YU Students Boost the Holiday Spirit with Torah Tours®

Over 100 Students Journey to 24 Communities Across North America to Celebrate Simchat Torah and Promote Jewish Community Engagement 

For the first time in three years, YU and Stern undergraduate students participated in the annual Aaron and Blanche Schreiber Torah Tours® program.  

Since 1971, Torah Tours® has sent delegations of undergraduate students to various communities across the world to enhance the holiday celebrations of Simchat Torah and Shavuot. The Tours emphasize engaging with Jewish community members, particularly those who may not have robust access to Jewish resources.  

This year’s Simchat Torah cohort consisted of over 100 students who visited 24 communities across North America. Participating students visited host communities in groups of four to six young men and women. Volunteers taught Torah classes, led singing and dancing, met with synagogue youth and galvanized an atmosphere of holiday excitement and energy. A full list of communities hosting YU students is included below. 

Haviva Tirschwell, Administrative Assistant for the Office of Torah and Spiritual Life was responsible for organizing this year’s program. Tirschwell relayed that her office was “overwhelmed with the volume of responses from students given that most participants were not enrolled in the university the last time the program ran.” Tirschwell continued “we are thrilled that even after a pandemic changed our world and shuls, we had the opportunity to bring this program back and share the vibrancy of Yeshiva University with the broader Jewish community.”  

The Torah Tours® program is part of a wider portfolio of initiatives from the Center for the Jewish Future which are designed to incubate leadership opportunities for students. Torah Tours in particular allows for students to export their knowledge of ritual customs to underserved communities while also enhancing the local participation of Jewish life and holidays. 

Brandon Melamed (YC ’25) of Jacksonville Florida, visited Congregation Ahavat Achim in Fair Lawn NJ, reflected that “it was beautiful to be able to bring ruach and dvar Torahs and hopefully add to the zman simchateinu. We also had the opportunities to work on our speaking skills, observe a talented and dynamic young rabbi, and gain a broadened exposure to a new community and Jewish communal life.”

Albany, NY Student Delegation: Gillian Herzage, Baruch Lerman, Avygayl Zucker, and Moshe Nasser. 

Rabbi Herschel Hartz, Program Administrator for Undergraduate Torah Studies on the Wilf campus shared “host congregations benefit from the students’ palpable enthusiasm and spirit, while volunteers gain valuable exposure, leadership opportunities, and appreciation for the broad canvas of Jewish life outside of tri-state metropolitan hubs.” 

Participating Communities:  

West Hartford, Connecticut -Young Israel of West Hartford 

Long Beach, New York- BACH Jewish Center 

Allentown, Pennsylvania- Congregation Sons of Israel 

Brooklyn, New York- Pri Etz Chaim 

Toronto, Canada- Shaarei Torah of Toronto 

Rochester, New York- Congregation Beth Sholom 

Brighton, Massachusetts- Kadimah-Toras Moshe 

Monsey, New York- Community Synagogue of Monsey 

Newton, Massachusetts- Shaarei Tefillah 

Parsippany, New Jersey – Congregation Shaya Ahavat Torah 

Brookline, Massachusetts- Maimonidies 

Charleston, South Carolina- Congregation Dor Tikvah 

Columbus, Ohio- Ahavas Shalom 

Fair Lawn, New Jersey- Ahavat Achim 

Roslyn Heights, New York- The Roslyn Synagogue 

Baltimore, Maryland- Ner Tamid 

Albany, New York- Beth Abraham-Jacob 

Upper West Side, New York- Ohab Tzedek 

Miami, Florida- Beth Israel Congregation 

Chicago, Illinois- Chovevei Tzion 

Merrick, New York- Ohav Shalom 

Upper East Side, New York- KJ 

Memphis, Tennessee-Baron Hirsch Synagogue 

Milwaukee, Wisconsin- Lake Park Synagogue 

Glendale, Wisconsin- Congregation Anshe Sfard Kehilat Torah