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David Brooks Delivers Keynote Address; Jack Belz, Dr. Susan Horwitz, Harvey Kaylie and William Zabel Honored

Acclaimed journalist and New York Times columnist David Brooks delivered the keynote address at Yeshiva University’s 89th Annual Hanukkah Convocation and Dinner on Sunday, December 8 at The Waldorf Astoria in New York City. President Richard M. Joel bestowed an honorary doctorate upon Brooks, calling him “a noble exemplar of what we hope our students will become” and drawing on the words of American poet Robert Frost to praise the morality in Brooks’ writing: “In a world which has moved inexorably down a path paved with hyperbole, cynicism and categorical one-dimensionality, you have mustered the courage and integrity to take the road less traveled.”

“How fitting it is to host you tonight at this annual assembly honoring Yeshiva University and the value which it adds to the world,” said President Joel. “Ultimately, the mandate of Yeshiva University boils down to this belief: our responsibility is to partner with God, not in retreating from but engaging with the wide world around us, forever informed by the eternal values of our tradition. That, too, is a road less traveled by, a road which necessitates patience, sensitivity and bravery.” Read the rest of this entry…

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Students, Faculty and Alumni Illuminate Yeshiva University Hanukkah Dinner

Students, faculty and alumni who embody the mission of Yeshiva University were recognized as “Points of Light” during the dinner portion of Yeshiva University’s 88th Annual Hanukkah Dinner and Convocation, held at New York City’s Waldorf=Astoria on December 16.

Points of Light Dr. Marina Holz and Helen Unger.

“There are so many lights that shine brightly at Yeshiva University. Tonight, we focus on individuals who serve as exemplars of the past, present and future of Yeshiva University,” said President Richard M. Joel, who invited each Point of Light on stage to light a symbolic candle on a menorah.

The Points of Light included Helen Unger, a senior at Stern College for Women, and Dr. Marina Holz, assistant professor of biology. Unger grew up in Cleveland, Ohio where she attended public school before enrolling in Stern College’s S. Daniel Abraham Honor’s Program. Under Holz’s tutelage, Unger’s research in the breast cancer field has won numerous awards, including the Toby Eagle Memorial Scholarship in Cancer Biology and a position in the highly selective Sloan-Kettering Undergraduate Research Program. Unger is also the first YU student to receive the Thomas Bardos Science Education Award for Undergraduate Students.

“I wanted an environment where being an Orthodox Jew wouldn’t be at odds with my secular education,” Unger said of her decision to attend Yeshiva University. “Moreover I value a small learning environment, and the direct mentorship I received at YU more than speaks to why I chose to come here.” Read the rest of this entry…

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White House Chief of Staff Keynotes Hanukkah Convocation; $1.4 Billion Capital Campaign Announced

White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew delivered the keynote address at Yeshiva University’s 88th Annual Hanukkah Convocation and Dinner on Sunday, December 16 at The Waldorf=Astoria in New York City. President Richard M. Joel bestowed an honorary doctorate upon Lew, calling him “perhaps one of the highest-ranking Orthodox Jewish advisers to a head of state since the Abarbanel” and an embodiment of the value-infused and driven lifestyle members of the YU community seek to lead.

“We are the world’s Torah-informed University, charged with the sacred undertaking of engaging the world around us with our wisdom and our values and yes, our actions,” said President Joel. Read the rest of this entry…

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YU A Cappella Group Raises More than $80,000 for Bone Marrow Registry

Last week’s eight days of Hanukkah celebrated an ancient Hebrew miracle.

A modern day miracle happened during this Hanukkah festival.

A music group and their YouTube video might save the life of a two-year-old boy.

The Maccabeats, a Jewish a cappella group from Yeshiva University, are named for the Maccabees, the ancient Jewish warriors who fought the Greek army.

The Maccabeats are fighting for 2-year-old Ezra Fineman among others.

[hana-code-insert name='MacsABC' /]

Hanukkah is the miracle of a tiny oil lamp that burned for eight days.

It was these eight men whose YouTube video “Miracle” brought in donations over Hanukkah last week to find a bone marrow donor for Ezra.

The group’s Hanukkah video last year went viral with seven million YouTube hits.

“We thought this year, when we released a video for Hanukkah, why not also do something positive in keeping with the spirit of the holiday and perhaps raise money to save people’s lives,” said Immanuel Shalev, the Maccabeats.

One of them might be Ezra’s.

He was born with a weak immune system.

Only a bone marrow transplant would give him hope of a future.

But no donor registry around the world had a marrow match.

“It was devastating. Because you know that if he has a bone marrow transplant and it’s successful, it would be a cure for him,” said Robin Fineman, Ezra’s mother.

Testing for the cure means getting DNA.

Getting DNA is pretty simple, it’s just a cheek swab, but processing it costs $54.

One registry, Gift of Life, had 15,000 of these samples, but ran out of money to analyze them.

“So the key is to get as much fundraising done as we can to get the 15,000 samples that are now on the waitlist to the laboratory,” said Jay Feinberg, Founder and Executive Director of the Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation.

When the Maccabeats heard about the problem, they recorded “Miracle,” had it on YouTube overnight, and received $80,000 in donations during Hanukkah.

“It’s unbelievable, we rarely see such tremendous fundraising activities happen in such a short span of time,” Feinberg said.

Ezra’s match could be in those 15,000 samples, and you don’t have to be Jewish to be tested.

A post on the Maccabeats YouTube site said: “I’m Muslim and I love this a cappella. However, I was in a bad mood, this video made my day. I hope you guy realize that you are changing lives. I know you changed mine. Let’s hope they’ll change Ezra’s too.”

For more information please visit: www.makesomemiracles.com

This story first appeared on ABC 7.

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Annual Hanukkah Dinner Highlights Eight of Yeshiva University’s Best

At Yeshiva University’s 87th Annual Hanukkah Dinner and Convocation, held December 11 at the Waldorf=Astoria, President Richard M. Joel recognized eight people who exemplify YU, and called each one up to light a candle on a symbolic menorah. “There are many lights that shine brightly at Yeshiva, and we have made it our tradition to identify eight points of light who serve as exemplars of the past, present and future of Yeshiva University, and of our hopes for tomorrow,” he said.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OvGotuFg4qY&feature=relmfu

The Points of Lights included a pair of Yeshiva College students, Yair Saperstein and Menachem Spira, two award-winning science majors and Roth scholars at YU’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine, who founded a program called START (Student, Teachers and Reasearchers Teach) Science, in which YU students volunteer to teach science in local public schools.

Saperstein, of Lawrence, NY, is a member of the Jay and Jeanie Schottenstein Honors Program and was a recipient of the prestigious Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship. In addition to being a trained cantor at YU’s Philip and Sarah Belz School of Jewish Music and winning numerous piano awards, he is also a member of YU’s Debate Society, and received awards for excellence in Talmud and having the highest GPA of any junior.

Saperstein and Spira light a ceremonial menorah at the YU Hanukkah Dinner.

Spira, a native of Atlanta, GA, has conducted research at Einstein, the Emory University School of Medicine and at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. He is a teaching assistant at YU, holds leadership positions with the Chemistry Club and the Medical Ethics Society, and writes for several science publications. He also works with disabled children, as a volunteer for Kids of Courage, Yachad and Camp Simcha Special.

Joseph “JB” Bensmihen, an alumnus of Yeshiva College and the Wurzweiler School of Social Work, was recently appointed to the Yeshiva College Board of Overseers. Born with spastic cerebral palsy, he overcame a doctor’s prognosis that he would be unable to walk and operates Boca Home Care, a Medicare-certified home health agency in Florida. A father of four and a former president of Boca Raton Synagogue, he also runs the David Bensmihen Charitable foundation, which provides scholarships for deserving students in his fathers’ memory.

Bliss, who is pursuing a PhD at Wurzweiler, has been awarded the Vincent Fontana Foundation Grant.

Heather Wright Bliss is a social worker and psychotherapist pursuing a PhD at Wurzweiler, who overcame a cancer diagnosis and now channels her skills toward helping children in the foster care system. In recognition of her work, she was one of two recipients to receive the prestigious Vincent Fontana Foundation Grant.

Jennifer MacLean is a third-year student at YU’s Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, whose work for the Innocence Project, using DNA extracts, helped exonerate a jailed man who had served 20 years of an 80-year sentence, after being wrongly convicted of a rape and murder. MacLean is also involved in Cardozo’s Student Life Committee, the Mental Health Working Group and in the Battered Women’s Uncontested Divorce Program.

Rabbi Reuven Brand is an alumnus of Yeshiva College, Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration and the Wexner Kollel Elyon of the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary. He now leads YU’s Torah MiTzion Kollel in Chicago and also founded Lman Achai, a student organization dedicated to the needs of Jews in Israel.

Avital Chizhik and President Joel

Daniel O’Neil is a fourth-year student at Einstein who spent 11 months working with disadvantaged populations in Kisoro, Uganda. As part of the Chronic Disease in the Community project, he trained health workers to provide villagers with a medical education on hypertension, diabetes and asthma.

Avital Chizhik, of Highland Park, NJ, is a student at Stern College for Women studying journalism, whose non-fiction and creative writing has won numerous awards and been published worldwide. On campus, she is active in the World Zionist Organization, The Commentator and the Political Science Society. A participant in the CJF’s service learning mission in Kharkov, Ukraine and summer camp in Arad, she also worked as a research assistant for Professor Linda Shires.

Concluding the lighting ceremony, President Joel paid tribute to the honorees: “May their flames grow and may we continue to bask in their light.”

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Newark Mayor Cory Booker Delivers Keynote Address, Record $4.1 Million Raised

Cory A. Booker, mayor of Newark, NJ, delivered the keynote address at Yeshiva University’s (YU) 86th Annual Hanukkah Dinner and Convocation at The Waldorf=Astoria in New York City on December 12. The mayor implored members of the audience, and the Jewish community at large, to be true to themselves, to their faith and to their heritage.

“This world needs Jews who are manifesting the truth of who they are, who recognize that yes, there is a ‘chosen-ness’ in Judaism but it necessitates in the individual making a choice.”

In an address replete with references to Jewish history and the Torah that brimmed with humor, warmth and wisdom, Mayor Booker sought to outline exactly what that choice means.

“We are in a world that cries out for redemption; there is pain and suffering all around us. Why am I so drawn to Judaism? Because this world needs people who will choose to live those values, instill them in their hearts and manifest them in their actions.”

Recently re-elected as Newark’s mayor with a clear mandate for change, Mayor Booker understands the importance of working with and depending on others.  He noted that his bold vision for Newark could not have been set into motion without vital outside help and cooperation. And he sees in YU opportunities for cooperation and unity and restorative hope that must continue to be carried out.

“We are sitting here in homage not to individuals but to a tradition at a university that at its very core is that mission. Why I am so honored to be here, why I feel the gravity of the gift of kindness that you all have shown me, is because this university is answering that call.”

President Richard M. Joel conferred the honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree on Mayor Booker, and honorary degrees were also awarded to Emanuel Gruss, a prominent investment executive and philanthropist, and Benefactor and honorary trustee of Yeshiva University; business executive Arthur N. Hershaft, a Benefactor and member of the Board of Overseers of YU’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine; attorney and community leader Murray Laulicht, a YU alumnus and Benefactor and member of the Board of Overseers of the University’s Stern College for Women; and philanthropist and civic leader Laurie M. Tisch, a Benefactor and significant supporter of YU’s Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law.

The convocation and dinner, the University’s main annual fundraising event, raised a record $4.1 million this year.

Echoing the words of Mayor Booker, President Joel summed up the evening with these words: “Nights like tonight are so important for those of us who dream about the Jewish future. We must continue working with other people of goodwill to advance civilization; that’s our sacred mission, and that’s what we are celebrating tonight and what we will continue to celebrate in the days and months and years to come.”

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Newark Mayor Cory Booker Implores Audience to be True to Itself in Hanukkah Dinner Keynote Address

Cory A. Booker, mayor of Newark, NJ, and the keynote speaker at Yeshiva University’s (YU) 86th Annual Hanukkah Dinner and Convocation at The Waldorf=Astoria in New York City, implored members of the audience, and the Jewish community at large, to be true to themselves, to their faith and to their heritage.

“This world doesn’t need ‘Jews.’ This world needs Jews who are manifesting the truth of who they are, who recognize that yes, there is a ‘chosen-ness’ in Judaism but it necessitates in the individual making a choice.”

[flickrslideshow acct_name="yeshivauniversity" id="72157625463527005"]

In an address replete with references to Jewish history and the Torah that brimmed with humor, warmth and wisdom, Mayor Booker sought to outline exactly what that choice means.

“We are in a world that cries out for redemption; there is pain and suffering all around us. Why am I so drawn to Judaism? Because this world needs people who will choose to live those values, instill them in their hearts and manifest them in their actions.”

Recently re-elected as Newark’s mayor with a clear mandate for change, Mayor Booker knows the importance of working with and depending on others.  He noted that his bold vision for Newark could not have been set into motion without vital outside help and cooperation. And he sees in YU opportunities for cooperation and unity and restorative hope that must continue to be carried out.

“We are sitting here in homage not to individuals but to a tradition at a university that at its very core is that mission. Why I am so honored to be here, why I feel the gravity of the gift of kindness that you all have shown me, is because this university is answering that call.”

President Richard M. Joel conferred the honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree on Mayor Booker, and honorary degrees were also awarded to Emanuel Gruss, a prominent investment executive and philanthropist, and Benefactor and honorary trustee of Yeshiva University; business executive Arthur N. Hershaft, a Benefactor and member of the Board of Overseers of YU’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine; attorney and community leader Murray Laulicht, a YU alumnus and Benefactor and member of the Board of Overseers of the University’s Stern College for Women; and philanthropist and civic leader Laurie M. Tisch, a Benefactor and significant supporter of YU’s Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law.

The convocation and dinner, the University’s main annual fundraising event, raised a record $4.1 million this year.

The dinner portion of the evening opened with a viewing of the hit song and music video “Candlelight,” performed by Yeshiva University’s a cappella group, the Maccabeats. The song has recently been featured on CNN, CBS and many other major media outlets, as well as receiving more than three million views on YouTube.

President Joel then honored the Points of Light, eight people who exemplify YU’s mission, one for each candle of the menorah. They included:

Chanan Reitblat, founder of the Yeshiva College chapter of the American Chemical Society, who is helping to develop a drug to prevent kidney stones and working with special needs individuals for Keshet.

Leah Larson, a Stern college student and founder, editor, and publisher of YALDAH magazine, which she started at age 13.

Michael Goon, a current student at YU affiliated Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS) serving as a Sanford Lurie Scholar at the Jewish Center and rabbinic intern at the Roslyn Synagogue, who founded “Shabbat Heights Link,” which organizes Shabbat dinners for singles and couples in Washington Heights; he also designed and produced “Peacekeeping: The Game,” a board game that teaches the challenges of intrastate conflict.

Joey Small, who holds a master’s from YU’s Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration and launched a fellowship program at YU with two tracks – “Give Back” and the “Legacy Heritage Teacher Training Fellowships,” both of which focus on encouraging recent graduates to pursue careers in education.

Tova Fish-Rosenberg, the chairperson of the Hebrew language department at Yeshiva University High School for Boys and creator of the acclaimed “Names, Not Numbers©” Intergenerational Holocaust Oral History Project.

Martin Leibovich, a student at YU’s Sy Syms School of Business, who grew up in Argentina and was heavily recruited by American college basketball programs before eventually transferring to the University, where he has shown a tremendous love of Torah learning and a continued talent for basketball.

Dr. Arturo Casadevall, the chair of microbiology and immunology at Einstein and a major force behind Einstein’s foray into biodefense following September 11, 2001;  he also helped develop a new therapy for metastatic melanoma.

Jaqueline Murekatete, a second-year Cardozo student who, at the age of nine, was the sole survivor of her Tutsi family during the Rwandan genocide of 1994. She founded Jacqueline’s Human Rights Corner and has raised $100,000 for a community center in Rwanda for other genocide survivors.

Echoing the words of Mayor Booker, President Joel summed up the evening with these words: “Nights like tonight are so important for those of us who dream about the Jewish future. We must continue working with other people of goodwill to advance civilization; that’s our sacred mission, and that’s what we are celebrating tonight and what we will continue to celebrate in the days and months and years to come.”

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Social Justice Society Presents Empowerment Benefit Chanukah Concert on Dec. 7

The YU Social Justice Society is holding a Chanukah concert for women. Inspired by the recent global and humanitarian movement to empower women, the concert will raise funds for three different women charities: CAMFED (women’s education in Africa), ORA (Organization for the Resolution of Agunot) and Sharsheret (helping Jewish women with breast cancer.) The ticket bearer decides where their ticket proceeds will go by checking off their chosen charity on the ticket.

The concert will feature Grammy-nominated Neshama Carlebach, who will be singing alongside Reverend Roger Hambrick and members of the Green Pastures Baptist Church Choir. Opening for Ms. Carlebach is YU’s all-female a capella group, the B’notes, and ERA, a female rock band hailing from Florida.

“We wanted to highlight the power women have when they come together for a cause. Women uniting to help other women is a crucial step towards eventual equality. One doesn’t need to look too far to see that in the twenty-first century there still is an unfortunate discrepancy between genders in terms of education, funding for health causes, salary, and societal roles. Women need to keep on standing up against gender discrimination,” said Ilana Hostyk, the organizer of the concert.

The concert will take place on December 7, the sixth night of Chanukah, in Midtown Manhattan.

In recent months, the New York Times, Nike’s Girl Effect campaign, and the UN Global Millennium Project have all highlighted empowering women as the way to solve world poverty and other humanitarian crises. The concert is the YU SJS’s second event in their campaign for women worldwide. They first led a book discussion on Nicholas Kristof’ and Sheryl WuDunn’s Half the Sky, and are planning subsequent events, including a panel on how men can help women’s leadership.

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The Tradition of the Chanukah Dinner in Building Yeshiva University

(By Shulamit Berger)

Large Hebrew letters boldly crowned Yeshiva’s advertisement in the New York Times on November 8, 1928, an early instance of Hebrew characters gracing that venerable publication:
“זה היום עשה ד’ נגילה ונשמחה בו”

New York Times Ad‘”This is the day that the Lord hath made: let us be glad and rejoice thereon.’—Psalms 118:24.” A similar ad in the Yiddish press proclaimed:

“והבית הזה יהיה עליון…”

And this House shall be elevated – Kings I, 9:8.

Both ads announced the Chanukat HaBayit, the dedication, of the new Yeshiva College building, the first step in the creation of the Washington Heights campus. The dedication ceremonies were scheduled for December 9, 1928, followed by a Chanukah banquet four days later. The ads, and the Biblical verses they quote, invoke the Temple, the ancient Bet Mikdash in Jerusalem, in describing the new building. The choice of Chanukah for the dedication ceremonies and dinner was deliberate and symbolic.  As the ad states, “Chanukah, the Feast of Lights, when the Maccabees rededicated the Temple after the historic victory over their Greek adversaries, will witness the dedication of a new Temple devoted to the service of God, the study of the Torah, Jewish philosophy, the sciences and American institutions.”

The inauguration of the magnificent new edifice marked the move uptown from the impoverished, overcrowded, immigrant neighborhood of the Lower East Side to the then bucolic Washington Heights.  It also launched a new era in the life of the institution – the addition of a new college of liberal arts and sciences to the Yeshiva. Read full article at the YU Libraries blog.

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Annual Yeshiva University Chanukah Concert to Benefit Kids of Courage on Dec. 2

International music superstar Matisyahu will headline Yeshiva University’s annual Chanukah Concert on Thursday, December 2, 2010 at the Lamport Auditorium, 2540 Amsterdam Ave., in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan. Doors open at 7:30 p.m.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iOKVS6rH_y0

The concert will also feature performances by the Moshav Band and YU’s own a cappella group, the Maccabeats.

Organized by Yeshiva University’s undergraduate student councils, the concert will benefit Kids of Courage, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of children and young adults with serious medical diagnoses.

“It’s very hard to have one event that appeals to the entire YU student body,” said Yoni Kushner, president of the Yeshiva Student Union and organizer of the event. “However I feel this year, with the performers that we are bringing in, we have the possibility of drawing one of the largest student crowds in YU history.”

To purchase tickets visit www.yuconcert.com.


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