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Yeshiva University EJE Fellowship for Synagogue and Youth Movement Advisors

December 16th, 2014 by shur

photo 3In the fall of 2014 the Department of Experiential Jewish Education at YU launched an EJE fellowship for YU students who are currently serving as synagogue and youth movement advisors. The Fellowship convened once a week, for six weeks, to study various EJE concepts and the way in which these concepts relate to their practice. What follows is a participant’s testimonial of her experience in the fellowship.

Yeshiva University EJE Fellowship for Synagogue and Youth Movement Advisors

By Devora Schloss

It’s 8pm on a Wednesday night in the middle of November, and I am sitting in a room with 30 others who have come to learn the secrets of experiential Jewish education. Okay, maybe not the ‘secrets’ – we are here to gain whatever we, as individuals working in youth movements, can to improve ourselves as experiential educators. We do not have formal jobs in EJE (yet). This is something we all do on the side between exams and papers, whether it be Shabbatonim, schmoozes or summer programs. We do it because we love it and in turn, have joined the fellowship program because we want to give the youth we advise the best experience we can.

This week goes pretty much like any other: Gaby throws out a term (such as “Gain vs claim” or “purpose vs meaning” etc) and the room breaks into a debate: what is exactly meant by the term and its definition. It is comically predictable with every new term. Without Gaby there it would probably result in mayhem. But instead these debates are turned into productive conversations, exploring the ideas she presented.

I like to call these sessions exploring and not learning because the thing I find most interesting about them is that they are not teaching us anything new, per se. Each of us sitting in the room has been in a leadership position of some sort and has run youth programing. This fellowship is not teaching the steps of creating a program. Instead we are being exposed to the methodology behind the programs we run, giving us more intentionality when planning programs of our own. I feel like I am able to approach experiential education with a lexicon of terms and an understanding of how learners’ experiences can vary (and be varied through adaptions to programs).

This fellowship program has helped me understand what I am accomplishing as an educator.  I have a better understanding of what I am doing–what I am accomplishing, and how the learner is understanding the program/lesson/experience I am creating. If I were to run an activity before attending these sessions and then again after these sessions, my activity might look similar, but the difference in the activity will be my awareness of the how the students are being impacted. I am gaining tools that help me quantify their experience in the learners seat. This heightened awareness allows for more intentionality on the part of the educator. Like I said, the activity may be the same but I will go into it with clear intentions of what I aim for my students to get out of the activity. Thus a deliberateness is introduced into programs I will run and with that comes a greater potential to impact the learners.

To learn more or apply to the Certificate Program in Experiential Jewish Education  go to www.ejewisheducation.com. Applications for Cohort V will be accepted through January 26, 2015.

Aaron and Blanche Schreiber Torah Tours Simchat Torah 5775

December 14th, 2014 by shur

photo 2This past Simchat Torah, over 300 Yeshiva University undergraduates traveled to 52 shuls across North America.  Through song, dance, and divrei Torah, the students contributed a level of excitement and ruach, which the shuls wait for all year round.

Prior to the students traveling out for Simchat Torah, they participated in a mandatory orientation at which they learned helpful tips for public speaking, how to have healthy relationships with teens and community members, and how to lead a rocking round of hakafot.

Below is an excerpt from a thank you note written by Shlomo Fried on behalf of the EDOS community in Denver Colorado.

“Hi Everybody,

I just wanted to take a minute to say Thank You to all of you for all your hard work and for a Beautiful Yom Tov with a lot of meaning and much Content.  The Divrei Torah and Shiurim were excellent and very meaningful.  The enhanced ruach through the Teffilos as well as the Dancing gave our community a beautiful Yom Tov with many wonderful memories.

I just wanted to take the opportunity to thank you for all that you do for the Klal.  On behalf of everyone who is searching for meaning and growth, I thank you for your support, time and all that you do for Klal Yisrael in this matter.

Thank you for all the ways you helped the whole Denver Jewish community during your stay in Denver.”

Below is a quote from student participant Elie Hirt, who traveled to BIAV in Kansas City.  Elie is spending this year working as the Stanton Fellow in the Office of Student Life:

“Dear Rabbi Rockoff,

On behalf of our entire Torah Tours group I would like to thank you and the entire community for an incredible and unforgettable Yom Tov.  From the moment we arrived at the airport we felt so welcomed.

Giving shiurim in Shul to the community was something we all enjoyed doing.  Everyone was so engaged with every word that we said.  The feedback we received was so nice to hear.  Dancing with members of the shul was so beautiful. Everyone got into it and really enhanced our Yom Tov as well.

We truly cannot thank you enough for the amazing opportunity! We really had one of the best Yom Tov’s of all of our lives. We will remember our experience for forever.”

Yeshiva University Hosts Community Beit Midrash Program

December 14th, 2014 by shur

solly2In its third year, the Community Beit Midrash program has expanded its reach with over 175 participants from Central and South Jersey, Brooklyn, Queens and the Five Towns. The program was held at the Yeshiva University Museum where participants joined to study from prominent YU faculty.

The program featured Rabbi Dr. Meir Soloveichik, Director of the Zahava and Moshael Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought, Yeshiva University and Dr. Jacob Wisse, Director of Yeshiva University Museum and Associate Professor of Art History, Stern College for Women who co-presented on the topic of: “The Image and the Idea: An Interdisciplinary Seminar on Art History and Jewish Thought.”

The six-week course explored the process through which art and artists use physical means to achieve spiritual or intangible ends and the ways that Judaism and Jewish sources deal with the tension between the physical and the spiritual and between the visual and the intellectual.

“Bridging the world of Judaism and that of art was an intellectually exhilarating experience,” said Rabbi Soloveichik.

“The course offers a unique opportunity to explore the compatibility of and tension between traditional Jewish thought and traditional art and art history,” said Wisse.

Not only did participants explore the intersection of Jewish thought and Art, they were able to extend their learning beyond the lecture hall and take a guided preview tour of a Yeshiva University Museum exhibition, “ Modeling the Synagogue: From Dura to Touro.”

Model of the Beth Alpha Synagogue (early sixth century C.E.) Displaycraft, 1972, Collection of Yeshiva University Museum Endowed by Erica and Ludwig Jesselson

Model of the Beth Alpha Synagogue (early sixth century C.E.) Displaycraft, 1972, Collection of Yeshiva University Museum Endowed by Erica and Ludwig Jesselson

Plans for a new semester are already underway. The Spring 2015 Community Beit Midrash program will feature Ambassador Danny Ayalon, Rennert Visiting Professor of Foreign Policy Studies, Yeshiva University, who will speak on the topic of “Israel’s Foreign Policy: Diplomacy in Practice” and Dr. David Shatz, University Professor of Philosophy, Ethics and Religious Thought, Yeshiva University who will speak on the topic of “Pursuing the Right and the Good: Themes in Jewish Ethics.” Visit www.yu.edu/beitmidrash to register and to see the full course schedule.


Another succesful YUConnects program at Stern College

December 14th, 2014 by shur

2014-12-09 21.42.20Despite a severe Nor’easter affecting the New York area, a large crowd attended the YUConnects’ “Game Plan for Successful Dating” Panel on the Beren Campus, December 9th. Co-sponsored by the Stern student leadership club, TAC, and the YU Counseling Center, the presenters fashioned an exciting educational event that focused on everyday issues encountered in the dating arena. One young woman enthusiastically emailed afterward that, “…each speaker had their own unique perspective which gave us amazing ‘takeaway’ useful tips. Thank you for putting it together!”

Rabbi Josh Blass, Mashgiach Ruchani at YU, focused on maximizing college years to grow in personal and professional aspirations. Kindness, self-reflection and shared values are all essential building blocks in establishing lasting relationships, he explained. Mrs. Robin Niman, Mental Health Counselor at Project S.A.R.A.H. and licensed therapist, then relayed important differences between healthy versus unhealthy dating relationships by giving fascinating and relevant examples. Dr. Efrat Sobolofsky, Director of YUConnects differentiated between maintaining a healthy degree of privacy while dating versues sharing “TMI” with friends. She encouraged young women to gain proper guidance while dating and seek professional help when necessary.  The presentation ended with Dr. Yael Muskat, Director of the YU Counseling Center, offering constructive resources available on campus for women and men.

The panel was successfully facilitated by Brooke Reich and Kira Rhine, social work interns at YUConnects. Following the formal presentations, there was an additional half hour of questions and Q & A where the Stern students asked compelling queries that concern their dating lives. Nearly 30 questions were submitted, resulting in engaging, engrossing and even entertaining answers! Game Plan for Successful Dating 

YUConnects, Yeshiva University’s Center for the Jewish Future’s one-stop dating resource, is celebrating its 182ndengagement this week, with more to come! A special “Chanukah Meet and Greet” is planned on Monday December 15thon Wilf Campus, an informative educational panel for the men in February plus a number of unique social events. All are welcome to learn more by going to www.yuconnects.com or emailing yuconnects@yu.edu. Feel free to share promotional code “miracle” in honor of Channukah with friends and family interested in joining YUConnects.com. Chanukah Meet and Greet

Community Siyum of Seder Moed

December 3rd, 2014 by shur

On Sunday, October 5, the Daf Yomi cycle finished the first complete seder, Seder Moed, and Yeshiva University and RIETS celebrated the accomplishment with a communal siyum in the Glueck Beit Midrash on the Wilf Campus. The program featured Rabbi Hershel Schachter, (Rosh Yeshiva, Nathan and Vivian Fink Distinguished Professorial Chair in Talmud and Marcos and Adina Katz Rosh Kollel, RIETS) who gave a shiur on the last daf in Chagiga, Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz, (Magid Shiur, YUTorah.org, Program Director and Magid Shiur, DRS High School and Rabbi, Beis HaKnesses of North Woodmere) who delivered the hadran and words of chizuk and inspiration about daf yomi, and Rabbi Daniel Z. Feldman, (Rosh Yeshiva, RIETS and Rabbi, Ohr Saadya, Teaneck, NJ) who gave an overview to Seder Nashim, the second complete seder in the Daf Yomi program. Rabbi Yaakov Glasser, the David Mitzner Dean of CJF MC’d the program and welcomed the participants, and Rabbi Menachem Penner, Max and Marion Grill Dean of RIETS, closed the program with words of praise for all those who completed Seder Moed. The program was attended by hundreds both in person and online via a live webstream on the Marcos and Adina Katz YUTorah.org website, and participants left with a feeling of accomplishment and excitement for starting the next Seder in the daf yomi cycle, which will be completed on June 1, 2016. “For many people, completing the daily daf yomi learning is very difficult and required lots of self-sacrifice in order to fit it into a busy schedule day in and day out.” said Rabbi Robert Shur, manager of the Marcos and Adina Katz YUTorah.org website, “we wanted to create a large celebration to give them the recognition they deserve.” In addition to the program, there was spontaneous singing and dancing after the hadran, which reflected the excitement of those at the siyum. “Having the opportunity to hear words of Torah from RIETS Roshei Yeshiva, as well as from Rabbi Lebowitz, who delivers one of the daf yomi shiurim on YUTorah, was such a treat” remarked one of the participants, “a great way to start the year the day after Yom Kippur!”

Rebbetzin Esther Rosenblatt 2014 Yarchei Kalla

December 3rd, 2014 by shur

rebbetzinsThe Rebbetzin Esther Rosenblatt Yarchei Kallah for Rebbetzins took place this past Monday and Tuesday, November 9th and 10th, 2014 at Congregation Keter Torah in Teaneck, NJ.

The purpose of this program is to give rabbis’ wives the opportunity to meet with seasoned professionals and to discuss issues of self, family, and community in a safe and supportive environment. The participants have the opportunity to network, develop lasting relationships, nurture a support system, and enjoy the intellectual stimulation of Torah study with leading Jewish scholars while being mentored by more experienced rebbetzins.

Almost 100 rebbetzins, including a number of mentors, gathered together from 13 states, Canada, England and Australia.

The rebbetzins were warmly  welcomed by Meira Davis, Coordinator of the program,  Rabbi Yaakov Glasser, the new David Mitzner Dean of CJF, and Rabbi Dr Jacob J. Schacter,  Senior Scholar of CJF.  Speakers at the conference included, Dr. Naomi Greenblatt, Dr.David Pelcovitz, Sharon Richter, Rabbi Elchonon Zohn, Rav Meir Goldwicht, Rabbi Dr. Abraham Twerski,  Rabbi Kenneth Brander, Dina Schoonmaker and Yocheved Schacter.  Some of the topics addressed were The Unique Challenges of Engaging Contemporary Jewish Youth and What We Can Do About It, The Best Gifts We Can Give Our Children, How End-of-Life Issues Can Breathe New Life into You r Community, What Rebbetzins Need to Know about Alcohol, Drugs and Sex Addiction, Self-Awareness and Self-Care:  An Everyday Pursuit, Especially in Times of Trauma and The Jewish and Psychological Perspective on Happiness and several shiurim.

President Richard and Dr. Esther Joel  led an interactive session with the rebbetzins entitled, “Resilience: Staying Strong During Challenging Times”

The Shuk/Marketplace featured 14 organizations seated at tables around the eating area of the conference.   Representative from Chai Lifeline, The Jewish Inclusion Project, Project S.A.R.A.H. Nechamacomfort, the OU,  Shalom Task Force, YUConnects, and others were arranged at tables and shared their information with the rebbetzins during a session.

The lively networking going on during and between sessions, indicated the warm camaraderie amongst the rebbetzins.  This event acknowledges the great contribution and influence of rebbetzins in the growth and success of the rabbinic couple in developing their community.


October 1st, 2014 by shur
(JERUSALEM, Israel – June 22, 2014) The Yeshiva University Center for the Jewish Future (www.yu.edu/cjf) announced today that its “Counterpoint Israel Program,” an immersive service-learning initiative that aims to empower the next generation of Israeli youth via an exciting, Jewish values-driven summer camp experience, has been retooled to maximize manpower efficiency and its impact on the Israeli communities it serves.
Over the last several years, undergraduate students from Yeshiva University ran four separate summer camps in the cities of Arad, Dimona, Kiryat Gat and Kiryat Malachi concurrently. Basing itself on the North American Jewish Camping system, this year’s program will offer two separate camp sessions, making it possible for YU students to focus their undivided attention and complete creativity on two cities at a time.
The YU students – natives of North America, Colombia, and Chile – will run camps in Kiryat Gat and Kiryat Malachi from June 29 – July 10 before relocating to Dimona and Arad for the second session, scheduled for July 13– 24.
“We want to enhance the YU student experience by providing them with the opportunity to work for two consecutive camp sessions, enabling them to experiment with their teaching methods and educational approaches,” said Gila Rockman, Co-director of Counterpoint Israel.
“The socio-economic and educational backgrounds of the students in Kiryat Gat and Kiryat Malachi differ greatly from their peers in Dimona and Arad, so our students are in for a unique opportunity.”
The municipalities of cities where Counterpoint operates see it as indispensable to their educational systems and are committed to contributing their own resources to ensure the program’s success. Each city makes a financial investment in the program. “Counterpoint Israel has become such an integral part of the lives and Jewish identities of the teens in the towns in which we engage, so it is no wonder that the municipalities want to invest in their own futures,” said Rabbi Kenneth Brander, YU’s Vice President for University and Community Life and the David Mitzner Dean of the YU Center for the Jewish Future. “For years, the municipalities have watched as its high school youth flourished in our camps and realized that they needed to do something to make sure that this trend not only continues but reaches as many students as possible.”

“As in years past, we’ve seen that the Counterpoint Israel Program, through its English classes and workshops in arts, fashion, music, dance and sports, continuously improves the skills of the Israeli teens and promotes a positive self-image and traditional Jewish values,” said Sharon Blumenthal, who with her husband Avram has supported Counterpoint for seven years. “While visiting the program last year, it was gratifying to watch the YU students work with the Israeli teens and their families. Counterpoint provides these students with a glimpse into the great – and challenging – moments of Israeli life, and leaves them with a deep and profound appreciation of life in these communities.
Counterpoint Israel is run with support from Ron Fischer and Lisa Rosenbaum/the Fischer Family Foundation, Repair the World, and the VIP Passover Yizkor Appeal.
The Kiryat Gat program is run with additional support from Jennifer and Saul Burian and Doreen and Beryl Eckstein, the Kiryat Malachi Program is dedicated in the memory of Dr. Bernard W. Gamson, the Dimona program is run with additional support from Sharon and Avram Blumenthal, and the Arad program is run with additional support from the Jewish Federations of Central New Jersey and Delaware and Neals Fund in memory of Neal Dublinsky.

CJF Kallah Teachers Training Course

October 1st, 2014 by shur

abstract_water_1920x1200The Kallah Teacher Training Course, taught by Rebbetzin Peshi Neuburger, a renowned Kallah teacher, took place this summer during the Nine Days for the third year in a row, at the Teaneck Mikvah. Seventeen women attended the seminar in person, and several via Skype from distant states and Canada. The intensive two and half day course provides a clear model of how to teach a Kallah and offers time to answer many questions that arise. Rebbetzin Neuburger, in her gentle way, shares Halachic, Hashkafic and anecdotal material which is invaluable to a novice Kallah teacher and a great enhancement for those women who have some experience in this area. A tour of the beautiful Teaneck Mikvah with detailed information is given by the Administrator of the Mikvah. In the last three years, over 70 women, mostly wives of pulpit rabbis, have taken this course. It provides them with an opportunity to network and share with their peers, to learn from each other’s experiences and to support each other. Many of the participants had Rebbetzin Neuburger as their Kallah teacher when they got married. They come back to learn from a master Kallah teacher. The participants leave the seminar feeling charged with new knowledge, energy and passion for their teaching.

Yeshiva University Tisha B’av programming reaches tens of thousands

September 22nd, 2014 by shur

Yeshiva University’s Center for the Jewish Future (CJF) and the Orthodox Union (OU) once again combined efforts on programs for the Three Weeks and Nine Days leading to Tisha B’Av, which were followed by a variety of shiurim [lectures] on Tisha B’Av itself.

“We were proud to partner with the Orthodox Union in providing our community with an inspirational program for Tisha B’Av,” said Rabbi Yaakov Glasser, David Mitzner Dean of the CJF. “This collection of shiurim addressed the meaning and poignancy of Tisha B’Av in the framework of our contemporary Jewish experience.”

The centerpiece of the program was a video featuring Rabbi Glasser; Rabbi Menachem Penner, Max and Marion Grill Dean of YU-affiliated Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS) and Undergraduate Torah Studies; Mrs. Shoshana Schechter, assistant professor of Bible and director of the Mechina Pathways Program at Stern College for Women; Rabbi Steven Weil, senior managing director of the OU; and Rabbi Ari Lamm, a student at RIETS and the William Fischman rabbinic intern at The Jewish Center.

“In light of the tragic events in Israel this summer, the Three Weeks was a time of deep introspection for the Jewish community,” said Rabbi Judah Isaacs, director of community engagement at the OU. “The jointly prepared video classes by the Orthodox Union and Yeshiva University provided a forum on Tisha B’Av for synagogue members to learn about the tragedies of the day, and how they resonate in our times.”

The free DVD was sent to all Orthodox Union member congregations and by CJF to synagogues across North America, Israel, the United Kingdom and Australia.

In addition to the DVD, YU once again presented two Tisha B’av live webcasts of the kinnot services, entitled “Mourning for Jerusalem in 204″. Rabbi Dr. Jacob J. Schacter, University Professor of Jewish History and Thought at Yeshiva University as well as Senior Scholar at CJF, presented his annual kinnot program at Congregation Keter Torah in Teaneck, NJ, while Rabbi Dovid Gottlieb, rebbe at Yeshivat Ashreinu and Rabbi of Ganei Haeila in Ramat Beit Shemesh, presented a kinnot program at Yeshiva University’s Gruss Campus in Jerusalem. Both programs were well attended in person and drew thousands of visitors to the live webcast online.

The Benjamin and Rose Berger Tisha B’av To-Go 5774 was distributed to hundreds of synagogues, camps and other institutions in the US, Canada and Israel, with over 20,000 copies delivered in print and online. As it is each year, Tisha B’av was the busiest day of the year for the Marcos and Adina Katz YUTorah.org website, with thousands of listeners going to the site for Tisha B’av insights and inspiration. We hope and pray that in the merit of all the learning and mitzvot that were done on Tisha B’av that this will be the last Tisha B’av that the Jewish people must mark in exile and that next year YU can provide even more resources for the first joyous Tisha B’av in Jerusalem.

CJF Summer Programs 2014

September 14th, 2014 by shur

berlin-wall1Counterpoint Israel

With support from: Ron Fisher and Lisa Rosenbaum / the Fisher Family Foundation, and the VIP Passover Yizkor Appeal.
The Counterpoint Kiryat Malachi Program is dedicated in the memory of Dr. Bernard W. Gamson.
The Dimona program is run with support Sharon and Avram Blumenthal.
The Arad Program is run with support from the Jewish Federations of Central New Jersey and Delaware and Neals Fund in memory of Neal Dublinsky.
The Kiryat Gat program is run with support from Jennifer and Saul Burian and Doreen and Beryl Eckstein.

Counterpoint Israel was a five-week Jewish service-learning program run by Yeshiva University Center for the Jewish Future, during which YU Students traveled to development towns in Southern Israel and ran English summer camps for at-risk Israeli teenagers. The program highlighted Israel-Diaspora education and aimed to nurture and grow a strong sense of Jewish identity within its participants through meaningful and much needed service work, leadership education and authentic and long lasting partnerships. The students forged meaningful connections that changed lives as they taught the teens English, ran a variety of workshops including art, sports, and drumming, as well as traveled on tiyulim together.

Read more at the official Counterpoint Israel 2014 blog


Students enjoyed a unique multi-dimensional experience that allowed them to reflect on their own Jewish identity on an intellectual and emotional level, while connecting to the local Jewish community as well. Panel discussions with local politicians touched on topics relating to history and anti-Semitism and gave students a chance to explore a multitude of thought-provoking issues in an effort to understand how German society confronts its history. Visits to the Jewish Museum of Berlin, the Sachsenhausen concentration camp and several Jewish memorials also created poignant moments of deep reflection and opportunities to connect to the broader narrative of the Jewish people. The highlight of the trip was a memorable Shabbat spent in Leipzig, where students connected with the small but dedicated Jewish community, infusing energy and enthusiasm into the davening, which took place in the city’s only remaining shul; 18 others were destroyed in the Holocaust. The trip also gave participants a newfound sense of gratitude for the Jewish lives they are able to lead.

Summer Internships:

Students spent the summer in the following cities doing internships. South Bend Indiana, Kansas City, Kansas, and Houston Texas.  The summer internship program offered students the opportunity to explore other cities and gained a valuable internship experience in their chosen field, while simultaneously worked to inspire the host community through torah learning and exciting programs.

Read about the South Bend program here

Read about the Kansas City program here