YU Through a Lens

Josh Wildes’ Portraits Capture Vibrant Yeshiva University Community

When Josh Wildes transferred from Boston University to Yeshiva University’s Sy Syms School of Business in his junior year, he wanted to get to know his new university community—and he also wanted to play a role in bringing it together. With the help of fellow students Gil Goldstein, Hannah Rogawski and Natalie Wizman, Wildes created “Humans of Yeshiva University,” a Facebook page inspired by the beloved “Humans of New York” photographer Brandon Stanton. Together, the team shoots, curates and shares portraits of students, faculty and staff going about their daily lives on the Wilf and Israel Henry Beren Campuses, accompanied by a brief biography and quote.

Josh Wildes, student and founder of Humans of Yeshiva University (HOYU).
Josh Wildes, student and founder of Humans of Yeshiva University (HOYU).

“This process gives our community a glimpse into the lives of people around campus who they may or may not know,” said Wildes. “It grants us the opportunity to get to know each other and come closer together as a community.”

YU News turned the camera on Wildes to discuss what he’s learned along the way and how it feels to be part of the Yeshiva University family.


What are you studying at Sy Syms?

I am majoring in management and minoring in marketing. On top of that, I am currently studying for the LSATs and hope to go to law school after graduation. I have thoroughly enjoyed the academics here and look forward to learning more every day.

Which portrait has been your favorite so far?

My favorite is that of Max Profetta.

He was diagnosed with cancer earlier this year. Unfortunately, I never had the pleasure of meeting him before he got sick. However, we are both in the James Striar School of Judaic Studies Mechina program and I have had the chance to hear what a great guy he is. I hesitated in asking him for a picture and a quote, but when I did he was more than happy to provide one. From then on, we started talking and became very friendly with each other. Every time we spoke, I felt inspired and knew I needed to share his story with others. He is a true hero and has inspired scores of students through his strength and perseverance. I am very lucky to now be able to call him my friend.

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned while working on this project?

“Humans of Yeshiva University” has shown me the friendliness, kindness, and responsiveness of the community as a whole, allowing me to broaden my horizons, meet others, and make a positive impact on the community. I have been fortunate to meet students and faculty and learn a part of their life that you cannot see from the outside. Moreover, I’ve realized how similar, yet different each and every person here is. We all have different stories and personalities. I have never really been into photography and still am not. However, this page has granted me the opportunity to better myself as a person while bringing the community itself closer together.

Do you have a favorite class or professor?

In my short experience here so far, I have been impacted, inspired, and motivated on many different levels and on many different occasions. Every class and every teacher I have had so far has really been great and very special to me. Singling out any specific class or teacher would be an injustice to my overall experiences. I owe gratitude to all of my rabbis, teachers, mentors, and even classmates who constantly teach me lessons every single day.

What has been one of your more meaningful experiences as a Yeshiva University student?

My favorite memory so far would probably be the afternoon I spent on campus with my grandfather, Leon Wildes, who graduated Yeshiva College in 1954. He served as class president and was very involved in life on campus when he was here. He taught at YU’s Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law for about 32 years and now serves on the advisory board to Yeshiva University. My father, Michael Wildes, eventually took over the teaching of his class and has been teaching at Cardozo for four years now. Besides that, my mother, great uncle, uncle, and many other family members are all alumni of Yeshiva University. I am simply the next generation of the Wildes family legacy at YU.