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YESHIVA UNIVERSITY TODAY Apr 2004

YESHIVA UNIVERSITY TODAY Apr 2004

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VOLUME8 NO. 11 YESHIVAUNIVERSITYAPRIL 2004
www.yu.edu/news/publications
YUToday
Yeshiva University Inaugurates NewSchneier International Affairs Center 
      I      N      S      I      D      E
T
he best universitiesprovide a frameworkwithin which stu-dents can explore cur-rent events and learn fromleading scholars and expertswho shape tomorrow’s history.Yeshiva University’s newRabbi Arthur Schneier Centerfor International Affairs offersthat framework. Scholars andexperts in international diplo-macy, foreign relations, worldeconomics, international law,politics, global health, envi-ronmentalism, and militarystrategy will share their opin-ions, research, and experienceswith the YU community.President Richard M. Joelexpects the center “to providea wide lens on the crucialpolitical and social issues of the modern world, and in sodoing enrich the university’scurriculum and broaden itsinternational perspective andstature. It will also develop stu-dent internships in interna-tional relations.”The center will encompassall schools within the universi-ty; faculty members from eachschool will comprise its boardof directors. Ruth A. Bevan,PhD, the David W. PetegorskyProfessor of Political Science,was appointed by Vice Presidentof Academic Affairs MortLowengrub as center director.The center is named forRabbi Arthur Schneier, whoconceived the idea and gar-nered support for its establish-ment. Rabbi Schneier is analumnus of Yeshiva College(1951) and Rabbi IsaacElchanan Theological Seminary(1956) and a YU honorarydoctoral degree recipient. He isinternationally known for hisleadership in religious free-dom and human rights. Heis founder and president of the Appeal of ConscienceFoundation, established in1965, and spiritual leadersince 1962 of the landmarkPark East Synagogue in NewYork City.The center held its inauguralevent March 31 at Manhattan’sPark East Synagogue. The guestspeaker was Richard N. Haass,PhD, a former senior StateDepartment advisor andforeign policy specialist, whodiscussed prospects for MiddleEast peace. Dr. Haass is presi-dent of the Council on ForeignRelations.Formerly, Dr. Haass directedpolicy planning at the USDepartment of State, and was achief adviser to Secretary of State Colin Powell. He isauthor or editor of nine bookson American foreign policy,including
The Reluctant Sheriff:
The United States after theCold War.
Katz Kollel Invigorates Torah Learning 
MIDDLE PERSIANSPOKEN HERE
 Yaakov Elman BlendsJewish Babylonia andPersian Culture
 page 3
 THE JEWSAS MUSE
 YUM ExhibitCelebrates JewishMusic in Vienna
 page 4
 TIES THATBIND
Meet Four Generationsof the RackovskyFamily
 page 7 
WMD’S ANDFREEPRESS
CardozoSymposium Weighs Securityvs Liberty
 page 8
More than 100 YU students demonstrate solidarity with Israel outside the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands (left); Elimor Goldwicht (right),SCW sophomore, recites psalms in front of remains of a bus bombed by Palestinian terrorists.
T
orah lishmah
—learn-ing for its own sake—is an ideal that hasmotivated great Torahsages throughout Jewish history.At YU, it is the core of pro-gramming at Rabbi IsaacElchanan Theological Seminary,immersing students in amyriad of biblical texts andshaping their approach andunderstanding to scholarship,according to Rabbi HershelSchachter, noted Talmudicscholar and RIETS veteran fac-ulty member.Rabbi Schachter is the roshkollel of RIETS’ Marcos andAdina Katz Kollel (Institute forAdvanced Research in Rab-binics), the largest of such pro-grams at the seminary.The value of the Katz Kolleland similar programs, saidRabbi Schachter, is that theyserve scholars of exceptionalpromise who devote their aca-demic energies to Talmud andHalakhah. Just over 100 studentsnow study in the Katz Kollel,most through RIETS’
semi-khah
(ordination) program.Students learn Gemara andreceive a monthly stipend.“The kollelim at RIETSembody the efflorescence of Torah learning and commit-ment to Yeshiva,” said RabbiZevulun Charlop, Max andMarion Grill Dean of the sem-inary. He called the Katz Kollelthe “foundation-stone uponwhich our much-touted andadmired kollelim rest.”“The vast world of Torah isnot something you can simplytake a course in to master,”
Rabbi Hershel Schachter Dr. Richard N. Haass
YU STUDENTS AT THE HAGUE
continued on page 4
 
PEOPLE IN THE NEWS
2YUToday
April 2004
Shulamith Z. Berger
 YH,’84B, YU archivist and curator of specialcollections at the Yeshiva UniversityMuseum, co-directed a specialexhibit on the history of kashrut in America from 1654 through theearly 20th century. Held atKosherfest 2003 in November atthe Jacob K. Javits ConventionCenter, the exhibit included adver-tisements for mainstream kosher products from the 1920s to the‘40s from Ms. Berger’s collection.
Lea Blau,
PhD, professor of chem-istry, was appointed to theInternational Activities Committeeof the American Chemical Society’sDivision of Chemical Education.Only 50 to 60 of this division’s5,400 members are selected for such service each year.
Jerome A. Chanes
 YH,’64Y,W,adjunct professor, SCW, WSSW, and AGS, delivered a paper, “Is there a‘New’ anti-Semitism? Redefiningthe Protocols for Measuring anti-Semitism,” 2003 Conference of the Association for Jewish Studies,Boston. Also, he delivered“American Jews and the 2004Elections: Notes from DemographicSurveys,” Trinity College’s Center for Religion and Public Affairs. Hepublished “The American Jewish Agenda and the 2004 Elections” in
Religion in the News 
. In fall and win-ter 2003, he developed and lec-tured at a five-film series, “Anti-Semitism on the Screen,” JCC inManhattan.
Mordechai Z. Cohen,
PhD,‘87Y,R,B, associate professor of Bible, and
Louis H. Feldman
,PhD, Abraham Wouk FamilyProfessor of Classics and Literature,delivered lectures at CongregationEtz Chaim in Kew Gardens Hills,Queens, as part of the synagogue’s
two-year lecture series on “The Wisdom of Japhet in the Tents of Shem,” exploring aspects of culturethat Jews adapted from other peoples.
Chris Cristofaro,
adjunct instruc-tor in art, was an exhibitor of hand-made paper and small sculpture aspart of “Artlink,” a show in Fort Wayne, Ind.
Dr. Louis Feldman
(see above)was named 2003 Jewish Cultural Achievement Award in Scholarshiprecipient, for textual studies, by theNational Foundation for JewishCulture.
Joshua A. Fishman,
PhD,Distinguished University ResearchProfessor Emeritus, lectured on“Yiddish in the 21st Century: ASociolinguistic Perspective” as partof the George J. Stolnitz MemorialProgram of the Robert A. andSandra S. Borns Jewish StudiesProgram at Indiana University.
Aharon Fried,
PhD, associateprofessor of psychology, and
ScottGoldberg
, PhD, AGS instructor ineducation and psychology, present-ed “The Art of Teaching LumudeiKodesh in Multi-Level Classrooms;Strategies for Effective andMeaningful Instruction,” at a con-ference sponsored by the NewJersey Association of Jewish DaySchools in September.
Rabbi Robert S. Hirt,
senior adviser to the president, was ascholar-in-residence at the YaleUniversity Hillel in February. Hespoke on “Openness and Ortho-doxy: Compatible or Contradic-tory?” and “How Can a ModernJew Pray?”
President Richard M. Joel
trav-eled to Toronto in December tospeak at the Sephardic KehillaCentre on “Towards Nobility: AJewish Future.” The trip was his firstofficial visit there as YU president.This was part of his visit to launchthe Jewish Education ScholarshipProgram under the leadership of Canadian Friends of YeshivaUniversity at a reception at thehome of CFYU National President,Robert Eli and Renee Rubensteinwhich raised $1 million.Scholarship recipients must agreeto teach in Toronto for three yearsafter completing their advanceddegree at the Azrieli GraduateSchool of Jewish Education and Administration.
Stephen H. Lazar,
EdD, Einsteinassistant dean, was the guest of theBen Gurion School of Medicine inBeersheva, Israel, and the Sackler School of Medicine in Tel Aviv,where he met with university offi-cials and gave two lectures to their faculty. Also, Dr. Lazar hosted some35 Einstein alumni at a reception inJerusalem that covered recentdevelopments at Einstein and YU.
Aaron Levine,
PhD, Samson andHalina Bitensky Professor of Eco-nomics, contributed a chapter,“Welfare Programs and JewishLaw,” to
Public Policy Social Issues: Jewish Sources and Perspectives 
(Marshal J. Breger, ed.; Westport,CT, Praeger 2003)
Joseph Malovany,
DistinguishedProfessor of Liturgical Music atPhilip and Sarah Belz School of Jewish Music, became a command-er of the Legion of Honor, Poland’sequivalent of knighthood, inJanuary. At Blair House in Wash-ington, DC, the Israeli-born cantor of Fifth Avenue Synagogue inManhattan received the awardfrom Polish President Alexander Kwasniewski for his musical contri-bution to the international andPolish communities. A tenor, he hasperformed worldwide during along career that has included posi-tions in Israel, Johannesburg,London, and New York. He is thefirst Jewish cantor to receive thisaward from Poland.
Rabbi Alter B.Z. Metzger,
pro-fessor of Judaic studies, spoke on“The Joy of Holiness–A New ChasidicDimension” at an InternationalChabad Women Emissaries Confer-ence session and book signing for 
Chasidic Perspectives: A Festival Anthology 
, by Rabbi Menachem M.Schneerson, which Rabbi Metzger translated.
David Shatz,
PhD, professor of philosophy, published “The Biblicaland Rabbinic Background toMedieval Jewish Philosophy,”
The Cambridge Companion to Medieval  Jewish Philosophy.
 Also, he spoke atCong. Ahavath Achim, NewBedford, MS; Torah in Motion,Toronto, Canada; at a NEFESHretreat in CN; and at Touro Schoolof Law.
Alvin I. Schiff,
PhD, ‘47Y,B,F, AGSIrving I. Stone DistinguishedProfessor of Jewish Education,authored
Milat Hahag 
, a commen-tary on the Torah reading for RoshHashannah, and
Milat Haparshah
,exegesis of key Hebraic terms in theTorah readings of Parshat LekhLekha and Parshat Vayeira. Theworks were published on theInternet at www.ivrit.org by theNational Center for the HebrewLanguage. Also, he spoke on “TheBiblical Source of Berachah andModeling Theory of Behavior for Contemporary Times,” at Cong.Torah Ohr, Boca Raton, FL.
Robert Moses Shapiro,
PhD,adjunct assistant professor of Jewishhistory, is editor of 
Why Didn’t the Press Shout: American and Inter-national Journalism During the Holocaust 1933–1945
(Yeshiva Uni-versity Press with KTAV PublishingHouse, 2003), one of three finalistsfor a 2003 National Jewish Book Award in Holocaust Studies. Thebook contains papers presented ata YU conference in 1995 under theEli and Diana Zborowski Profes-sorial Chair in InterdisciplinaryHolocaust Studies.
Louise Silverstein,
PhD, associ-ate professor of psychology at FGS,was appointed by the AmericanPsychological Association’s Boardfor the Advancement of Psychologyin the Public Interest to serve on thecommittee on Women in Psy-chology. Dr. Silverstein’s termbegan Jan. 1 and will continue untilDec. 31, 2006.
Richard Steiner,
PhD, ‘66Y, pro-fessor of Semitic languages and lit-eratures, was invited by the Center for Jewish Studies at HarvardUniversity to be a Harry Starr Fellowin Judaica during spring 2005 in“Biblical Exegesis from the SecondTemple Period through the Middle Ages.” In 1999 he was the Gerard Weinstock Visiting Professor of Jewish Studies at Harvard.The Department of Student Affairsrecently announced four promo-tions:
Zelda Braun
’68S,W,toassociate dean of students, BerenCampus;
Beth Hait
 YH
’76
,
toassistant dean of students, BerenCampus;
Rachel Kraut
’97S
,
todirector of residential life, BerenCampus;
Joe Bednarsh,
to assis-tant director of athletics for under-graduate schools.
 YESHIVAUNIVERSITYRonald P. Stanton,
ChairmanYU Board of Trustees 
Richard M. Joel
President 
Dr. Norman Lamm
Chancellor 
Peter L. Ferrara
Director of Communications and Public Affairs 
Joshua L. Muss, Chairman, Board of Directors,Yeshiva College; Marjorie Diener Blenden, Chairman, Board of Directors, Stern College for Women; Bernard L.Madoff, Chairman, Board of Directors, Sy Syms School of Business; Robert A.Belfer, Chairperson, Board of Overseers, Albert Einstein College of Medicine;Kathryn O. Greenberg, Chairman, Board of Directors, Benjamin N. CardozoSchool of Law; Robert Schwalbe, Chair, Board of Governors, Wurzweiler School of Social Work; Mordecai D. Katz, Chairman, Board of Directors, Bernard RevelGraduate School of Jewish Studies; Katherine Sachs, Chair, Board of Governors,Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology; Moshael J. Straus, Chairman, Board of Directors, Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration; JuliusBerman, Chairman, Board of Trustees, (affiliate) Rabbi Isaac Elchanan TheologicalSeminary; Erica Jesselson, Chairperson, Board of Directors, (affiliate) YeshivaUniversity Museum.
Board listings as of March 3, 2004
 YESHIVAUNIVERSITYTODAYHedy Shulman Kelly Berman
Editor Associate Editor 
Norman Eisenberg
ManagingEdito
Jerry Bergman, Esther Finkle, June Glazer,Norman Goldberg, Cara Huzinec, Peter Robertson, V. Jane Windsor 
Contributors 
www.yu.edu/news/publications
Yeshiva University Today 
is published monthly during the academic year by the Yeshiva University Department of Communications and Public Affairs, 401 FurstHall, 500 West 185th St., New York, NY 10033-3201 (212-960-5285). It is distrib-uted free on campus to faculty, staff, and students. © Yeshiva University 2004
YUToday
 VOLUME 8 • NUMBER 11
 A, AECOM Albert Einstein College of Medicine • AG Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration • BG, BGSS Belfer Institute for Advanced Biomedical Sciences • B, BRGS Bernard RevelGraduate School of Jewish Studies • BSJM Belz School of Jewish Music • CTI Cantorial Training Institute• C, CSL Cardozo School of Law • F, FGS Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology • I, IBC Isaac Breuer College of Hebraic Studies • J, JSS James Striar School of General Jewish Studies • MSDCS Max SternDivision of Communal Services • Y, MYP Yeshiva Program/Mazer School of Talmudic Studies • SBMPStone Beit Midrash Program • R, RIETS Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary • S, SCW SternCollege for Women • SG Sue Golding Graduate Division of Medical Sciences • SB, SSSB Sy Syms Schoolof Business • T, TI Teachers Institute • T, TIW Teachers Institute for Women • W, WSSW Wurzweiler Schoolof Social Work • Y, YC Yeshiva College • YH, YUHS Yeshiva University High Schools (MSTA The MarshaStern Talmudical Academy) (SWHSG Samuel H. Wang Yeshiva University High School for Girls)
Key to School Abbreviations
Contested Memories: Poles and Jews During the Holocaust and its Aftermath
(Rutgers University Press), edited by Joshua Zimmerman,PhD, assistant professor of East European Jewish history and occupant,Eli and Diana Zborowski Chair in Holocaust Studies, was reviewed in theSunday, January 18, 2004 edition of the
Los Angeles Times Book Review 
.The volume is based on papers delivered at an April 2000 Holocaustconference at YU and sponsored by BRGS and the Zborowski Chair. Itrepresents a reassessment by three generations of Polish and Jewishscholars of the existing historiography of Polish-Jewish relations justbefore, during, and after World War II.
 
Y
aakov Elman is prob-ably the only personin the world whocould forecast theweather in Middle Persian — askill that would have been ahot ticket about 18 centuriesago in the Near East. For-tunately, this one-of-a-kindscholar has other talents andother goals.Above all, he wants tobroaden study and discussionof the Babylonian Talmud(the most significant of theTalmuds) and to bring suchdeliberations “down to earth”by focusing on the legal,cultural, religious, and lin-guistic contexts of the PersianEmpire. As Prof. Elman ex-plains, “The Jews and Persiansspent about 1,200 years livingin close proximity in a kind of ‘Torah Umadda’ situation.”But how does one get to bea meteorologist
and 
a MiddlePersian scholar? If the Bronx-born Prof. Elman is any exam-ple (actually, he’s the onlyexample), one must be emi-nently practical and insa-tiably curious.Yaakov’s aptitudes wereevident at age 12. Dissatisfiedwith the limited range of hisyeshiva education, he taughthimself modern Hebrew.Later, around 1960, he discov-ered a series of Hebrew articleson the Bible in the ancientNear East. That finding firedhis passion for an academiccareer that eventually landedhim at Jerusalem’s HebrewUniversity as a professor of Semitic languages. He is nowassociate professor of Jewishstudies at YU’s Bernard RevelGraduate School of JewishStudies.The necessities of life, how-ever, put his ambitions onhold. Yaakov’s father diedwhen he was 19. On theadvice of his mother, he pur-sued work more accommodat-ing to his shy personality.“I was withdrawn, a book-worm,” he says. “She wasright at the time.”Then came a brief stint atCity College studying chem-istry. “I realized I couldn’tspend my life designing per-fumes,” he says. “I switched,for no great reason, to meteor-ology; it was practical.” Well,not quite. Jobs allowing forSabbath observance were few-and-far-between. Weather, heexplains, is 24/7. He eventual-ly found a position in privateindustry, where he had towork every “‘four-letter’ shiftthere is.”Yaakov started takingcourses in Semitic languagesat Columbia. By 1974, he hada master’s in Assyriology,which led to a job managing aHebrew bookstore. His expert-ise became well known to theacademic clientele, who de-cided that such a promisingyoung scholar should domore than peddle books.They arranged for him tostudy tuition-free at NYU,where he earned a doctoratein rabbinic literature in 1986.Prof. Elman soon found ahome at YU, as well as a basefor his uniquely omnivorousbrand of Talmudism, whichcombines a strong interest in Jewish thought with moreconventional textual consid-erations and now feeds upon Jewish as well as Zoroastrian,Manichean, and Christiansources from the MiddlePersian epoch.“I call it the
cholent 
theoryof cultural influence,” he says,referring to the Eastern Euro-pean Shabbat dish, a hodge-podge of stewed foods. “InBabylonia in the third andfourth centuries, there wereall kinds of elements percolat-ing, combining, and recom-bining.” (Prof. Elman is quickto share credit for this insightwith James Russell of HarvardUniversity and Shaul Shakedof Hebrew University.)According to Prof. Elman,this area of study has lan-guished for eons becauseTalmudists have not studiedMiddle Persia and experts inMiddle Persia have found theTalmud too difficult.“You really need a Tal-mudist to do this, as IranistVera Moreen [of SwarthmoreCollege] pointed out to me,”says Prof. Elman, who learnedMiddle Persian on his ownand is filling in the chinkswith the help of Prof. OktorSkjaervo, the Aga Khan Prof.of Iranian at Harvard Uni-versity.“I am bringing the twofields together. This is revolu-tionary for both sides. It givesus an entirely different view of the Jewish community of Babylonia and its place withinthe cultural matrix of thePersian Empire. This commu-nity was one of the crucialcommunities in all of Jewishhistory.”Given the importance of this research, Prof. Elmanspends several days a week atHarvard, working with Prof-essor Skjaervo, who heads theNear Eastern languages andcultures department.Relatively new to the field,Prof. Elman is already wellknown among the world’scommunity of Persian schol-ars. During the 2002–03 aca-demic year, while on sabbati-cal from YU, he was a HarryStarr Fellow in Judaica at theCenter for Jewish Studies atHarvard University, affordinghim time to work on onebook and start another.“He is a multi-faceted jewelin the crown of wisdom, ahelpful colleague, a gentlefriend,“ says Prof. Russell,the Mashtots Professor of Armenian Studies at Harvard.“He has become an expert inIranian law and lore, bringinghis new and profound learn-ing to the study of Talmudictradition.”“Yaakov is no less thana force of nature,” adds Prof.Skjaervo. “He is single-hand-edly carrying out a crusadeamong his colleagues forthe importance of Pahlavi[Middle Persian] studies. Itmay well be the salvation of Old Persian studies.”In 2003, Prof. Elmanco-led a global research col-laboration on the materialsfrom the Cairo Genizah, arepository of priceless medi-eval Hebrew and Judaic man-uscripts.Also on Prof. Elman’s agen-da is a form of scholarshipcalled omnisignificant biblicalexegesis. “The general rab-binic claim that every word of the Torah has been weighedand counted has never beenchallenged. But despite re-peated claims, Orthodoxscholars haven’t been thatthorough in their work. Themost complete omnisignifi-cant commentary I know of was done by a Reform rabbi,Benno Jacob,” he explains.In an article in the
 JewishStudies Journal
, he adds, “Notevery feature of Scripture wasinterpreted by the rabbiseither halakhically or aggadi-cally [allegorically]. Our col-lections of 
midrashim
hardlyconstitute a comprehensiveomnisignificant corpus; notonly do they fail to deal withmany verses, and even wholebiblical chapters, but featuresthat are considered significant—legally or morally—in onecontext are ignored in others.”“I have a good memoryand a lot of intellectualcuriosity, and I don’t sleepmuch,” says the professor,explaining his wide and deepscholarly interests.
April 2004
YUToday3
YU Loses a Friend and Hero
A memorial service was held January 27 at the Wilf Campus for Mikey Butler, a Yeshiva College alumnus andfriend of many, who passed away after a long battle withcystic fibrosis.In Lamport Auditorium, Chancellor Norman Lammdelivered a
hesped 
(eulogy) for Mr. Butler, calling him a leg-end who accomplished more in his 24 years than most peo-ple accomplish in a lifetime. “Mikey had legions of admirersand evoked the better angels of our nature,” said Dr. Lamm.Mr. Butler’s funeral took place at Pittsburgh’s Congre-gation Poale Zedek. A delegation of more than 150 YeshivaUniversity students led by President Richard M. Joel andVice President for University Life Hillel Davis attended thefuneral.President Joel, at a recent Town Hall meeting, lauded thecourage and indomitable spirit of Mr. Butler, whom he said,“lived an incredible, long-short life, day by glorious day.”That view was echoed by friends and fellow students.Against all odds, he graduated from YU and received his diploma from Dr. Lamm duringa special ceremony at the Pittsburgh airport two years ago. He was active in National Conferenceof Synagogue Youth, and during summers he worked at a camp for special-needs children. TheYeshiva University community will remember him with affection and admiration.
FACULTY PROFILE
Professor Yaakov Elman
Breaking New Ground in Ancient Persia 

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