Students Take Hands-On Approach

Participants in YU’s Kansas City Summer Experience Volunteer for Disaster Relief Clean-Up in Joplin, Missouri

For the second year in a row a group of Yeshiva University students descended upon the Kansas City Jewish community as part of the University’s Kansas City Summer Experience, hosted by Congregation Beth Israel Avraham & Voliner (BIAV). The program, which ran May 31 through June 26, offered participants the opportunity to integrate with the community, spending their days working at a variety of businesses and dedicating their nights to energizing and learning Torah with the Jewish community.

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This year, however, their plans changed after a tornado hit nearby Joplin, Missouri, on May 21, killing more than 150 people. The group of eight students, led by Tuvia Brander, a recent YU graduate and second-year RIETS student, worked with community members to organize a Red Cross-sponsored disaster relief mission to the devastated area on June 12.

“We have done more than fulfill the mitzvah of tikkun olam,” said Brander. “We have added to the dialog of the community and inspired others to get involved.”
Joining Brander on the Kansas City Summer Experience were YU students Baruch Cohen, Sarit Cohen, Malkie Krieger, Asher Lindenbaum, Gabrielle Moskowitz, Mindy Sojcher and Yaakov Taubes.

“Having the [students] be part of our community for the month has been a special experience,” said BIAV Rabbi Daniel Rockoff. “I am especially proud of the positive example they have set throughout the entire Jewish community as spirited, observant young Jews who are eager to engage the world around them.”

The students, each of whom was provided a mentor and host families, spent the month interning at local businesses including MRI Global — Midwest Research Institute, Children’s Mercy Hospital, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, Jewish Family Services of Greater Kansas City, Midwest Center for Holocaust Education, Kansas City JCC and Metro Title Services. In addition, participants led a nightly Beit Midrash program and organized panel discussions dealing with contemporary religious and halakhic issues.

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