Students, Faculty and Alumni Honored as Points of Light at Hanukkah Dinner
Students, faculty and alumni who embody the mission of Yeshiva University were recognized as “Points of Light” during the dinner portion of Yeshiva University’s 90th Annual Hanukkah Dinner and Convocation, held at New York City’s Waldorf-Astoria on December 14.
“The lesson of Hanukkah is that the Jewish people must cast the light of our values onto the world,” said YU President Richard M. Joel. “Tonight, we publicize the lights that represent the past, present, and future of Yeshiva University.”
Read more about the Points of Light below.
Dr. Susan Bendor
Dr. Susan Bendor, associate professor at the Wurzweiler School of Social Work, was honored as a Point of Light in recognition of her 26 years at Wurzweiler and 52 years in the field of social work. Bendor, who will retire in January, survived the Holocaust as a young child by hiding in a cellar for nine months. She held a wide range of responsibilities and experienced multiple facets of the social work field before joining YU in the 1980s, first as the director of field instruction and then as part of the full-time teaching faculty. Bendor especially treasures the work she has done with underserved populations, including the establishment of an emergency housing service for runaway youth, founding a group home for homeless young men and helping to develop supportive housing units for mentally ill adults.
Ike Sultan ’14YC, ’17R, ’17A was honored for creating Halachipedia, a website modeled off Wikipedia that seeks to share, distribute and make halacha [Jewish law] more accessible to any and every English speaker interested in Torah. The site receives more than 300 hits a day and has more than 3.5 million total visits so far. Sultan leads a Data Structures lab at Yeshiva College, teaches a weekly session at Yeshivat Noam’s middle school and participates in Morasha’s Beit Medrash Program. He is currently pursuing a graduate degree at YU’s Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration and semicha [rabbinic ordination] at YU-affiliated Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary, where he is also a shuir [class] assistant to Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Hershel Schachter.
“The highlight of my day is having the opportunity to hear shiur from Rav Schachter, which is always filled with exciting ideas, advanced concepts, and conveyed with an inspirational personality,” said Sultan. “I’m really proud to be part of such an awesome institution that really tends to the needs of all of its students, cares about making the campus experience complete with a yeshiva feel, and encourages the growth of budding scholars, both in Torah and all of the sciences of the world.”
Toby Golick, director of clinical Education at YU’s Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law and the Founding Director of Cardozo’s Bet Tzedek Legal Services Clinic, was another Point of Light. Over the last 45 years, Golick has represented tens of thousands of low-income individuals, protecting and creating important rights for elderly and disabled New Yorkers in the contexts of Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare benefits and consumer rights. She has also been involved in important public policy work, advocating for improvements in access to justice for poor and unrepresented individuals, and seeking improvements in the process for appointing and overseeing guardians for individuals deemed to lack mental capacity. Through her teaching and her lawyering, Golick has inspired generations of law students, many of whom have themselves entered public interest legal careers or pursued significant pro bono work on behalf of low-income New Yorkers.
Shoshana Schechter, Amanda Esraelian
Shoshana Schechter, assistant professor of bible at Stern College, and Amanda Esraelian ’15S, lit a candle in honor of the Mechina Pathways Program. Schechter is the director of the program, which provides 85 students on the Israel Henry Beren Campus with Judaic studies courses, a chavruta [studying in pairs] learning program, shabbatonim and a month-long summer program in Israel. Shechter was inspired to create the Mechina Program after coordinating rallies for Soviet Jewry and participating in Counterpoint missions to Australia and to Israel during the Gulf War while an undergraduate herself at Stern.
“Being here, and nowhere but here, I was inspired, supported and encouraged by peers, teachers and administration to take action on behalf of the Jewish community,” said Schechter.
Esraelian, a student in the Mechina Program, exemplifies all that students can accomplish at Stern, as this year’s Torah Activities Council president and through her involvement with The Observer, iGive, Counterpoint Israel, Helping Hands, Students Helping Students and College Edge, among many other clubs on campus.
Chelsea McGuire ’15E is a recipient of Dean’s Recognition Award at YU’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine and has been voted by her fellow students into the national Gold Humanism Society for her leadership in the global health arena. After securing a prestigious Fulbright Fellowship, McGuire spent a year as a U.S. State Department student ambassador to the Dominican Republic. She has also worked in Kenya with the Community-Based Health Care program and participated in the Global Women’s Health Program of Einstein’s Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Women’s Health, leading her to spend three months in Rwanda, where she sought to improve access to health education for adolescents. At Einstein, McGuire orchestrated a major effort to create an official Einstein Community-based Service Learning Program, under the Dean of Education, that provides health services and education to the poorest neighborhoods in the Bronx via an all-volunteer corps of students and faculty.
“One of the greatest things about being a student at Einstein is the incredible support that we have to pursue our interests and further our education outside of the classroom,” said McGuire. “Having the funding available to support these experiences and the flexibility to pursue them has been invaluable to me and my development as a clinician, researcher and global citizen. I recognize that this level of support and flexibility is unique to Einstein and I am incredibly grateful to be a student at such an incredible institution .”
Kayla Applebaum ’15S is a recipient of the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, a highly competitive grant that supports undergraduates who intend to pursue careers in science, math or engineering. After losing two grandparents to breast cancer, Applebaum decided to major in molecular biology at Stern College for Women, where she conducts hands-on research for a cure under the mentorship of Doris and Ira Kukin Chair in Biology Dr. Marina Holz. As a member of the S. Daniel Abraham Honors Program, Applebaum was appointed a Kressel Research Scholar and also received the Anne Scheiber Science Academic Scholarship to support her after graduation as she goes on to medical school and a career in cancer research. She was also named Hudson Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (HVIAC) All Conference Team Player, HVIAC All-Academic Team Player, and HVIAC Softball Player of the Week as part of the Stern College Softball Team.
Another Point of Light was Willie Roth ’10YC, ’14BR, who graduated from the Yeshiva Masmidim Honors Program and Yeshiva College with a bachelor’s degree in Jewish studies. While he pursued semicha at RIETS as a member of the Wexner Semicha Honors Program, Roth completed a master’s degree in medieval Jewish history. He also was editor-in-chief of the Beis Yitzchak and served as editorial assistant at YU Press and an inaugural fellow at the Zahava and Moshael Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought.
Sam Weinstein, Amalia Weinberg, Devora Schloss
Sam Weinstein, Amalia Weinberg and Devora Schloss lit a candle in recognition of the Counterpoint Israel program. Now in its 10th summer, the student-run Center for the Jewish Future program offers at-risk Israeli youth from four development towns the opportunity to spend their summer in a fun, safe and educational environment. Through daily English classes, talent-building workshops and field trips, more than 300 teens have acquired newfound confidence and skills, propelling them toward a future of responsibility and growth. The 30 YU students who staff the summer camps undergo an intensive training program to prepare for their role as counselors and participate in supplementary educational programs that contextualize their overall experience. This past summer, the program had to adapt to contend with a new level of hardship, as rockets fell in the cities where the camps took place. When asked if they would rather be in Israel or America during this difficult time, the counselors unanimously preferred the Jewish homeland.