May 29, 2007 — Fourteen Yeshiva University (YU) students spent Shavuot in various cities in the United Kingdom, where they ran Torah educational programs and met members of the local Jewish community. The trip was part of the Yeshiva University Center for the Jewish Future’s (CJF) Counterpoint Program, which enables students to experience Jewish life in different corners of the globe during summer break. This is the first time a Counterpoint Program took place over a Jewish holiday.
The students traveled to Glasgow, Manchester, Leeds, and London, helping community members cultivate their understanding of Jewish religious texts and gaining leadership experience through their work with local yeshivot and synagogues. The group saw firsthand the many faces of community involvement—rabbis, synagogue presidents, school principals, and parents.
“Meeting Jews from other countries is an amazing experience,” Yeshiva College sophomore Ilan Tokayer, who spent Shavuot in Scotland, said. “For all our individual and community differences, we’re one people.”
In preparation for their trip, students met for six training sessions, where they worked on developing programs as well as creating and delivering discussions on the Talmud. Rabbi Kenneth Brander, CJF dean, prepared students by sharing with them information about the Jewish communities in the UK.
On May 27, the groups returned to London for five days where they met with local rabbis, students, teachers, and community and lay leaders. In addition, the YU students studied with the community and attended informal gatherings with high school and college students from all over London.
“The focus of the trip is for students to reach out to the community through divrei Torah [words of Torah] and ruach [spirit],” Aliza Abrams, CJF coordinator of Counterpoint UK, said. “At the same time, our students develop an understanding of the active members of the community.”
Aliza Glass, a sophomore at Stern College for Women, spent Shavuot in Leeds, where she had the “privilege of setting an example for people who have not had opportunities” that she and her fellow YU students have had. Said Ms. Glass: “The point is not to change people but understand and learn from them.”