Meet Our Students: Rachel (Fried) Rosensweig

By Sarah Wapner
Impact and Recruitment Officer
Straus Center

torah study gpats
Rachel (Fried) Rosensweig

Born and raised in Woodmere, New York, Rachel (Fried) Rosensweig has pursued serious Torah learning for more than a decade. Now a Shana Gimmel [third-year] student in the Graduate Program In Advanced Talmudic Studies For Women (GPATS) at Yeshiva University and a current Wexner Fellow, Rosensweig looks back on her years of Torah and Gemara study as well as at what lies ahead.

Rosensweig attended Yeshiva University High School for Girls (Central), where her love of Torah study was nurtured inside and outside the classroom. Upon graduating from Central in 2015, Rosensweig spent a year in Israel at Migdal Oz, the Stella K. Abraham Beit Midrash for Women, where she continued to engage in rigorous Talmudic study in an immersive Israeli environment.

Rosensweig began her undergraduate studies at Stern College for Women in the fall of 2016, majoring in Judaic studies and biology. For Rosensweig, Stern College was an obvious choice. “My family has deep roots at Yeshiva University,” Rosensweig said. “I am the third generation of my family to both attend and teach at Yeshiva University.”

Rosensweig’s maternal grandfather, Rav Moshe Tendler, was a dean of the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS) and the chairman of YU’s biology department. Rosensweig’s mother, Mrs. Ruth Fried, has served as the chair of the science department at Central for over thirty years.

At Stern College, Rosensweig continued to study Gemara while pursuing her dual degree and completed several prestigious fellowships in Jewish pedagogy. As an undergrad, Rosensweig participated in the Ramaz High School Kollel Fellowship, where she provided pedagogical support to Judaic studies classes and programming. She was also a member of the inaugural cohort of the MafTeach Chinuch Fellowship, where she attended seminars in Jewish pedagogy, observed classes and ran programming for students.

Rosensweig decided to pursue GPATS part-time in spring 2019 while still an undergrad. In fall 2019, she continued her studies as a full-time graduate student. “At Stern, I would see the GPATS students in the Beit Midrash every day, and I was especially moved by the GPATS graduation ceremony, where the rebbeim spoke personally about each graduate. It became clear that this program would be the right place for me,” she explained.

Rosensweig’s studies in GPATS are supported by the prestigious Wexner Graduate Fellowship; she is one of just 16 fellows in her cohort, which seeks exceptional graduate students with a demonstrated commitment to the Jewish community and a record of academic excellence who aspire to professional leadership roles in North America. Rosensweig was also the recipient of the Montak scholarship, a financial award to support students in their Shana Bet [second year] of GPATS.

Now in her third year in GPATS, Rosensweig has studied a range of Talmudic tractates, including Masechet Shavuos, Masechet Ketuvot, Mesechet Sanhedrin, and Mesechet Bava Metzia, with an additional focus on Jewish law in the afternoons.

Rosensweig also teaches an introductory Talmud course at Stern College. “I decided to adopt a survey model rather than focusing on a single tractate,” Rosensweig explained. “Through this course, my students will begin to understand the great dialogue of Oral Tradition that unites Jewish people over time and space, what Rav Soloveitchik termed the ‘symposium of generations.’”

Having finished her coursework for a master’s degree at the Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies, Rosensweig is preparing to take her comprehensive exam focusing on medieval Jewish history. Rosensweig is also pursuing a master’s degree at the Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration.

Rosensweig will be graduating from GPATS in spring 2022. Unsurprisingly, she hopes to remain in the world of Jewish education and perhaps become a Yoetzet Halacha, an adviser in Jewish law in the area of Taharat HaMishpacha [pertaining to marriage, sexuality and women’s health]. “I have many role models who are Yoatzot Halacha. I am passionate about the interplay between Torah and biology and the opportunity to help others. This is something I would love to pursue,” Rosensweig explained.

In December 2021, GPATS announced a significant increase in funding, with generous support to expand academic and pedagogical opportunities for Shana Gimmel students. Until recently, most GPATS students did two years in the program as opposed to three. “I am privileged to have done three years in GPATS,” reflected Rosensweig. “The expansion of the Shana Gimmel program is a tremendous win for Am Yisrael and a fantastic opportunity for meaningful growth in women’s Talmud Torah. I believe this generous support will cause a ripple effect that will impact our students and our wider Modern Orthodox communities.”

Looking back on her experiences, Rosensweig is proud of what she and other GPATS students have accomplished, and she is heartened by the generous investments being made in the program. “As a Shana Gimmel student, I feel like the recent expansion of GPATS is a part of my legacy; over the last few years, the GPATS community has made collective gains, and watching that development has been a deeply empowering experience.”