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Hundreds of Jewish Educators and School Leaders Convene at iJED 2014

Yeshiva University’s Institute for University-School Partnership co-hosted iJED 2014, a conference focusing on innovation in Jewish education, at the Long Island Marriott in Uniondale, NY, March 2-4.

iJED -Conference 4Unlike traditional conferences, the event was structured to create a more interactive and in-depth learning and networking experience by modeling “flipped learning,” a cutting-edge educational technique in which students review lectures and materials at home and use class time for peer discussion and problem-solving with teachers. Conference organizers, including the Schechter Day School Network, Curriculum 21, Maytiv/IDV Herziliya School of Psychology, Koren Publishers Jerusalem, Gateways Access to Jewish Education and PEJE, shared learning materials with participants weeks in advance and invited them to engage in online discussion communities in preparation for iJED.

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Ferkauf and Wurzweiler to Host March 31 Panel on Eating Disorders

Yeshiva University’s Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology and Wurzweiler School of Social Work will host a presentation on “Dispelling Myths: Eating Disorders in the Jewish Community,” on March 31 at YU’s Israel Henry Beren Campus in midtown.

Eating disorders—which affect people of all ages and ethnicities and have the highest premature mortality rate of any mental illness—are often kept hidden, complicating treatment and prevention efforts. Recognizing the seriousness and increasing prevalence of eating disorders, Ferkauf and Wurzweiler are training more psychologists and social workers to diagnose and treat people who suffer from these devastating illnesses.

The event, cosponsored by the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), will be open to the public and feature three experts in the field: Dr. Esther Altmann, an educator and clinical psychologist in private practice who served as an eating disorders consultant to Jewish organizations; Ilene V. Fishman, a social worker specializing in the treatment of eating disorders who taught Wurzweiler’s first elective course on the topic last fall; and Dr. Yael Latzer, professor at Haifa University and director of the Eating Disorders Clinic of Rambam Medical Center, which she founded in 1992. Read the rest of this entry…

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Center for the Jewish Future Hosts Conference for Rabbis on Addressing and Preventing Child Sexual Abuse in Jewish Communities

On February 25, Yeshiva University’s Center for the Jewish Future hosted an educational and training session for rabbinic leadership focusing on the unique challenges of addressing and preventing child sexual abuse in religious communities.

Victor Vieth, executive director emeritus

Victor Vieth, director emeritus of the Gundersen Health System’s National Child Protection Training Center

The conference was one of several programs and efforts by YU to promote child sexual abuse prevention and awareness and provided an overview of the latest research about abuse in faith-based communities as well as guidelines to help synagogues institute policies and procedure aimed at preventing and addressing allegations of child sexual abuse. The program included addresses from Andrew (Avi) Lauer, Esq., vice president for legal affairs and secretary and general counsel at YU; Dr. Shira Berkovits, a postdoctoral psychology fellow at YU’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine‘s Early Childhood Center, part of the Children’s Evaluation and Rehabilitation Center /Rose F. Kennedy Center, and a student at YU’s Benjamin N. Cardozo Law School; and national child sexual abuse expert Victor Vieth, director emeritus of the Gundersen Health System’s National Child Protection Training Center.

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Rabbinic Conference is First Organized by UK’s New Chief Rabbi-Elect

RKB at London Conference

From left, Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt; Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis; and Rabbi Kenneth Brander.

Rabbi Kenneth Brander, Vice President for University and Community Life and the David Mitzner Dean of the Center for the Jewish Future at Yeshiva University, delivered three lectures at a rabbinic conference organized by Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, Chief Rabbi-Elect of the United Kingdom.

A hundred rabbis from across the UK attended the two-day conference from July 9-10, which also featured presentations from Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, Chief Rabbi of Moscow, and current Chief Rabbi of the UK Lord Jonathan Sacks, among others. Brander gave three lectures: “Exploring the Role and Best Practices for a Contemporary Synagogue,” “Lessons for Living Life: Inspirational Words for the Role of the Rebbetsen,” and “The Center for the Jewish Future.”

“Having the occasion to engage in conversations with the Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Saks and Chief Rabbi Elect Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis was a pleasure,” said Brander. “Their vision for Anglo Jewry and its rabbinate is inspiring. Too often the ‘pond’ that separates us deters us from benefiting from each other’s experiences and the community know-how that we have acquired.”

He added, “A continued relationship between the rabbis of the United Kingdom and Yeshiva University will benefit both American and Anglo Jewry – I look forward to this opportunity.”

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At YU School Partnership Conference, Educators Are the Experts

More than 70 Jewish day school leaders from 62 schools gathered on Yeshiva University’s Wilf Campus this week to pool experiences, ideas, connections and resources in a uniquely structured conference that put participants, rather than experts or speakers, in the spotlight.

Organized by YU’s Institute for University-School Partnership (YU School Partnership), the two-day convention, “CFG 2012,” ran from November 11-12 and built on previous Critical Friends Groups (CFG) which have been meeting regularly under YU School Partnership guidance for three years. Each group is a professional learning community of educators, administrators or school staff who come together in person and online to improve their practice through collaborative learning. Read the rest of this entry…

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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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Hundreds of Community Leaders Gather to Address Challenges Facing Orthodoxy

For four days in August, Orlando, FL, was the epicenter of a series of nationwide conversations in Orthodox communities across North America. The Seventh Annual ChampionsGate National Leadership Conference convened more than 450 rabbinic, educational and lay leaders from 92 locales across North America to address their most pressing communal challenges. The theme of the conference was “Shmitta: Reflection, Celebration, Renewal.”

“ChampionsGate 2012 was a profound celebration of a vision of Jewish values and community,” said Yeshiva University President Richard M. Joel. “Together with community leaders we demonstrated how we partner together and create a tremendous resource to help build and advance community.” Read the rest of this entry…

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Gemara Conference Brings Educators Together to Brainstorm New Goals, Standards and Techniques

On June 20, a group gathered in Yeshiva University’s Belfer Hall to engage in passionate debate about the gemara, their arguments peppered with yeshivish sprach [classic Talmudic terminology] and citations. But this was not your average beit medrash scene. Instead of young talmidim [students] trying to understand the content and language of the gemara, the group consisted of teachers, rebbeim and principals searching for new ways to think about teaching this ancient subject.

Azrieli's Dr. Moshe Krakowski facilitated the June 20 conference.

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Wurzweiler School of Social Work Announces Spring 2012 Conference Series

Yeshiva University’s Wurzweiler School of Social Work has announced its 2012 Spring Conference Series. Addressing topics as varied as the composition of North American Jewish family and what professionals can do to combat poverty, the series will convene educators and social work professionals on three Fridays in March and April to immerse themselves in some of the biggest challenges facing Jewish communities.

On Friday, March 23, a Symposium on Poverty and Professionals, titled “From Concern to Action,” will be held at the Yeshiva University Museum, 15 West 16th Street, New York City. Keynote speaker Bob Herbert, a Distinguished Senior Fellow at Demos and renowned New York Times journalist, will focus on how poverty affects political, economic and social conditions in American society, with follow-up comments delivered by Dr. Robert L. Hawkins, McSilver Assistant Professor in Poverty Studies at New York University’s Silver School of Social Work, and Ruth W. Messinger, president of the American Jewish World Service. A panel exploring the professional response to poverty will feature Dr. Paris R. Baldacci, clinical professor of law at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law; Dr. A. Hal Strelnick, chief of the division of community health at Albert Einstein College of Medicine; and Dr. Richard Caputo, professor at Wurzweiler.

The Sixth Annual Joanna M. Mellor Aging Conference will be held on Friday, March 30, at the Jacob Burns Moot Court Room in Cardozo, 55 Fifth Avenue, New York City. Keynote speaker Lilliam Barrios-Paoli, commissioner of the New York City Department for the Aging, will discuss changes in New York City that will impact services and policies affecting older populations. Co-sponsors of the conference include Emblem Health and the Washington Heights-Inwood Council on Aging.

On Friday, April 20, a half-day conference titled, “The Diversity of the North American Jewish Family: Challenges and Opportunities,” will also be held at Cardozo’s Moot Court. Keynote speaker Dr. Sylvia Barack-Fishman, chair of the Near Eastern and Judaic Studies Department and Joseph and Esther Foster Professor of Contemporary Jewish Life at Brandeis University, will bring her expertise to a discussion of some of the dynamic changes that have taken place within the Jewish family structure, such as later and smaller families, blended families, and evolving status and gender hierarchies. A panel featuring Rabbi Andy Bachman, senior rabbi at Congregation Beth Elohim; Paul Levine, executive vice-president and chief executive officer at JBFCS; and Rabbi Joy Levitt, will respond to her remarks.

“These conferences represent the diversity within the social work profession and at Wurzweiler,” said Dean Carmen Ortiz Hendricks. “These are cutting-edge topics that professionals and students need to understand. The faculty and administration at Wurzweiler are very excited to bring this range of issues to the forefront with such scholarly speakers and forums.”

For more information about any of these conferences or to register, visit www.yu.edu/wurzweiler/events.

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Student-Run Medical Ethics Conference Explores Jewish Perspectives on Public Health

Bright and early on the Sunday morning of November 6, an eager crowd braved New York City Marathon traffic to attend the Yeshiva University Student Medical Ethics Society’s (MES) sixth annual conference in Lamport Auditorium on the Wilf Campus.

Daniel Elefant and Rachel Blinick, co-presidents of YU's Student Medical Ethics Society. offer in

Daniel Elefant and Rachel Blinick, co-presidents of YU's Student Medical Ethics Society.

As one of the largest and most celebrated student-run initiatives of the year, the conference, titled “In the Public Eye: Jewish Perspectives on Public Health,” brings luminaries of the medical and halachic [Jewish law] realms together to share their insights on pressing health related topics of the day.

“It is our obligation to study and continue to understand the development of humanity through the lens of medicine and halacha,” said MES President Rachel Blinick. “It is our hope that this conference will help impact our participants to become active members of the Jewish community, informing healthier lives for us and our children.”

Furthering this point, Daniel Elefant, co-president of MES, described the importance of this year’s topic. “A discourse on public health begs the questions of who is responsible, what are we accountable for, and how far can we extend those responsibilities within our community, our country and around the world? Today we have been given tremendous tools and opportunities to help in the battle against many public health issues,” he said.

Following introductions by the co-presidents; Rabbi Dovid Fuld, who sponsored the conference along with his wife, Anita; and conference chairman Rabbi Dr. Edward Reichman, the conference proceeded to the first of three plenary discussions focusing on the health and halachic issues surrounding obesity and smoking tobacco. The other two plenaries dealt with vaccinations and perspectives on Jewish responsibility towards public health around the world.

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In the opening plenary, the crowd listened to John Banzhaf III, a professor of public interest law at George Washington University Law School, recount his experiences combating the tobacco industry in the legal realm. He described how his actions led to the proliferation of anti-smoking advertisements, the banning of smoking in many public places and a raised awareness of the dangers of second hand smoke. Although he is not a medical professional, he stressed to the audience how anyone can spread healthy living regardless of their job.

Following this speech, Rabbi Asher Bush, chairman of the Rabbinical Council of America’s Va’ad Halacha Committee, discussed how and why he had his organization rule that smoking cigarettes is strictly prohibited according to Jewish law, offering many traditional sources to bolster his position.

Other topics covered in depth throughout the day included the importance of breast cancer screening, the permissibility of alternative medicine and contemporary controversies surrounding circumcision.

Speakers at the conference consisted of roshei yeshiva from the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS), personalities within the YU community, rabbinic specialists on medical issues and experts in medicine and other health related industries. All of the presenters shared their wisdom in the plenary sessions or the breakout sessions throughout the day.

The diverse crowd at the event consisted of students, alumni and inquisitive members of the community. Yona Saperstein ’10YC, a medical student who also hopes to attain rabbinic ordination at RIETS said, “I do not come to YU as often as I would like, so I used this fascinating conference on issues I am interested in as an excuse to visit.”

Ruth Fried, chair of the science department at the Samuel H. Wang Yeshiva University High School for Girls, was in attendance with a few of her 11th-grade biology students.  “We attend every medical ethics conference,” she said. “I think it is one of the best-run programs YU has, and I love how it exposes my students to the whole University and the wonderful initiatives of the student body.”

One of Fried’s students, Golda Aharon, shared her excitement to observe the conference. “We try to always be continuous learners and we try to experience science outside the classroom,” said Aharon. “This conference is a great way to do that.”

The next Medical Ethics Society event, “Panel for Pink: A Discussion on Breast Cancer,” will take place on November 28 on the Beren Campus.

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