Yeshiva University News » Graduate

Professor Steven Fine Leads Rome Research into Aftermath of Temple Destruction

From June 5 to 7, 2012 an international team of scholars led by the Yeshiva University Center for Israel Studies in partnership with the Soprintendenza Speciale per i Beni Archeologici di Roma undertook a pilot study of the Arch of Titus in the Roman Forum, the ancient civic center of Rome, Italy. The focus of attention was the Menorah panel and the relief showing the deification of Titus at the apex of the arch.

The Menorah from the Temple in Jerusalem as depicted on Rome's Arch of Titus

The arch was originally dedicated after the Emperor Titus’ death in 81 CE and celebrates his victory in the Jewish War of 66-74 CE, which climaxed with the destruction of Jerusalem and her Temple in the summer of 70 CE. Read the rest of this entry…

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Sep 2, 2009 — Throughout North America, schools in smaller Jewish communities often struggle to find qualified teachers that will develop the next generation. A new grant from Legacy Heritage Fund Limited will address this problem by providing support to attract, train and retain more high-quality teachers for placement at Jewish day schools.

The Legacy Heritage Teacher Training Fellowship is funding five qualified recent college graduates this year—and will fund 20 in total over the next three years—to teach at schools across North America while studying towards master’s degrees at Yeshiva University’s Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration.

“This fellowship will improve the quality of Jewish education by providing training for young talented people interested in making a difference,” said Scott J. Goldberg, PhD, director of YU’s Institute for University-School Partnership, which piloted the program last year.

One of the fellows, Raphael Rosenzweig of Syracuse, New York, will spend the year teaching Jewish History and Chumash in Dallas’ Yavneh and Akiba Academies.

“I want to have an impact in the Jewish community,” explained Rosenzweig, who graduated Yeshiva College in 2007 with a degree in English literature. “I find learning fascinating and want to make education exciting for others, but I recognized that simply having a strong interest and passion isn’t enough.”

Legacy Heritage Teacher Fellows will receive a full-tuition scholarship for three summers of coursework culminating in a master of science in education from Azrieli with two years of teaching in the intervening months.

Veteran teachers at the host school will mentor the fellows through classroom observation and weekly meetings. Azrieli faculty will train both the fellows and their mentors during the summer at Yeshiva University, and will provide ongoing support and guidance to the mentors and the fellows throughout the school year.

“We know how difficult it can be for new teachers,” said Rabbi Meir Tannenbaum, director of Judaic curriculum at Yavneh Academy. “We hope this program will help support Rafi during this crucial first year.”

In addition to the on-site mentoring, the fellows will engage in professional development via conferences and online seminars.

“This grant demonstrates the importance of the work we are doing,” said Joey Small, the Institute’s fellowship coordinator. “By recruiting and supporting these fellows in their initial years of teaching, the grant helps YU nurture the future leaders and practitioners in the field of Jewish education.”

The Legacy Heritage Teacher Training Fellowship is open to students from all colleges. Visit the Institute’s Web site at www.yu.edu/azrieli/schoolpartnership for more information or to apply.

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Jun 4, 2009 — Vikram Padmanabhan realized he was drawn to medicine as a way to practice science and physiology “with a human touch” when his students at Lehman High School in the Bronx came to him with health problems. After three years as a teacher, Padmanabhan decided to combine his love of science with a desire to keep “one foot in the real world” by pursuing an MD at Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

Now, the new doctor is heading off to a residency in internal medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, his first choice.

In addition to having scientific papers published in such journals as Neuroscience, Padmanabhan has won praise for his non-academic writing. He wrote about his experience caring for a dying patient in a moving essay, “My Condolences,” published in the Annals of Internal Medicine in 2008. He will have two pieces published later this year: “A Neurology Rotation in Haikus,” in Neurology, and “Noises From Below,” a light-hearted piece about dealing with a difficult pediatric patient, in Family Medicine Journal.

Padmanabhan, who grew up in St. Paul, MN, and received his BS degree from Washington University in St. Louis, was inspired by Leslie Bernstein, professor emeritus at Einstein, who volunteers his time to teach students and residents.

“After 50 years of practicing medicine, he still enjoyed the art of bedside manners, physical diagnosis and teaching. He demonstrated that one can learn a lot from patients just by listening to them,” Padmanabhan said.

An aspiring clinician and medical educator, Padmanabhan said his eyes were opened by working in the Bronx. From the beginning, patients called him “doctor” and when he protested, one said, “You may only be a student, but I need your help.”

“Those words stuck with me,” Padmanabhan said.

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Jun 2, 2009 — Entrepreneurship runs in the family for Michael Levy, who graduated from Sy Syms School of Business this May with a major in finance. While a student, the Lawrence, NY, native helped develop TriSpecs, his father’s consumer electronics company whose flagship product, TriSpecs Eyewear, incorporates wireless headphones and Bluetooth technology into a pair of fashionable sunglasses.

Levy’s father, Isaac, started the company four years ago. TriSpecs now consists of a team of industry designers, engineers and technicians holding worldwide patents. The product, officially unveiled at the Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas in January, is now available in stores.

Levy said the entrepreneurial courses he took at the business school and the support of faculty, including Brian Maruffi and Mike Strauss, helped him develop solid business strategies for TriSpecs.

“They are some truly special educators,” Levy said. “From the after-class strategy meetings to the personal contacts they afford students, the professors really take a personal interest in each student.”

Levy won joint third prize of $1,000 at the Sy Syms Business Plan Competition in May, which is judged by a group of established business executives and entrepreneurs.

He now works full time on TriSpecs, developing features, designing marketing materials, planning new styles and working with major retail operators to increase distribution.

The young entrepreneur is excited to continue developing the business in an expanding market.

“The concept stems from a philosophy of simplicity,” Levy said. “Something I believe is an important part of life.”

Next profile: Chavi Schwartz graduates from Sy Syms School of Business with head for numbers and a heart for Torah

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May 28, 2009 — Third-generation graduate Shlomo Eisenberg grew up hearing stories about studying at Yeshiva University from his siblings, parents and grandparents. But family history was not the main reason Eisenberg decided to attend Yeshiva College; he came for the intensive Torah study and the challenging honors program.

“YU’s dual curriculum has taught me to make every second count,” Eisenberg said of his demanding schedule. He was also involved in diverse extra-curricular activities, serving as the president of the Jacob Hecht Pre-Law Society, writing regularly for The Commentator, YC’s student newspaper, and chairing a committee at the University’s Model UN for two years.

Eisenberg’s deft juggling of his many activities will come in handy when the Los Angeles native attends Harvard Law School this fall.

“Studying law is somewhat similar to reading Gemara. From an intellectual perspective I find it very interesting,” he said.

At YU, Eisenberg honed his Talmudic skills in the shiurim [lectures] of Rabbi Michael Rosensweig, which he attended for two years, and Rabbi Eliahu Shulman, which he attended during his senior year.

Eisenberg is prepared for the challenges he will face in the predominantly secular environment at Harvard. “Yeshiva University has taught me to sanctify the mundane and apply the principles of Torah to the real world,” he said.

Next profile: Budding entrepreneur Michael Levy eyes the future through hi-tech sunglasses

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May 27, 2009 — The usual academic demands of graduate study were compounded for Younghee “Frida” Seo, a South Korean native who recently graduated with a master’s degree from Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology’s Mental Health Counseling Program. She struggled with her English and with adjusting to a different culture; she was homesick for South Korea.

But Seo persevered, and thrived. Most notably, she established a new internship last June at the Asian Outreach Clinic of the Child Center of New York in Queens, doing much-needed work with Korean immigrants suffering from ADHD, depression and other mental health issues, and with children exposed to violence.

When Seo graduated with a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Ewha Woman’s University in Seoul in 2006, her professor suggested studying in the U.S.

“Experiencing the diverse culture in New York City sounded very interesting to me,” she said.

At first, Seo lived in Little Italy in the Bronx, “enjoying the fantastic Italian and Mexican food.” When she did her internship in Flushing, in an Asian-friendly neighborhood, she felt less homesick.

Professor William Bracero’s course on “Multicultural and Diversity Issues in Mental Health Counseling” opened her eyes, Seo said. “Listening to his lectures, I thought that I am not alone, as most migrant groups have undergone similar experiences in life–even harsher.” In Professor Irene Javors’ counseling skills and techniques class, Seo found inspiration for dealing with her clients’ issues at the Queens clinic.

Now that she has her degree, she hopes to continue her training in this country and eventually return to Korea as a mental health counselor.

Next profile: Ferkauf doctoral graduate saw Sichaun earthquake as a call to action

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May 26, 2009 — Bat-Sheva Maslow’s graduation from Albert Einstein College of Medicine represents not only the end of her formal medical education, but the conclusion of four turbulent years of complex choices and unexpected rewards. The 27-year-old’s extraordinary, against-all-odds story highlights her tenacity, perseverance and focus during difficult times.

The first year of medical school is demanding for any student, but for Maslow, there were added complications. Soon after she and her husband Jon arrived on campus, he was diagnosed with Stage IV Hodgkin’s disease (lymphoma). They decided to pursue aggressive therapy and Jon responded well to treatment.

“Einstein was extraordinarily accommodating, particularly Dr. [Nadine] Katz [associate dean of students] in helping me manage my course load and my personal obligations. I was able to finish first and second year without any issues or delays.”

Once Jon was in good health, the two decided to start their family. During her final year at Einstein, while juggling a busy clerkship, Maslow became pregnant with twins. Due to a variety of factors, it was a high-risk pregnancy. “Thankfully, Aderet and Tehlia were born beautiful and healthy and no one was happier to meet them than Dr. Katz,” she said.

Maslow’s personal experiences have informed her career choice; she will begin her residency in obstetric-gynecology at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

Next profile: Vikram Padmanabhan Writes About the Art of Practicing Medicine

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May 26, 2009 — For Aaron Koller ’99Y, ’00BR, a PhD graduate from Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies, there is no substitution for reading a work in its original language—even if it is an ancient Semitic language such as Akkadian or Egyptian hieroglyphs.

“The truth is that there are other languages I’d like to know, but ‘the day is short and the labor vast,’” Koller said, quoting the famous line in Pirkei Avot [Ethics of the Fathers].

Koller, an assistant professor of Jewish studies at Yeshiva College, wrote his dissertation on the cutting tools and verbs of cutting used in the Bible and the Ancient Near East.

“My research ranged from Natufian agriculture [spanning the period 12,500 to 9,500 BC] and Neolithic tool use, through ancient Near Eastern textual and archaeological data, to rabbinic and medieval Biblical interpretation,” said Koller, who comes from a family rich with YU connections. “My focus on specific words sheds light on larger issues, such as cultural connections between Israel and its neighbors—Egypt, the Philistines and Mesopotamia–and changes in Israelite technology and society between biblical and rabbinic times.”

Koller’s research won high praise from Dr. Lawrence Stager, Dorot Professor of the Archeology of Israel at Harvard University, who served on Koller’s dissertation committee and recommended it be awarded a distinction.

Koller traces his interests in ancient languages, history and culture to his Revel mentors, Dr. Richard Steiner, professor of Semitic languages and literatures, and Dr. Barry Eichler, professor of Near Eastern and biblical studies.

“Aaron is on his way to becoming a world-class scholar,” Steiner said. “He is an outstanding product of our institution of whom we can be very proud.”

Next profile: Ferkauf graduate attends to mental health needs of her fellow Korean immigrants

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May 26, 2009 — Jeremy Antar had a job in advertising sales at AOL Media Networks in New York City, but left after one year to become a social worker.

“I have always been interested in social work,” said the Great Neck, NY native who graduated from Wurzweiler School of Social Work with a concentration in casework. “I thought that I would fulfill that interest with volunteer and part-time work as I had done throughout my life.”

With the support of family and friends, Antar enrolled at Wurzweiler because it “had a good reputation and I thought that the small class size would make for an enriched learning environment.” He also was offered a partial scholarship, which made Wurzweiler a more affordable choice.

Antar’s field work focus this spring was in palliative care at the Veteran’s Administration Hospital in Brooklyn, a far cry from his previous field experience working with children and adolescents in a school-based health center.

“Most of my prior experience had been working with children and adolescents,” said Antar, who did volunteer work with children at the Ann Arbor JCC while an undergraduate at the University of Michigan. “However, I really enjoyed working at the VA this year, and would definitely consider working with the veteran population in the future.”

As one of the chosen student representatives at Wurzweiler’s hooding ceremony, Antar addressed his fellow graduates about dedication to their new profession.

“While we all have different populations that we want to work with and different areas of social work that we are interested in,” he said, “what we all have in common is that we enjoy and are passionate about our work.”

Next profile: Aaron Koller, graduate of Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish studies, finds clues in ancient Semitic culture that shed brighter light on Israelite society

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Jan 29, 2009 — The AVI CHAI Foundation has given a grant to fund Religious Understanding in Adolescent Children (RUACH), a new project of the Institute for University-School Partnership at Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration. The two-year collaborative initiative between the Institute and eight Jewish day schools will explore creative means of promoting growth in students’ relationships with God and their religious actions and beliefs.

“Our objective is to create deeper spiritual connections for students and more religious purposefulness in Jewish schools,” said Dr. Scott Goldberg, director of the Institute and one of the project’s principal researchers.

“High school is a very dynamic time in the course of a young Jewish person’s life,” said Goldberg. “Being connected to, and aware of, the divine in Judaism will undoubtedly have a positive effect on the Jewish identities and lives of youth impacted by RUACH.”

The eight high schools participating in RUACH are geographically and ideologically diverse. They include:
- Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School (CES-JDS) in Rockville, MD
- Hebrew Academy of Long Beach’s Davis Renov Stahler Yeshiva High School for Boys (HALB-DRS) in Woodmere, NY
- Ramaz Upper School in New York City
- Salanter Akiva Riverdale High School (SAR) in the Bronx, NY
- Maimonides School in Brookline, MA
- Weinbaum Yeshiva High School (WYHS) in Boca Raton, FL
- Marsha Stern Talmudical Academy—Yeshiva University High School for Boys and Samuel H. Wang Yeshiva University High School for Girls, both in New York City

“Studying and attempting to develop growth in crucial areas of students’ inner, religious lives, meaningfully fulfills AVI CHAI’s goals regarding religious purposefulness,’” noted Jordan Rosenberg, RUACH’s project coordinator and a rabinical student at YU’s Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary. “Religious purposefulness can result in a well developed and thoughtful approach to our religious and spiritual traditions that we at YU are uniquely poised to accomplish,” he said.

Dr. David Schnall, dean of Azrieli, pointed out that, “Combining our Jewish traditions and the best theory and practice from academia represents an exciting fit for YU and the AVI CHAI Foundation.”

Dr. David Pelcovitz, Gwendolyn and Joseph Straus Professor of Jewish Education at Azrieli and a senior fellow at the Institute, is partnering with Goldberg in conducting research for RUACH. “Developing religious growth is an area that is not well understood, though virtually everyone would agree that nourishing spirituality in our children is important for religious continuity, their psychological well-being as well as their Jewish identity and religious growth,” Pelcovitz, a noted psychologist and expert in religious development, said.

The Institute and participating schools will also interact through meetings and conferences sponsored by YU. The knowledge gained during the course of the RUACH project will also be used to upgrade the Azrieli curriculum to benefit current and future students. Its findings and best practices in the area of religious purposefulness will be disseminated through colloquia, publications and workshops for Jewish educators.

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