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Political Philosopher Michael Sandel to Discuss Economic Inequality and Morality at Apr. 7 Yeshiva University Robbins-Wilf Program

Yeshiva University will host a discussion titled “Economic Inequality: What’s the Right Thing to Do?”, featuring Dr. Michael Sandel, host of the PBS program Justice, the first Michael SandelHarvard course to be made freely available online and on public television. The lecture, part of the Dr. Marcia Robbins-Wilf Scholar-in-Residence program, will be held on Monday, April 7 at 7:30 PM at the Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street, between 5th and 6th Avenues.

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Apr 13, 2010 — “My motto is sapere aude, Latin for dare to learn,” said Jane Kitaevich, explaining her seemingly endless thirst for knowledge in multifarious spheres.

Growing up in conflict-ridden Tbilisi, Georgia, a child of a physicist and a music teacher, Kitaevich, a senior at Yeshiva University’s Stern College for Women, would conquer every scholastic obstacle she encountered.

At the age of 13 she won several academic competitions, at both the national and European levels, earning a scholarship to study abroad at an American high school. By the time she was 16 she had completed her high school coursework and enrolled at Stern College. And now, just 20 years old, Kitaevich is the first student in the University’s history to earn the prestigious Carnegie Fellowship—awarded to just a handful of students from a pool of over 700 selected applicants representing close to 400 colleges.

Kitaevich, a double major in international relations and economics and an accomplished pianist, hopes to pursue a PhD in political science and ultimately “have an impact on foreign policy and international order.”

“Aside from all her capabilities and talents, what stands out in Jane is that she knows HOW to learn,” said Dr. Ruth Bevan, David W. Petegorsky Professor of Political Science. “Learning depends upon knowing oneself and being receptive to changes in oneself that occur through the process of learning. Learning constitutes an act of personal courage and bravery — an exposure of the self to the unknown, to the challenging, to the seemingly insoluble. Jane has demonstrated such courage and bravery. I have no doubts that she has only begun to tred her life’s pathway to personal growth and success.”

Kitaevich credited Bevan with encouraging and supporting her every step of the way. “Dr. Ruth Bevan has been my biggest influence,” said Kitaevich. “She pushed me to work hard and made herself available to me at all hours of the day. She is a paradigm of a true professor.”

Ari Lamm, a Yeshiva College senior, has had a love for studying Talmud ever since he opened a Gemara for the first time. Recently awarded a Fulbright grant—another first for a YU undergraduate—he will spend the upcoming year pursuing an M.A. in Hebrew and Judaic Studies at University College London.

“I’ve always loved learning Talmud,” said the West Hempstead, New York native. “I like the idea that this complements what I have learned in the morning [shiur].”

Both credit the faculty at YU for instilling them with their passion and proper motivation.

Lamm claims it was Dr. Yaakov Elman’s course on History of Talmudic Literature that got him “hooked on the field.”

“I’ve had amazing professors at YU, but Dr. Elman is a treasure,” said Lamm. “This is a subject that has been taking the Jewish world by storm and YU is on the cutting edge of Jewish scholarship.”

“Aside from his intelligence and creativity, Ari has an even rarer quality: leadership,” said Dr. Elman. “He will succeed at whatever field he undertakes.”

The two also share the distinction of being part of a select group of Kressel Scholars—a scholarship established in 2008 to enrich and perpetuate YU’s student research community.

Lamm, Jewish Studies and History major, will examine the historical context of the Babylonian Talmud during the Persian Empire and hopes to eventually land in either academia, law, the rabbinate or possibly, all three.

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May 26, 2009 — It is hardly surprising that Grace Charles, this year’s valedictorian of Stern College for Women, graduate of the S. Daniel Abraham Honors Program and recipient of the Professor Moses L. Isaacs Memorial Award for Excellence in Biochemistry, has a knack for science. Her mother studied medicine at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and her grandfather is a chemical expert on the highly toxic chemical methyl isocyanate, who was sent to Bhopal, India in the 1980’s to investigate a poisonous gas leak.

Charles, who will attend Mount Sinai School of Medicine on Manhattan’s Upper East Side this fall, was active during her four years at Stern. As president of the Chemistry Club, she obtained grants for projects and organized activities including a chemistry magic show and off-campus trips, efforts which won the club an Outstanding Chapter Award from the American Chemical Society.

Having earned an academic scholarship to Stern as an Anne Scheiber Scholar for Excellence in Science, Charles intends to specialize in both clinical dermatology and academic medicine.

“The link between skin health and nutrition has been an interest of mine since I was in middle school,” Charles said. “Throughout my career, I would like to research this relationship.”

For her honors thesis, Charles researched the change in behavior of cholesterol once it has oxidized and presented her findings to the American Chemical Society, the Biophysical Society and the Columbia University Undergraduate Research Symposium.

“The faculty at Stern College helped me develop my critical thinking abilities,” Charles said. “I particularly enjoyed and learned from my research experience with my honors program mentor, Dr. Evan Mintzer [assistant professor of chemistry], with whom I did my research.”

But Grace doesn’t spend all her time working on her 4.0 GPA. She played on Stern’s basketball and soccer teams and played the harp as part of Stern’s Chamber Ensemble. An award-winning writer, Grace is currently writing a book, Get to the Top of the Class: How to Succeed in High School—a topic on which she has proved herself an expert.

Next profile: Yeshiva College graduate Shlomo Eisenberg, third generation YU-er, heads to Harvard Law School

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May 14, 2008 — In the 50 years he has taught psychology at Stern College for Women, Dr. Marcel Perlman has seen his department grow from a one-man show to a thriving department that boasts six full-time faculty members.

“Over the years Dr. Perlman has been central to enlarging the psychology department as well as serving as an ‘elder statesman’ for the faculty,” Dr. Karen Bacon, The Dr. Monique C. Katz Dean at Stern College, said at a party the school recently held in celebration of his 50th anniversary teaching there.

Faculty, family, and former students of the psychology professor gathered at the Ivry Lounge on the Beren Campus for an evening of memories and inspiration.

“Dr. Perlman’s careful and thoughtful style, his optimistic outlook, and undoubtedly his training as a clinical psychologist have been the key ingredients to making him the insightful colleague and beloved professor to scores of faculty and generations of students,” Dean Bacon said.

Perlman, an alumnus of both Yeshiva College and Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology (where he earned his MS and PhD), began instructing at Stern College in 1958 and went on to become a full professor in 1978. He also taught at Yeshiva College and Ferkauf, and been either a member or chair of numerous YU committees including Middle States, Dean’s Search, and Faculty Welfare. He serves as chairman of the division of social sciences.

Former student Shira Koenigsberg said that what draws so many students to Perlman’s classes is his ability to make the subject matter exciting and relevant. “His style of weaving casework into his classes from his private practice, court, surveying, and work at psychiatric facilities illuminates the material and brings psychology to life,” Koenigsberg said.

Perlman has seen the university grow into a major research institution with a reputation for excellence nationwide. He attests to a greater level of seriousness and involvement in scholarship from both the administration and students.

But what has kept him committed to YU? “The students, the students, and lastly the students. The colleagues aren’t too bad either,” said Perlman. “It’s been a heck of a ride, and I’m grateful that it’s not over yet.”

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May 1, 2008 — A select group of nine Stern College for Women students were inducted into Psi Chi, the National Honors Society in Psychology, in April.

Stern College junior Rochelle Sonenberg said she was honored to be admitted to the society, which accepts psychology majors or minors with a minimum GPA of 3.0 and who are in the top third of their class. “There aren’t too many people inducted, and I’m proud to be a part of it,” Sonenberg said.

Besides the prestige, Psi Chi offers students opportunities to participate in the society’s lectures and conferences, and possibilities for furthering their research.

“Students should take this as an opportunity to become involved in activities outside the classroom,” said Joshua Bacon, PhD, associate professor of psychology and faculty advisor to Psi Chi, in his address at the induction ceremony. “This is your opportunity to take the initiative and make things happen. Make this a vibrant part of the Psychology Club and of Stern College.”

“I’m really excited to be inducted into Psi Chi,” senior Ophira Kopitnikoff said. As for achieving and maintaining the requisite GPA, Kopitnikoff said, “I feel like my hard work has paid off.”

Other students who were inducted were Aviva Bellman, Jeana Beneson, Allison Bindiger, Dana Faleck, Elise Glaser, Rina Kellerman, and Michelle Lasky.

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Jan 31, 2008 — What do dragons, unicorns, and mermaids have to do with Torah? Rabbi Natan Slifkin, affectionately known as the “Zoo Rabbi,” addressed the subject in a lecture as part of Stern College for Women’s first Torah Umadda Week, February 4-6.

Rabbi Slifkin and two other renowned researchers—Nathan Aviezer, professor of physics at Bar-Ilan University in Israel, and Edward I. Reichman, MD, professor at Albert Einstein College of Medicine—spoke about cutting-edge issues at the intersection of science and Torah. The week’s events were cosponsored by the biology department, Stern College for Women, and the Yeshiva University Center for Israel Studies, and organized by Harvey Babich, PhD, professor of biology.

Rabbi Slifkin’s lecture, “Sacred Monsters: The Fabulous Jewish Creatures of Harry Potter,” on February 4 was based on his recent book, Sacred Monsters. His talk investigated the bizarre animals that are mentioned in Torah literature, such as dragons, phoenixes, griffins, fireproof salamanders, and mermaids.

“All the famous creatures of myth and legend are to be found in the Torah, Talmud and Midrash,” Rabbi Slifkin said. “But what are we to make of them? Do they really exist? Did the Torah scholars of old believe in their existence? And if not, why did they describe these creatures?”

Rabbi Slifkin is well known for his expertise in the animals mentioned in the Torah. He has authored Nature’s Song; Man and Beast; The Camel, the Hare, and the Hyrax; The Science of Torah; and The Challenge of Creation.

In “On Contradictions Between Torah and Science: The Creation of the Universe” on February 5, Dr. Aviezer, former chairman of the physics department of Bar-Ilan University in Israel, asked whether the beginning of the Book of Genesis can be accepted as a valid description of the origin of the universe.

“Recent discoveries show that the first chapter of Genesis records the events that actually occurred in the past,” Dr. Aviezer said. He said that the big bang theory of cosmology, accepted by all cosmologists, buttressed by a wealth of scientific evidence, “agrees in every detail with the Genesis account of the origin and development of the universe.”

In recognition of his important research contributions, Dr. Aviezer was elected as a Fellow of the American Physical Society and a Research Professor of the Royal Society of London. He has a long-standing interest in the relationship between Torah and science, and is the author of In the Beginning: Biblical Creation and Science (translated into nine languages) and Fossils and Faith: Understanding Torah and Science.

Edward I. Reichman, MD, associate professor of emergency medicine at Montefiore Medical Center and associate professor of philosophy and history of medicine at Einstein, discussed “The Halakhic Approach to New Frontiers in Ovarian Preservation and Transplantation” on February 6. Dr. Reichman’s lecture combined medical history, medical Halakhah [Jewish law], and modern medicine in addressing the preservation and transplantation of the human ovary.

Dr. Reichman, who received his rabbinic ordination from the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary in 1997, teaches Jewish medical ethics at Einstein (of which he is a 1990 graduate). He has authored several articles on Halakhah and medicine.

“Since the field of assisted reproduction began a few decades ago, advances are being made at an astounding pace,” he said. “This field of research poses unique challenges for the Torah-observant Jew.”

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Daphna and Shai Secunda

Oct 11, 2007 — Daphna ’97S and Shai Secunda ’07BR, PhD, are a perfect fit for their position as Stern College for Women’s “campus couple.”

Daphna, herself a Stern graduate, says their new role is a continuation of their experience in Israel over the past three years. Daphna taught Jewish philosophy to women at two yeshivot in Israel that are part of YU’s S. Daniel Abraham Israel Program. They hosted students for Shabbat, chagim [Jewish holidays], and social get-togethers, developing relationships with numerous Stern students, some of whom are now seniors.

Since returning to the United States this past summer, Daphna has worked as a director of programming for the Beren Campus at YU’s Center for the Jewish Future and Shai as a postdoctoral associate in Jewish studies at Yale and Harvard Universities. While he is off campus most days during the week, he is enjoying the job of injecting ruach [spirit] into Shabbat life.

“Our goal is to strengthen the community on campus by imbuing Shabbat with energy, warmth, and a sense of intimacy—even with the record numbers of students staying on campus for Shabbat,” says Shai, a scholar of the Babylonian Talmud in its original Iranian context.

“We want to ensure that Shabbat at Stern becomes a real destination, socially and intellectually,” adds Daphna.

“We eat and sing with students at the large Shabbat meals held in the auditorium,” says Shai, “but we also invite students to our apartment for an oneg [get-together] and to hang out, bond, and talk about what’s on their minds.”

Students have responded with particular enthusiasm to the couple’s two children—Sarielle, 4, and Ravital, 18 months—with some stopping by to play and others offering to babysit.

“My four-year-old talks about ‘her friends,’ who are college-age, as if they were in the same class,” says Daphna.

Zelda Braun, associate dean of students at Stern, says that Shai and Daphna were “the best candidates for the job. They understand that we’re developing a community here.”

The work of the campus couple is not only to serve as role models to the women on campus but to “reach out to students, to create and enhance the community.”

“They’re adding a tremendous presence,” Braun says. “It’s a critical piece of what we’re doing here.”

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Sep 11, 2007 — Thanks to a new eruv (Sabbath boundary marker) in Midtown Manhattan that includes Stern College for Women, students and visitors to the Beren Campus can now carry books, keys, and food, and push baby carriages and wheelchairs on Shabbat, which all amounts to a more relaxed Shabbat experience.

According to Halakhah (Jewish law), one can carry items outdoors on the Sabbath only if the act of carrying occurs within a proper enclosure. For observant Jews, the restriction means that individuals do not carry anything in the public domain—even articles of clothing they are not wearing or babies who cannot walk.

“Eruv,” short for “eruv hatzerot,” literally means “the unification of properties,” and is a halakhic solution to the problem of not being able to carry on Shabbat beyond private property.

“As the Beren Campus has expanded, it became clear that we needed to make it possible for students and guests to move comfortably from building to building, taking whatever they needed with them,” said Karen Bacon, PhD, The Monique C. Katz Dean of Stern College.

The eruv is an extension of the existing eruvs on Manhattan’s Upper West and Upper East sides (which are all now connected). The Midtown eruv runs along the southern side of East 56th Street from (but not including) Franklin D. Roosevelt Drive to the eastern side of Sixth Avenue, reaching down to Houston Street on the west side and zigzagging through Alphabet City on the east side. Areas around the United Nations and Alphabet City are not included in the new eruv.

Erecting an eruv involves putting up a wire cable although in some places an existing wall or fence will substitute. The Midtown eruv was constructed in consultation with Mechon L’Horaya, a respected rabbinical court in Monsey, NY, which now oversees its weekly maintenance.

“This is a very technical issue in Jewish law. There is a whole tractate in the Talmud that deals with it,” said Rabbi Gideon Shloush ’93Y,R, rabbi of the Murray Hill-Gramercy Park community and spiritual leader of the nearby Congregation Adereth El where many Stern students pray. He organized the construction, supervision, and fundraising for the project with Rabbi Yehuda Sarna of New York University’s Hillel–Bronfman Center for Jewish Life, whose community is also included in the new eruv.

The process also involved getting permission from New York City authorities. “In a big city such as this, there are a lot of complexities in erecting the wire so as not to interfere with city life,” Rabbi Shloush said. “You cannot, for example, construct an eruv running through Herald Square on 34th Street because the Thanksgiving Day Parade runs through there and the balloons could get caught on the wires.”
The eruv, completed during the summer, enhanced Stern’s first Shabbat this fall semester.

“It’s so freeing,” said Zelda Braun, associate dean of students at Stern. “We now have families coming who couldn’t have come before.”

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Jackie Saxe, a Stern College for Women senior, is YU's AIPAC campus liaison.

Sep 10, 2007 — Jackie Saxe of Great Neck, NY, a senior at Yeshiva University’s Stern College for Women, was one of four students nationwide appointed to the executive committee of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

Each year AIPAC appoints four exceptional student leaders to its executive committee in recognition of their dedication and unique perspective. As part of AIPAC’s leadership, these accomplished campus activists travel to Washington, DC four times a year to hear from Middle East scholars and foreign policy experts and to lobby side by side with their counterparts off campus.

Ms. Saxe, a communications and political science major who graduated from Hebrew Academy of Nassau County (HANC), has been an active member of AIPAC and took on the role of YU’s AIPAC campus liaison because she “believes that her peers have unlimited potential to influence the political system in ways that support Israel.” She was selected for AIPAC’s Diamond Summer Internship Program, a highly regarded political leadership training program, and was one of six YU students recognized as activist of the year at AIPAC’s annual conference in Washington, DC last March.

“I look forward to representing YU and the Modern Orthodox pro-Israel community at the executive committee meetings and on the Hill. I am a proud American and Zionist, and I believe that the United States-Israel relationship is essential for both countries,” Ms. Saxe said.

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David Makovsky

Feb 16, 2007 — Are Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations a necessary component to finding a comprehensive solution to the war in Iraq? Two experts on Middle East issues – David Makovsky and Raghida Dergham – will discuss “Does the Road to Peace in Iraq Go Through Jerusalem?” on Monday, February 26 at 8 pm at the Schottenstein Cultural Center of Yeshiva University’s Stern College for Women, 239 East 34th Street.

Mr. Makovsky, is a Senior Fellow and Director of The Washington Institute’s Project on the Middle East Peace Process, and an adjunct lecturer in Middle Eastern Studies at Johns Hopkins University’s Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies. Mr. Makovsky will report on his recent meetings with Israeli officials and Arab leaders in the Persian Gulf.

Ms. Dergham is the Senior Diplomatic Correspondent for the London-based Al Hayat, the leading independent Arabic daily. Ms. Dergham is also a political analyst for MSNBC and NBC News and a member of The Council on Foreign Relations. She will present first-hand accounts on her meetings with diplomats at the Davos World Economic Forum and how world leaders perceive future diplomacy on this issue.

The Dr. Marcia Robbins-Wilf Scholar-in-Residence Program is sponsoring the event. Dr. Robbins-Wilf, a founding member of the Stern College Board of Directors, established and funded the program, which brings top scholars, authors, artists, and
policy-shapers to Stern College, offering students unique perspectives on the world.

Admission to the panel discussion is free with valid photo ID. For information and to RSVP email events@yu.edu.or or call 212-960-5400 x5869.

Stern College for Women of Yeshiva University offers a challenging, rigorous dual-track education of liberal arts and sciences and Jewish studies to approximately 1,000 undergraduates at the School’s Beren Campus in midtown Manhattan. Stern is known especially for excellence in sciences, social sciences, and humanities and for graduates who, as leaders in their communities and chosen careers, bring to all their activities deep knowledge of Jewish values and heritage.

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