Torah Students Make Best Use of Winter Break

Yeshivas Bein HaSemesterim Program Rejuvenates Participants

While many students travel or visit family for the winter break, some Yeshiva University students spend their time happily on the Wilf campus. The Glueck Beit Midrash teemed with activity January 8-21 as dozens of students elected to spend their free time learning Torah and attending various shiurim at the annual Yeshivas Bein HaSemesterim (YBH) program. This year the alternative winter break option offered a schedule of lectures from more than 15 YU rabbis and roshei yeshiva. Each day featured two shiurim on Talmud and an alternating variety of lectures on halakha, hashkafah and mussar. Participants were also treated to a number of catered meals and evening events.

“There’s something special about the atmosphere of Bein HaSemesterim,” said Rabbi Etan Schnall, who teaches in the program. “During the semester, [students] work extraordinarily hard to prioritize their Torah learning and spiritual growth as they earnestly pursue degrees in their respective fields of study. However, these two weeks allow them to immerse themselves in Torah, reminiscent of their years studying in yeshiva in Israel. It really allows them to recharge and come back for the spring semester rejuvenated and ready to succeed.”

Rabbi Hershel Schachter teaching a Yeshivas Bein HaSemesterim shiur

The key, according to Rabbi Schnall, is the relaxed environment that exists during the program. “The cherry on top is that the students can spend a lot of time with their friends in a close-knit yeshiva atmosphere. The pressures of the semester sometimes take away from the social aspect of the beis medrash. Spending time together, developing friendships that emerge from and revolve around their Torah studies is a critical aspect of any yeshiva experience.”

For Rabbi Elisha Bacon, Mashgiach Ruchani and assistant dean of undergraduate Torah studies, the fact that students would forgo their time off to learn in yeshiva is indicative of the success of YU’s Judaic programming. “That so many talmidim stay is a real testament to the strength and vibrancy of the Torah environment and energy the yeshiva has to offer and a real testament to the talmidim,” he said.

One talmid, Yisroel Ben-Porat YC ’18, has spent all three of his winter breaks on campus in the YBH program and has deeply enjoyed his experience. “I wanted to spend my break learning Torah because I think it’s important,” he said. “The program provides me with an excellent opportunity to learn without distraction and have my needs taken care of.” Ben-Porat particularly enjoys the unique opportunities offered throughout the two week period, citing guest shiurim, dinners and Q&A sessions with roshei yeshiva as highlights. The program, he explained, “creates a relaxed and focused environment where you can learn in a deeper and more fulfilling manner.”