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.”
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.”
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