Yeshiva University News » Israel

Having Recently Completed Their Service, IDF Vets Begin College Careers at Yeshiva University

One night, as Ethan Gipsman, a light machine-gunner in the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) from San Diego, California, stood guard over a group of suspected terrorists in the West Bank, one of them asked him a surprising question: What was Ethan, an American, doing there? “He said, ‘I thought America had everything,’ ” Gipsman recalled. “ ‘Why would you leave your country to come here?’ ”

Having recently completed their IDF service, Shmuel Goldis, Jonathan Sidlow, Daniel Gofine and Ethan Gipsman are beginning their college careers at Yeshiva University.

Gipsman thought about his answer for most of the night before replying, in a mixture of Arabic, English and Hebrew, “There is only one Jewish country in the world. I left America because, as a Jew, I have an obligation to protect it.”

His answer resonates strongly with several lone soldiers—enlistees from America and countries around the world who come to Israel to serve in the IDF—who, like Gipsman, recently began their studies at Yeshiva University. Read the rest of this entry…

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With Rockets Soaring Overhead, YU Students Take Part in Successful Archaeological Excavation in Biblical City of Gath 

Most college students haven’t had the opportunity to immerse themselves in centuries-old history through a hands-on archaeological dig in Israel, and even fewer have done so amid blaring sirens warning of impending rocket attacks.

archaeology course

Yael Eisenberg, Shani Guterman, Dr. Jill Katz, Sarale Pool, Sima Fried and Asher Perez dig for artifacts in Tell es-Safi, Israel.

For five Yeshiva University undergraduates, a summer course that focused on investigating the archaeology, ecology and history of Tell es-Safi, the biblical city of Gath, took an unexpected twist when they found themselves in rocket range during Israel’s current Operation Protective Edge military offensive against Hamas in Gaza. The YU group, led by Dr. Jill Katz, clinical assistant professor of archaeology, was at Kibbutz Revadim on the southern coast of Israel near the Ashdod and Ashkelon regions when the conflict began.

“We were located 40 kilometers from Gaza and thus had about 45 seconds to run into a bomb shelter once we heard the siren,” said Katz. “While the kibbutz where we were staying had many accessible shelters, the dig site did not, and our instructions were simply to lie down in our excavation trenches for several minutes when the siren went off at the nearby power plant.” Read the rest of this entry…

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Dr. Rona Novick: How Educators Can Arm Students With Hope in an Increasingly Dangerous World

On my first day as Dean of the Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education, three innocent Israeli victims of terrorism – teenagers – were laid to rest. The unity of the past weeks and the pain and sheer terror of the past few days beg consideration: are there any lessons here regarding what educators should be teaching their students?

Dr. Rona Novick

Dr. Rona Novick, dean of YU’s Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education

We are not the first generation, and I fear we will not be the last, that needs to teach children about danger and safety. Difficult lessons about a world where even children who do no wrong become ill, and where there are cruel adults and children who can and will hurt other children have been and will continue to be taught. Such lessons require delicate balance. If we err on the side of lollipops and sunshine, we lose credibility as trustworthy and knowledgeable adults when terror or trauma strikes. If we open children’s eyes wide to the doom, gloom and ever-present dangers, we risk raising a generation of anxious, terrified citizens.

Whether it is the discomfort of modulating between opposite poles of all is good, and the world is evil, or the fact that when we cannot promise safety, it seems providing any guidance or support is futile, adults may avoid these tough lessons. Read the rest of this entry…

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Jewish and Psychological Perspectives for Helping Children, Adolescents, as well as Adults, to Cope with Loss and Terror

It is with deep sadness and profound outrage that we learned of the murders of Gilad Shaar, Naftali Frenkel and Eyal Yifrach. For the past few weeks, the lives of these boys, and the incredible faith of their families, have made an enduring impact upon each and every one of us, and upon the entire Jewish people.3-boys-memory Our devotion to Tefilah and unified sense of “Am Yisrael” was palpable throughout our community. Families joined together in prayer, lighting additional candles for Shabbat, posting signs on our lawns, and flooding social media with a movement to raise global awareness of their plight. We embraced the families of the boys as heroes of our faith, and marveled at the remarkable strength they maintained and provided to the entire Jewish people. They spoke to the heart and transcended all divisions within our people that only weeks ago seemed entrenched as part of Jewish life.

There are no words to truly capture the pain of our nation’s loss. Yet, our children will turn to us for guidance and understanding regarding the emotional and spiritual challenges that arise in such a devastating experience. Please find a number of resources compiled by Yeshiva University from both internal sources, and from Chai Lifeline that provide strategies and insights in addressing these circumstances with your children. Read the rest of this entry…

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Ninth Annual Service Learning Program to Empower 300 Israeli Youth, Receive Support From Local Municipalities

The Yeshiva University Center for the Jewish Future’s (CJF) Counterpoint Israel Program, an immersive service-learning initiative that aims to empower the next generation of Israeli youth via an exciting, Jewish values-driven summer camp experience, has been retooled to maximize manpower efficiency and its impact on the Israeli communities it serves.

COunterpoint

YU students will help empower some 300 underprivileged youth throughout Israel this summer as part of the Counterpoint program.

Over the last several years, undergraduate students from Yeshiva University ran four separate summer camps in the cities of Arad, Dimona, Kiryat Gat and Kiryat Malachi concurrently. Basing itself on the North American Jewish camping system, this year’s program will offer two separate camp sessions, making it possible for YU students to focus their undivided attention and complete creativity on two cities at a time.

The YU students, natives of North America, Colombia and Chile, will run camps in Kiryat Gat and Kiryat Malachi from June 29 – July 10 before relocating to Dimona and Arad for the second session, scheduled for July 13 – 24. Read the rest of this entry…

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Students Commemorate Israel with Yom Hazikaron and Yom Ha’atzmaut Programs

Hundreds of students filled the Wilf Campus’ Lamport Auditorium May 5 for Yeshiva University’s Yom Hazikaron (Israel Memorial Day) ceremony honoring Israel’s fallen soldiers and victims of terror. The student-led event featured a candle lighting ceremony and video presentation, as well as remarks from Yehuda Avner, former Israeli diplomat; President Richard M. Joel; Dr. Wolf Lebovic, Canadian communal leader and recent YU honorary degree recipient; and Rabbi Meir Goldwicht, Joel and Maria Finkle Visiting Israeli Rosh Yeshiva.

After the moving program, students proceeded to the Max Stern Athletic Center for a night of dancing and refreshments at the annual Yom Ha’atzmaut (Israel Independence Day) Chagigah celebrating Israel’s 66th birthday. Read the rest of this entry…

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Rabbi Hershel Schachter and Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks to Be Recognized for Contributions to Jewish Law in Modern Life

Yeshiva University Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Hershel Schachter, Nathan and Vivian Fink Distinguished Professorial Chair in Talmud at YU-affiliated Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Rabbinical Theological Seminary (RIETS), and Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, Kressel and Ephrat Family University Professor of Jewish Thought, will be presented with the 2014 Katz Award for their contributions to the practical analysis and application of halakha [Jewish law] in modern life.

Rabbi Hershel Schachter

Rabbi Hershel Schachter

The award is to be bestowed by Katz Family Foundation committee members, including former Chief Rabbi of Israel Rabbi Israel Meir Lau, Hebrew University President Professor Menachem Ben-Sasson, and noted Talmudic scholar Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, at a ceremony at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem on Tuesday, May 27 at 6:00 p.m.

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Second Annual CJF Winter Break Service Learning Initiative to Empower 850 Underprivileged Teens

Yeshiva University’s Center for the Jewish Future announced today that its “Counterpoint Israel” winter break program, a 10-day mission that aims to empower Israeli teens from low socio-economic backgrounds, has doubled in size with the addition of four new “Winter Camps” in Kiryat Gat and the expansion of the existing program in Kiryat Malachi.

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YU students will impact hundreds of underprivileged Israeli youth this winter break as part of Counterpoint.

With the program returning to the community of Dimona as well, Counterpoint Israel will serve 850 teens in seven student-run camps January 9–19.

Throughout the mission, 42 YU students from North America, Panama and Colombia will guide the Israeli teens through a curriculum focused on English enrichment and self-exploration through art.

“Counterpoint continues to grow in size and expand its influence, impacting entire communities and changing countless lives along the way,” said Kiva Rabinsky, programs director of the CJF’s Department of Service Learning and Experiential Education. Read the rest of this entry…

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Menachem Begin Heritage Center Grant Supports YU Programming Honoring Former Prime Minister’s Legacy

Yeshiva University’s Zahava and Moshael Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought received a $100,000 grant from the Menachem Begin Heritage Center in Jerusalem to sponsor a series of programs on Zionism and the Begin Legacy in honor of the former prime minister’s 100th birthday, which was commemorated in August.

Hart Hasten, right, with Menachem Begin

Hart Hasten, right, with Menachem Begin

Hart Hasten, president of US Friends of the Menachem Begin Heritage Foundation was instrumental in securing the grant for YU. Phil Rosen, vice chairman of the Yeshiva College Board, and Hasten’s son Bernard, a member of the Yeshiva College Board, also played significant roles.

“Menachem Begin became my hero and my mentor, a role model and an icon,” said Hasten, who along with his wife, Simona, were close friends of Begin for 25 years. Read the rest of this entry…

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At YU Event, MK Naftali Bennett Shares Dream of Israeli Light in the Darkness of Mideast Conflict

Sharing his vision for Israel at a November 19 event on Yeshiva University’s Wilf Campus, Knesset Member Naftali Bennett asked the crowd of close to 300 to imagine a lighthouse.

20131119_Naftali_Bennett_083“A lighthouse has strong foundations, which Israel has in our Torah, our very good economy and the most powerful army in the Middle East,” he said. “But any tower has strong foundations. The most important thing a lighthouse does is project light.” Referring to recent unrest in the region, he added, “There is a storm going on and it’s here to stay, from Pakistan to Iran, from Damascus to Yemen. Israel needs to be the lighthouse in that storm.”

Read the rest of this entry…

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