Yeshiva University News » Sy Syms

Meet the Musmakh: Rabbi and Physician Eytan Cowen Cares for Others’ Well-Being, Inside and Out

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

Rabbi Eytan Cowen of Toronto, Ontario, did not set out to become a rabbi.

20140220_RIETS_Eytan_Cohen_028He always knew that he wanted to help others—but he interpreted that desire as an imperative to care for their physical well-being. So, inspired by his parents’ altruistic example, he attended the University of Toronto and went on to graduate from medical school with a specialty in naturopathic and integrative medicine. An active member of Hatzolah Toronto, Cowen maintained a solid learning schedule in the Kollel Dirshu as he devoted the next 10 years of his life to building up his practice in Toronto, together with his wife, Sy Syms School of Business graduate Caroline Sarah Bitton, and their children.

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EMBA Program at Sy Syms School of Business Travels to Israel for In-Depth Study of Entrepreneurship

A behind-the-scenes tour of the Knesset and frank conversations with the leaders of companies including high-tech startup Given Imaging, integrated energy giant Delek Group and Recanati Winery were just a few of the unique learning opportunities for students in the Executive Masters of Business Administration program at Yeshiva University’s Sy Syms School of Business during one jam-packed week of field study in Israel this summer.

EMBA Israel trip 1

EMBA students on a site visit to Elbit Systems, which develops, manufactures and integrates advanced, high-performance defense electronic and electro-optic systems for customers throughout the world.

The trip, from July 1-9, enabled students in the program’s Management of International Business course to shape their own learning experience so that it provided maximum exposure to the topics that were of most interest to them, with an overall aim of understanding the specific opportunities for global arbitrage offered in Israel. That meant arranging their own on-site visits with government and policy-setting bodies, globally-oriented Israeli companies, the Israeli presence of foreign-based multinational companies and academic institutions. Read the rest of this entry…

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Yeshiva University Announces the Appointments of Moses Pava, Michael Strauss and Avi Giloni to School of Business Leadership Team

Dr. Moses Pava

Dr. Moses Pava

Dr. Moses Pava, Alvin Einbender Professor of Business Ethics and professor of accounting at the University’s Syms School of Business, has been appointed director of Syms. In his new position, Pava is responsible for both the undergraduate and graduate programs and will be reporting directly to the provost’s office. Pava, who earned his doctorate at New York University’s Stern School of Business in 1990, has been with the business school since 1988. He has chaired the accounting department for many years and has served as chair of the Executive Faculty Committee. He has published numerous books and articles on business ethics and corporate accountability and is an expert on Jewish business ethics.

Michael Strauss

Professor Michael Strauss

Professor Michael Strauss, entrepreneur-in-residence and clinical professor of management at Syms, has been appointed associate director of student advising and administration at Syms where he has taught business courses for several years. Strauss (MBA, Baruch) is a veteran of both large and small companies, having served in senior management roles at several companies including American Express. He is currently CEO of an advanced start-up company that he founded several years ago, BSafe Electrix, Inc. He is also chairman of Sherwood Consulting Group, Inc., and serves on several boards and advisory boards.

Dr. Avi Giloni has been appointed as associate director for academic research of  Syms. Giloni has been with Syms since 2000 when he earned his doctorate from New York University’s Stern School of Business.  He has chaired the Information and Decision Sciences Department since its inception. His research is in robust forecasting, optimization, stochastic system design and their applications to supply chain management. Giloni has published papers in top-tier journals, including Management ScienceProduction and Operations Management, and SIAM Journal on Optimization.

Dr. Avi Giloni

Dr. Avi Giloni

“The new leadership team is committed to the growth of the Syms School of Business on both the Beren and Wilf Campuses,” said said Morton Lowengrub, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs. “Its focus will be on academic excellence, high quality teaching, and providing students with a user-friendly environment where they can gain the qualitative and quantitative skills they will need to succeed in a highly-competitive business world. The Syms School of Business is committed to the ongoing task of re-imagining undergraduate education.”

Syms continues to pursue accreditation through the AACSB International and has recently received the approval of New York State for its Executive MBA program to be launched next year. The MS Program in Accounting, which has now graduated its second class and is growing in both in quality and numbers, will continue to be under the directorship of Dr. Joseph Kerstein. The Syms School also welcomes Dr. S. Abraham Ravid as the Syms Professor of Finance.

Pava, Strauss and Giloni will work with faculty, students, alumni, the Syms School of Business Board of Overseers, prospective employers and the liberal arts programs to increase synergies with the other undergraduate units of Yeshiva University.


A Message from President Richard M. Joel

We recently announced a series of exciting steps at Yeshiva University to further advance education for our undergraduate students. Our priority is to offer each student in every realm of study the finest education and preparation for their successful future. The crucial next step in our advancement is to create a unified undergraduate faculty. This will allow us to deliver an even better education and, ultimately, better futures for our students and graduates. Faculty unification will also help us streamline the way we deliver student services and create a less cumbersome administrative structure on both undergraduate campuses. We recruited Professor Lawrence Schiffman as Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education to work with the faculty and deans to guide this process.

Permit me to focus on the implications of these advancements for our business students.

The Syms School is alive and well and its faculty are key partners in building a stronger undergraduate future. As we move forward in refashioning undergraduate education, our commitment to preparing our business students for successful careers remains a central goal. We will achieve this through a number of steps over the coming period of time:

  • The course offerings and requirements for next year remain unchanged.
  • We proceed energetically to complete our process of accreditation through the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).
  • The faculty moves forward in strengthening academic offerings and building on all the opportunities that a unified undergraduate faculty will make possible, specifically in economics and mathematics, but in other disciplines as well.
  • We increase cooperation among departments.
  • We emphasize academic and career advisement to business students, focusing even more actively on provision of internships, mentoring, and assistance with job placement.
  • We broaden our programs of alumni involvement in order to increase interaction between Syms alumni and current students.

Throughout this process, we will be working with students and alumni to solicit input and assistance.

Let me summarize the foundational principles that have served to guide us as we embark on the process of reimagining undergraduate education at Yeshiva University:

  • To create a unified undergraduate faculty to better serve our students on the Beren and Wilf campuses.
  • To greatly improve the interaction between faculty of similar disciplines.
  • To create intellectual and academic opportunities to foster greater interdisciplinary collaboration.
  • To provide all the first-rate opportunities presented on each campus to students on both.
  • To reorganize undergraduate faculty to better integrate the business programs, and arts and sciences offerings.
  • To centralize student services and activities to maximize the quality and efficiency of these offerings and to ensure, where appropriate, greater consistency of academic policy.

The bottom line should be clear. Preparation for success in the world of business is a key focus of Yeshiva University’s educational future. Yeshiva University should be a choice destination for the young men and women seeking the finest education in Torah Umadda and positioning themselves for maximum success in business careers. Syms is a proud part of our past and present, and a prouder part of our future.

Richard M. Joel


Entrepreneurs, Venture Capitalist Share Keys to Business Success at Career Development Center Panel

Yeshiva University’s Career Development Center hosted a lively panel with seven members of the venture capitalist and startup world. The event, titled “Working in Venture Capital and Startups,” was held on Monday night, April 11 on the Beren Campus with panelists: Simi Blaustein, High Line Ventures; Melody Koh, Time Warner Investments; Chris Paik, Thrive Ventures; Francesca Romano; Cross Commerce Media; and Ben Siscovick, IA Ventures. Two successful Yeshiva University graduates, Alex Taub, of, and Zev Lapin, of Bucket Ventures joined them on the panel.

From left, panelists Blaustein, Koh, Lapin, Paik, Romano, Siscovick and Taub.

Michael Strauss, entrepreneur-in-residence and adjunct professor of management at Sy Syms School of Business, led the discussion. He began by asking the participants to describe their typical day.

“There are no typical days in startups,” said Taub, whose company produces free online design tools and received startup funding from Jeff Bezos of and Spark Capital.  He said that while his official day begins at 10 in the morning and ends at six, the actual hours are closer to beginning at seven and finishing at 10 in the evening. “You have an always-on mentality,” explained Taub.

Strauss asked the participants what they thought was the most important skill. Nearly unanimously, the answer was passion.

“It’s a pure meritocracy,” said Taub. “Investors don’t care about your GPA… they care about your passion.”

The panelists also discussed how they decided to invest in startups. Blaustein said that a good part of his time is spent evaluating teams before he decides to invest any money. “We’re looking for companies that have complementary skill sets,” he explained.

Lapin, who began his startup while an undergraduate at YU, advised students that “any skills you don’t have, your co-founders should have.”

Siscovick, whose multimillion dollar firm, IA Ventures, specializes in investing in new forms of data storage and retrieval, said that breaking into the venture capital world isn’t easy. “The supply and demand of the market are skewed,” he explained. “Every venture capitalist has a different story and there’s no one path.”

The close to two-hour presentation ended with a lengthy Q and A session moderated by Brian Maruffi, director of the Ira Rennert Center for Entrepreneurship at Sy Syms.

“Many students appear to have an entrepreneurial mindset from early on in their career at YU,” said Laurie Davis, director of counseling and programming at the CDC. “Several have even started small ventures while in Israel or even high school.”

Yehuda Silbermintz, 20, a junior who is working on his own startup, found the event “essential” for him. “You need to know your business in and out and be able to answer every question.”

Jeremy Hodkin, 20, a sophomore, who, along with fellow YU student Zachary Deutsch, is launching a web-based startup, said “the best part of the night came when we met individually with the panelists. I got emails and business cards!”


Career Development Center Offers Students Opportunities, Resources to Connect with Wide Range of Employers

Two down, two to go.

Sarah Clyde, a Stern College for Women senior graduating in May with a shaped degree in computer science, had four job interviews in the last two weeks. All of them were with employers she met at Yeshiva University’s annual Career Fair, organized by the Career Development Center, on April 1.

CDC Career Fair“The Career Development Center always stresses how networking can get you in the door for an interview,” Clyde said.  “The Career Fair is like a mini-interview and networking event. Once you make that personal connection with the recruiter, you’re more likely to be called in for an interview.”

This year’s Career Fair offered students the opportunity to meet and engage with more than 45 employers across a variety of fields, including medical technology, publishing, Jewish communal work and finance.  According to Sarah Rosen, director of alumni and employment relations at the CDC, that wide range of options is carefully cultivated by the Center throughout the year.

“We try to make this event available to a diverse employer base,” said Rosen. “The diversity is important because we can expose students to employers they may not even realize they would be interested in. The fair gives students the opportunity to hone their skills with different types of employers.” Clyde agreed, offering similar advice to other students: “Don’t only approach the companies you came specifically to see. Take a risk and start a conversation.”

For some employers, the Career Fair was their first encounter with the student body of YU. “This is our first time here and we’re excited,” said Robert Zyzynski, a recruitment intern at the New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board. “We’re looking for students who have open minds because at our agency we really need people who can consider all options. We heard about this recruiting opportunity and we jumped on it.”CDC Career Fair

For others, like Spreemo, a healthcare technology organization, the fair represented the chance to tap a tried-and-true labor market. “I’ve been involved in three businesses in the past that have recruited from YU and always had good experiences,” said Pamela Harpaz, the company’s chief financial officer. “That’s what we’re here for.”

Jared Schuler, a talent acquisition associate for Scholastic, Inc., was similarly impressed by a current public relations intern at the company who is a student at Stern College. Her work at Scholastic has made the publisher interested to learn more about the student population at YU. “It’s our first time one-on-one with this school,” said Schuler. “We wanted to come and see what they’ve got.”

The CDC prepared students for the fair with informational materials and workshops about revising resumes and the art of the personal pitch. Jonathan Scheiner, a senior studying Management of Information Systems at the Sy Syms School of Business, thought that both discussions helped him present himself more effectively. “I think the companies I spoke with today were very receptive to my pitch, and I think looking them in the eyes and smiling was a big part of that,” he said.

Clyde is already on her way. However, she will continue to seek the guidance and feedback of the CDC as she advances her job search. “The CDC has years of experience dealing with both students and employers,” she said. “They know what employers might and ask and where students fumble on interviews. It can only help to sit down and have a conversation with an advisor.”

To learn more about the Career Development Center at Yeshiva University visit


Fashion Icon Shares Trials and Triumphs of 25-Year Career with Students at Yeshiva University Event

On March 21, Yeshiva University students learned about the challenge and excitement of starting a business—from iconic American fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger.

President Joel and Tommy Hilfiger at the March 21 event

President Richard Joel and Tommy Hilfiger at the March 21 event

At an event hosted by the Sy Syms School of Business Student Council (SSSBC) and the Fashion Marketing Club, students and alumni of all majors filled Yagoda Commons for a frank discussion with the designer about the history and evolution of the brand that bears his name. Hilfiger highlighted key learning experiences in his 25-year career and strategies that had helped him overcome difficulties.

“My story is about reaching obstacles and figuring out how to get to the other side, whether it’s over, under or even straight through,” Hilfiger said. “I think we all run up against these obstacles in our day-to-day lives.”

Among the challenges Hilfiger struggled with were an early bankruptcy and the decision to take his label public. However, he noted that his failures had taught him a critical lesson: to learn as much as he could about everything. “I think you have to gain as much knowledge as possible and put it into your bank because you’ll always use it, whether you’re going into fashion, finance or anything else,” Hilfiger said.

The designer faced a more personal challenge when an internet rumor asserting that Hilfiger had made racist and anti-Semitic comments on Oprah began circulating in 1996. At the YU event, Hilfiger addressed the rumor of the earlier episode—which both he and Oprah denied ever occurred when he went on her show for the first time in 2007.Hilfiger Audience

“It’s devastating to me as a person because it’s so untrue and so ridiculous,” Hilfiger told students. “I wanted to tell you myself how I feel about this.”

During the lively question-and-answer session that followed, the designer encouraged students to ask him about anything from the rumor to international marketing strategies and personal stylistic favorites. He also offered advice to the many aspiring fashion designers and entrepreneurs in the room.

“Pack your mind with knowledge about people,” Hilfiger said. “Work in a retail store, learn how things fit, learn how people shop and what their needs and desires are. I think I learned a lot by having my own stores because I was actually working one-on-one with the customer.”

Hilfiger“He’s a business success who never forgot where he came from,” said YU President Richard M. Joel, who attended the lecture. “As a man of business he is both a thoughtful entrepreneur and a caring philanthropist. As a human being, he works to have his reputation appear as sterling as it truly is.”

For students, Hilfiger’s insight into forging a high-profile career in a tough industry was significant. “He started out just designing and selling jeans but he figured out how to turn his dream into an empire,” said Melanie Pudels, president of SSSBSC. “I think his story offers an important message to any major.”

In at least one important way, the event signaled a new chapter in the relationship between the designer and Orthodox Jews.

“Mr. Hilfiger,” a Stern College for Women student asked, “would you be able to design a longer skirt?”


Sy Syms Students Learn about Israeli Business Environment from Those Who Know It Best

Sy Syms School of Business students in Daniel Laufer’s Israeli Business Environment course recently received an update on the state of the Israeli economy from its economic minister to North America.

The minister, Yair Shiran, spoke about topics that included foreign investments in Israel, international trade, the recent privatization of companies like El-Al and Bezeq and reforms aimed at enhancing competition. Incorporating figures and projections from Israel’s economic mission to New York in his lecture, Shiran offered insight into the country’s struggles to engage Israeli Arabs and ultra-Orthodox men in the workforce. He also answered frank questions from students about a host of challenges facing the Israeli economy.

“Today in Israel we are much more dependent on Wall Street than political stability in the Middle East,” Shiran said. “For better or worse, we’ve learned to live in a culture of conflict. As a small country highly dependent on international trade, however, crises in the United States market affect us more.”

Shiran’s remarks highlighted larger topics addressed by the course—Israeli business culture, investment incentives and marketing in Israel, among others—which Laufer, associate professor of marketing at Sy Syms, suggests have particular significance to YU students—many of whom go on to work with Israel-based companies or even in them. “The overwhelming majority of our students spend their first year in Israel,” Laufer said. “A lot of them know Hebrew, a lot of them have strong ties to Israel and a lot of them even move there. A course about the Israeli business environment can be hugely beneficial to our students because it prepares them for integration into Israeli society and the workforce.”

From left, Prof. Daniel Laufer, Yair Shiran and Dean Michael Ginzberg

From left, Prof. Daniel Laufer, Yair Shiran and Dean Michael Ginzberg

Benjamin Muller, an international business and marketing major pursuing a minor in political science, has found that speakers like Shiran help him anchor what he learns in the classroom. “Guest speakers enable us to delve beyond the academic content and observe how real people function on a day-to-day basis in Israel,” he said.

Mark Rocklin, an international business major who hopes to make aliyah and explore business opportunities in Israel, agreed. “Something the minister pointed out himself is that inflation and dependency on international trade are probably bigger factors in the Israeli economy than regional conflict,” said Rocklin. “Studying these things and hearing from people who are out there and involved in it like Minister Shiran give me a heads-up in terms of what to expect in the Israeli business world.”

The minister is not the only high-profile speaker students will hear from this semester. According to Laufer, exposure to professionals in both the public and private sector is integral to the course’s structure. “I wanted to craft a class that would tap into real expertise in both arenas. For instance, part of our course relates to regional trade between Israel and its neighbors, and Minister Shiran actually helped negotiate an agreement between Israel and Egypt,” said Laufer.

“Students learn so much more when we are able to connect the classroom to the real world,” said Dr. Michael Ginzberg, dean of Sy Syms. “We’re very fortunate to be in New York and to have access to great outside speakers who bring very real, very relevant experience to the class.”


World Renowned Fashion Designer Tommy Hilfiger Addresses Yeshiva University Students, March 21

Tommy Hilfiger, the American fashion designer and founder of the iconic brand that bears his name, will discuss his 25-year career in the industry with Yeshiva University students at an event hosted by YU’s Sy Syms School of Business Student Council and the Fashion Marketing Club on Monday, March 21, at 7:00 p.m.  in Yagoda Commons at YU’s  Beren Campus, 215 Lexington Avenue, New York City.

For a quarter-century, Hilfiger has brought classic, cool, American apparel to consumers around the world. Under Hilfiger’s guidance, vision and leadership as principal designer, his brand has become one of very few globally recognized designer brands offering customers a wide range of American-inspired apparel and accessories.


Students Organize First Chai Lifeline Shabbaton on Yeshiva University’s Wilf Campus

Close to 300 students and volunteers spend a fun-filled weekend (February 25-26) on Yeshiva University’s Wilf Campus, celebrating Shabbat with Chai Lifeline—an organization dedicated to bringing joy to children diagnosed with life-threatening or lifelong disabilities.Chai Lifeline Yeshiva University Shabbaton

Twenty children, along with Chai Lifeline representatives and medical staff from, were treated to a Shabbat experience on campus that included festive meals, a kiddush, an Oneg Shabbat program in the Morgenstern Hall Lounge, and an afternoon filled with interactive games and storytelling.

Dovi Fink, an accounting major at Sy Syms School of Business and volunteer at Chai Lifeline was an organizer of the Shabbaton—which was a first on any college campus for Chai Lifeline. “After experiencing the special work of Chai Lifeline in the past, my fellow volunteers and I wanted to share that experience with our peers at YU.”

On Saturday night, hundreds of YU students and dozens of Chai Lifeline children filled the Max Stern Athletic Center to watch the world-famous Harlem Wizards basketball team take on the Macabees and Camp Simcha All Stars in a matchup full of incredible dunks and basketball tricks.

“After spending a weekend of singing and dancing, I hope that the students at Yeshiva realize how much of a difference their volunteer work can make in the life of a sick child,” said Fink.

“Weekends like this give children with serious illnesses a needed booster shot of enjoyment and emotional support,” said Rabbi Simcha Scholar, executive vice president of Chai Lifeline. “Shabbatonim like the one at YU are only possible because of the incredibly motivated and compassionate volunteers who organize and staff them. We are so impressed with the compassion, motivation and idealism of the young men and women at YU who volunteer for Chai Lifeline that we consider the school a partner in the care that Chai Lifeline brings to families struggling with pediatric illness.”