Yeshiva University News » Israel

Yeshiva University Celebrates Israel with Largest Contingent at Annual NYC Parade

More than 1,500 students, alumni, faculty, staff and friends of Yeshiva University marched up Fifth Avenue, cheering and greeting the crowds as they celebrated Israel’s 64th year of independence at the annual 2012 Celebrate Israel Parade on Sunday, June 3.

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Stern College’s Avital Chizhik on the Diaspora Jew’s Constant Quest for Jerusalem

We’re standing in a hall in downtown Manhattan, overlooking a dusky Liberty Harbor.

The girl standing next to me points to the river view and says, “Doesn’t it almost look like Jerusalem? That terrace over there and that tree? The way the sun is setting?”

I gaze for a minute at the view. We’re overlooking a dark Hudson River, a boat passing by, the Statue of Liberty in the distance.

No, it doesn’t look like Jerusalem in the least. Not here. This is most certainly New York. I muster a smile, trying to think of an agreeable response, until I finally sigh and admit, “No, it doesn’t look like Jerusalem. Not at all.” Read the rest of this entry…

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Center for Israel Studies Yom Iyun Explores History of Religious Zionism in America

Few things divide and provoke American Jews like the question of Zionism.  Though many wish to remember otherwise, this was also the case before the founding of Israel in 1948; and, though many wish to forget, the story of Zionism in America belongs not just to Labor Zionism, dominated by culturalists and secularists, but also to Orthodox Jews.  Recently Yeshiva University’s Center for Israel Studies held a study dayon the history of religious Zionism in America.  The questions raised by this history have profound implications for the future of Jews and of Israel. Read the rest of this entry…

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Ambassador Yehuda Avner to Speak at May 24 Commencement; Honorees Include Alan Willner, Eleazer Hirmes and Ethel Orlian

Former Israeli diplomat, Ambassador Yehuda Avner, will deliver the keynote address and receive an honorary doctorate at Yeshiva University’s 81st Commencement Ceremony on Thursday, May 24, at the IZOD Center in East Rutherford, NJ.

Ambassador Yehuda Avner

Avner, an author of two books, served as speechwriter and secretary to Israeli Prime Ministers Levi Eshkol and Golda Meir, and as an adviser to Prime Ministers Yitzhak Rabin, Menachem Begin and Shimon Peres. Read the rest of this entry…

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Daniel Hershkowitz, Minister of Science and Technology, Shares Insight with Students

The Yeshiva University community enjoyed the opportunity to converse with and learn from Israeli Minister of Science and Technology Daniel Hershkowitz in a jam-packed evening on April 30.

Minister Hershkowitz meets with President Joel

Minister Hershkowitz and President Joel

Throughout the afternoon and evening, Hershkowitz met with students, faculty and administrators in a variety of settings to learn about the unique educational model of YU and share some of his insights.

“It is my first time at Yeshiva University and I am very glad to be here,” said Hershkowitz. “It would be wonderful if we had a similar kind of institution in Israel.”

Upon his arrival to the Wilf Campus, Hershkowitz was greeted by President Richard M. Joel and proceeded to meet with Yeshiva College Dean Barry Eichler and a number of senior faculty members to discuss common issues of interest regarding university life and current research underway at YU.

“As the day progressed, it was clear that YU had made a new friend with whom we could cooperate in our close relationship with the State of Israel as academics devoted to our teaching and research, and in the continued quest for strengthening Jewish life here and abroad,” said Dr. Lawrence Schiffman, vice provost for undergraduate education, who took part in a number of meetings with the minister throughout the evening.

At 8 pm, Hershkowitz delivered a short address in Furst Hall introducing an event sponsored by the Neuroscience Society, Medical Ethics Society, Yeshiva College Biology Majors Board, the Yeshiva College Philosophy Club, the Honors Program and the Stern College for Women Neuroscience Club.

The minister described the fast paced rate of technological change wrought by advancements in computer technology. To illustrate this, he offered as an anecdote a common occurrence that he encountered as a graduate student: when he discovered a citation for a journal article not held by his library, he would have to send away for it, often to another country. “If I was lucky,” he said, “I would receive the article in a month. Now with computer databases, I can retrieve an article in seconds.”

Minister Hershkowitz met with Provost Lowengrub (left) and members of the YU faculty.

According to Hershkowitz, this improvement has led to an explosion of new research and journal publications, allowing people to delve deeper into sub-specialties of specific disciplines than ever before. With people so hyper-specialized, Israel now encourages more interdisciplinary collaboration in the sciences in order to maximize its scholars output and creativity. This is why Israel is currently focusing the attention of its research centers on the four interdisciplinary fields of neuroscience, marine biology, nanotechnology and computer technology. “When different fields come together, we can do amazing things,” said the minister.

In closing, the minister offered a parable from the Book of Exodus to describe the compatibility of scientific inquiry and Jewish culture that he was pleased to encounter at YU.

“We were delighted to have Minister Hershkowitz address the Neuroscience Society,” said Neuroscience Society President Daniel First. “Neuroscience is one of the hottest fields of scientific research today, and it was fascinating to hear how Israel is playing a prominent role in its advancement.”

Minister Hershkowitz earned a doctorate in mathematics from the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology in 1982. He has served as the rabbi for the Ahuza community near the northern Israeli city of Haifa. In early 2009, he won a seat in the Knesset as the Chairman of the Habayit Hayehudi party, a national religious party, and was shortly thereafter named Minister of Science and Technology.

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Ambassador Yehuda Avner to Speak at May 24 Commencement; Honorees Include Alan Willner, Eleazer Hirmes and Ethel Orlian

Former Israeli diplomat, Ambassador Yehuda Avner, will deliver the keynote address and receive an honorary doctorate at Yeshiva University’s 81st Commencement Ceremony on Thursday, May 24, at the IZOD Center in East Rutherford, NJ.

Ambassador Yehuda Avner

Avner, an author of two books, served as speechwriter and secretary to Israeli Prime Ministers Levi Eshkol and Golda Meir, and as an adviser to Prime Ministers Yitzhak Rabin, Menachem Begin and Shimon Peres.

Visit the commencement page for dates, locations, directions and information on ceremonies for all Yeshiva University schools and affiliates.

President Richard M. Joel will also confer an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters upon Dr. Alan Willner and Eleazer Hirmes. Willner, a 1982 graduate of Yeshiva College, is a highly decorated physicist, who has published more than 950 papers on his research in optical technologies. Currently a chaired professor of engineering at the Viterbi School of Engineering at the University of Southern California, he holds 24 patents. His research has been supported by institutions such as Cisco, the Department of Defense, Google, Hewlett Packard, Intel, the National Science Foundation and the National Security Agency.

Dr. Alan Willner

Hirmes’ family relationship with Yeshiva University dates back to the early years of the 20th century, when his father, Rabbi Abraham P. Hirmes, left the Slobatka Yeshiva in Lithuania to pursue his rabbinical ordination at YU-affiliated Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary. Eleazer attended YU High School and graduated from Yeshiva College in 1944. He received an MBA from New York University and spent 60 years practicing as a CPA, becoming a noted philanthropist in the Five Towns of New York. Hirmes and his wife Greta have set up a scholarship fund in honor of his parents.

Eleazer Hirmes

Eleazer Hirmes

Ethel Orlian, the associate dean of Stern College for Women, will be awarded the Presidential Medallion. Orlian has spent more than 50 years as a student, teacher and administrator at Yeshiva University. A graduate of YU High School and Stern College, she began her YU career as a researcher, but left to live in Israel before returning to Stern in 1979 as the assistant to Karen Bacon, dean of Stern College for Women. Known to generations of Stern College women, she has remained at the college since—serving as assistant dean and academic counselor and teaching chemistry prior to her appointment as associate dean.

Ethel Orlian

“Each of our honorees embodies a different piece of the principles of Yeshiva University, their commitment to the Jewish people, the State of Israel, their hometowns and to the University itself,” said President Joel. “We hope they inspire our graduates to leave our school for success now, but know they always have a home at YU.”

In all, more than 1,400 undergraduate students from Yeshiva College, Stern College for Women and Syms School of Business, as well as graduate students in the fields of law, medicine, social work, education, Jewish studies and psychology, will be awarded degrees from YU during its commencement season.

Learn more about the honorees here.

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

Hundreds of students filled the Wilf Campus’ Lamport Auditorium on April 25 for Yeshiva University’s Yom Hazikaron (Israel Memorial Day) ceremony honoring the memories of Israel’s fallen soldiers and victims of terror.

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The student-organized event featured readings by the Yeshiva College and Stern College Dramatics Societies, an a capella performance by the Y-Studs, a video presentation and a memorial candle lighting service. President Richard M. Joel delivered an emotional El Male Rachamim [memorial prayer] and was followed by keynote speaker Ambassador Daniel Kurtzer ’71YC and Rabbi Meir Goldwicht, Joel and Maria Finkle Visiting Israeli Rosh Yeshiva at RIETS. The ceremony concluded with a Yizkor prayer led by Rabbi Yosef Blau, senior mashgiach ruchani [spiritual advisor], and closing words from Avital Chizhik ’12S, president of the YU Israel Club.

The moving program was followed by song and dance at the annual Yom Ha’atzmaut (Israel Independence Day) Chagigah in the Max Stern Athletic Center, celebrating Israel’s 64th birthday. Yom Ha’atzmaut festivities continued on April 26 with more dancing, a barbecue and carnival on the Wilf Campus.

Download YU Torah’s Yom Ha’atzmaut To-Go, featuring articles from Roshei Yeshiva, faculty and prominent Torah personalities.

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Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Israel Delivers Shiur to Students, Meets with Roshei Yeshiva

Rabbi Shlomo Amar, the Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Israel, paid a visit to Yeshiva University-affiliated Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS) on March 28. Upon arrival he was greeted by Rabbi Eliyahu Ben-Haim, Maxwell R. Maybaum Memorial Chair in Talmud and Sephardic Codes; Rabbi Dr. Herbert Dobrinsky, vice president for university affairs and Rabbi Moshe Tessone, director of YU’s Sephardic Community Program.

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The chief rabbi, also known as the Rishon LeZion, delivered a shiur [lecture] to hundreds of students in the Glueck Beit Midrash, after which he participated in a luncheon with various roshei yeshiva and members of the YU faculty and administration including Rabbi Yona Reiss, Max and Marion Grill Dean of RIETS; Chancellor Rabbi Dr. Norman Lamm, Rosh HaYeshiva; Rabbi Zevulun Charlop, dean emeritus of RIETS; Rabbi Hershel Schachter, Nathan and Vivian Fink Distinguished Professorial Chair in Talmud; and Rabbi Mordechai Willig, Rabbi Dr. Sol Roth Chair in Talmud and Contemporary Halacha, among others. This was Rabbi Amar’s third visit to the YU campus in recent years.

“Hakham [rabbi] Amar’s visit to Yeshiva strengthens the relationship between our roshei yeshiva, the RIETS administration and the office of the chief rabbinate of the State of Israel,” said Tessone. “His visit is also significant to the Sephardic population on campus which benefitted from hearing his words and participating in the mitzvah of kabbalat pnei hakhamim [receiving great Torah luminaries].”

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YU Student Returns to Israel on One-Year Anniversary of the Jerusalem Bombing She Survived to Run in Marathon

Pia Levine, a student at Yeshiva University in New York, was riding with a friend on an Egged bus in Jerusalem, carefree after an excursion to the swanky new Mamilla shopping center, when she suddenly heard what sounded like a large clap of thunder. It was a few minutes after 3 p.m. at a bus stop near the Jerusalem International Convention Center and the boom came from a detonated pipe bomb. It killed one person and injured some 40 others that Wednesday, March 23, 2011. Of the bus passengers, only Levine and her friend were able to walk away from the scene.

A survivor of a terror attack, Stern College student Pia Levine now raises money for victims of terror.

Levine, although physically unhurt, was no longer carefree.

Set to leave Israel a few days later, Levine attempted to proceed with her plan: to run in the Jerusalem half-marathon that Friday and go home to the US.

All too soon, however, Levine realized that she was far from unscathed. The One Family Fund organization, which provides financial, legal, and emotional assistance to victims of terror in Israel, found Levine and aided in her medical care the day after the bombing in Jerusalem—essentially getting her back on her feet and running in time for the marathon—and then later after her return to New York.

Now, the 20-year-old is running for charity as a member of Team OneFamily. In that capacity she’s already participated in the New York Triathlon last summer (see NY television coverage here) and is currently back in Jerusalem to again run in the half-marathon, with a two-fold mission: to close an emotional circle and raise money for the organization that helped her so much.

Read full article in The Times of Israel

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From the Land of Purim, Jews with Complex Identities

For many American Persian Jews, self-identification can be complicated. Whether they were born in Iran or they are first-generation Americans, the culture and patriotism of their parents’ homeland can clash with their lives in America. This inner conflict has been exacerbated by the ongoing political tensions between Iran and the United States. Mix in some public musings on the possibility of war with Iran from Israel, and Persian American Jews (or are they Jewish Persian Americans? American Persian Jews?) are effectively being pulled in three directions.

The Persian Jewish community in American remains quite insular, concentrated in a few close-knit enclaves, including one on Long Island. And while the western label Orthodox doesn’t quite apply, Persian Jewish religious practice certainly has more in common with contemporary Orthodox Judaism than it does with any of the liberal streams. Because of all of these factors, Yeshiva University, the Modern Orthodox university with its various schools scattered around the city of New York, has a particularly high concentration of Persian Jews.

“I feel an internal conflict,” admitted Sarit Bassal, a student at Stern College for Women at Yeshiva University. Bassal’s family is the paradigm of this cultural potpourri: Her father is from Iran, and her mother from Israel, but she and her siblings were born in New York. The possibility of a war involving two or all three of these homelands has left Bassal feeling a bit lost.

“It’s really sad when we hear that the country our parents grew up in wants to destroy the country I identify with, the Jewish homeland,” explained Bassal.

At the time of the interview, Bassal was holding down a booth in a lobby at Stern advocating for women’s rights in Iran. Another Persian student, Sarah Mansher, sat next to her. Mansher said she feels less conflicted about the situation, although both feel strongly enough about their parents’ homeland to fight on behalf of citizens there whom they’ve never met, Jewish or not. Read full article in New Voices

The author, Simi Lampert, is a senior at Stern College for Women.

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