Yeshiva University News » CJF

Inspired by CJF Mission to Nicaragua, YU Students Make a Difference in Kenya

Ever since she was in ninth grade, Avital Levine, a biology major at Stern College for Women, dreamed of traveling to Africa. “I got hooked after watching a documentary about HIV/AIDS and from then on, I was determined to go there.”

Chanie Shalmoni, left, and Avital Levine, right

Chanie Shalmoni, left, and Avital Levine, right, spent the summer volunteering in a Nairobi medical clinic.

This summer, Levine’s dream came true, when she spent five weeks in Nairobi, Kenya with fellow student Chanie Shalmoni, a business major at Sy Syms School of Business.

Interning through the Advance Africa program, the pair enjoyed a unique opportunity to volunteer in a medical clinic and orphanage, caring for underprivileged children and gaining hands-on medical experience. The women also had a chance to go on a safari and explore the local sites, in addition to connecting with the small Jewish community nearby, including an African family who had recently converted to Judaism. Read the rest of this entry…

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ELI Talks Showcase ChampionsGate Leadership Conference Presentations 

This year, for the first time in the eight-year history of Yeshiva University’s ChampionsGate National Leadership Conference, select presentations were filmed and are being made available to the public as part of ELI Talks. The talks, 12-minute TED-style presentations that seek to share innovative and thought-provoking Jewish content, are presented in partnership with the AVI CHAI Foundation.



Eight ChampionsGate video presentations are featured in the ELI Talks series, including: ”Failure to Launch: The Upside of Falling Down” by Rabbi Josh Joseph, senior vice president; ”Social Intelligence: Foundation for Jewish Living” by Dr. Rona Novick, director of the Fanya Gottesfeld Heller Doctoral Program at YU’s Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration; “Jewish Perspectives on Happiness” by Dr. David Pelcovitz, the Gwendolyn and Joseph Straus Chair in Jewish Education at Azrieli;  and “Being in the Business of Tikun Olam” by Anita Zucker, CEO of the InterTech Group.

View all eight of the ChampionsGate ELI Talks.

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Hundreds of Community Leaders Gather to Share Ideas and Inspiration at Annual ChampionsGate Conference

More than 350 rabbinic, educational and lay leaders from 73 communities across North America and around the globe came together for Yeshiva University’s Eighth Annual ChampionsGate National Leadership Conference held in Orlando, Fla., July 25-28.

This year’s theme, “Kehilla: What We Bring to It,” explored the broader narrative of community, inviting participants to journey through four separate realms of communal leadership as they gained practical tools and fostered new collaborative partnerships to address pressing issues facing their communities at home and Orthodox Judaism as a whole.

“The future of our community is dependent on our commitment to Torah values and gifted leadership who support those values throughout our community,” said YU President Richard M. Joel. Read the rest of this entry…

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Certificate Program in Experiential Jewish Education, Now in its Third Year, Seeks to Revolutionize Field

At their final seminar in Yeshiva University’s Center for the Jewish Future (CJF) Certificate Program in Experiential Jewish Education, 21 educators from across the map in every sense—geographically, denominationally and generationally—reflected on their own spiritual journeys and backgrounds in an attempt to answer these questions: What influences Jewish identity and engagement? And how, as educators, could they create positive experiences and lasting impact for others in those areas?

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Presenter Naomi Less of Storahtelling and Cohort III member Elise Loterman of Hillel of Greater Toronto take part in a storytelling workshop.

“We need to be focused on the whole sense of individual journeys, which call for different questions and measures of success,” Shuki Taylor, the program’s director, told the group.

Those kinds of questions and measures are at the heart of the Certificate Program. Now graduating its second cohort and inaugurating a third, it is one of the few professional programs to focus on the unique role experiential Jewish education plays in the transmission of Jewish values and traditions—and to arm practitioners with research, methodology and skills to increase their effectiveness on the job. Read the rest of this entry…

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Film Produced by Center for the Jewish Future and OU to be Screened at Synagogues Worldwide July 16

Once again this year, Yeshiva University’s Center for the Jewish Future (CJF) and the Orthodox Union will combine efforts on programs for the Three Weeks and Nine Days leading to Tisha B’Av, to be followed by a variety of shiurim on Tisha B’Av itself.

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YUTorah offers various resources for the Three Weeks and Tisha B’Av.

In this year of extremely early Jewish observances, the Three Weeks begin on Tuesday, June 25 — the Fast of Shiva Asar B’Tammuz, the Fast of the 17 of Tammuz, with its restrictions on levity. The Nine Days , with its deeper restrictions, begin on Monday, July 8, Rosh Chodesh Av. Tisha B’Av itself, the Ninth of Av, extends from Monday evening July 15, until nightfall Tuesday, July 16. Read the rest of this entry…

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Students and Recent Graduates Kick Off Summer Break with Sandy Aid Mission

It’s been more than seven months since Hurricane Sandy struck the greater New York region and some areas continue to suffer the storm’s ravaging effects. When Elana Polster, a Presidential Fellow at Yeshiva University’s Center for the Jewish Future, heard that volunteers were still needed to assist in the recovery, she mobilized 10 students and recent graduates from YU and partnered with Nechama, a disaster relief organization, to run a four-day mission to Long Island where students worked to rebuild damaged homes.

YU students prime and paint Lindenhurst house damaged by Sandy

A group of YU  students and recent graduates primed and painted this house damaged by Sandy in Lindenhurst, NY.

“What intrigued me about this mission was that months later, there was still work to be done and I wanted to help,” said participant Yitzy Frankel, a new Yeshiva College graduate. “It was really shocking to drive down there and see the water, houses and devastation that still remained.” Read the rest of this entry…

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Yeshiva University Commemorates the Life and Legacy of Rabbi Yosef Dov Soloveitchik

On April 14, Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS) and Yeshiva University’s Center for the Jewish Future (CJF) commemorated the 20th yahrtzeit [anniversary of death] of “the Rav,” Rabbi Yosef Dov Soloveitchik zt”l, Torah luminary and YU Rosh Yeshiva, with a full-day learning program that took place in the Lamport Auditorium on YU’s Wilf Campus. Thousands attended in-person or followed the event online to gain insight into the Rav’s life and legacy through lectures, discussions and presentations given by his family and closest students.

“I experience a sense of déjà vu standing in this room today, for in this very room we waited with baited breath for the Rav to enter and deliver his famous shiurim on his father’s yahrtzeit each year,” said Rabbi Joel Schreiber, Chairman of the RIETS Board of Trustees, in his opening remarks to the participants. “In this room thousands of men and women had their hearts, minds and souls lifted to unimaginable heights by the Rav.”

The program kicked off with “Multiple Faces of the Rav,” a panel that brought together Rabbi Soloveitchik’s daughter, Dr. Atarah Twersky, and several students of the Rav, including Rabbi Herschel Schachter, RIETS Rosh Yeshiva; Dr. David Shatz, YU professor of philosophy; and Rabbi Kenneth Brander, David Mitzner Dean of the CJF, to examine the many and varied roles played by the Rav during his lifetime. Read the rest of this entry…

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Yeshiva University Commemorates 20th Yahrtzeit of Rabbi Yosef Dov Soloveitchik with Day of Learning

Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Rabbinical Theological Seminary (RIETS) and Yeshiva University’s Center for the Jewish Future (CJF) will commemorate the 20th yahrtzeit [anniversary of death] of “the Rav,” Rabbi Yosef Dov Soloveitchik zt”l, Torah luminary and YU Rosh Yeshiva with a full-day learning program for all audiences on Sunday, April 14 on YU’s Wilf Campus, 500 West 185th Street, New York City. The program will run from 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. and will include lectures, discussions and presentations on the Rav’s life and legacy.

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YU will commemorate the Rav’s 20th yahrtzeit with a day of learning on April 14.

“Over the course of almost half a century, Rabbi Soloveitchik served as a mentor and role model for tens of thousands of Jews around the word and ordained close to 2,000 rabbis. Through his landmark public lectures and writings he became, and remains, well-known for his unparalleled Talmudic scholarship and religious leadership,” said Marvin Bienenfeld, a member of the RIETS Board of Trustees and the chair of the event. Read the rest of this entry…

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Eruvin Exhibition and Lecture Add Context and Insight to Daf Yomi Study

What purpose do eruvin [ritual enclosures] serve? Where can they be constructed? What makes them kosher?

As Jews around the world delve into the subject of eruvin for daf yomi, the daily cycle of Talmud study, Yeshiva University and the Orthodox Union sought to shed light on an ancient practice that is still very relevant to Jewish life today. An evening of programming on March 13 fused the historical, cultural and practical dimensions of eruvin showcased in a new Yeshiva University Museum exhibition with rich halakhic grounding provided by RIETS Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Hershel Schachter. A leading halakhic authority, Schachter delivered a shiur [lecture] titled, “Eruvin: The Streets, the Strings and the Shabbat.”

“Seeing the issues faced by Manhattan and other Jewish communities in completing an eruv­—when a train track goes up and when it goes down, is the sea wall kosher or not—and hearing from such a wide range of people who struggled to bring klal Yisroel out of their homes on Shabbat takes Torah learning to a unique and different level,” said Edward Stelzer ’90YC, a member of the YU Museum’s board of directors. “Many of us don’t have an opportunity to check an eruv on any given Friday, but this museum has the power to help us internalize the issues of eruvin and experience them almost firsthand by bringing the topic home to us in an immersive, powerful way.” Read the rest of this entry…

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High Schools Face Off at Sarachek Basketball Tournament; Watch LIVE!

Yeshiva University’s 22nd Annual Red Sarachek Invitational Basketball Tournament tips off Thursday, March 7 at 10 a.m. at the Max Stern Athletic Center on YU’s Wilf Campus. The tournament, named after legendary former Maccabees coach Bernard “Red” Sarachek, features 20 Jewish high school basketball teams from across North America in a dramatic five-day tournament before live crowds and broadcast audiences in the thousands.

This year’s field is seeded as follows: Read the rest of this entry…

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