Yeshiva University News » Torah

Aug 5, 2008 — Yeshiva University’s Center for the Jewish Future (CJF) has revamped its popular Web site, Marcos and Adina Katz YU Torah Online (www.yutorah.org), in an effort to meet the growing demand for high quality Torah content across the world. YU Torah Online offers unprecedented access to Torah from YU and its Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS).

The newly designed interface will provide an archive of almost 20,000 shiurim (lectures) in video, audio, and written format, with hundreds more to be added weekly. The shiurim are all free to the public and fully downloadable.

Those who can’t physically attend a shiur will now have the luxury of searching for the lecture of their choice from a comprehensive database at their convenience.

“People can read or listen to a shiur on practically any subject from their desktop, laptop, or PDA at any time,” says Rob Shur, director of YU Torah Online.

The Web site offers visitors a broad range of topics, including Parshat Hashavua (weekly Torah portion), Daf Yomi (daily Talmud regimen), Halakhah (Jewish law), Machshava (philosophy), and YU courses – such as introduction to Bible, Chasidut, and Kabbalah.

Contributors to the site represent a vast and diverse group of over 600 authors and speakers, including such prominent YU scholars as Rabbi Dr. Aharon Lichtenstein, Rabbi Hershel Schachter, Rabbi Mordechai I. Willig, Rabbi Zvi Sobolofsky, Rabbi Aaron Rakeffet-Rothkoff, and Rabbi Meir Goldwicht.

In addition, YU publications such as Beit Yitzchak and Kol Zvi (Torah essays from RIETS), Derech Hateva (Stern College for Women’s Torah and science publication), the Orthodox Forum series and Torah Umadda Journal (essays on contemporary issues in Modern Orthodoxy), Journal of Jewish Music and Liturgy (YU’s Belz School of Jewish Music), and Ten Da’at (journal of Jewish education) will be available online.

Visitors to the site can subscribe to RSS feeds and podcasts of their favorite speakers or series and will be sent automatic email notifications when new material has been added.

“With close to two million hits a month, it’s wonderful to watch the Torah of YU enter the homes of communities across the world,” says Rabbi Kenneth Brander, dean of the CJF. “We receive comments on a regular basis from both men and women, from Hawaii to Hong Kong, Israel to India, New York to New Zealand, praising the Web site. This site has enabled Jews of all types and backgrounds to grow in their learning and spirituality.”

YU Torah Online is made possible by the generosity of Marcos and Adina Katz and is a project of YU’s Center for the Jewish Future (CJF).

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Jun 27, 2008 — For the third consecutive year, the Chicago area will be home to a special six-week program of Torah learning sponsored by Yeshiva University’s Center for the Jewish Future-Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS), and Congregation Or Torah, July 6 to August 17. The kollel was established in memory of Joseph and Gwendolyn Straus.

The Chicago Summer Kollel (intensive Torah and Talmud study program), in memory of community leaders Joseph and Gwendolyn Straus, will be held at Congregation Or Torah, 3800 Dempster Street in Skokie.

The Kollel, attracting some of the most talented and dynamic students from the University and RIETS, will be led by Rabbi Dani Rapp, a Yeshiva University graduate who received his law degree from Columbia University School of Law and his ordination from RIETS. He is also a visiting assistant professor of Talmud at YU and a Dayan (judge) with the Beit Din (rabbinic court) of America.

Under Rabbi Rapp’s leadership, the members of the Kollel will spend their time in Chicago studying practical subjects of Halakhah (Jewish law). In addition, these future leaders of the Jewish community gain professional rabbinic training and mentoring under Rabbi Rapp, Rabbi Harvey Well, Rabbi Emeritus of Or Torah, and Rabbi Zvi Engel, the incoming spiritual leader at the synagogue.

The Kollel serves as a precursor to the new Yeshiva University Torah Mitzion Kollel in Chicago. To be officially launched in the Fall, it will consist of a permanent cadre of Torah scholars who will reside in Chicago and enrich the local Jewish community with exciting learning programs for men, women, and youth.

In so doing, “Yeshiva University partners with the Chicago community to be an incubator for klai kodesh, lay leaders, by attracting young couples to move to Chicago, seeding the community with educators and rabbis to lead and inspire local synagogues and day schools,” said Rabbi Kenneth Brander, dean of the Center for the Jewish Future, which sponsors the Summer Kollel Series program in cities across North America and in Israel.

Rabbi Brander explained that the Summer Kollel in Chicago serves as a laboratory for students to grow in their own learning, and affords them the opportunity to gain confidence and enhance their public speaking skills, ability to develop lectures, sermons, and youth and educational programs, all under the supervision and mentorship of Rabbis Rapp, Well, and Engel.

In turn, Rabbi Brander said, “our Kollel members are empowered to share their knowledge with interested people of all ages, thereby creating a vibrant and energetic Torah community, one that fosters a caring and inspirational environment for adults and children alike to grow with our students and scholars.”

The Kollel will include Chavruta (traditional learning), shiurim (lectures), programs for youth, collegians, and special Shabbat activities. A highlight of the six-week program will be a community lecture series with Rabbi Rapp every Monday and Wednesday. Other special community programs include a Tisha B’Av (the Jewish commemoration the destruction of the biblical Temple) service, followed by a movie and discussion led by the Kollel members on Sunday, August 10; a Lunch and Learn series for local businesspeople; and a late night lecture on the text, stories, and themes of Sefer Shmuel for women in the community on Tuesdays during the six weeks.

For the first time, there will be a special program for high school girls every Wednesday at 7 pm from July 9 to August 20. Called MidweSTERN, the program will be run by students at YU’s Stern College for Women and will feature Torah lectures combined with social activities.

Rabbi Brander explained that “this Kollel, as with the many others we sponsor throughout the country, represent our continuing effort to shape the summer Kollel paradigm and create experiences that will serve as incubators for Jewish leaders. They also represent a vibrant initiative to enable communities to experience the wealth of resources and presence of Yeshiva University right in their backyard.”

This year, the YU Summer Kollel will also be in Los Angeles, Edmonton, Denver, Teaneck and Passaic, NJ, and Israel.

The multidisciplinary Center for the Jewish Future harnesses the educational resources, commitment to service, and intellectual capital of Yeshiva University, its array of undergraduate schools, its graduate and professional schools, including Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, and Wurzweiler School of Social Work, its affiliates, and its extended constituencies to articulate a vision for the future while working to make the vision a reality. To do so, the Center sponsors a comprehensive series of initiatives focusing on education, research, professional and lay leadership development and service to the community.

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Jun 27, 2008 — Yeshiva University, the country’s oldest and most comprehensive institution combining Jewish scholarship with academic excellence, is partnering with Congregation Beth Jacob in Beverly Hills for a special five-week program of Torah learning, June 30 to August 3. With the guidance and vision of Rabbi Steve Weil, the synagogue, at 9030 W. Olympic Blvd., will host the YU Beth Jacob Summer Kollel (intensive Torah and Talmud study program).

Now in its sixth year, this Kollel is one of YU’s flagship summer learning programs, attracting some of the most talented and dynamic students from the University and its Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary. Under the leadership of Rosh Kollel (Head of Advanced Torah Studies Program) Rabbi Nachum Sauer, the members of the Kollel spend their summer studying practical subjects of Halakhah (Jewish law). In addition, these future leaders of the Jewish community gain professional rabbinic training and mentoring under Rabbi Weil, a master pulpit rabbi who takes an active role in the day-to-day program of the Kollel.

This training includes formal and informal workshops with top educators, physicians, psychologists, and other professionals on topics with which the pulpit rabbi is confronted.

Not only do the Kollel members enrich themselves, they also enrich the greater community by sharing their Torah learning. This includes learning and education programs for community members, classes and activities for youth, and shiurim (lectures) and classes for the community on Shabbat and after daily minyanim (morning services).

Rabbi Weil, as well as Rabbi Uri Pilichowski, the synagogue’s assistant spiritual leader, will also give shiurim for the Kollel members and the community.

The Kollel students have the unique opportunity to interact with the Rosh Kollel (Kollel head), and particularly with Rabbi Weil, “an alumnus of RIETS and master pulpit rabbi, who will spend time mentoring the students, hosting them at his home, and engaging them in discussions with professionals who share their expertise on issues that the pulpit rabbi is faced with,” said Rabbi Kenneth Brander, dean of YU’s Center for the Jewish Community, which sponsors the Summer Kollel Program in cities throughout the country. “In turn, our Kollel members are empowered to share their knowledge with young students, as well as with interested people of all ages, thereby creating a vibrant and energetic Torah community, one that fosters a caring and inspirational environment for adults and children alike to grow with our students and scholars.”

A special highlight of the Kollel will be a Night Beit Medrash program for youth. Each week, students from first grade through 12th grade will have the opportunity to engage in stimulating and age-appropriate learning sessions with Kollel members focusing on a different topic, ranging from Tzedakah (charity) to Tefila (prayer).

There will also be a Night Beit Medrash program for adults, in which Kollel members will be available to learn one-on-one with community members.

Rabbi Brander explained that “the Kollel, as with the many others we sponsor throughout the country, represent our continuing effort to shape the summer Kollel paradigm and create experiences that will serve as incubators for Jewish leaders. They also represent a vibrant initiative to enable communities to experience the wealth of resources and presence of Yeshiva University right in their backyard.”

This year, the YU Summer Kollel will also be in Chicago, Denver, Edmonton (Canada), Passaic, NJ, Teaneck, NJ, the Hamptons, NY, and Israel.

For more information, call Rabbi Pilichowski, 310-278-1911, or email him at pillows@bethjacob.org

The multidisciplinary Center for the Jewish Future harnesses the educational resources, commitment to service, and intellectual capital of Yeshiva University, its array of undergraduate schools, its graduate and professional schools, including Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, and Wurzweiler School of Social Work, its affiliates, and its extended constituencies to articulate a vision for the future while working to make the vision a reality. To do so, the Center sponsors a comprehensive series of initiatives focusing on education, research, professional and lay leadership development and service to the community.

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Jun 27, 2008 SUMMER KOLLEL FEATURES ACTIVITIES FOR ALL AGES
AND THROUGHOUT COMMUNITY
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FOR SECOND YEAR, SPECIAL LEARNING PROGRAM FOR WOMEN

Teaneck will be home to a series of special programs of Torah learning – for men, women, and youths – sponsored by Yeshiva University’s Center for the Jewish Future (CJF) from the end of June through the beginning of August.

The Keter Torah RIETS Summer Kollel, the most popular of the numerous summer kollelim across the country sponsored by the CJF – Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS), will be held from June 30 to August 7 at Congregation Keter Torah, 600 Roemer Ave.

Guided by Rabbi Shmuel Maybruch, rabbi at the Community Shul at Yeshiva University and a professor in the Stone Beit Midrash Program at RIETS, the Kollel is an incubator for rabbis and lay leadership. The Kollel members – all students at RIETS – will engage in Torah learning in the mornings and afternoons.

They will then lead a series of learning programs with local elementary, middle, and high school youth, including chavruta learning for both boys and girls; “Mishnah Madness,” an adventurous journey through the Mishnah, for boys in 1st through 8th grade, on Tuesdays at 5:30 p.m.; “Mitzvah of the Week Workshop” for girls in grades 6, 7, and 8, on Tuesdays at 6 p.m.; and “Pizza and Parsha” for boys in 1st through 8th grade and girls in 1st through 5th grade on Thursdays at 5:30 p.m..

In addition, each Kollel member will spend several nights in the Keter Torah Beit Medrash to bolster the Kol Torah (sound of Torah) and serve as role models for the community.

Rabbi Maybruch will deliver daily lunchtime shiurim (lectures) on the topic of “Hilchot Aveilut” (laws of mourning) for men in the community. These lectures are free of charge and are followed by lunch.

A second program, the Beit Midrash Program for Women, will be held from July 7 to July 31 at Ma’ayanot Yeshiva High School for Girls, 1650 Palisade Ave. Now in its second year, it is designed to provide women of all ages with the knowledge and tools to become both Judaic scholars and role models for the Orthodox community.

The initiative is an outgrowth of the success of last year’s Beit Midrash Program for Women in Teaneck and YU’s Graduate Program in Advanced Talmudic Studies (GPATS), which supports the advancement of a higher level of education for women in a traditional community, creating a movement of women’s learning, and sharing their scholarship with the Jewish community.

As with the Keter Torah CJF-RIETS Summer Kollel, the Women’s Beit Midrash will offer a multi-faceted agenda tailored to different segments of the community. The Female Fellows Program brings together a group of 10 women who will engage in advanced Torah learning under the direction of Rabbi Moshe Kahn, a professor at YU’s Stern College for Women, and other prominent scholars and educators.

Each Monday and Wednesday during the month-long program, these Female Fellows will share their knowledge with other women in the community at “Lunch & Learn” shiurim (lectures). Participation in this program requires advanced preparation.

The Beit Midrash faculty will also deliver shiurim that are open to all women in the community, on Wednesday and Thursday mornings and on Tuesday evenings during July.

Rabbi Kenneth Brander, dean of YU’s Center for the Jewish Future, explained that the Keter Torah RIETS Summer Kollel and the Beit Midrash Program for Women serve various purposes. They are “a laboratory for students to grow in their own learning and afford them the opportunity to gain confidence and enhance their public speaking skills, ability to develop lectures, sermons, and youth and educational programs, all under the supervision and mentorship of distinguished rabbis, scholars and educators.

In turn, Rabbi Brander said, “our Kollel members are empowered to share their knowledge with interested people of all ages, thereby creating a vibrant and energetic Torah community, one that fosters a caring and inspirational environment for adults and children alike to grow with our students and scholars.”

Moreover, Rabbi Brander said that “these programs, as with the many others we sponsor throughout the country, represent our continuing effort to shape the summer Kollel paradigm and create experiences that will serve as incubators for Jewish leaders. They also represent a vibrant initiative to enable communities to experience the wealth of resources and presence of Yeshiva University right in their backyard.”

This year, the YU Summer Kollel will also be in Los Angeles, Edmonton, Denver, Chicago, Passaic, NJ, and Israel

The multidisciplinary Center for the Jewish Future harnesses the educational resources, commitment to service, and intellectual capital of Yeshiva University, its array of undergraduate schools, its graduate and professional schools, including Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, and Wurzweiler School of Social Work, its affiliates, and its extended constituencies to articulate a vision for the future while working to make the vision a reality. To do so, the Center sponsors a comprehensive series of initiatives focusing on education, research, profess

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Mordechai Tiefenbrunn recites Psalms at the historic cemetery in Volozhin, Belarus.

Mar 3, 2008 — Moshe Wasserman, a student at Yeshiva University High School for Boys/Marsha Stern Talmudical Academy (YUHSB), found the house that his grandmother grew up on in Pinsk. Principal Ya’akov Sklar found headstones bearing his family’s name at the site of the Jewish cemetery in Grozhov. Eleventh-grader Eric Suss heard the long-gone echoes of Torah learning at the Volozhin Yeshiva, now crumbling and empty.

Although they had never visited Lithuania and Belarus before, the high school students and staff on the inaugural Julius Wrubel zt”l International Service Mission felt like they were reclaiming a piece of their memories during their winter intersession trip.

“We could feel the holiness of the place at the Volozhin Yeshiva,” said Suss. “We sang and danced in memory of the learning that took place there. It was the most powerful part of the trip for me.”

Six students—accompanied by Principal Sklar and Daniel Schuval, director of special programs—explored the region through its Jewish, historical, and political lenses. The program was run in conjunction with Yeshiva and University Students for the Spiritual Revival of Soviet Jewry (YUSSR), an organization based on YU’s campus that aims to foster a sense of Jewish identity among Jews of the former Soviet Union.

To see photos from the trip, click here.

The group visited Vilna, Minsk, Pinsk, Radin, and Volozhin, where they ran educational programs for youth groups, met with Jewish community leaders to learn more about the challenges confronting Eastern European communities, and visited local synagogues for daily prayers and additional learning programs. They also visited yeshivot in Radin and Pinsk.

“The program gave the boys an opportunity to spread their knowledge and commitment to Judaism and chesed by impacting the world around them, educating other Jews through their knowledge, and fulfilling the mitzvah of tikkun olam [healing the world],” Mr. Schuval said.

Despite the language barrier, the students interacted with the youth at the YUSSR Lauder Lech Lecha Youth Center in Minsk. “We didn’t know if we’d be able to communicate with the kids who came to the Sunday school program,” Ari Schaffer said. But the 11th-grader took out his guitar and soon the two groups were singing Hebrew and Russian songs together.

“It was touching to see so many kids learning about Judaism in a place that was devoid of Judaism only 50 years ago,” Schaffer said.

The trip was funded by YUHS board member Harvey Wrubel, in memory of his father, Julius. “My father studied at a yeshiva but because of financial circumstances during the Depression, he had to go out to work,” Mr. Wrubel said. “He would have loved to have remained at the yeshiva. This gift, which is an opportunity to impart the values of Torah Umadda, is a blessing to his memory and others.”

Rabbi Mark Gottlieb, head of school, described the trip as an opportunity for the students to engage in the world in a compelling, thoughtful, and deliberate manner. “Sometimes school is just school but this was an incredible transformative journey for the boys that they will never forget,” he said.

The Julius Wrubel z”l Internation Service Mission will be held annually to various countries around the world. For more information, please contact Mindy Schachtman at 212-960-5279.

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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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Nov 19, 2007 — As this year’s General Assembly (GA) of the United Jewish Communities (UJC) unfolded with spirited discussions, presentations, and networking among its 3,500 delegates, one voice resounded loud and clear, bringing a scholarly approach and Torah wisdom to bear on the future of the North American Jewish community. As the GA’s scholar-in-residence, Yeshiva University’s Rabbi Jacob J. Schacter made a profound impact on the proceedings, turning to Biblical texts for inspiring messages about collaboration and community-building, and providing insights into possible directions on each of the five times that he spoke.

To see a photo gallery from the GA, click here.

It was the first time in many years that the GA—held this year in Nashville, TN November 11-13—featured a scholar-in-residence. Rabbi Schacter, university professor of Jewish history and Jewish thought and senior scholar at the Yeshiva University Center for the Jewish Future (CJF), was an apt choice for the largest annual gathering of Jewish leadership in the world.

“The UJC and Yeshiva University share a mission–‘One People, One Destiny,’ which is the GA’s theme this year–and both are value-driven,” said Gail Reiss, senior vice president of development and major events at UJC. “We believe that when we work together we can realize our mission. As scholar-in-residence at the GA, Rabbi Schacter set the stage at the opening plenary, emphasizing the power of the collective federation system to do good deeds, and closed the gathering with a call to action.”

In the opening remarks of his keynote address at the plenary session, Rabbi Schacter used the rabbinic teaching about Abraham and his expelled son, Ishmael, as a departure point to speak about healing family rifts, coming together as a united Jewish people, and working to forge a positive dialogue with the Muslim world.

“[Abraham] doesn’t stand on ceremony. He doesn’t say, ‘Where is Ishmael? Why isn’t he calling me? I am not going to talk to him until he comes to me!’,” said Rabbi Schacter. “He picks himself up, he saddles his animal, and he goes to see Ishmael. He works out a compromise: she, Sarah [his wife], lets him go, he promises not to get off the camel.”

He exhorted the audience to think about how many Jews they know who feel banished “from the table of Abraham, from the communal household of the Jewish people.”

“It is our responsibility to embrace them, to love them, to find them an honored place at our United Jewish Communities table,” he said.

Rabbi Schacter also said the teaching reminds us of an earlier era when Jews and Muslims knew each other well enough to incorporate elements of one another’s traditions into their respective sacred texts. “Surely this, too, is an important value for us, to create a context where these two great religions can coexist with one another and engage in mutually respectful dialogue for the betterment of humanity as a whole,” he said.

Rabbi Schacter also spoke at the National Young Leadership Awards Luncheon, the UJC Board of Trustees meeting and the Rabbinic Cabinet session, and was the final speaker at the closing plenary.

As in previous years, YU had a significant student presence at the GA. Representing the largest group of university students in attendance at the GA, the YU students all reported that they felt enriched by the exposure to new ideas at the breakout sessions they attended and the wide range of Jewish people they interacted with. “I attended the session on ‘Linking the Silos: Program Continuity from Cradle to Dorm,’ and it made me realize the connection between shul and school. It opened my eyes to the fact that not only the yeshiva matters and gave me broader views, respect, and appreciation for Jews of all denominations,” said Philippa Hernandez, an education major in her junior year at Stern College for Women.

“Bringing our students to the GA allows them to interact with serious and passionate Jews from the various denominations of our community and to see how vital it is that they add their voices to discussions in the community,” said Rabbi Kenneth Brander, dean of the CJF, which organized and prepared the students for this experience.

In addition, 17 students from the Certificate in Jewish Communal Services program at YU’s Wurzweiler School of Social Work attended the GA to learn about challenges facing the organized Jewish community. “It was an invaluable opportunity to meet and explore career directions with Wurzweiler graduates who are directors of federations and agency executives in the Jewish community,” said Dr. Saul Andron, associate professor at Wurzweiler and director of the Certificate program.

As usual, YU’s booth in the exhibit hall created a buzz. This year it featured the “Shpiel of Fortune,” a Jewish spin-off of the popular TV game show, which attracted scores of national delegates.

Prior to the opening of the GA, the undergraduate and rabbinical student delegation spent Shabbat in Memphis. Accompanying them were Rabbis Ozer Glickman, RIETS rosh yeshiva, and Elly Krimsky, assistant director of Jewish career development and placement. They fanned out across the community, interacting with the rabbis, students, young couples, and families and attending services at the city’s three Orthodox synagogues: the Young Israel of Memphis, Baron Hirsch Congregation, and Anchei Sphard-Beth El Emeth Congregation. The students hosted an Oneg Shabbat for teenagers from the Memphis community at Margolin Hebrew Academy Feinstone Yeshiva of the South on Friday night and five Presidential Fellows took the lead in creating programming.

The students ate shabbat meals with different families in the community, including that of Rabbi Dr. Gil Perl, the new dean of Margolin Hebrew Academy, and his wife, Melissa.

At a seuda shlishit at Baron Hirsch on Saturday afternoon, Stern College senior Rina Cohen spoke about the experiences afforded to her by coming to YU from her native France. Yonah Bardos, of the student-run Medical Ethics Society, spoke about his achievements in organizing conferences on fertility issues and organ donation as a service to the Jewish community.

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Sep 12, 2007 — For 12 women and nine men who participated in Yeshiva University’s Jerry and Mary Swartz July in Jerusalem Program, run for the first time this past summer by the university’s Mechinah Program for men and Basic Jewish Studies Program for women and open to college students from across the country, an intense experience studying Torah and exploring Israel proved rewarding in many ways.

“My religious beliefs grew much stronger,” said Esther-Naomie Kadoch, a Stern College for Women student from Morocco who participated in July in Jerusalem. “The opportunity to touch and see with my own eyes what I have learned in the pages of the Five Books of Moses was inspiring.”

For Mathew Bernstein, who is studying pharmacy at the University of Florida, the daily educational activities strengthened his commitment to Jewish leadership. “They introduced me to the intellectual part of our heritage,” said Bernstein, “and the many trips we took to different parts of the country connected me to Israel, its rich history, and it current goals and struggles.”

The July in Jerusalem Program was sponsored by Mary Swartz, who underwrote it in memory of her late husband, Jerry, a businessman and Jewish philanthropist. The program was conceived on the basis that “as much growth as a person might have over the course of a year, an intense summer of study in Israel could bring a person to another level of connection,” said Rabbi Zev Reichman, director of YU’s Mechinah Program.

For many of the students, the program was what coordinator Shoshana Levine Schechter described as “a life-altering experience.” Schechter, who teaches Bible studies at Stern and coordinates the Basic Jewish Studies Program for women there, said the program enriched the academic aspect of learning with real-life experiences.

After classes at the YU in Israel Campus in Jerusalem, the students visited a children’s home and interacted with disadvantaged youngsters, served food to the hungry at a soup kitchen, and helped a woman whose husband was killed by a suicide bomber establish her greenhouse. They spent Tisha B’Av, a day of fasting in the Hebrew calendar, in the Old City of Jerusalem, and celebrated Shabbat in the Jerusalem and Safed.

“It was an important, even pivotal, time in the lives of many of the students,” Schechter said, “an occasion to gain an appreciation of their Jewish identity.”

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Ira A. Lipman (right) writes a letter in the Torah scroll with the guidance of Rabbi Binyomin Spiro (left), the Torah's scribe.

Jul 3, 2007 — Students who attend Congregation Birkat Shmuel, which is located on the Jack and Pearl Resnick Campus of Yeshiva University’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine (AECOM), are the beneficiaries of a new gift to the congregation: a Sefer Torah (holy Torah Scroll).

The Sefer Torah was presented by the Lipman family of New York and Memphis, Tennessee. The inscribing of the Sefer Torah for YU was commissioned by businessman and philanthropist Ira A. Lipman of New York and given in observance of the 13th yahrzeit (anniversary of the passing) of his late father, Mark Lipman. It was presented on May 30, 2007, to the independent Congregation Birkat Shmuel, which was named for the late, revered Dr. Samuel Belkin, under whose tenure as the second President of YU the Albert Einstein College of Medicine was established.

Mr. and Mrs. Lipman and their family have given specially written Sifrei Torahs to universities, Hillels, and centers of Jewish learning across America each year on Mark Lipman’s yahrzeit. However—and uniquely—this is the second such special gift to benefit Yeshiva University students; a Sefer Torah was dedicated last year on the Wilf Campus in Washington Heights.

At the beginning of the dedication ceremony, Edward Burns, MD, AECOM’s executive dean, spoke on the significance of Hakhnasat Sefer Torah (dedicating a new Torah), explaining why the ritual, which incorporates the use of a chuppa (wedding canopy) may be compared to a joyous occasion such as a Jewish wedding.

The Lipman family and their guests, as well as AECOM and Yeshiva University students, were welcomed by YU President Richard M. Joel, who spoke of his long relationship with Ira Lipman dating back to President Joel’s tenure as president and international director of Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life. Other speakers included Dr. Herbert C. Dobrinsky, Yeshiva’s vice president for university affairs and Dr. Steven H. Lazar, assistant dean of AECOM, who helped coordinate the event.

Words of tribute were offered by rabbis who have been close to Mark Lipman, Ira Lipman, and the Lipman family: Rabbi Sol Roth, rabbi emeritus, Fifth Avenue Synagogue and professor of philosophy at YU; Rabbi Rafael Grossman, senior rabbi emeritus, Baron Hirsch Congregation, Memphis, Tennessee; and Rabbi Samuel Fox, rabbi emeritus, Beth Jacob Congregation, Dayton, Ohio, formerly rabbi of Congregation Agudath Achim, Little Rock, Arkansas.

The liturgical program of dedication that followed completion of the Torah was conducted by Cantor Joseph Malovany of the Fifth Avenue Synagogue in New York City. Cantor Malovany is also distinguished professor of Jewish liturgical music at the Philip and Sarah Belz School of Jewish Music at YU’s affiliated Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary.

A highlight of the ceremonies was the sacred privilege of writing a letter in the new Torah with the guidance of the Scribe, Rabbi Binyomin Spiro, of Baltimore, who has completed all thirteen Sifrei Torah for the Lipman family. Students, faculty, and invited guests joined the Lipman family, which included the sons of Barbara and Ira Lipman— Gustave, Joshua, and Benjamin—in writing a Torah letter.

The Siyum (conclusion of the writing of the Torah) was heralded by Rabbi Alex Mondrow, the young and dynamic spiritual leader of Congregation Birkat Shmuel, who conducts services and lectures and teaches classes on the Resnick Campus during the week, while working toward his PhD in psychology at YU’s Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology.

The Lipman family has given Sifrei Torah, also completed on previous yahrzeits of Mark Lipman, to the Hillel chapters of the University of Pennsylvania, Northeastern University, Columbia University, Ohio State University, the University of Michigan and the University of Maryland; as well as to Fifth Avenue Synagogue; the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Los Angeles; the Center for Jewish History, New York; Baron Hirsch Congregation; and Congregation Agudath Achim.

Ira A. Lipman is founder and chairman of Guardsmark, LLC, one of the world’s largest security services companies, with more than 155 offices in the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, the United Kingdom, France, and Singapore, serving clients in more than 400 cities. His father, the late Mark Lipman, founded and operated Mark Lipman Service, a private investigations company in Little Rock and Memphis, and was a prominent leader of the Jewish community for many years, including having been president of Congregation Agudath Achim and the moving force to build a new synagogue that was completed in 1952 in Little Rock.

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Mar 13, 2006 — Yeshiva University (YU) will hold an inaugural academic convocation in Israel on March 23, honoring four Israeli educators who embody YU’s philosophy of Torah Umadda, which balances the interaction between tradition and modern society –– the hallmark of Modern Orthodoxy.

The academic convocation will award honorary doctoral degrees to Rabbanit Malke Bina, founder and educational director of MaTaN, The Sadie Rennert Women’s Institute for Torah Studies in Jerusalem; Victor B. Geller, a retired Jewish communal administrator, author, and lecturer, who played a leading role in YU’s Max Stern Division of Communal Services; Prof. Moshe Kaveh, an internationally renowned physicist who serves as president of Bar-Ilan University; and Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, chief rabbi of the city of Efrat and founder of the Ohr Torah Stone educational institutions.

The convocation is the closing event of a weeklong colloquium: “Torah Umadda in the 21st Century: Engaging Israel, Engaging the World,” that begins March 17. A family Shabbaton, hosted by YU President Richard M. Joel and featuring Chancellor Norman Lamm as the keynote speaker, will open the week’s activities.

For more on the week’s events click here.

The YU Israel Colloquium and Convocation have been made possible with the support of the Jesselson Family.

The remainder of the week will explore the synthesis of professional careers and the principles of Torah Umadda, with special programs throughout Israel focusing on medicine, social work, law, and education. Speakers during the week will include President Joel, Prof. Gerald Blidstein, Dr. Susan Bressman, Rabbi Meir Goldwicht, Frank Margolese, Dr. Reuven Schindler, Dr. Stanley Schneider, Rabbi Zvi Sobolofsky, Prof. Avraham Steinberg, and Dr. Ronald Wachtel.

Sunday afternoon will be a special opportunity to honor Yeshiva University’s 32 musmakhim (rabbinic graduates) in Israel with a Yom Iyun (day of learning) and a Chag HaSemikhah (celebration of Rabbinic ordination). The Israeli musmakhim are part of a group of 185 rabbis –– the largest in the history of YU’s Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary –– who will celebrate their formal ordination on Sunday, March 26, at the quadrennial Chag HaSemikhah in New York.

A panel discussion on the relationship between Torah Umadda and Religious Zionism will be held Sunday evening, sponsored by the nearly 3,000 alumni of Yeshiva University’s undergraduate schools living in Israel.

For more information about the convocation or the week’s events, contact Ellen Clyman in the Israel Alumni Office, 011 972 2 531-3015 or email yuievents@yu.edu

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