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Fine and Holz Appointed Endowed Chairs; Shatz Named University Professor

In recognition of their outstanding achievements, Yeshiva University recently recognized two faculty members at Stern College for Women and one at Yeshiva College.

At Stern College, Dr. Marina Holz has been named the Doris and Ira Kukin Chair in Biology and Dr. David Shatz has been appointed University Professor of Philosophy, Ethics and Religious Thought. Dr. Steven Fine has been named the Dean Pinkhos Churgin Chair in Jewish History at Yeshiva College.

“Each of these individuals is a leader and an innovator whose work advances education and research at Yeshiva University,” said Dr. Selma Botman, vice president for academic affairs and provost at YU. “We recognize their accomplishments with the highest honors the University bestows: named chairs and a University professorship. David, Marina, and Steve represent for students and their colleagues what is worthy and noble about the life of the mind. The advances they have made in science and the humanities come through dedicated and tireless work, relentless focus and the joy that new knowledge brings.”

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Dr. Marina Holz

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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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Straus Center Programs, Seminars and Lectures Promote Interdisciplinary Study of Jewish and Western Thought

What happens at the intersection of faith and reason?

It’s a complicated question whose depths have fascinated Jewish and gentile thinkers alike for thousands of years. Is it possible to be a religious intellectual? How does faith inform the scientific and philosophic discoveries of our time, and how do those discoveries in turn affect religious beliefs and lifestyles? Yeshiva University’s Zahava and Moshael Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought is committed to providing forums for Jews in the modern era to continue that conversation and arrive at their own understanding of the concept of “Torah Umadda”: the balance of Judaic and worldly values.

Naom Safier

Noam Safier, a Straus Center Fellow

“In undergraduate courses, seminars for semicha [rabbinic ordination] students, adult education and public events, the Straus Center has brought about the bridging of Torah with the world in every part of Yeshiva,” said Rabbi Dr. Meir Soloveichik, director of the Straus Center. “In just the past year, students in our classes have approached, though a Torah lens, the fields of political thought, American history, law, Zionism, philosophy, art and medicine. We are so proud of having made the vision of Moshael Straus a reality: for Torah Umadda to never be merely a motto, but rather something that can be experienced throughout Yeshiva and the larger Yeshiva University community.”

This fall, that includes a new undergraduate fellowship directed by Dr. Aaron Segal, assistant professor of philosophy at Yeshiva College; a semicha seminar for select YU-affiliated Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary students taught by Rabbi Dr. David Shabtai, a fellow of RIETS’ Wexner Kollel Elyon; and multiple courses at Yeshiva College and Stern College for Women exploring the Center’s themes. Read the rest of this entry…

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Rabbi Elimelech Goldberg ’74YUHS, ’77YC,’81R Helps Kids Kick Fear Out of Cancer

Yeshiva University alumnus Rabbi Elimelech Goldberg has recently been named a 2014 Top 10 CNN Hero for his work advocating the use of martial arts as therapy for children struggling with cancer and other childhood illnesses. His non-profit, Kids Kicking Cancer, uses the mind-body techniques of martial arts instruction, breath work and meditation to empower children beyond their pain. Fondly known as “Rabbi G” by the thousands of children his organization has helped over the years, Rabbi Goldberg, of Detroit, Michigan, also serves as clinical assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics at Wayne State University School of Medicine.



Voting for CNN Hero of the Year continues through Sunday, November 16, and all of this year’s Top 10 CNN Heroes will be honored during “CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute” on Sunday, December 7 (8:00 p.m. ET) on the global CNN networks.

YUNews spoke to Rabbi Goldberg ’74YUHS, ’77YC,’81R about his time at Yeshiva and his work helping children battle the fear and pain of cancer.

Q.    Tell us about your experience as a student at Yeshiva University.  

I went to Yeshiva University High School for Boys directly from public school in September, 1970, and then did early admissions to attend Yeshiva College, where I graduated from summa cum laude with a degree in political science. Following that, I obtained semicha [ordination] from Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary in 1980. Read the rest of this entry…

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Students in Yeshiva College Summer Course Discredit Claim That Vatican is Hiding Temple Relics

When Yeshiva University senior Ari Rosenberg signed up for a summer school course on the Arch of Titus, he was just trying to fulfill his last history requirement with what sounded like an interesting class taught by Dr. Steven Fine, a professor who was clearly excited about his work and sharing it with his students.

Students in Professor Fine's Arch of Titus summer course

Students in Professor Fine’s Arch of Titus summer course

“What I did not know was how fantastic a professor he really is and how stimulating the course would be,” said Rosenberg, a history major at Yeshiva College who hopes to attend medical school.

Fine is a professor of Jewish history at Yeshiva College and Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies and director of the Center for Israel Studies and its Arch of Titus Project. In 2012 he led an international team in the discovery of the original yellow paint that was used to color the Arch of Titus menorah nearly 2,000 years ago.

The summer course focused on the Arch of Titus, one of the most significant Roman monuments to survive from antiquity, from the perspectives of Roman, Jewish and Christian history and art. Built in 81 CE, it commemorates the Roman victory over Judea a decade earlier, an event that Jews mourn each year with the Fast of the Ninth of Av—Tisha B’Av, which falls this year on August 4-5. The course examined the contexts for the construction of the monument and the continued reflection that it has evoked, especially since its menorah relief was chosen as the symbol of the State of Israel in 1949. Read the rest of this entry…

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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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YU Undergraduates Participate in Cutting-Edge Summer Scientific Research Program at Einstein

After a challenging year of academic study as a biology major concentrating in molecular and cellular biology at Yeshiva University’s Stern College for Women, Liat Weinstock, of Cedarhurst, New York, isn’t spending her well-deserved summer break at camp or on a beach. Instead, she’s working with Dr. Rebecca Madan’s pediatric infectious diseases team on a research study examining the effects of certain drug-resistant bacteria on transplant patients after their operations.

2014 Roth Scholars

From left: Natan Tracer, Liat Weinstock, Shira Kaye, Hadassa Holzapfel, Adi Cohen, Esther Kazlow, Jacqueline Benayoun, Bracha Robinson and Tamar Ariella Lunzer

“If we’re able to uncover some new information about how our immune system works and recovers, we can then change how we practice medicine to better treat patients with diseases,” said Weinstock. “My responsibilities here have been especially interesting to me because they almost feel like detective work—I find clues in patients’ charts that lead me to the correct labs and test results to determine whether a patient will fit our study or not. Putting together all the clues and coming up with an answer is an exciting ‘Eureka!’ moment.”

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Robert Grad and Naomi Gofine to Participate in Yachad’s Inaugural Jewish Communal Leadership Fellowship

Two recent Yeshiva  University graduates, Robert Grad ’14YC and Naomi Gofine ’14S, have been selected to serve as one of three fellows in Yachad’s inaugural Jewish Communal Leadership Fellowship program.

Robert Grad

Robert Grad

Yachad, the flagship program of the Orthodox Union’s National Jewish Council for Disabilities, provides social, educational and recreational programs for individuals with learning, developmental and physical disabilities with the goal of their inclusion in the Jewish community. The Fellows will function as full members of Yachad’s staff, working out of its national headquarters in Lower Manhattan with mentors who will provide integrated training and experiential opportunities to help the Fellows acquire proficiency in disability culture and Jewish organizational leadership. Read the rest of this entry…

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Yeshiva College Professor Wins $34,500 Grant for Project that Tackles the Inherent Value of Immortality—Or Lack Thereof

20140617_aaron_segal_19What’s so great about living forever?

It may seem like a no-brainer, but Dr. Aaron Segal, assistant professor of philosophy at Yeshiva University’s Yeshiva College, isn’t convinced. While the pros and cons of immortality have been heatedly debated in the philosophical community for thousands of years—If we could extend our lives indefinitely, should we? If living is good, is living longer better?—the qualities that make immortality desirable haven’t been clearly defined.

“The arguments that have been offered are usually arguments that attempt to show that there is something wrong or bad about us being immortal, like we would be terminally bored or not able to value what makes life meaningful,” said Segal. But he believes there is a more basic question philosophers have yet to answer: What would make immortal life so great in and of itself that couldn’t be achieved, at least in theory, during a more limited lifetime?

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