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Dec 29, 2009 — Over 450 people were in attendance at the Young Israel of Woodmere this past Sunday to hear Rabbi Dr. Jacob J. Schacter, senior scholar at Yeshiva University’s (YU) Center for the Jewish Future (CJF) discuss Asarah B’Tevet: From ancient times to the 21st Century. The lecture, part of YU’s popular Yom Rishon learning series generally held at YU’s upper Manhattan Wilf Campus, was a welcome addition to the Five Towns.

Through text-based sources, interesting insights and comments on the day’s evolution throughout history, Rabbi Schacter made Asarah B’Tevet more meaningful to the crowd. The lecture was an initiative of the YU Regional Council-Five Towns and was co-sponsored by Congregations Aish Kodesh, Anshei Chesed, Beth Sholom, Young Israel Lawrence/Cedarhurst and the Young Israel of Woodmere.

“The CJF is very excited to bring the Torah and scholarship of Yeshiva University to the Five Towns,” said Rabbi Kenneth Brander, the David Mitzner dean of CJF. “We plan to continue bringing unique, interesting and educational programming to the community.”

YU introduced the Abraham Arbesfeld Kollel Yom Rishon for men and the Millie Arbesfeld Midreshet Yom Rishon for women as part of an initiative to strengthen Jewish communal life and learning. The program brings hundreds of men and women to YU’s Wilf Campus in Washington Heights every Sunday morning to learn Torah and hear lectures from various YU rabbis and scholars. Since its inception, the Yom Rishon series has spread to Toronto, Los Angeles and other cities across North America.

The CJF and the YU Regional Council have several upcoming events planned in the Five Towns, including another Yom Rishon in February, a special lecture series in March and a YU Connects Singles Shabbaton on May 7. To learn more about the Center for the Jewish Future visit www.yu.edu/cjf.

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Rabbi Dr. Jacob J. Schacter

Dec 22, 2009 — Yeshiva University’s (YU) Center for the Jewish Future (CJF) will bring their popular Yom Rishon series to the Five Towns community on Sunday, December 27 at 10 am at the Young Israel of Woodmere, 850 Peninsula Boulevard, Woodmere, NY. Rabbi Dr. Jacob J. Schacter, senior scholar at the CJF, will discuss Asarah B’Tevet: From ancient times to the 21st Century.

The lecture, an initiative of the YU Regional Council of the Five Towns, is open to men and women and is free of charge.

Yeshiva University introduced the Abraham Arbesfeld Kollel Yom Rishon for men and the Millie Arbesfeld Midreshet Yom Rishon for women as part of an initiative to strengthen Jewish communal life and learning. The program brings hundreds of men and women to YU’s Wilf Campus in Washington Heights every Sunday morning to learn Torah and hear lectures from various YU rabbis and scholars. Since its inception, the Yom Rishon series has spread to Toronto, Los Angeles and other cities across North America.

Sponsors of Sunday’s program include congregations: Anshei Chesed, Aish Kodesh, Beth Sholom, Young Israel of Lawrence/Cedarhurst and Young Israel of Woodmere. To learn more about the Yom Rishon programs, view an upcoming schedule or to hear audio recordings of past shiurim visit www.kollelyomrishon.org and www.midreshetyomrishon.org.

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One of the Sukkah City entries, “In Tension” by SO-IL, on display at the YU Museum.

Sep 28, 2010 — On Monday, September 27, the Yeshiva University Museum, together with the Bronfman Center for Jewish Student Life at New York University and YU’s Center for the Jewish Future, hosted “Judaism and Sacred Space,” a panel discussing Jewish narrative, legal and thinking approaches to sacred space.

Inspired by Sukkah City, a competition that received over 600 submissions for architecturally innovative sukkot, the panel featured three scholars from distinct fields: Dr. Jill Katz, adjunct professor of anthropology and archaeology at Yeshiva University; Rabbi Dr. Jacob J. Schacter, YU Professor of Jewish History and Jewish Thought and Senior Scholar at the Center for the Jewish Future; and Dr. Lawrence H. Schiffman, Ethel and Irvin A. Edelman Professor of Hebrew and Judaic Studies and Chair of the Skirball Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies at NYU. Rabbi Yehuda Sarna, rabbi of the Bronfman Center and university chaplain of NYU, moderated the panel.

Dr. Schacter began with theological perspectives on Jewish sacred spaces. Starting with the time of the Talmud, he presented two opposite interpretations of physical sanctity developed: one as permanent and inherent to the space by divine investment, and the other as temporary sacredness contingent on human action.

While Dr. Schacter provided historical and contextual grounding, Dr. Katz defined sacred space anthropologically and archaeologically, with features such as increasing exclusivity, ritual sanctification areas, and high concentrations of garments and symbols. According to Dr. Katz, the sukkah is thus both an interpretation of, and a response to, those defined guidelines of sacred space, as one not reserved for the elite but rather open to all. The sukkah, she pointed out, does not symbolize or gratify material wealth as other religious spaces do, a concept embraced by a Sukkah City competitor who designed a sukkah clad with cardboard signs bought from the homeless.

Dr. Schiffman detailed the religious development of sukkot from pilgrimage-related desert shelters to sacred and symbolic spatial representations of the Temple, after the latter’s destruction led to an adoption of sukkot as replacements.

Dr. Jacob Wisse, director of the Yeshiva University Museum, said the panel connected relevant cultural occurrences to the museum’s particular mission, studying “how Jewish art and culture in their different forms across time reflect on Judaism.” He also pointed to the intersection between individualism and communal commitment, a popular theme during the open question-and-answer session following the scholars’ presentations.

“The panel raised important issues,” said audience member David Pruwer, visiting from London. “It was interesting to see different perspectives from different disciplines all focused on the same topic.” Rabbi Sarna, the moderator, echoed the significance of the panel: “bridging the gap between art and religion is one of the most important conversations of today.”

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Sep 14, 2010 — Yeshiva University will be publishing a collection of original essays on the weekly parashiyot [Torah portions], authored by rabbis and professors from every division of the University. The volume, entitled Mitokh Ha-Ohel, is sponsored by the Michael Scharf Publication Trust of Yeshiva University Press and scheduled for release by Maggid Books, an imprint of Koren Publishers Jerusalem, on October 1, 2010.

Mitokh Ha-Ohel (literally “within the tent”) brings together a diverse range of scholars and rabbinic thinkers, the multifaceted voices of Yeshiva University, to elucidate and explore all of the parashiyot of the Chamishah Chumshei Torah [Five Books of Moses] from a wide range of approaches, including textual analysis, homiletic exposition, halakhic [Jewish law] analysis and academic exploration.

“At Yeshiva University, we aspire to emulate the dwellings and philosophies of our forefathers by creating our own tent through our ideology of Torah Umadda, the marriage of Torah and secular knowledge,” said Yeshiva University President Richard M. Joel.

“This truly unique volume showcases the breadth and depth of the ‘tent’ of Yeshiva University,” added President Joel, “and serves as a physical embodiment of Yeshiva University’s passion for seeking nuanced wisdom through Torah from multiple sources, and sharing that wisdom with the world.”

In addition to essays from Yeshiva University affiliated Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS), the anthology, with over 500 pages, includes contributions from the rabbis, professors and administrators of Yeshiva College; Stern College for Women; Yeshiva Program/Mazer School of Talmudic Sctudies; Irving I. Stone Beit Midrash Program; Isaac Breuer College of Hebraic Studies; James Striar School of General Jewish Studies; Yeshiva University High School for Boys/Marsha Stern Talmudical Academy; Graduate Program for Women in Advanced Talmudic Studies; Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies; Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration; Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law; Albert Einstein College of Medicine; Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology; Center for the Jewish Future; and Caroline and Joseph S. Gruss Institute of RIETS in Jerusalem.

Mitokh Ha-Ohel—edited by Rabbi Daniel Feldman, instructor of Talmud and Jewish Studies at YU’s Stone Beit Midrash Program and Stuart Halpern, student life coordinator at YU’s Office of Student Affairs—is the first of many planned projects from the new partnership between Yeshiva University and Koren Publishers Jerusalem. In the coming months, Koren plans to release a multivolume set on topics of contemporary Jewish law authored by Yeshiva University’s roshei yeshiva, as well as a 20th anniversary edition of YU Chancellor Rabbi Dr. Norman Lamm’s masterwork, Torah Umadda, with a new foreward by Rabbi Lamm and an afterword by Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks.

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Aug 24, 2010 — More than 600 men and women from all corners of the world flooded Yeshiva University’s Wilf and Beren campuses this week to begin their undergraduate study at the only institution that promises to enrich both their secular and spiritual knowledge.

Hailing from more than a dozen countries as far as India and Panama and states across the country, these students were drawn to YU by its unique mission, articulated by President Richard M. Joel in his opening address to new Yeshiva College students at an orientation barbeque. “A lot of young people today ask, ‘Do I matter?’ ” President Joel said. “I believe you’ve come to a makom [place] where together, individually and collectively, we can build worlds. Here, living by Torah values, you can equip yourselves to be great talmedei chachumim [Torah scholars], great scientists, great poets, great teachers…you can advance the sacred story of our people: G-d’s partnership with Avraham and Avraham’s partnership with G-d.”

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This year’s Orientation was jam-packed with vibrant and exciting events. New students on the Beren Campus got acquainted with club leaders at a “Chillin & Grillin” barbeque, engaged in chavruta learning at the new Lea and Leon Eisenberg Beit Midrash in Stanton Hall and explored New York City’s rich cultural offerings on a walking tour of the Brooklyn Bridge. Students on the Wilf Campus shared high tea with their new faculty mentors and heard about engaging opportunities to contribute to the global Jewish community from members of the University’s Center for the Jewish Future. And there’s always room for sheer fun: along with their counterparts at Stern College for Women, first-year students headed to New Roc City for a night of bowling, laser-tag and arcade games.

The excitement and ambition of these new beginnings is palpable. For Aliza Loshinsky of Brooklyn, NY, Stern College was the perfect place to cultivate her talents and interests while maintaining a strong connection to the Jewish community. “I hope to be able to use this opportunity to learn more and grow in my Judaism and to develop my strengths in a way that will benefit my family, my people and the world,” she said. Loshinsky is considering psychology as a major.

Davida Kollmar of Edison, NJ, felt drawn to the warm atmosphere fostered at Stern College. “I was impressed by the individual attention given to each student to help her achieve her goals,” she said. She intends to pursue a degree in math or science.

Shlomo Weissberg of Chicago, IL, wanted the opportunity to meet students from a wide range of backgrounds and Jewish traditions in a friendly environment. Hoping to major in accounting at Sy Syms School of Business, he is also excited to engage the learning community at YU. “The new beit midrash is really gorgeous,” he said.

Entering the college arena can be overwhelming. Yet Brad Karasik, associate dean of students at Yeshiva College, urged new students not to be afraid to dive in. “It’s your campus,” he said. “There are so many things waiting for you to take charge of and become active in. Student clubs range from academic interests to Israel advocacy to chessed [volunteer] opportunities and we have hundreds of students on campus for Shabbat every week. The atmosphere here is incredible.”

Zelda Braun, associate dean of students at Stern College, agreed. “Be open to new experiences, to meeting new people, to exploring new areas of interest,” she said. “You have a world of opportunity available to you.”

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Aug 2, 2010 — Hundreds of leaders representing more than 80 Jewish communities descended upon Disney World’s Magic Kingdom by the busload. However, they weren’t at the legendary theme park to meet its famous characters or experience the rides, but for a rare opportunity to take a peek “behind the curtain” and learn from one of the most successful global business operations. The group—in Orlando for the Fifth Annual ChampionsGate National Leadership Conference presented by Yeshiva University’s Center for the Jewish Future (CJF)—explored best practices and methods utilized by Disney on a private tour provided by the Disney Institute, an authority in leadership training.

The theme of the conference, which ran from July 29 – Aug. 1, was “Tomorrow Begins Today: From ‘Best Practices’ to ‘Next Practices.’” It aimed to inspire participants to collectively adapt innovative and creative approaches to how they address challenges and growth opportunities in their respective communities and organizations.

“At ChampionsGate, we convene as a community of community leaders,” said Rabbi Kenneth Brander, The David Mitzner Dean of the CJF. “It is a celebration of the synergy between the Yeshiva and Jewish communities around the world. Together we have come to the recognition that it is time to no longer focus on the best practices, but rather on the next practices in dealing with these challenges.”

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The conference—made possible with the support of Mindy and Ira Mitzner ’81Y, University Trustee and chair of the CJF advisory council who provided his ChampionsGate resort as the conference venue—has grown from a gathering of 40 in 2006 into a highly anticipated annual event drawing 360 rabbis, lay leaders and Jewish community professionals this year.

“At ChampionsGate, we gather the leaders of our community to take our communal pulse, celebrate our accomplishments, confront our challenges, advance our values, nourish our spirits and rededicate ourselves to the sacred task of building community,” said Yeshiva University President Richard M. Joel. “This was Mindy and Ira’s vision, and they have willed it into reality with their leadership and generosity.”

The program addressed key issues facing the Jewish community and featured University deans, faculty and administrators including Rabbi David Hirsch, rosh yeshiva at RIETS; Suzanne Last Stone, professor of law at the Cardozo School of Law and director of Cardozo’s Center for Jewish Law and Contemporary Civilization; Rabbi Edward Reichman, MD, associate professor at the Einstein; and Dr. Efrat Sobolofsky, director of YUConnects.

“Yeshiva University’s desire to be marbitz [spread] Torah U’Madda is not merely theoretical,” said Dr. Rachel Rabinovich, president of Denver Academy of Torah. “Under the leadership of President Joel, YU and the CJF continue to provide their deep resources to further the mission and strengthen the infrastructure of innumerable communities like ours.”

Building on the conference theme of next practices, four leadership forums—Funds, Family, Faith and Future—were designed utilizing new and innovative methodologies to engage and encourage interaction among participants. Each track employed a unique facilitation technique known as “scenario planning”—a process introduced by Royal Dutch Shell and a best practice currently used by multiple Fortune 500 companies.

Dr. Scott Goldberg, director of University-School Partnership at YU’s Azrieli Graduate School, facilitated a forum on “Faith: Infusing Jewish Life and Rituals with Greater Passion and Spirituality” and encouraged participants to interact through Twitter during his forum, demonstrating how technology can be used as an inspirational tool.

Josh Joseph, YU vice president and chief of staff, led a track on “Future: Training and Inspiring the Next Generation of Jewish Community Leaders,” and asked participants for their suggestions on what issues the Orthodox community will face in 2020. The lively forum also featured a video presentation, filmed and edited during the session by Uri Westrich, a former YU presidential fellow.



“Throughout the year, we are involved in ongoing conversations with community leaders,” explained Rabbi Ari Rockoff, director of community partnership at the CJF and conference organizer. “These programs were designed using their feedback.”

Josh Kahane ’01Y, an attorney from Memphis, was excited to have the opportunity “to discuss challenges and strengths” with both professional and lay leadership from across the country. “Living and working in a community on the cusp of real Jewish growth, it is important to strengthen my understanding of the YU philosophical model as we continue to create an identity for our young Modern Orthodox community,” said Kahane.

A highlight for many participants was a thought-provoking and open panel discussion on Shabbat entitled, “Orthodoxy’s Big Tent: Where Do We Put the Stakes?” The diverse panel—moderated by Ira Mitzner—featured President Joel; Rabbi Yona Reiss, The Max and Marion Grill Dean of RIETS; Dr. Karen Bacon, The Dr. Monique C. Katz Dean of Stern College for Women; Rabbi David Stav, chair of the Tzohar organization in Israel; Gary Rosenblatt; editor and publisher of The Jewish Week of New York; Rabbi Yakov Horowitz, founder of Project Y.E.S.; C.B. Neugroschl, newly appointed head of school at Yeshiva University High School for Girls; and Barry Shrage, president of the Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Boston.

“Rabbi Brander and President Joel eloquently articulated the challenges facing our generation and the inspired leadership it will take to squarely address them,” said Rabbi Horowitz. “As a member of the Charedi community, I feel that we all face similar challenges and we need to work together to find solutions. I was very proud to be part of this uplifting weekend.”

On the final day of the conference, Rabbi Heshy Glass, head of school at Los Angeles’ YULA High School, reflected on his ChampionsGate experience. “It was great meeting and networking with my counterparts from around the country,” he said, motioning to his peers seated around the breakfast table. “We will definitely be following up with each other throughout the year.”

See Rabbi Brander’s op-ed in The Jewish Week on the future of Jewish leadership.

Read the CJF Dean’s Report.

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Jul 26, 2010 — Chaya Batya (C.B.) Neugroschl, an educator with nearly 20 years of pedagogic, curricular and administrative experience in both Limudei Kodesh and general studies, has been named head of school of the Yeshiva University High School for Girls (Central). The appointment is the culmination of a search that involved parents, faculty, board members and YU administrators, spanning both the United States and Israel.

Prior to joining YUHSG, Neugroschl has served as assistant principal and co-director of general studies at SAR High School since 2004, where she has introduced innovative curricular initiatives and special programming. Before coming to SAR, Neugroschl was the director of admissions at Ma’ayanot Yeshiva High School for Girls, where she taught Jewish history and philosophy.

Neugroschl’s educational background is impressive. She studied for two years at Michlala in Bayit V’gan before earning her BA at Stern College for Women in 1993. She continued her studies at Bernard Revel Graduate School, and then at Harvard University, where she received her MA in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations in 1998.

“Mrs. Neugroschl brings to our school a very well developed and integrated educational vision,” noted Miriam Goldberg, chair of Yeshiva University High Schools Board of Trustees. “She has earned a well deserved reputation for working collaboratively with faculty and parents. Mrs. Neugroschl brings an established and accomplished track record of creating dynamic environments for learning, true intellectual exchange, coupled with setting standards for high levels of student growth.”

To learn more about Samuel H. Wang Yeshiva University High School for Girls visit www.yuhsg.org.

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Jul 15, 2010 — On July 6-8, the National Association of Professors of Hebrew (NAPH) held its annual conference at Yeshiva University’s Beren Campus. The conference, co-sponsored by Stern College for Women and YU’s Center for Israel Studies, featured lectures on a wide range of topics related to Hebrew language, literature and culture and was attended by over 250 scholars, writers and educators.

Attendees of the three-day conference listened to scholars’ lectures on Hebrew through the historical lenses of the Biblical, rabbinic and modern periods. One of the most exciting segments of the conference was its opening ceremony, held at the YU Museum. Dean Karen Bacon, the Dr. Monique C. Katz Dean of Stern College, Dr. Zafrira Lidovsky-Cohen, associate professor of Hebrew Language and Literature and Asaf Shariv, consul general of Israel in New York, welcomed the group.

Nearly a dozen YU faculty members presented at the conference, including Dr. Richard Steiner, professor of Semitic language and literatures at Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies. Steiner’s lecture on “Linguistic Ambiguity in the Bible from the Viewpoint of the Sages and the Medieval Exegetes” was open to the public and was chaired by Ephraim Kanarfogel, The E. Billi Ivry Professor of Jewish History. Steiner marshaled evidence and texts from Biblical, rabbinic, medieval and even modern sources to track Jewish tradition’s position on the use of “ambiguous language” as a literary technique.

“Professor Steiner targeted the varying specialties of everyone in the room,” said Lidovsky-Cohen. “He made his lecture relevant to all aspects of the conference. Scholars and laypeople alike were amazed by his erudition and delivery.”

Dr. Esther Raizen, international conference coordinator of NAPH, believes that the conference signals a new era in Hebrew scholarship at YU. “NAPH is delighted to count an institution of Yeshiva University’s caliber among its active members,” commented Raizen. “The conference marks a new phase in the involvement of Yeshiva faculty and advanced students in the current discussions on Hebrew language, pedagogy and other areas that were highlighted at our meetings.”

Hannah Naveh, dean of arts at Tel Aviv University, expressed her optimism that YU faculty members will continue to pave inroads in the fields of Hebrew language and literature, and that prominent Hebrew scholars will be invited to YU to deliver lectures and full-semester courses.

Naveh added that she and her colleagues were extremely impressed with Lidovsky-Cohen’s organization of the conference that, in her words, was “carried out with perfection and professionalism.”

One key to Yeshiva University’s further interaction within the field of Hebrew literature will be Lidovsky-Cohen, who was appointed to NAPH’s advisory committee on the final day of the conference. “Yeshiva University should be a leading force in Jewish and Israel studies,” said Lidovsky-Cohen. “We have been doing a lot of research on religious studies but have left room to expand in the area of Jewish culture.”

Her sentiments were shared by Bacon, who believes that the conference went a long way to showing the academic world that Yeshiva University can be both scholarly rigorous and Orthodox. “This is a tremendous accomplishment and I am so very pleased,” said Bacon.

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Jul 6, 2010 — Twenty-two assistant rabbis from across North America recently gathered for two one-day seminars presented by Yeshiva University’s Center for the Jewish Future (CJF). The seminars, which took place on June 8 and 22, featured presentations on topics ranging from “Relationship to the Senior Rabbi” and “Assistant Rabbi vs. Senior Rabbi” to “Programming and Best Practices” and “It’s Not Too Early: Building your Financial Future.”

The seminars were hosted by Congregation Edmund J. Safra in New York’s Upper East Side. The synagogue’s spiritual leader, Rabbi Elie Abadie, also serves as director of the Jacob E. Safra Institute of Sephardic Studies at Yeshiva University.

“Assistant rabbis are a growing sector of the Orthodox clergy whose respective roles are often undefined,” explained Rabbi Levi Mostofsky, director of rabbinic programming at the CJF and one of the events’ coordinators. “They are budding professionals who do not get attention and recognition at broader rabbinic gatherings. These seminars provide them the opportunity to come together as a community of peers to discuss their particular challenges and opportunities.”

To learn more about the programs available at the CJF contact RabbinicProgramming@yu.edu.

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Jun 22, 2010 — President Richard M. Joel (YU) has appointed Rabbi Josh Joseph as Vice President in addition to his role as Chief of Staff of Yeshiva University.

A native of Montreal, Rabbi Joseph worked on Wall Street for several years and as a community rabbi. He completed his undergraduate degree, majoring in diplomatic history, with honors at the University of Pennsylvania ’93, received his rabbinic ordination from YU-affiliated Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary ’00, while simultaneously completing a master’s in Jewish philosophy at YU’s Bernard Revel Graduate School. He also spent four years learning at Yeshivat Har Etzion in Israel.

Rabbi Joseph had previously served as Director of Special Projects for YU’s Center for the Jewish Future, and before that as Executive Director of the Orthodox Caucus.

He resides in Lawrence, NY, with his wife Julie and their three children: Zach, 11; Ozzie, 9; and Marsha, 7.

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