Dec 2, 2005 — Rabbi Dr. Jacob J. Schacter, University Professor of Jewish History and Jewish Thought at Yeshiva University and Senior Scholar at YU’s Center for the Jewish Future (CJF), addressed YU alumni, students and educators during his recent visit to Israel. Audiences in Ramat Bet Shemesh, Ra’anana and Ramot were treated to thoughtful perspectives and insightful talks on a diverse range of topics, from the status of Israel in the divine plan for redemption to explanations of different minhagim (customs) of Hanukkah.
“The purpose of my visit was to project the values of YU and all that it represents within the Israeli public,” Rabbi Schacter said. “President [Richard M.] Joel is committed to bringing the message of YU to the Jewish community at large and emphasizing Israel’s place at the center of contemporary Jewish life.”
There are more than 3,000 alumni living in Israel today, and YU is creating special programming and major events to foster stronger ties with them. “Many people in Israel, in addition to our alumni, are waiting for YU to take a more active role in Israeli society,” Rabbi Schacter said. “They personally and professionally identify with the values of Torah UMadda and are looking for leadership and inspiration in all areas important to Israel.”
Howard Weisband, YU’s senior adviser on Israel affairs to YU President Richard M. Joel, said, “We all gained much chizuk (strength) from Rabbi Schacter’sscholarly discussions and in-depth examination of many of the issues that concern the Dati Leumi (Religious Zionist) community in Israel.”
During his action-packed tour of Israel, Rabbi Schacter also met with representatives of Tzohar, a group of rabbis who are working to build bridges between the religious and secular communities in Israel, as part of an initiative under the auspices of CJF to foster cooperation between Religious Zionist rabbis in America and Israel.
Addressing a large audience of educators at ATID’swinter conference, Rabbi Schacter suggested various techniques that teachers can employ to make Torah values more palatable to today’s youth, many of whom reject any kind of authority. He was joined on the panel by two YU graduates –– Rabbanit Malke Bina and Rabbi Yamin Goldsmith. Rabbanit Bina, educational director of Matan, emphasized the importance of communicating teachers’ priorities through words and actions. Rabbi Goldsmith, assistant principal of Yeshivat Naschshon in Beit Shemesh, compared teaching styles in Israel and the United States.
For the first time in 30 years, a Lunch-and-Learn program was held for rabbinical students at the Caroline and Joseph S. Gruss Institute in Jerusalem and their wives. Rabbi Schacter spoke about the role of rabbinic couples in synagogue, day school and campus settings. He also spoke at a Friday breakfast for Gruss students and alumni, and dedicated the new S. Daniel Abraham Israel Program Center in Bayit Vegan by affixing mezuzot to its new doors.