Yeshiva University News » Revel

In New Book, YU Historian Imagines American Judaism If the Holocaust Never Happened

On March 30, Dr. Jeffrey Gurock, the Libby M. Klaperman Professor of Jewish History at Yeshiva University, will launch his new book, The Holocaust Averted: An Alternate History of American Jewry 1938-1967 (Rutgers University Press) at the Yeshiva University Museum in a nationally-televised event sponsored by the Museum, the Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies and the American Jewish Historical Society.

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In his new book, YU historian Dr. Jeffrey Gurock imagines American Jewish history if the Holocaust had never happened.

In the book, Gurock imagines what might have happened to the Jewish community in the United States if the Holocaust had not occurred and forces readers to contemplate how the road to acceptance and empowerment for today’s American Jews could have been harder than it actually was. YU News sat down with Gurock to discuss some of the most intriguing moments in that period of history, both real and imagined, and their impact on the American Judaism of today.

What inspired you to write this book and how does it fit into the emerging academic field of counterfactual history? Read the rest of this entry…

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Revel Student’s Research Examines Daily Legalities of Biblical Life Through a Comparative Lens

Judaism relies heavily on its legal library: written discussions of the law are almost synonymous with the religion, describing practices that date back to the beginnings of the Bible and beyond. But what did those practices actually look like in the day-to-day lives of ancient Israelites? Like many civilizations of the time, the Jews of the biblical era used papyrus for everyday business affairs; few artifacts from the era survive to illustrate how the rules and regulations found in the canonical Torah were observed.

20141223_yael_wermuth_06For Yael Landman Wermuth, a doctoral student at Yeshiva University’s Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies, the key to understanding these texts lies not so much in the history of ancient Jews, but in that of their neighbors.

Landman Wermuth’s doctoral thesis examines areas of biblical law through a comparative lens, drawing on examples from the contemporary Mesopotamian and Hittite law codes, which contain many similarities to that of the Bible, as well as ancient Near Eastern contracts, letters, trial records and other documents that offer a glimpse of legal practice in everyday Mesopotamian life. Read the rest of this entry…

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Yeshiva University Celebrates Rabbi Dr. Bernard Rosensweig’s 38 Years of Dedicated Service

After 38 years of molding students’ minds and expanding their Torah horizons at Yeshiva College, Rabbi Dr. Bernard Rosensweig, visiting professor of Jewish history, literature and philosophy at Yeshiva University, will be retiring at the end of this semester.  On Thursday, December 11, some 100 friends, relatives and colleagues came to pay tribute and celebrate the beloved educator’s career at a reception held at Weisberg Commons on the Wilf Campus.

“Rabbi Dr. Rosensweig has touched thousands of talmidim [students] with his warmth, wisdom, wit and passion for Jewish history and the Jewish community,” said Rabbi Menachem Penner, Max and Marion Grill Dean of Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS) and Undergraduate Torah Studies. “He is beloved by students and colleagues. I, myself, was a talmid several decades ago, and have never ceased being a talmid.” Read the rest of this entry…

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Scholars Gather for Symposium on Flood Story’s Depiction in Bible and Film

The recently released movie “Noah” brought together top academic minds on Sunday, November 30, at the Yeshiva University Museum for a symposium titled “Modeling the Flood Story: Midrash and Movie,” presented by the Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies, Yeshiva College and YU Museum. The scholars analyzed popular Noah movies past and present in the context of the Torah’s account of Noah, interpretations of that account in Midrash [rabbinic biblical exegesis], and the flood story as deciphered in clay cuneiform tablets from Mesopotamia.

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Panelists Finkel, Steinmetz and Rubenstein

The 2014 movie, directed by Darren Aronofsky, and written by Aronofsky and Ari Handel, was criticized for deviating from the biblical story by Dr. Irving Finkel, curator and an authority of cuneiform on clay tablets from ancient Mesopotamia at the British Museum. In contrast, Dr. Devora Steinmetz, who serves on the leadership team for special programs at Drisha, said that the movie made her go back to the text.

More than 100 participants came to hear Finkel, Steinmetz and Dr. Jeffrey Rubenstein, professor of Hebrew and Judaic studies at New York University, discuss the flood story. Dr. Eric Goldman, adjunct professor of cinema at Yeshiva University, presented film clips of three older Noah films and two clips from the 2014 version. The three academics were joined by Rabbi Hayyim Angel, instructor of Bible at Yeshiva University, for a panel discussion on the current film and its deviations from the Bible’s narrative. Read the rest of this entry…

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First Ever National Finals Outside of Israel Scheduled for November 30

Yeshiva University’s Center for the Jewish Future and the Orthodox Union will be co-sponsoring the U.S. National Bible Contest for Adults, an event that will determine which outstanding Bible scholars will represent the United States at the International Chidon HaTanach [Bible Contest] for Adults in Jerusalem in December.

Scheduled for Sunday, November 30, 2014 at 2:00 p.m. at the West Side Institutional Synagogue, 120 West 76th Street in Manhattan, the event will mark the first time in the contest’s history that national finals are taking place outside of Israel. In addition to the Bible competition, the event will include a musical performance and remarks by Israeli Consul-General Ido Aharoni and YU President Richard M. Joel.

“The International Bible Contest for Adults was developed to encourage the study of the Bible, strengthen ties with the Land of Israel, and deepen connections with Jewish heritage. As such, it is a natural partnership for Yeshiva University,” said Rabbi Kenneth Brander, YU’s vice president for university and community life. “We are thrilled to co-sponsor the event, and proud that so many of the participants have ties to the University.” Read the rest of this entry…

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Rabbi Yigal Sklarin ’02YC, ’07R, ’11BR Wins Prestigious Prize for Leading Jewish Educators

Yeshiva University alumnus Rabbi Yigal Sklarin ’02YC, ’07R, ’11BR was recently awarded the prestigious Pomegranate Prize from the Covenant Foundation, which recognizes five passionate and talented emerging leaders in Jewish education who have been working in the field for 10 years or less.

Rabbi Yigal Sklarin (right), recipient of the Pomegranate Prize, with Eli Evans, chairman of the Covenant Foundation

Rabbi Yigal Sklarin (right), recipient of the Pomegranate Prize, with Eli Evans, chairman of the Covenant Foundation

Sklarin earned his BA in history from Yeshiva College, where he received the Max and Sophie Manicoff Award for Excellence in Talmud. He received semicha [rabbinic ordination] from YU-affiliated Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary and was a member of the Wexner Kollel Elyon. He also completed an MA from the Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies, where he is now pursuing a PhD in Modern Jewish History.

“It is very humbling to be in the company of educators who have accomplished so much,” said Sklarin. “I look forward to being part of the cohort at the Covenant Foundation, including the past Covenant awardees and Pomegranate Prize recipients, and learning from the talented field of educators.” Read the rest of this entry…

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RIETS and Revel Student Daniel Goldberg Participates in Prestigious Fellowship at Auschwitz for Study of Professional Ethics

A newly ordained Catholic priest from Kenya, a Mennonite theological student at Princeton University, a Muslim student in a hijab from Harvard Divinity School, and Daniel Goldberg, a semicha [rabbinic ordination] student at Yeshiva University-affiliated Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary, walked into a Polish synagogue.

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FASPE Seminary Fellows walk to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp.

It may sound like the setup to a great joke, but for Goldberg, it was one of many eye-opening experiences during his two-week Fellowship at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics (FASPE), a highly selective program for future clergy that explores the history of the Holocaust through the lens of contemporary ethics and firsthand visits to Auschwitz and other sites throughout Germany and Poland.

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Tenure Awarded to Faculty From Schools Across University

Continuing to build an intellectually diverse and rich scholarly community on campus and bolstering its top-level academic offerings, Yeshiva University has granted tenure to eight faculty members from across its undergraduate and graduate schools, in fields ranging from art history to mathematics and Judaic studies.

“After an arduous review, these newly tenured professors join an outstanding faculty who testify to the quality of Yeshiva University,” said Dr. Selma Botman, provost and vice president for academic affairs at YU. “Along with our recent reaccreditation and commendation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, faculty such as these exceptional educators, who bring distinction to our institution while dedicating themselves to student success and research excellence, are the hallmarks of a great university.” Read the rest of this entry…

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Rakeffet’s Bernard Revel Biography Republished; Yeshiva University Presents May 4 Book Launch and Lecture

Yeshiva University Press, in conjunction with OU Press, announces the republication of two landmark books by Rabbi Dr. Aaron Rakeffet-Rothkoff, professor of rabbinic literature at YU’s Caroline and Joseph S. Gruss Institute, Bernard Revel: Builder of American Orthodoxy and The Silver Era: Rabbi Eliezer Silver and His Generation.

Out of print but in demand for many years, these biographies tell the stories of two of the most important leaders of American Orthodox Judaism in the 20th century. Rabbi Dr. Bernard Revel, the founder of Yeshiva University and its first president, and Rabbi Eliezer Silver, the president and moving force behind Agudath HaRabanim and Vaad Hatzalah, stand as representatives of different communities within Orthodoxy, but they transcended partisan labels. They were each recognized as leaders beyond their own communities because of their passionate dedication to the Jewish people as a whole. Through the lives of Revel and Silver, Rakeffet brings to life the fascinating history of Orthodox Judaism in America, in all its diversity. Read the rest of this entry…

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Meet the Musmakh: Rabbi Yosef Bronstein Continues His Father’s Devotion to Torah Scholarship at RIETS

Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS) and the Yeshiva University community will celebrate the ordination of its largest class of musmakhim [ordained rabbis] at its Chag HaSemikhah Convocation on March 23, 2014. The record class of rabbis represents an internationally diverse group, hailing from five continents and more than 50 North American cities. While most will remain engaged in either full-time post-semikhah Torah study or religious work—Jewish education, the pulpit, outreach or non-profit work—many will pursue careers in other professions, including medicine and law.

In the weeks leading up to the celebration, YU News will introduce you to several of these remarkable musmakhim

Yosef BronsteinAs a young boy growing up in Bayswater, NY, the prominent Torah scholars at Yeshiva University-affiliated Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary were household names in the home of Rabbi Yosef Bronstein. His father, Rabbi Chaim Bronstein, was a musmakh of the yeshiva and had worked as an administrator there since before Yosef was born. “The study and teaching of Torah were heavily-emphasized values in our home,” recalled Bronstein. “We regarded the faculty at RIETS as respected Torah leaders and role models.”

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