This year, the inaugural Abraham & Millie Arbesfeld Kollel and Midreshet Yom Rishon program coincided with the tenth anniversary of 9/11. To commemorate these tragic events, the Center for the Jewish Future hosted a special 9/11 session featuring a panel discussion in partnership with RIETS and the Beth Din of America.

Panelists included Rabbi Yona Reiss, the Max and Marion Grill dean of RIETS; Rabbi Mordechai Willig, RIETS rosh yeshiva; and Anat Barber ’04S, planning executive of the Commission of Jewish People at UJA-Federation of New York and a former shomeret at Ground Zero. Rabbi Kenneth Brander, the David Mitzner dean of CJF, served as moderator.

“The events of 9/11 remain fresh in our consciousness,” said Rabbi Reiss. “On the 10th yahrtzeit it is important for us to revisit the personal and communal tragedy, the halakhic and hashkafic ramifications, and the insights that can be gleaned from the manner in which so many individuals rallied together to try to make a positive difference.”

After the panel, there were breakout sessions on topics including “Reflections Relating to the Resolution of the World Trade Center Agunah Cases” by Rabbi Reiss, “Halachot of the 9/11 Agunot: Corresponding with the Gedolim of Eretz Yisrael” by Rabbi Willig, and “Finding G-d in Times of Darkness” by Rabbi Brander.

“September 11 continues to be a transformational moment in our history as a society,” said Rabbi Brander. “Dedicating the Arbesfeld Kollel & Midreshet Yom Rishon to this national tragedy is just one of the ways we pay tribute to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. The shiurim [lectures] and conversations on 9/11 have acknowledged the responsibility of Torah Judaism to engage with the theological and halakhic issues of such challenging contemporary events.”


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