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YU Students Engage in Volunteer and Service Learning Missions Around the World

This winter break, 90 Yeshiva University students took part in an array of hands-on community building projects in Israel, the United States, Nicaragua and Mexico.

Counterpoint Israel participants conducted English language and art camps for Israeli teens.

Organized by YU’s Center for the Jewish Future, the missions differed widely in focus, ranging from service-learning and experiential education to humanitarian aid. Building on the success of the Counterpoint Israel summer program, 39 YU students ran a series of winter camps for 500 Israeli teens in Jerusalem, Kiryat Malachi and Dimona that sought to strengthen their English language skills and facilitate self-exploration through art.

In Mexico, 16 students assisted with farming and harvesting in local private and public gardens, building pools for aquaculture development and contributing to the community’s ecotourism project, in collaboration with a local non-profit organization that works within the Mayan community to promote environmental sustainability, advance the integration of women in the economy and strengthen the capacity of grassroots groups.

A group of 16 students also volunteered in Nicaragua with Servicios Medicos Comunales, an NGO that promotes community-based sustainable development in the southwestern district of San Juan del Sur, by assisting with the construction of a public library—a project started by previous CJF winter mission participants. And 19 students traveled across Texas—from Houston to San Antonio to Dallas—on the CJF’s “Jewish Life Coast to Coast” program, meeting with local rabbis, educators and communal leaders to gain a better understanding of the unique challenges faced by these diverse Jewish communities. Read the rest of this entry…

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Yeshiva University Faculty Present Alternative Super Bowl Halftime Show

With the Super Bowl right around the corner, why not inject some spirituality into this year’s big game?

Yeshiva University presents its second annual YU Torah Halftime Show featuring exciting and inspiring presentations on “Torah and Sports” topics from Rabbi Kenneth Brander, David Mitzner Dean of the Center for the Jewish Future; Charlie Harary, clinical professor of management and entrepreneurship at Sy Syms School of Business; and C.B. Neugroschl, head of school at Yeshiva University High School for Girls. The show will be available for viewing on Sunday, February 3 by visiting www.yu.edu/half-time.

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Weekly Course Open to all Women will Feature Rabbis Jacob J. Schacter and Hayyim Angel

Yeshiva University’s Center for the Jewish Future (CJF) will launch a new Women’s Beit Midrash Program on February 5 at Stern College for Women’s Israel Henry Beren campus in Manhattan for participants of all ages.

The six-week program, developed in conjunction with the University’s Office of Alumni Affairs and New Jersey and Long Island Regional offices, will feature Rabbi Dr. Jacob J. Schacter, University Professor of Jewish History and Jewish Thought and senior scholar of the CJF, and Yeshiva College Jewish Studies faculty member Rabbi Hayyim Angel. Read the rest of this entry…

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Adina Shmidman on the Various Roles of the Rabbi’s Wife 

Recently, a congregant asked me to speak to her daughter, who was planning to become a Rebbetzin, to give her some words of encouragement and advice. I immediately agreed and offered heartfelt congratulations and sincere wishes for all to go well. But, knowing how difficult the role can be, I had to give some serious thought as to what I would say to the new Rebbetzin.

Adina Shmidman serves as the Rebbetzin of the Lower Merion Synagogue in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania.

Being a Rebbetzin can be a great deal of work. Responsibilities often range from hosting meals to visiting sick congregants to supporting families through challenging times and reaching out to the unaffiliated. And there is the added challenge of juggling one’s home, family, and jobs.

The flip-side is the reward—not just the heavenly payback, but the earthly satisfaction. Forging deep, meaningful bonds with your congregation and knowing that you are changing Jewish life in your small corner of the world is incredibly gratifying.

So when I met with this young woman my first message to her was to embrace the position. I explained that the scope of the position—including adult and youth programming of all kinds, public and private Torah classes, and hosting guests and congregants—may seem overwhelming at first.

But I reassured her that just as in a new marriage there is an adjustment period where one gets to know her new spouse, here, too, the union of the rabbinic couple and shul is a relationship that develops in time. While there are many demands and responsibilities, you have the opportunity to use your unique talents and strengths to contribute to the spirit of the shul and the community.

Her first question was about managing her communal responsibilities while holding another job. Read the rest of this entry…

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Student Leaders to Spend Winter Break Making a Difference, Deepening Relationships in Israel, Nicaragua, Mexico and the U.S.

Yeshiva University’s Center for the Jewish Future (CJF) will be sending 91 outstanding undergraduate students on service learning, experiential education and humanitarian aid missions across three continents during the University’s upcoming winter intersession.

Students on a previous mission to Nicaragua set the foundation for a library in San Juan del sur.

From January 10-20, the student leaders will take part in an array of hands-on community building projects in Israel, the United States, Nicaragua and Mexico while developing their own leadership, teaching and advocacy skills.

Building on the success of the “Counterpoint Israel” summer program, 39 YU students will run a series of Counterpoint “Winter Camps” for over 450 Israeli teens in Jerusalem, Kiryat Malachi, and Dimona that will focus on English enrichment and self-exploration through art. Throughout the 10-day service learning mission, the students will guide Israeli teens through the process of developing a personal narrative and using multiple mediums to create multidimensional autobiographies. Read the rest of this entry…

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CJF-RIETS Virtual Lecture Series Teaches Rabbis Effective Methods for Addressing Relationship Issues at Every Stage

Yeshiva University’s Center for the Jewish Future (CJF) and affiliate Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Rabbinical Theological Seminary (RIETS) has launched a comprehensive “Rabbinic Marriage Counseling” course that aims to develop communal rabbis’ skills and techniques in assisting couples through every stage of relationship—from dating and marriage to crisis, death and divorce.

The first of its kind, the yearlong online lecture series will explore the “rabbi’s role” in various situations and how he can effectively collaborate with couples, their families and mental health professionals in formulating and implementing a counseling plan. The course, which boasts 40 participants from across North America and Israel, began on October 15 with an in-depth look at dating.

“While communal rabbis are interested in attending conferences to enhance and inform their rabbinic education, the availability of time and money for such enrichment are real obstacles. This course provides a cost- and time-effective way for rabbis to update their skills in a way that will allow them to serve their constituents better,” said Rabbi Levi Mostofsky, director of RIETS CJF Continuing Rabbinic Education and Support. Read the rest of this entry…

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Program for Jewish Genetic Health and YU Connects Present November 6 Discussion on Issues Related to Family Health and Genetics

UPDATE: Due, to the Hurricane, this event has been postponed.

The Program for Jewish Genetic Health, a joint initiative between Yeshiva University and Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and YUConnects, the social and matchmaking organization of the Center for the Jewish Future, will present “To Tell or Not to Tell: Issues Related to Family Health and Genetics,” at Congregation Keter Torah in Teaneck, NJ on Tuesday, November 6 at 8 p.m. The event is free and open to the public and is co-sponsored by Congregation Keter Torah, Congregation Beth Abraham and the Rabbinical Council of Bergen County.

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Student-Run Conference Explores Medical Dilemmas Born out of the Holocaust

Hundreds filled Yeshiva University’s Furst Hall on the morning of October 21 to attend the 7th annual Fuld Family Medical Ethics Conference. Titled “Out of the Ashes: Jewish Approaches to Medical Dilemmas Born out of the Holocaust,” the daylong event featured a diverse lineup of speeches, panels and sessions dedicated to an array of moral and ethical dilemmas within the medical realm created by the Shoah.

The annual conference, sponsored through the generous support of Rabbi Dovid and Mrs. Anita Fuld, serves as a yearly high point for the Yeshiva University Student Medical Ethics Society Read the rest of this entry…

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Led by Yeshiva University, High School Students Head to D.C. on Israel Lobbying Mission

More than 100 high school students headed to Capitol Hill on October 15 to lobby on behalf of Israel. The mission, organized by Yeshiva University, was directed by Matthew Schwartz, YU’s assistant director of recruitment and high school programming, and Ethan Wasserman, last year’s president of YUPAC (Yeshiva University Political Awareness Club) and a current YU presidential fellow.

The lobbying mission came about after Rivka Abbe, a senior at Samuel H. Wang Yeshiva University High School for Girls (Central), approached Rabbi Kenneth Brander, David Mitzner Dean of the Center for the Jewish Future, with the idea. Abbe became passionate about politics and lobbying after working closely with former YUPAC president, Dina Muskin, who organized lobbying training for students at Central. Read the rest of this entry…

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Gilad Shalit, Accompanied by His IDF Unit, Makes Appearance at Yeshiva University

Thousands of students and members of the Yeshiva University community poured into Lamport Auditorium on the school’s Wilf Campus on October 16 to welcome Gilad Shalit and members of his unit who came to share their experiences.

“Tonight we celebrate the fact that these soldiers have come to visit us in the exact place where, three years ago, Noam Shalit stood and prayed with us for the safe return of his son,” said Rabbi Kenneth Brander, the David Mitzner Dean of YU’s Center for the Jewish Future.

On June 25, 2006, Shalit was captured by Hamas in an attack that also killed two soldiers in his unit. Shalit’s captivity lasted five years, during which Jews all over the world campaigned for his release and organized prayer on his behalf. Shalit’s commander, Yoav B., told the crowd, he and his unit, now reservists, hoped to find closure by telling their story. Read the rest of this entry…

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