2012/13 has been an exciting year for the Bernard Revel Graduate School! In September the school entered the newly constructed Dean’s Suite / Reception Area and Student-Faculty Graduate Lounge on the 3rd Floor of Furst Hall. These new spaces, just steps away from the Revel classrooms, provide opportunities for students to gather comfortably, and to meet with faculty and administration. The new Revel “welcome desk” is staffed by recent alumni and students, who greet visitors to the school and provide guidance to incoming students.
In September, the Azrieli-Revel Dual Degree Program was also inaugurated, offering the chance to earn two Master’s Degrees simultaneously—one in Jewish studies (at Revel), the other in Jewish education (at Azrieli). Then there were the numerous academic and social events that took place over the course of the year, including a Shabbaton, as well as lectures and symposia on an array of topics featuring visiting scholars from the US and Israel. Revel also made a newly concerted effort this year to reach out to its alumni, inviting them to the school’s special events. Revel has also revamped its website and blog, and created a Facebook page, all of which highlight details about past and upcoming Revel news and events.This and more was celebrated on Wednesday, May 29th, at the Year-End Student-Faculty Reception, an annual event instituted by Dean David Berger at the beginning of his tenure in 2009. The reception provides an opportunity to congratulate and bid farewell to our graduating students. It also serves as an orientation for next year’s incoming students, who meet with Director of Admissions Rona Steinerman, and get their first experience of Revel’s community of scholarship. Current students, likewise, enjoy the relaxed atmosphere and the opportunity to socialize with their peers and professors at the conclusion of the semester.
Around 70 people attended the event this year, including the Revel Deans and Professors Jonathan Dauber, Steve Fine, Eleazar Hurvitz, Debra Kaplan, and Lawrence Schiffman.
Following the first part of the program—socializing and refreshments—Dean Berger offered greetings and called out the names of this year’s graduates, who in turn each spoke about their Revel experience and future plans. Dean Berger then expressed heartfelt thanks to Mrs Sheniagia Washington, Assistant to the Dean, who insures the smooth operation of the school. As the testimony of student after student indicates, one cannot pass through BRGS without encountering Mrs. Washington and receiving her gracious help, as well as her warm smile.
Associate Dean Cohen’s greetings included a review of the school’s achievements and events this year, and provided a perspective on how far the school has come in recent years—now documented on the Revel website. Dean Cohen offered his thanks to the committed people who helped make all of it happen: to Rona Steinerman, who guides students through their application process and continues offering advice throughout their studies at Revel , to Stu Halpern (who just earned his Azrieli doctorate this year!), who plans and organizes all Revel events, and now serves as coordinator of the joint program with Azrieli, and to our junior admin team of students and alumni: Anne Guetta (Student Liaison), Elianna Mitnick (Student Liaison), Rivka Jacob (Alumni Liaison), Daniel Tabak (RIETS Student Liaison), and Yaakov Taubes (Web Content Manager).
As is characteristic of every Revel event, the reception featured an example of the synthesis of Torah and academic scholarship, with a brief presentation by Dr. Shira Weiss, who completed her Revel PhD this past January, and who is Assistant Professor of Jewish Philosophy at Stern College and Assistant Principal at the Frisch School. Dr. Weiss spoke about the topic of her dissertation—the special contributions of Rabbi Yosef Albo (Spain, 15th century) to the tradition of Jewish Bible interpretation. As she showed, Albo, who is well-known for his Sefer ha-Iqqarim (principles of Jewish faith) also offers many profound commentaries on biblical episodes from a philosophical perspective.
Yaakov Taubes then gave a fun and informative presentation on Revel’s social media. He showcased Revel’s website and the blog. The website offers information about the school and its programs, as well as special events. The blog features Revel news, exciting research projects and publications , as well as profiles of current students, alumni, and faculty. Yaakov also introduced the audience to the Revel Facebook page, which was expertly managed this year by Rivka Jacob.
Closing words of the formal program were offered by Rona Steinerman, who then met separately with incoming students to orient them for next year.
Though the regular school year is over, Revel continues to offer classes over the Summer, beginning at the end of June. For more information, see http://yu.edu/revel/courses/
This article was written by Elianna Mitnick (Revel MA student, Bible)
Photos by Sam Ulrich
See a photo essay of the event here.