Come for the experience, to be with friends and be a part of the community
For students at both the Israel Henry Beren and Wilf campuses, Shabbat is an opportunity to rest from the rigors of their college schedule during the week and recharge together with friends. Special shiurim [lectures] allow students to broaden their horizons and hear from faculty or speakers that they otherwise might not encounter.
Shabbat on campus events are planned with the intent of giving a quality yet slower-paced, relaxed atmosphere than what goes on during the week. Rabbi Jacob Bernstein, rabbi at the Beren campus said, “It’s all part of a mission to provide diverse options to bring together students with different interests and backgrounds. We want the students to know that there’s so much happening on Shabbat that can provide a positive, religious, spiritual and social experience in their own community.”
A significant effort is made by dedicated organizers to make Shabbat events memorable and positive experiences. As Bella Adler ’20S, vice president of Shabbat Programming on the Torah Activities Council (TAC), said, “The Shabbat experience on the Beren Campus is representative of one of my favorite communities at Yeshiva University. This YU family is a warm, diverse, group of students who come together for theme-based Shabbatot that expose students to strong Jewish values and a variety of scholars-in-residence. We come together to create friendships with those who we might run past in the hallways on a typical Monday. Together, we have a chance to informally learn with our campus couples, to take walks through New York City, to create connections with one another that will last for years to come. The ‘Shabbat at Beren’ family is a hands-on opportunity to be involved in building a grand Jewish community with wide open doors—and for that exposure I am every grateful to YU.”
A highly popular shabbaton this semester at the Beren Campus was the Sephardic/International Club Shabbaton with over 300 participants. The shabbaton was an incredible success, and as Raquel Sofer ’19S from Panama said, “This shabbaton was the perfect form of unity and the family that we get to build at YU. I came by myself, and now I am graduating with the feeling of belonging to my Mechina, International, Sephardic and overall YU family.” Emma Israel from Paris summed it up best when she said it was the best Shabbat she’s had in her life.
Guest speakers at Beren shabbatons this year included the Soon By You cast, Charlene Aminoff, Tikvah Weiner, and Faigy Grossman (Shabbat of Jewish Female Entrepreneurship), Chanie Apfelbaum (Busy in Brooklyn) and The Maccabeats. Shabbat speakers on the Wilf campus this past year included Rabbi Eitan Katz, who uplifted the Shabbat with musical Tefillot [prayers] with hundreds of students in attendance, Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Mayer Twersky, Rabbi Michael Rosensweig, Rabbi Jacob J. Schachter, Jewish music star Lipa Schmeltzer and other distinguished figures in the Jewish community.
An upcoming shabbaton on the Beren Campus that has generated a lot of buzz and excitement will take place on May 24-25 and will welcome Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Ezra Schwartz and Dr. Rivka Press-Schwartz. Future Wilf Shabbat on campus events include a Shabbat led by Rabbi Yonason Shippel, director of the James Striar School (JSS), and will welcome Rabbi Mordechai Becher, Rabbi Jon Green, Rabbi Daniel Lerner and Rabbi Matt LeVee on May 10-11; a May 17-18 Shabbat with Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Hershel Schachter; and one welcoming Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Eliyahu Ben-Haim and Rabbi Dan Cohen on May 24-25.
While there are many great opportunities to spend Shabbat on campus, there’s Shabbat programing off-campus as well. On Shabbat April 5-6, JSS and the Mechina program hosted a shabbaton in Teaneck, New Jersey. Students from many countries came together to experience a beautiful Shabbat. After lunch at Congregation Shaarei Orah, participants went to the home of Dr. Ari Berman, President of Yeshiva University, for an open house. As one student commented, “How many of your friends at other universities can say that they have been to their president’s home on his own time?” An upcoming off-campus Shabbat program for women will be “Shabbat at Camp,” taking place at Camp Dina on May 10-11 with Prof. Nechama Price and Rabbi Aaron Cohen.
“Try it out and find your Shabbat! Being on campus for Shabbat is an important component of being part of the Beren Campus community and for furthering your religious and spiritual growth,” Rabbi Bernstein said.