Yeshiva University News » Yom Kippur

Professor Avri Ravid Reflects on His Experience as a War Correspondent During the Yom Kippur War

As we prepare for Yom Kippur 5773 the Middle East is going through some radical changes, whose precise meaning for Israel is still unclear. After decades of cold peace, but open borders, Israel is now erecting a 20-foot high barrier on its border with Egypt and talk of a break in relations is in the air. However, if these are rough seas, Yom Kippur of 1973 was a tsunami, that almost drowned Israel on its 25th birthday.

Prof. S. Abraham (Avri) Ravid

The period of 1967 to 1973 had seen the most radical changes in the self perception of the people of Israel.

As the war of 1967 loomed on the horizon, my parents received a call from their cousin in New York City. He asked them to send the kids, my brother and myself, to the US, so at least we could escape the impending massacre by the Arab armies. We did not go. Instead, my high school friends and I filled bags with sand and prepared the local stadium for mass burials. Then came the lightning victory of 1967.

1967 to 1973 were the short years of a feeling of Israeli invincibility.

Therefore, it was not surprising that on Yom Kippur in 1973, I was driving to the Golan Heights with an Uzi and a tape recorder, in my Fiat 600, a very small, old sub-compact that often broke down on trips over 20 miles. Read the rest of this entry…


Jeffrey Gurock Weighs in on the Dilemma Jewish Baseball Players Face on Yom Kippur

Around this time of year, many Jews think about three things: Yom Kippur, the Major League Baseball playoffs and whether or not Yom Kippur will force their favorite players to sit out a game of those playoffs.

Dr. Jeffrey S. Gurock, Libby M. Klaperman Professor of Jewish History at Yeshiva University

Thirteen Jews populate MLB rosters today, with Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun, Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Sam Fuld and Texas Rangers pitcher Scott Feldman on rosters that qualified for the postseason.

Yet, in a golden age of Jewish baseball, gone are the times of Hall of Famers Hank Greenberg and Sandy Koufax, or even more recently Shawn Green—when the decision to play or sit out on the holiest day of the Jewish year fell under a national microscope. Braun’s 2011 numbers (.332 batting average, 33 home runs and 111 runs batted in) make him a leading Most Valuable Player candidate, but his potential Yom Kippur dilemma has received no attention.

Prof. Jeffrey Gurock, a Jewish History professor at Yeshiva University who has written extensively on the topic of baseball and the High Holy Days, says that’s an indication of how Jews are now “extraordinarily accepted in America.” The same couldn’t be said in 1934, when Greenberg was pressured to play on Yom Kippur because the public thought “he had a civic obligation to play for Detroit against the Yankees”—in a highly anti-semitic environment with Henry Ford and the Ku Klux Klan nearby, Gurock said.

Greenberg played Rosh Hashanah but sat out Yom Kippur. While his ordeal depicted “an intolerant America through the metaphor of sports,” Koufax opted not to pitch Game 1 of the 1965 World Series for the Los Angeles Dodgers with the backdrop of a more forgiving nation, Gurock said. The team’s decision to pitch fellow Hall of Famer Don Drysdale instead, he said, indicated an era of growing cultural pluralism.

Now, the lack of attention surrounding Jewish baseball on Yom Kippur “reflects the high degree of Jewish acceptance in America,” Gurock said, as players face no pressure.

“They just do what they want to do with no concern about how it plays on the gentile street,” Gurock said.

However, what has become a “totally internal Jewish issue” saw recent exceptions in 2009, Gurock noted, when a New York Jets-Tennessee Titans football game slated for 4:15 p.m. conflicted with the eve of Yom Kippur and was rescheduled for 1 p.m. after complaints by New York-area Jews. On the same Yom Kippur, a Yankees-Red Sox game with an initial 8 p.m. start time on the ESPN network was also moved to 1 p.m.

At the time, Gurock wrote a post on YU’s website criticizing ESPN—and the game time was changed a mere two hours later.

“I’m sure ESPN didn’t see [my post], but I walked around yeshiva the entire day taking high fives from guys,” Gurock said.

This article was written by Jacob Kamaras and first appeared on JointMedia News Service. Dr. Jeffrey S. Gurock is the Libby M. Klaperman Professor of Jewish History at Yeshiva University and author of Judaism’s Encounter with American Sports (Indiana  University  Press, 2005).


YouTube Sensation A Capella Group’s Latest Song Celebrates the Spirit of the High Holidays

The Maccabeats, the popular all-male a capella group comprised of current and former Yeshiva University students, have released their newest song, “Book of Good Life,” in time for the upcoming High Holiday season. The song parodies OneRepublic’s “Good Life” and follows in the success of their previous Purim and Chanukah-themed videos, which have each received more than 1 and 5 million YouTube views, respectively.


“Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur are perhaps the most meaningful days of the year and we hoped that this song and this video would help people connect,” said Maccabeat Immanuel Shalev ’08YC, who is completing his third year of law school.

“A lot of people send us emails and post on Facebook that they look forward to our videos because they help them get ready for the holidays,” said fellow Maccabeat, Noah Jacobson, a senior at Yeshiva College. “That is really special to us. If even in some small way we can help make someone’s holiday and life a bit more inspired and meaningful, then we know this whole project was worthwhile.”

Learn more about the upcoming High Holidays at YUTorah.


Sep 1, 2009 Dr. Jeffrey S. Gurock (left) is the Libby M. Klaperman Professor of Jewish History at Yeshiva University and author of “Judaism’s Encounter with American Sports” (Indiana U Press, 2005).

Once again, a major American sports enterprise has to be reminded that the religious interests of this country’s Jews, loyal both to their home teams and to their faith, demand respect. ESPN has apparently prevailed upon Major League Baseball to move the starting time of the Red Sox-Yankees game to 8 p.m. on the eve of Yom Kippur, Judaism’s holiest day, inconveniencing those who observe this holiday.

It is a distant replay of a comparable problem several months ago when the National Football League initially scheduled the New York Jets at 4 p.m. The game would have concluded after the fast day commenced—again to the discomfort and chagrin of Jewish seat-holders. These long-term consumers of the professional sports product will—in due course, if not immediately—upbraid those who are so thoughtless or insensitive. And if the recent past provides a track record, the offenders will most likely back-pedal in the face of these ardent defenders of Jewish rights.

But whether or not the Jews “win” this time out, their efforts in protecting their rights, and yes, privileges, speak to their comfort zone within America. It is no longer a question of whether an individual Jewish ball player will be forced to play or be given a pass on his holy day. They turned that corner 44 years ago with Sandy Koufax’s iconic stance. That particular athletes might today choose to compete rather than to observe speaks more to the personal dilemmas of Jewish identity that trouble the community and not to external prejudice.

What the predictable Jewish response represents is an assertion that they are so much part of this country that all concerned must take cognizance of that minority group’s inviolable, if particular, religious clock and calendar. Sports activities, it has been said, are community-defining situations. Today’s American Jews count themselves squarely within that line-up. Let the protests begin.

Update: After this was published, ESPN moved the Red Sox-Yankees game back to 1 p.m.

Yeshiva University is not responsible for the content of this article. The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and should not be attributed to Yeshiva University.


Oct 21, 2005 — Members of the 100-year-old Beth Israel Congregation of New Orleans, the city’s only Orthodox synagogue, had a Torah for Yom Kippur this year, thanks in part to Yeshiva University’s Center for the Jewish Future (CJF).

After the synagogue was flooded and its seven Torah scrolls destroyed in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, CJF and the Department of Synagogue Services of the Orthodox Union sent YC and RIETS alumnus Rabbi Robert Shur and undergraduates Elyasaf Schwartz and Menachem Butler to New Orleans to deliver a Torah and assist the congregation after it reached out to both organizations for help with conducting Yom Kippur services. Held in a local hotel, it was the synagogue’s first such gathering since disaster struck at the end of August.

“Yom Kippur services would not have been possible but for all your hard work and generosity, for which we will never be able to properly thank you,” wrote Eddie Gothard, a past synagogue president, in thanks to YU.

Some 10 feet of water had submerged the synagogue for three weeks. Now dry, the building remains unusable.

“Not even the images of ZAKA (the Israeli disaster-response organization) officials wading through the water-filled sanctuary retrieving the Torah scrolls could prepare us for the devastation that we saw on Erev Yom Kippur. It was not to be believed,” said Mr. Butler, a YC senior, after synagogue members took the group to see the devastation.

Mr. Butler, who is president of the Student Organization of Yeshiva (SOY), led Shaharit (morning) and Mincha (afternoon) services and blew shofar; Mr. Schwartz, a YC junior, served as baal koreh (Torah reader); and Rabbi Shur led Mussaf (additional), Neilah (culminating), and Maariv (evening) services and delivered a d’var Torah (sermon).

“This experience is yet another example of how CJF is responding to community needs of all kinds through YU’s greatest resources—its students and alumni,” said Rabbi Ari Rockoff, director of community initiatives at CJF. “We hope that these students’ efforts will have been a first step in the rebuilding process of the New Orleans Jewish community.”


Oct 6, 2005 — Rabbi Dr. Jacob J. Schacter will deliver a lecture entitled “The Dialectic of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur: Holiday or Days of Awe” on Monday, October 10 at 8:15 pm at the Young Israel of New Rochelle. Beginning at 8:30 pm. Yeshiva University (YU) will webcast the event live via a link from and


Download Rabbi JJ Schacter’s mareh mekomot(PDF format)

Rabbi Dr. Schacter is one of the nation’s premier Jewish educators and leaders and one of the most sought after speakers in the modern Orthodox Jewish community. He is University Professor of Jewish History and Jewish Thought and also Senior Scholar at YU’s Center for the Jewish Future. Rabbi Schacter graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Brooklyn College and earned his PhD in Near Eastern Languages from Harvard University, where he was a teaching fellow. At YU, he directed the Torah Umadda Project from 1986 to 1997, and was an adjunct assistant professor at Stern College for Women from 1993 to 1999.

Rabbi Schacter was the senior rabbi of The Jewish Center in New York City from 1981 to 2000. He came to YU after serving for five years as dean of the Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik Institute in Brookline, MA. Rabbi Schacter is also the founding editor of the Torah Umadda Journal and co-author, with YU Prof. Jeffrey Gurock, of A Modern Jewish Heretic and a Traditional Community: Mordecai M. Kaplan, Orthodoxy, and American Judaism (Columbia University Press, 1997)). Additionally, he is the author of some 50 articles and reviews in Hebrew and English as well as editor of several books.

For further information contact Joseph Glass at or 212-960-5341.