YU Celebrates Torah Learning With Many Siyums Near and Far

The Yeshiva University community is proud of the participation of its students, staff members and roshei yeshiva [deans] in the various siyumim [gatherings celebrating the completion of a unit of Torah study] occurring in the United States and Israel.

On Thursday, Jan. 2, 2020, Dr. Ari Berman, President of Yeshiva University, served as keynote speaker at the Mizrachi siyum in Israel. “It was an honor and pleasure to represent Diaspora Jewry by speaking at the Siyum Hashas in Israel,” said Dr. Berman. “Joining with Jews around the world to celebrate this accomplishment was an inspiring reminder of the strength of our timeless tradition and an expression of Yeshiva University’s commitment to Torah, Israel, and the Jewish people.”

Dr. Berman speaking at the Siyum HaShas

Back in the United States, the YU involvement at the Siyum HaShas [completion of the full Babylonian Talmud] at MetLife Stadium on New Year’s Day was significant. Many rabbis, teachers, deans and staff members as well as undergraduate, graduate and high school students came as part of a strong YU delegation. Rav Hershel Schachter, rosh yeshiva [dean] at the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS), Rosh Kollel of the Marcos and Adina Katz Kollel and the Nathan and Vivian Fink Distinguished Professorial Chair in Talmud, and Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz, director of semicha [rabbinic ordination] at RIETS, shared messages with the audience as part of the program.

Dr. Noam Wasserman, dean of the Sy Syms School of Business, opened the Chanukah Concert at Lamport Auditorium on Dec. 23 with a Siyum HaShas. He began by thanking Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz, his rebbe from throughout the learning cycle, and his wife and children who made it possible to spend a couple of hours learning each day for the last 7½ years.

He then delighted the audience by introducing his father, Dr. Emanuel Wasserman, who had started Daf Yomi [learning a page of Torah a day] when he retired a couple of years ago. Dean Wasserman’s father told the audience a story from when he was the student chair of the Chanukah Concert in the early 1960s and then proceeded to teach those in attendance the last two lines of the last volume of Shas.

Dean Wasserman continued the siyum, quoting the most common ending of the volumes of Shas about Rabbi Chanina, who exhorted Klal Yisrael [all of Israel] “to educate our children to be the builders of the next phase of the world.”  Dr. Wasserman described how Rabbi Chanina personified the YU ethic of focusing on maintaining our tradition, on living a Torah-based professional life (he was a doctor and businessman), on love for the land of Israel and on educating the next generation in all of these values. After he finished the Siyum Hashas, the band led a long round of dancing by the packed audience.

Dr. Noam Wasserman doing his Siyum HaShas
Dr. Noam Wasserman doing his Siyum HaShas

Members of the Makor program participated in a siyum on Jan. 2, 2020, to celebrate the completion, over the course of a full year, of the Mishnayos of Seder Nezikin, which discusses damages.

Many of the students gave heartfelt speeches and thought-provoking divrei Torah [words of Torah] with proud parents, family and friends in attendance.

“The most rewarding aspect of finishing is that we have developed ourselves into better people by focusing on becoming more sensitive to others and their property,” said Rabbi Uri Feintuch, educational coordinator and rebbe [teacher] of the Makor College Experience. Rav Hershel Schachter spoke to the students and praised their dedication, enthusiasm and enormous efforts towards this important accomplishment.

In honor of the Siyum HaShas held the previous day, on Jan. 1, the students also learned an entire daf [page] of Gemara Brachos [blessings]. Dr. Stephen Glicksman, director of the Makor Program, could not have been prouder of the tremendous dedication on the part of the students and said, “It took five hours, including lunch and Mincha, but we did it!”

Students in the Makor program with Steven Glicksman, director
Dr. Stephen Glicksman (center) with some Makor students