Yeshiva University News » Yosef Blau

Student-Run Medical Ethics Conference Explores Interplay of Halacha and Medicine in Israel

As Americans across the country debated the ethical, legal and practical ramifications of Obamacare, Yeshiva University’s Student Medical Ethics Society (MES), a student club mentored by YU’s  Center for the Jewish Futue (CJF), looked to the Israeli medical system as the framework for a very different kind of conversation: What does universal health care look likein a country bound by Jewish law?

That question was at the heart of MES’ eighth annual Fuld Family Conference, titled “Prescribing for a Nation: Examining the Interplay of Jewish Law and Israeli Health Care.” The October 20 event explored the ways in which Israeli medical institutions utilize Jewish law to form national policy as well as important ethical and halachik [Jewish legal] questions that emerge from practicing medicine in Israel. Read the rest of this entry…

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Student Medical Ethics Society Present Oct. 20 Conference Exploring Interplay of Jewish Law and Israeli Health Care 

Yeshiva University’s Student Medical Ethics Society (MES) will present its eighth annual Fuld Family conference, titled “Prescribing for a Nation: Examining the Interplay of Jewish Law and Israeli Health Care”, on Sunday, October 20 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at YU’s Wilf Campus, 500 West 185th Street, New York, NY.

The conference will explore the ways in which Israeli medical institutions utilize Jewish law to form national policy as well as several important ethical and halachic questions that emerge from practicing medicine in Israel. Read the rest of this entry…

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Student Medical Ethics Society Examines Controversial Health Care Bill from Practical, Ethical and Halakhic Perspectives

American health care is facing its most comprehensive overhaul since 1965, and everyone from doctors to patients to employers will be affected. Often referred to as “Obamacare,” the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) became one of the most contested topics in this year’s presidential election, and its political, financial and ethical implications are still widely debated. On November 26, Yeshiva University’s Student Medical Ethics Society sought to debunk the myths and misconceptions about the controversial health care bill at an event that provided students with a practical walkthrough of the complex bill and analyzed it through the lens of ethics and halakha.

From left, Dr. Kevin O’Halloran, Dr. Herb Leventer and Rabbi Yosef Blau address students at “Obamacare: The Enigma Unveiled.”

Titled “Obamacare: The Enigma Unveiled,” the event began with a crash course in American medical history by Dr. Kevin O’Halloran, a senior resident at the Montefiore / Albert Einstein College of Medicine Department of Orthopedic Surgery who recently published a review article on Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs), a facet of PPACA. O’Halloran highlighted the factors that set the stage for health care reform in 2010, noting that more than 16 percent of the population was uninsured that year, private and public health care expenditures in the United States had totaled more than 15 percent of the country’s GDP, and America ranked seven out of seven developed countries for “quality, efficiency, access, equity and healthy lives” according to the Commonwealth Fund. Read the rest of this entry…


Center for Israel Studies Yom Iyun Explores History of Religious Zionism in America

Few things divide and provoke American Jews like the question of Zionism.  Though many wish to remember otherwise, this was also the case before the founding of Israel in 1948; and, though many wish to forget, the story of Zionism in America belongs not just to Labor Zionism, dominated by culturalists and secularists, but also to Orthodox Jews.  Recently Yeshiva University’s Center for Israel Studies held a study dayon the history of religious Zionism in America.  The questions raised by this history have profound implications for the future of Jews and of Israel. Read the rest of this entry…


Students Commemorate Israel with Yom Hazikaron and Yom Ha’atzmaut Programs

Hundreds of students filled the Wilf Campus’ Lamport Auditorium on April 25 for Yeshiva University’s Yom Hazikaron (Israel Memorial Day) ceremony honoring the memories of Israel’s fallen soldiers and victims of terror.

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The student-organized event featured readings by the Yeshiva College and Stern College Dramatics Societies, an a capella performance by the Y-Studs, a video presentation and a memorial candle lighting service. President Richard M. Joel delivered an emotional El Male Rachamim [memorial prayer] and was followed by keynote speaker Ambassador Daniel Kurtzer ’71YC and Rabbi Meir Goldwicht, Joel and Maria Finkle Visiting Israeli Rosh Yeshiva at RIETS. The ceremony concluded with a Yizkor prayer led by Rabbi Yosef Blau, senior mashgiach ruchani [spiritual advisor], and closing words from Avital Chizhik ’12S, president of the YU Israel Club.

The moving program was followed by song and dance at the annual Yom Ha’atzmaut (Israel Independence Day) Chagigah in the Max Stern Athletic Center, celebrating Israel’s 64th birthday. Yom Ha’atzmaut festivities continued on April 26 with more dancing, a barbecue and carnival on the Wilf Campus.

Download YU Torah’s Yom Ha’atzmaut To-Go, featuring articles from Roshei Yeshiva, faculty and prominent Torah personalities.


Download the Latest Edition of Purim To-Go

The Marcos and Adina Katz YUTorah Web site, a project of YU’s Center for the Jewish Future (CJF), presents Purim To-Go 5772.

The  online-only publication features articles by Yeshiva University roshei yeshiva and faculty, including:

  • Rabbi Yosef Blau, senior mashgiach ruchani [spiritual advisor], on “Remembering Purim During the Messianic Age”
  • Rabbi Joshua Flug, director of Torah research at the CJF, “The Relationship Between Mishlo’ach Manot and Matanot La’Evyonim”
  • Dr. Shalom Holtz, assistant professor of Bible, “Whose Battle? Whose Victory?”
  • Shoshana Schechter, assistant professor of Bible and director of the Basic Jewish Studies, “Purim – Fulfilling Jewish Destiny”
  • And many more…

In addition, hundreds of  shiurim [lectures] related to Purim are available at YUTorah.


Rabbi Yosef Blau and Rabbi Dovid Miller to Deliver NYC – Jerusalem Kinus Teshuva Lectures on Oct. 4

Rabbi Yosef Blau and Rabbi Dovid Miller will be the featured speakers at Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary’s (RIETS) 27th Annual Hausman/Stern Kinus Teshuva lectures. The lectures, given between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, will take place in New York City and Jerusalem on Tuesday, October 4, the seventh of Tishrei. The lecture series is run by Yeshiva University’s Center for the Jewish Future.

Rabbi Yosef Blau

Rabbi Yosef Blau

Rabbi Blau, Senior Mashgiach Ruchani at YU, will speak on “Multiple Kedushot Ha-yom of Yom HaKippurim – A Guide to Responding to a Complex World” at The Jacob and Dreizel Glueck Beit Midrash, 515 West 185th Street, New York, NY. Rabbi Blau will be introduced by Rabbi Yona Reiss, Max and Marion Grill Dean of RIETS. The New York portion will begin at 8:30 p.m. and will be followed by a collation in Weissberg Commons, 2495 Amsterdam Ave.

Rabbi Dovid Miller

Rabbi Dovid Miller

Rabbi Miller, Benjamin and Charlotte Gottesfeld Chair in Talmud and associate director of YU’s Caroline and Joseph S. Gruss Institute in Jerusalem, will lecture on the topic “As Free Will Has Been Granted to All…” (Rambam Hilchot Teshuva 7:1) at 40 Duvdevani Street in Bayit Vegan, Jerusalem at 8 p.m.

Both lectures will be webcast live at

The Hausman/Stern Kinus Teshuva lecture series was established by philanthropist Judy Hausman and the late Gerson Hausman, supporters of YU and RIETS, to honor the memory of Elias J. and Mary Stern and Moshe and Chava Hausman.

Light refreshments will be served at both events. For more information on the lectures, parking or directions please contact or call 212-960-5400, ext. 6014.


Tune into YU’s Weekly Internet Radio Show, Thursdays at 2PM

Will you be ready if disaster strikes?

This week on “Who’s on Furst?” (Thursdays at 2 p.m. EST, on and Emergency preparedness plans and precautions for individuals, families and small businesses.

On their weekly live webcast from Furst Hall on the Yeshiva University campus in Washington Heights, Mayer Fertig and Miriam L. Wallach will host Ira Tannenbaum, director of public/private initiatives at the NYC Office of Emergency Management’s (OEM) Division of Health & Medical Planning and Preparedness. Don’t miss this opportunity to learn from an expert about how to prepare yourself and your family for the unexpected.

Later on in the program, how many people have been in a committed relationship with something – not someone – for almost four decades? In his 39th season at YU and recently featured in the Wall Street Journal, Coach Johnny Halpert is a fixture on campus and certainly at the Max Stern Athletic Center. Mentor, guidance counselor, surrogate father and coach, Halpert has seen it all and has the stories to prove it. From running practices without baskets to coaching his own kids, listen as Fertig, Wallach and Coach Halpert discuss the upcoming annual Sarachek tournament featuring top Yeshiva high school teams from around the countr, YU basketball and the love of the game.

Also this Thursday, Rabbi Yosef Blau, mashgiach ruchani [spiritual advisor] at the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS) since 1977, will share a d’var torah, and you’ll hear about upcoming community events, and a roundup of interesting stories from the weekly Jewish newspapers.

“Who’s on Furst?” airs Thursdays at 2pm, on or It’s the 60 most enjoyable minutes you’ll have at work this week.


CJF Missions Take Students to Israel, Ukraine, North and South America

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The Nicaraguan village of Boca de la Montana appears remote and desolate in an image captured from space by a satellite; hardly the place for a hard-earned vacation. But more than a dozen Yeshiva University students accompanied by Rabbi Yosef Blau, mashgiach ruchani [spiritual advisor] of  YU-affiliated Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS), visited Nicaragua during their winter break to help lay the foundation for a new library there. YU students were introduced to the community two years ago when they worked on the construction of the road and bridge to the school complex.

Student and Rabbi Blau, right, shovel dirt to be used in mixing cement for village library.

Student and Rabbi Blau, right, shovel dirt to be used in mixing cement for village library.

“I think it’s an important part of our student’s education, that they interact with others and take responsibility,” Rabbi Blau said. “The intellectual experience in school, while the essence of what we are, does not automatically translate to life. This is a way of translating the values that we learn into actual experiences and doing so while contributing and not just watching.”

Other YU students participated in Jewish Life Coast to Coast—a trip to Richmond, Charleston, Jacksonville and South Florida—during which they explored how individuals can become active and make a difference in North America’s diverse Jewish communities.

“Watching our students engage with the Jewish community of Richmond was exciting,” said Rabbi Kenneth Brander, the David Mitzner Dean of Yeshiva University’s Center for the Jewish Future (CJF). “They interacted with Jews of all ages and all backgrounds. In the process of inspiring the communities they encountered, our students were transformed.”

Laying bricks for library's foundation in Nicaragua.

Laying bricks for library's foundation in Nicaragua.

Coast-to-Coast and the Nicaragua mission were among seven experiential learning trips organized this winter by the CJF. Others included a humanitarian mission to Mexico; Project Kharkov, a two-week program aimed at gaining firsthand understanding of the welfare challenges and identity crises facing Ukrainian Jewry; QUEST II, a leadership program that helped former Gush Katif residents rebuild their lives in the desert community of Halutza; and “A Place Called Home,” during which students traveled across Israel for a week, discovering what it means to create a national home for the Jewish people. Throughout “A Place Called Home,” students engaged Israelis on kibbutzim, in development towns, immigrant villages, towns in Judea and Samaria and religious and secular communities. These compelling experiences forced students to examine their shared existential dilemma of loyalty to both a birthplace and a homeland.

YU students design and lead programs for children of the Martin J. Gottlieb School in Jacksonville, FL.

YU students design and lead programs for children of the Martin J. Gottlieb School in Jacksonville, FL.

The trip also introduced the students to “some of the complex social issues of the State of Israel,” said Rabbi Yaakov Neuberger, rosh yeshiva at RIETS. “Specifically, this group was introduced to the issue of the disengagement from Gaza in a way that they were not aware of before. These programs are very valuable and should be attended by anyone planning to go into rabbanus [the rabbinate] or chinuch [Jewish education].”

The CJF is grateful to the programming and institutional partners that made these missions possible for hundreds of YU students. They include: American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, American Jewish World Service, the Eckstein Family, Jim Joseph Foundation, Jewish National Fund and Repair the World.

See article on how young Jews are changing the world in The NY Jewish Week and Rabbi Brander’s op-ed on Generation Y in The Jerusalem Post.


Center for the Jewish Future Winter Missions Take Students across the Globe

Their papers are written and the last little blue book handed in but for 170 Yeshiva University students, the learning’s just beginning. The Center for the Jewish Future (CJF) is offering seven intersession missions spanning three continents and five countries, engaging students in experiential education that will explore Judaism’s relationship to the global environment and Israel, the development of community life in cities across the United States and the historical and modern identity of Ukrainian Jewry.

Rabbi Brander addresses students taking part in CJF's winter missions.

Rabbi Kenneth Brander addresses students taking part in CJF's winter missions

“We have observed a profound impact on our students when these meaningful experiences begin with proper preparation and contain opportunities allowing the participants to serve as real change agents,” said Rabbi Kenneth Brander, the David Mitzner Dean of the CJF. “The most important journey our students will engage in is the path of self-discovery that occurs through these programs.”

Originally from Caracas, Venezuala, Perla Maikhor, an education major at Stern College for Women, will participate in the Mexico 2011 Humanitarian Mission. “I wanted to show passion and devotion as a Latina Jew doing tikkun olam [repairing the world],” she said.

Avi Wollman, an information systems major at Sy Syms School of Business, chose Project Kharkov to deepen his understanding of Ukrainian Jewry. “It’s a unique opportunity to experience a place firsthand with such a rich Jewish historical culture,” said the Teaneck, NJ native. “I hope to leave understanding the life and mindset of Jewish peers living there.”

Read on for winter mission highlights.

Jewish Life Coast-to-Coast 2011

With support from the Jim Joseph Foundation, the Jewish Life Coast-to-Coast mission will take 20 YU students to Atlanta, GA; Richmond, VA; Charleston, SC; and Boca Raton, FL—four communities in different stages of development. They will engage in volunteer work and meet with educators, professionals and rabbinic and lay leadership to learn about the history, challenges and dreams that shape each community’s identity.

Coast to Coast

Jewish Life Coast-to-Coast mission

Project Connect: A Place Called Home

Forty YU students will explore their dual loyalties to their homes in the Diaspora and Israel in this week-long mission. Meeting with olim [immigrants] and citizens of widely diverging backgrounds, religious beliefs and political perspectives, they will immerse themselves in the complex issues at the heart of aliya and Israeli citizenship today. Rabbi Yaakov Neuberger, rosh yeshiva at YU’s Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS), will accompany the students on the mission, which is supported by the Jim Joseph Foundation.

Students taking part in Project Connect: A Place Called Home

Limmud NY 2011

Thirteen students will serve as ambassadors from YU to the 2011 Limmud NY Conference in upstate New York. At Limmud, a diverse community of Jews come together for a four-day convention that includes lectures, workshops, text-study sessions and discussions. Students will interact with Jews of all denominations, sharing their commitment to an Orthodox lifestyle and benefiting from the opportunity to spend a weekend with other Jews on a path of spiritual exploration.

Project Kharkov

On this two-week program, 20 YU students will delve into the rich heritage and complex post-communist identity of Ukrainian Jewry, accompanied by Rabbi Brander. In Kharkov, they will volunteer with local Jewish peers and visit shtetls outside the city. Students will also be rooted in social and historical context through discussions with Russian American Jewish Experience participants in New York and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) in the Ukraine. Project Kharkov is run with support from the Eckstein Family andRepair the World and in partnership with the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee.

Project Kharkov

Project Kharkov mission

Building the Negev: The Quest Leadership Mission

Quest is the CJF’s intensive two-semester training program for undergraduate leadership. To highlight Quest Fellows’ focus on the importance of their work and the values that drive meaningful and effective leadership, the Quest II experience culminates with a mission to Israel, where participants work on volunteer projects and meet with a diverse cross section of Jewish communities and their leaders.

The Quest Leadership mission focuses on the Negev, spending time in Yeruchum, Be’er Sheva, S’derot and Halutzah, an area in the Negev where still-displaced Gush Katif evacuees plan to settle. Quest participants have raised awareness and $40,000 for the Halutzha cause all semester and will deliver those funds on the trip. They will use their hands to develop the land and their minds to engage with students and leaders of the community. After a year studying and practicing leadership, this mission will expose students to leadership that has overcome great obstacles and inspire them to implement that strength and resolve in their own lives. The Quest Leadership Mission is run in partnership with the Jewish National Fund.

Mexico 2011 Humanitarian Mission: Learn, Give and Grow

In Cancun, Mexico, 16 YU students will work with Hombre Sobre La Tierra (HST), a humanitarian group that seeks to provide Mayan peasants with the means to produce their own food and integrate women into the Mexican economy. Students will be paired with individual families in the Muchucuxcah community in the municipality of Chankóm and learn agricultural techniques rooted in Mayan tradition. Class sessions addressing Jewish concepts like tzedaka [charity] and tikkun olam [repairing the world] will frame the experience in a light of self-growth and moral responsibility for humanity.

Nicaragua 2011 Humanitarian Mission: Learn, Give and Grow

Servicios Medicos Comunales, a nonprofit association that supports community-based development initiatives, will host 16 YU students in Boca de le Montana, Nicaragua. Living among locals and sharing their way of life, students will learn about issues that affect developing countries as they work together to enhance living conditions in the community. Class sessions focusing on tzedaka and tikkun olam will ground their work in the context of Jewish responsibility to improve world conditions. Rabbi Yosef Blau, mashgiach ruchani [spiritual guidance counselor] at YU will accompany students on this mission.

The Humanitarian missions to Nicaragua and Mexico are in partnership with the American Jewish World Service.

Students taking part in humanitarian missions to Nicaragua and Mexico