Stern Alumnae Come Home

Silver Homecoming Celebrates Stern College for Women Alumnae of 1958-1983

On April 15, nearly 200 alumnae of Yeshiva University’s Stern College for Women gathered in New York and Israel to commemorate their Silver Homecoming, a celebration of Stern College graduates from 1958-1983. The women attended classes that gave them a taste of intellectual life at Stern College today, reconnected with old friends, and demonstrated the power the school continues to have to produce leaders and influencers in the Jewish community and the world.

Joan (Schecter) Dulitz ’70S points to old photographs of herself in her yearbook, Kochaviah.

On the Israel Henry Beren Campus, the alumnae began the day by becoming students once again, having the chance to sit in on two of four classes. Dr. Jill Katz, clinical assistant professor of archeology, examined what it meant to be a Jew 3,000 years ago during the time of the Judges. Rabbi Dr. Ephraim Kanarfogel, E. Billi Ivry University Professor of Jewish History, Literature and Law, explored the Torah commentary of Joseph ben Nathan Official; Smadar Rosensweig, assistant professor of Judaic studies, analyzed the theme of redemption in Megilat Rut; and Shoshana Schechter, instructor in Bible and director of the Mechina Pathways Program, evaluated the heroic women in Tanach and their role in Jewish destiny. Alumnae in Israel were treated to a shiur given by Ilana Gottlieb, director of Midreshet AMIT, on “Rabbi Akiva’s Students: A Timeless Lesson.”

Joan (Schecter) Dulitz ’70S loved having the chance to attend the classes. “It gave me the feeling of what it was like when we were here, when we had all this learning available to us,” she said. Judith (Feigenbaum) Binstock ’70S agreed, recalling fondly how she enjoyed having the chance at Stern College to learn from what she called “the best.”

Dr. Jill Katz, clinical assistant professor of archeology, leads a class for Stern alumnae.

The class sessions were followed by a luncheon in Koch Auditorium, where the New York alumnae were able to interact via livestream with the Israeli alumnae, who were gathered at Yeshiva University’s Caroline and Joseph S. Gruss Institute at the Jerusalem campus.

Dr. Karen Bacon ’64S, the Mordecai D. Katz and Dr. Monique C. Katz Dean of the Undergraduate Faculty of Arts and Sciences, gave a stirring summary of current Stern College programming and the College’s determination to expand it to more and more academic areas. “We have an ambitious faculty and an ambitious Board of Overseers,” she concluded, “but we also have the Torah that will help us make sure that we don’t lose our way as we move forward.”

Rabbi Dr. Ari Berman, President of Yeshiva University, lauded the women (including his mother, who was attending the Israel ceremony), “for having planted the seed that continues to blossom and bear the fruit that Dean Bacon just outlined for us and for redefining what women’s Jewish education will be for the future.” He encouraged them to stay involved with the College as mentors for young students and supporters of its mission.

New York State Assemblywoman Nily Rozic, representing District 25 in Queens, was born in Jerusalem to parents who had made aliyah from Argentina after the Six-Day War and is consequently a strong defender of Israel, supporting anti-BDS efforts and submitting an annual declaration honoring Israel on its independence day. She also spoke about her work on behalf of women and families such as paid family leave, flexible scheduling and protection against harassment. “I have been able to do this,” she noted, “because everything you did paved the way, paved my way.”

Zelda (Badner) Braun ’68S, former associate dean of students at Stern College, gave a moving tribute to Esther Zuroff z”l, who had been director of student services until 1988; Leah (Becker) Wolf ’72S spoke from Israel on behalf of the attendees there; and Audrey (Katz) Lookstein ’58S, a representative of Stern’s first graduating class, spoke with great charm about her YU family legacy, listing almost two dozen people who have benefited from a YU education, and gave a warm thank-you to Stern College for being “the best.”

The celebration was capped by a video of several alumnae speaking with great emotion about the importance of the College and how it set them on their paths through life.

“This year, we celebrate the 60th anniversary of the first graduating class from Stern College,” said Dina Burcat, director of alumni affairs. “We couldn’t think of a more fitting time to bring back the first alumnae to the College. These women were true pioneers and trailblazers in women’s Jewish education in America. To watch as the alumnae saw each other—some for the first time in decades—and walked in the same halls, sat in the same classrooms, as they did 40, 50 and 60 years ago, and feel the pride that they felt for being graduates of the school, is a particularly rewarding experience.”