Synagogue and Hillel community day school in South Florida; The Westwood Kehilla, Links Kollel and the UCLA community in Los Angeles; and Brith Sholom Beth Israel in Charleston, SC.

The Torah Tours groups will develop one-on-one learning programs, lead lunch-and-learn sessions, and run other programs to enhance the Jewish learning in the communities they are visiting.

The program in Charleston is an outgrowth of past Torah Tours. The community asked The Center for the Jewish Future to create a new “Commuting Kollel,” where students from YU will visit the community twice a month to engage the community. See the related story here.

Finally, YU students who will be in Israel over winter break are encouraged to participate in “BeLevav Shalem,” a special program sponsored by The Center for the Jewish Future that focuses on the disengagement from Gaza and provides a greater understanding of contemporary Israeli society.

On the first day, students will visit communities displaced from Gush Katif to learn about their situations following the disengagement from Gaza.

That evening, students are invited to a panel discussion at the Menachem Begin Conference Center that will focus on the social, religious, and emotional aspects of the disengagement.

On the second day, students will volunteer in greenhouses and communal settings. Participants will have dinner that evening at the Renaissance Hotel with Israelis, where they will have an opportunity to discuss the current situation in Israel.

“These programs can be transformational,” said Rabbi Kenneth Brander, dean of YU’s Center for the Jewish Future. “Such activities allow our students to realize the opportunities they have to change the world.

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