Spreading Simcha

Students Enliven Holiday Celebrations in Nearly 50 Synagogues Across North America on Torah Tours

This Simchat Torah, more than 250 Yeshiva University undergraduates traveled to synagogues across the United States and Canada to enrich holiday celebrations by sharing divrei Torah, youth programming and their passion for Judaism as part of the annual Aaron and Blanche Shreiber Torah Tours Program.

Torah Tours participants traveled to Columbus, Ohio for the holidays.
Torah Tours participants traveled to Columbus, Ohio for the holidays.

Now in its fourth decade, Torah Tours sends small teams of young men and women to communities as close as East Windsor, New Jersey and as far as Montreal, Quebec for Simchat Torah and Shavuot, where they teach classes, lead singing and dancing, meet with synagogue youth and create a fun and spirited yom tov  [holiday] experience.

“It’s an incredible opportunity for our students to visit and learn about communities outside of those where they grew up,” said Aliza Abrams Konig, director of YU’s Office of Student Life and Jewish Service Learning. “They get to take a leadership role, they get to enhance the atmosphere on yom tov and they get to share their Torah and ideas with community members and teens. The students are proudly representing Yeshiva University and have the opportunity to interact with high school students who one day themselves end up at YU and participating on Torah Tours.”

She added, “The communities and our students look forward to Torah Tours all year-round—it’s really a win-win for everyone who participates.”

Stern College for Women students Sarah Nagar, Talia Molotsky and Stephanie Gold joined celebrations at Congregation Emek Beracha in Palo Alto, California, one of nearly 50 synagogues that hosted a delegation of Torah Tours participants. “A highlight for us was participating in a large women’s learning program in the sukkah during the second half of Hakafot,” said Nagar. “Organized entirely by members of the community, we were able to take part in an event that is a highlight of the year to the women there.”

Students from the Palo Alto, California delegation at the Golden Gate Bridge
Students from the Palo Alto, California delegation at the Golden Gate Bridge

“We arrived in Palo Alto a little early, so we got to spend extra time with the community members before Simchat Torah, which enhanced our experience greatly, too,” added Molotsky.

Ultimately, the group felt that their experience enriched not only the synagogue’s connection to the holiday, but their own as well: “Torah Tours was an opportunity for us to take part as students in creating a bond with a small Jewish community, strengthening our bonds with each other and spreading the ruach of YU to communities around North America,” said Gold.