Feb 14, 2007 — Students from the Yeshiva University High School for Boys recently returned from a winter break visit to Istanbul, Turkey, and Northern Israel where they spent their time learning from and helping the local Jewish communities.
In Istanbul, the 12 students—all from the New York/New Jersey area—met with local rabbis and Jewish communal leaders in an effort to learn more about the distinct challenges confronting the Turkish Jewish community. They visited a home for the aged, interacted with young people at a local Sunday school, ran a program for youth groups, and visited local synagogues for daily prayers and learning programs.
“We met two or three times with students at schools in Istanbul,” said Ira Suss, a senior from Riverdale. “We told them about our lives; they told us about their lives. We were there to plant the seeds for a continued connection with Jewish life for the students we met.”
The trip gave the students an inside look at a community that Jews from the US know little about. “Turkey has a formal relationship with the state of Israel and a rich Jewish history, but despite that, the Jewish community is somewhat isolated,” said Daniel Schuval, coordinator of special projects for the high school, who accompanied the students on their trip.
Local Jewish community members showed the students interesting sites in Istanbul. The school worked with the Office of the Chief Rabbi of Turkey to arrange the visits and tours. Yeshiva University’s Center for the Jewish Future also helped the high school plan the mission.
The students were selected for the trip based on their ability to learn from the experience and share its lessons with others, which they are expected to do now that they have returned. “We also selected students who could bring their Torah Umadda (the view that religious studies and secular studies enhance and enrich each other) experience to life for others,” Mr. Schuval said.
On January 22, the students traveled to Northern Israel to help groups that were affected by the Lebanon war last summer. The students provided hands-on assistance to relief centers, renovated facilities, and distributed food.
Yeshiva University High Schools teach and perpetuate the values of Torah Umadda. The Marsha Stern Talmudical Academy/Yeshiva University High School for Boys and the Samuel H. Wang
Yeshiva University High School for Girls are dedicated to preparing our students for adulthood both as broadly educated and caring members of general society and as knowledgeable and committed Jews.
Two photographs of the students from their trip are attached, and captions follow. A list of the students participating in the program, their hometowns, and contact information follows below.