The fifth annual Revel Shabbaton, which took place on March 13-14, 2015, parashat Vayaqhel-Pequdei/Parah in Washington Heights, surpassed all previous Revel shabbatonim. Thanks to the assiduous work of Revel alumni Mayer Juni (BRG 2014), Aliza Storchan (BRG 2014), and Yaelle Frohlich (BRG 2012), who planned, publicized, and organized the event, over 50 people signed up and participated in the programming — joined by dozens of others from the YU and Mount Sinai communities.

Friday night services were in the beautifully renovated Shenk community shul, where Rabbi Uri Orlian welcomed BRGS. This was followed by a communal meal attended by over 50 current and prospective Revel students and alumni, who enjoyed a scrumptious meal catered by Carlos and Gabby’s.  The meal stimulated lively social interaction, zemirot, and a riveting talk by Prof. Daniel Rynhold, who illuminated the debate between Judah ha-Levi and Maimonides regarding the nature of ritual impurity (tum’ah) based on concepts from contemporary philosophy. A number of people noted how wonderfully clear Prof. Rynhold made the abstract philosophical concepts, bringing them into their everyday lives as committed Jews.

An oneg program followed, with 5 breakout sessions featuring text-discussions by Revel students. Ezra Brand analyzed a Zoharic passage regarding tefillin; Chumie Juni contrasted the conceptions of God presented by Maimonides and Levinas; Chaya Sima Koenigsberg offered a close reading of the elegy of R. Eleazar of Worms for his wife; Jason Strauss discussed a seeming talmudic ambivalence about marital bliss; and Akiva Weisinger observed a post-modern tendency in the thought of R. Yaakov Kamenetsky. Hudy Rosenberg, a student at SCW, remarked: “I found it exciting to be part of a community that values academic Torah scholarship and inquiry, so well exemplified by the serious text-based learning led by Revel students, which made it clear that high-level scholarship is attainable to those who invest the effort.”

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Beanah GreenbergWhen Revel MA student Mrs. Beanah Greenberg learned that she would receive the Shevach ve-Hodaah Teacher’s Award at Shevach High School’s annual dinner, she knew who she had to thank. “I really feel that the award in great part belongs to you and wanted you to share in my achievements,”she wrote in a letter to her Revel professors. “As a result of the scholarship gained and the methodology that I learned at BRGS, my skills as a teacher of Tanakh on a High School level were immeasurably enhanced.”

Read the complete letter here.

Congratulations, Beanah!


The Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies and Yeshiva University Museum, in partnership with Rutgers University Press and the American Jewish Historical Society invite you to a nationally-televised conversation with Rabbi Mark Golub and Professor Jeffrey S. Gurock:

“What If” in American Jewish History and Contemporary Jewish Life

Join the audience as Professor Gurock and Rabbi Golub explore many reasonable historical alternatives grounded in what is actually known about the tumultuous, catastrophic and climatic 30 years that bridge the beginnings of the Holocaust, the rise of the State of Israel and Israel’s triumph 
in the Six Day War, and what this novel approach to history tells about the real world that Jews live in today.

Gurock-Final Cover(1)Shown live on the Jewish Broadcast Service (JBS), this event will launch Professor Gurock’s latest book,
The Holocaust Averted: An Alternate History of American Jewry, 1938–1967 (Rutgers University Press).

Monday, March 30, 2015.

Forchheimer Auditorium
Center for Jewish History
15 West 16th Street
New York, NY 10011

Doors open at 7:00pm.
Live broadcast begins at 7:30pm.
Book signing and refreshments to follow.

Admission is free of charge, however reservations are required at

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Copy of 16 Arch Menorah

Most people believe that ancient Greek and Roman sculpture was colored white. Recent scholarship has shown that this assumption is incorrect, as the polychromy of ancient art has been revealed and reconstructed.

Revel professor Dr. Steven Fine has been at the forefront of this research in terms of the Roman and the Jewish past as a participant in the Virginia Museum’s research on its Caligula, on color in Jewish thought and visual culture of late antiquity, and now the polychromy of the Arch of Titus.  In 2012 his team discovered the original yellow paint of the menorah, and plans are in the works for continued research on the polychromy of the Arch in the near future.

The USC symposium, titled “The Colors of Imperial Rome:  The Richmond Statue of Caligula & the Arch of Titus in Rome,” reassembles members of the original Caligula team, Peter Schertz, John Polini and Dr. Fine, to discuss the significance of polychromy in Roman art.  Schertz and Fine are both alumni of the department of Art History at USC, where Dr. Fine wrote his MA in Art History. It will be filmed by YU Global, for inclusion in their upcoming documentary and Coursera course featuring Dr. Fine’s work on the Arch of Titus.

The symposium will take place on March 11, 2015 from 5-6:45pm (with reception to follow) in Taper Hall 102 at USC.

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20150219_revel_lecture_23The Gaon of Vilna, Elijah ben Shlomo Zalman Kremer (1720-1797), was the topic of a special Revel lecture on Thursday, February 19th, “Vilna Gaon: Halakhist, Moderate Maskil or Kabbalist?” by Dr. Raphael Shuchat of Bar-Ilan University. This event was sponsored by the Esther Manischewitz Community Education Fund.

As the lecture title itself suggests, the Vilna Gaon’s persona, as well as his multifaceted scholarship and contribution to Jewish learning, are complex.

The persona of the Vilna Gaon is elusive for two reasons. To begin with, he spent his life secluded in the confines of his books, and actually taught only a small group of students. Furthermore, despite his great scholarship, the Gaon published nothing in his lifetime. His marginal glosses on the classic works of Judaism— such as the Bible, the Talmud, and Shulhan Arukh— were published after his death by his students. The only independent book (i.e., not a commentary) of the Gaon’s is Ayil Meshulash, a work on trigonometry published from his manuscript posthumously. The many other books attributed to the Vilna Gaon were actually compiled by his students—our only source of knowledge regarding the persona and scholarship of the great sage.

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The annual Revel Shabbaton in Washington Heights offers a great opportunity to socialize with classmates, fellow students, and faculty. This year’s Shabbaton will be on Shabbat Vayakhel-Pekude/Parah, March 13–14, 2015.

Highlights include a Friday night dinner catered by Carlos and Gabby’s, Oneg featuring a student-led text exchange “The Profound, the Wacky and the Controversial,” and Shabbat lunch home hospitality meals, and shiurim by our guest faculty, Dr. Mordechai Cohen, Professor of Bible and Associate Dean, and Dr. Daniel Rynhold, Associate Professor of Jewish Philosophy and Director of the PhD Program.

Attendance is free. Open to all current Revel students, alumni (space limited), and prospective students (space limited), and their significant others. Reservations are required. Please click here to RSVP, propose a primary text for the Friday night oneg, and to volunteer to host a Shabbat lunch meal in your apartment.sign up below. Registration deadline: Sunday, March 8th.

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steven fineMany Jews have long believed that the menorah bearers of the Arch of Titus are Jews, an urban myth that is particularly well rooted in Israeli culture.  In this lecture, presented in honor of Israeli art historian Dr. Shulamith Laderman at the Schechter Institute (wife of YU alumnus, Rabbi Paul Laderman) in Jerusalem in May, 2014, Prof. Steven Fine explains the history of this counter-memory of the Arch. This research is a piece of his larger Arch of Titus Project, which includes the digital restoration of the polychromy of the Arch, a history of the menorah to be published by Harvard University Press, a history of the Arch of Titus and an exhibition at Yeshiva University Museum, — The Arch of Titus: From Jerusalem to Rome, and Back — (2017).


3 Images - Vilna Gaon

On Thursday, February 19, Dr. Raphael Shuchat will be giving a guest lecture, exploring the recurrent debate over the true image of the Vilna Gaon. 7pm in Furst Hall – Room 535. RSVP here.

Sponsored parking is available in the YU lot (E) on Amsterdam Avenue and West 183rd Street.

Dr. Shuchat teaches Jewish philosophy and thought at Bar-Ilan University. His research focuses on the thought of the Vilna Gaon and his followers, and the inter-relation between Judaism and science. He has published three books: The Vilna Gaon and His Beit Midrash (together with M. Hallamish and Y. Rivlin; Ramat Gan 2003), A World Hidden in Time: Redemption in the Writings of the Vilna Gaon (Ramat Gan 2008), which received the Ministry of Education’s prize for Judaic research, and Jewish Faith in a Changing World (Boston 2012). His fourth book, Studies in Lithuanian Kabbalah: from the Vilna Gaon to Rav Kook (with M. Hallamish), will be published this year by Bar-Ilan University.

This event is sponsored by the Esther Manischewitz Community Education Fund. Sponsorships are available to help support other special Revel events. Please contact Dean David Berger at or Paul Glasser at or 212.960.0852.


Leiman 2Despite the substantial research done on the Holocaust, there is much we will never be able to know about the European Jewish world it destroyed. Yet new discoveries are still possible—even seven decades later. On Wednesday, January 7, 2015, Prof. Shnayer Leiman presented new evidence of spiritual resistance by a group of women during the Holocaust and succeeded in identifying its two surviving members in a lecture delivered in memory of Mrs. Esther Manischewitz z”l at Congregation Bnai Yeshurun in Teaneck, NJ. The lecture marked the inauguration of the Esther Manischewitz Community Education Fund, which will enable the transmission of higher Jewish learning to the broader Jewish community.

A yellowed Lithuanian identity card dated February 1940 recently came to Prof. Leiman’s attention. This piece of paper, which granted its holder permission to live in Vilna, featured the letterhead of “Yeshivat Maharsha” from Ostrow and the surnames and initials of the two Rashei Yeshiva, Rabbis J. Berkowitz (Berkovicius) and D. J. Chazanowitz (Chazanovicius).

Vilna Residence Permit_Leiman Lecture

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Professor GurockAs a social historian and scholar of religion in America, Revel Professor Jeffrey Gurock investigates how secular cultural phenomena entered into the lives of Jewish men and women in America and the conflicts that ensued as Jews attempted to be part of American environments while maintaining connections to their faith.

The Jewish encounter with American sports—a robust example of what Professor Gurock calls “cultural clamor and religious conflict”—is the subject of his new article, “The Clothes They Wear and the Time They Keep: The Orthodox Athletes’ Tests of Tolerance in Contemporary America,” which appeared in Muscling in on New Worlds: Jews, Sport, and the Making of the Americas, ed. Raanan Rein and David M.K. Sheinin (Leiden and Boston: Brill Academic Publishers, 2014), pp. 68-84. This study looks closely at the challenges traditional Jewish men and women faced over several generations in entering the arenas of sports. It also points out how changing American attitudes towards minority religions have generally facilitated religious Jews—and others of deep faith commitment—participating in sports without violating their religious scruples.

For the full text of Professor Gurock’s new article, click here.