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January 2013 • shevat 5773 (:אין התורה נקנית אלא בחבורה )ברכות סג volume 47 • number 2
Chanuka at Yu Page 3
remembering rIets rosh Yeshiva rabbi Zevulun Lieberman z”l Page 24
In this Issue
Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary
P r e s I D e n t, Y e s h I va u n I v e r s I t Y
Richard M. Joel
Page 15 Yes, There Are Jews In Kansas
an Interview with rabbi Dani rockoff ’03r
C h a n C e L L o r , Y e s h I va u n I v e r s I t Y r o s h h aY e s h I va , r I e t s
Rabbi Dr. Norman Lamm Joel M. Schrieber
ChaIrMan of the BoarD of trustees, rIets
Page 20 Spotlight
Max anD MarIon GrILL Dean, rIets
Rabbi Yona Reiss
rabbi sydney Kleiman (’36r) Celebrates 100 years!
D av I D M I t Z n e r D e a n , C e n t e r f o r t h e J e w I s h f u t u r e
Rabbi Kenneth Brander
a s s o C I at e D e a n o f o P e r at I o n s , r I e t s
Rabbi Menachem Penner Rabbi Zevulun Charlop Rabbi Robert Hirt
Page 24 Special Feature
Dean eMerItus, rIets s P e C I a L a Dv I s o r to t h e P r e s I D e n t o n Y e s h I va a f fa I r s
Mourning the loss of rIets rosh Yeshiva rabbi Dr. sydney Zevulun Lieberman (’54r) z”l.
vICe PresIDent eMerItus, rIets
Rabbi Chaim Bronstein
a D M I n I s t r ato r , r I e t s
Page 28 Special Feature
Y e s h I va u n I v e r s I t Y r a B B I n I C a D v I s o r Y C o M M I t t e e
Rabbi Adam Berner • Rabbi Binyamin Blau Rabbi Kenneth Hain • Rabbi Elazar Muskin Rabbi Moshe Neiss • Rabbi Dr. Shlomo Rybak Rabbi Shmuel Silber • Rabbi Perry Tirschwell Rabbi Elchanan Weinbach • Rabbi Howard Zack Rabbi Eliezer Zwickler
The Role of Torah and Beit Midrash in Our Lives a conversation with rabbi David silber (’74r) and rabbi Dovid Miller (’71r).
a P u B L I C at I o n o f r I e t s r a B B I n I C a L u M n I
Page 3 Page 4 Page 7 Page 10
In Pictures In the News Torah and the Arts New Releases
Derashot Ledorot RIETS and Calvary Hospital Form New Collaboration Remembering the Days of Old but Understanding the Years of Generations By rabbi Daniel stein
Page 22 Book Review
You Are Your Parents Keeper by rabbi reuven Becker reviewed by rabbi Ira Kronenberg The Obligation to Disclose Medical Information to a Potential Spouse By rabbi netanel wiederblank Rebbetzin: The Ultimate Balancing Act By rebbetzin adina shmidman
Page 26 Special Feature
e D I t o r - I n - C h I e f, C H AV R U S A
Rabbi Levi Mostofsky
e D I t o r , C H AV R U S A
Page 11 Health News
Noson Waintman Ms. Keren Simon
Page 12 Divrei Chizuk
Page 33 Special Feature
a s s I s ta n t e D I t o r , C H AV R U S A
Page 37 Life-Cycle Events
G r a P h I C s a n D L aYo u t, C H AV R U S A CHAVRUSA is published by the rabbinic alumni of the rabbi Isaac elchanan theological seminary, through the office of Yeshiva university’s Center for the Jewish future. Yeshiva university’s Center for the Jewish future serves as the community service arm of the rabbi Isaac elchanan theological seminary (rIets). It continues the work of the Max stern Division of Communal services which, for over 60 years, has served as one of the premier service organizations for the Jewish community. 5 0 0 w e s t 1 8 5 t h s t . s u i t e 41 3 • n e w Yo r k , n Y 10 0 3 3 21 2 - 9 6 0 - 5 4 0 0 e x t . 6 014 c h a v r u s a m a g a z i n e @ y u . e d u • w w w. y u . e d u / c j f editorial contributions and submissions to Chavrusa are welcome. this publication accepts no responsibility for unsolicited manuscripts or photographs. all submissions are subject to editing and are used at the editor’s discretion. opinions expressed in this publication do not reflect official seminary and/or university policy.
Rabbi Robert Shur
• • • • CHAVRUSA will consider articles and letters for publication. Books authored by musmakhim that are reviewed by musmakhim will be considered for publication as well. obituaries about and authored by musmakhim will be considered for publication. CHAVRUSA aims to maintain the hebrew pronunciation style of the author of the article. transliterations follow the author’s preference i.e. academic, ashkenazic, modern hebrew or the like. while we will remain consistent within articles, each author will be afforded to transliterate within his comfort level. CHAVRUSA reserves the right to edit articles received for publication, and will make every effort to show a draft form to the author prior to publication. Contributions may be sent to email@example.com. In addition to CHAVRUSA magazine, articles and divrei torah may also be submitted for publication in the weekly rabbinic alumni e-newsletter. Please e-mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
• • •
Dues paying Rabbinic Alumni will now be receiving a printed copy of CHAVRUSA
CHAVRUSA is back in print!
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Yu Chanuka Chagiga
Chanuka Lunch with the roshei Yeshiva
Chanuka Lighting in the Yu Dormitories
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rabbi Dr. Meir soloveichik (’03r) in Conversation with Chief rabbi Lord Jonathan sacks
Hundreds gathered on the morning of November 30, 2012 to hear Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks and Rabbi Dr. Meir Soloveichik (’03R) in a conversation on Torah, law and literature titled “The Merchant of Venice: A Jewish and British Reflection.” The event was the second one of the year hosted by Yeshiva University’s Zahava and Moshael Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought, and marked Rabbi Sacks’ second visit as a Straus Center guest. Rabbis Sacks and Soloveichik, director of the Straus Center, began their discussion focusing on Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice. In the play, Shylock’s obsession with justice is juxtaposed with Portia’s compassion, epitomized by her line: “The quality of mercy is not strained,” and continuing: “Therefore Jew, though justice be thy plea…we [Christians] do pray for mercy.” “Shakespeare here is expressing the medieval stereotype of Christian mercy against Jewish justice,” said Rabbi Sacks. “[However,] justice and mercy are not opposites. The false contrast between Judaism and Christianity in The Merchant of Venice is testimony to the cruel misrepresentation of Judaism in Christian theology until recently.” Rabbi Sacks pointed out that Portia’s speech alludes to Moses’ words in Parashat Ha’azinu, as well as to the 13 attributes of God’s mercy found in Exodus. He noted another striking parallel: Jesus’ “most Jewish” quote, “Forgive them, Lord, for they know not what they do,” is essentially a paraphrase of Bamidbar 15:26, which Jews recite numerous times on Yom Kippur. Further, the Jewish Bible stresses loving the stranger, in addition to one’s neighbor. “The whole concept of love and forgiveness comes to Christianity through
Judaism,” said Rabbi Sacks. However, Judaism mandates that love is not enough; justice is also critical. “One theme of Bereishit is the inadequacy of love for the foundation of society,” said Rabbi Sacks, noting the Jacob-Esau conflict resulting from Isaac’s and Rebecca’s love for different sons, the pain caused by Jacob’s loving Rachel over Leah and the tragic sale of Joseph following Jacob’s paternal favoritism. “Bereishit has as a general theme that love generates conflict,” he said. “How do you resolve that? Only by creating a society … tempered by justice. The mitzvot are God’s expression of love for us,” continued Rabbi Sacks. “Clearly law here goes hand in hand with love, and it is designed to create fairness in society.” Rabbi Sacks also discussed different anti-Semitic expressions, such as antiIsrael interruptions during the Habima Theater’s performance of The Merchant of Venice at Shakespeare’s Globe during the International Shakespeare Festival earlier this year. “Anti-Semitism does not die, because it is a virus and it mutates.” Threats to Jewish observance have included recent attempts to ban
circumcision in some European countries. “I don’t hold back [on this issue] … I believe in long-term planning on this,” said Rabbi Sacks, who has communicated to European leaders that circumcision is non-negotiable for Jews. Rabbi Sacks said he believes that the biggest miracle in Jewish history is that Jews as a nation never internalized the negative self-image in response to their persecution. “We defined ourselves in reference to our reflection in the face of Hakadosh Barukh Hu,” explained Rabbi Sacks, who said that the assimilationist streak of the 19th century was among the Jewish people’s worst tragedies. “You don’t see any negative self-perception in literature in the Middle Ages. All the conversation is between us and God… Just look at Hakadosh Barukh Hu and you will see him smiling back.” In his opening remarks, Yeshiva University President Richard M. Joel emphasized the common mission of much of Rabbi Sacks’ and YU’s work: “Sharing our values with the world.” Rabbi Sacks will serve as Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth for one more year until his term ends. n
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rabbinic Marriage Counseling Course Goes online
RIETS and Yeshiva University’s Center for the Jewish Future have launched a comprehensive “Rabbinic Marriage Counseling” course that aims to develop communal rabbis’ skills and techniques in assisting couples through every stage of relationship—from dating and marriage to crisis, death and divorce. The first of its kind, the year-long online lecture series will explore the rabbi’s role in various situations and how he can effectively collaborate with couples, their families and mental health professionals in formulating and implementing a counseling plan. The course, which boasts 40 participants from across North America and Israel, began on October 15, 2012 with an in-depth look at dating. “While communal rabbis are interested in attending conferences to enhance and inform their rabbinic education, the availability of time and money for such enrichment are real obstacles. This course provides a costand time-effective way for rabbis to update their skills in a way that will allow them to serve their constituents better,” said Rabbi Levi Mostofsky, director of RIETS-CJF Continuing Rabbinic Education and Support. “We have been supporting our rabbis in numerous ways for years and there is consistent interest in nuanced instruction from trained professionals. With the launch of our program, rabbis have an open platform to discuss and learn about every aspect of the Jewish marital relationship in real-time from the top experts in the field.” Prior to the first webinar, each
CJf-rIets virtual Lecture series teaches rabbis effective Methods for addressing relationship Issues at every stage
participant received a thorough selection of reference materials, related articles and assignments on the course topics. Altogether, the group will meet “virtually” for 17 lectures and discussions and twice in person for more intensive allday seminars at Yeshiva University’s Wilf Campus in New York. In between classes, participants interact with one another via the course’s dedicated online forum, and schedule offline conversations with the instructors, leading mental health professionals and authorities in Jewish marital law. “This course represents a true paradigm shift, both in the ways the topics will be presented and taught as well as the way in which the rabbis will be accessing the information. In addition, by delving into important, but often ignored, topics—such as abuse, blended families, adoption, homosexuality, illness and death—participants will be well-prepared to formulate new approaches to answer their congregants’ most challenging questions and help find real solutions for
painful and distressing problems,” said Rabbi Dr. Jacob J. Schacter, senior scholar of the CJF. “Our hope is that this course will cultivate a rabbinic culture that is grounded in confidence, receptiveness to new ideas and a true understanding of the need to become close partners with mental health professionals. It will take these kinds of leaders to keep our Jewish communities emotionally well and spiritually sound.” “Rabbinic Marriage Counseling,” which was cultivated by CJF Director of Online Rabbinic Programming Rabbi Naphtali Lavenda and Rabbi Dr. Jonathan Schwartz (’99R), the director of the Center for Anxiety Relief in New Jersey, is the second virtual continuing rabbinic education course organized and run by the CJF in coordination with RIETS. Last year, the CJF teamed up with the Israel-based Puah Institute for a yearlong online course on the issues surrounding infertility. n
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rIets Board appoints new Leadership
Joel schreiber (’60r) elected Chairman of the Board of trustees; Lance hirt, Chaim wietschner and william schwartz elected officers
Joel Schreiber (’60R) has recently been elected chairman of the Board of Trustees of RIETS. In addition, newly elected RIETS officers include Lance Hirt as vice chairman, Chaim Wietschner as treasurer and Dr. William Schwartz as secretary. Schreiber replaces outgoing chairman, Rabbi Julius Berman (’59R), who has been elected chairman emeritus. “I leave the chairmanship of the RIETS Board with great confidence in the fact that the leadership role is being assumed by Joel Schreiber, a fellow musmach of RIETS and one who has proven through decades of dedicated Jewish communal leadership that he has the unique qualifications to lead our institution to ever greater heights of service to our people,” said Berman. “The newly elected leadership at RIETS brings a profound love for the Yeshiva and the University, and a commitment to advancing the ideals of the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary,” said YU President Richard M. Joel. “In the strength of Joel Schreiber’s commitment, he follows in the footsteps of Rabbi Julius Berman who brought a fierce passion to the welfare of the Yeshiva.” Schreiber, a resident of Manhattan, has served as a member of the RIETS Board of Trustees since 1996. He graduated Yeshiva College with a degree in English literature in 1957, and received his semichah from RIETS as well as a master’s degree from Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies in 1960. His wife, Judy, is a graduate of YU’s Brooklyn Girls High School and received a
Joel Schreiber (L) replaces Rabbi Julius Berman (R) as chairman of the RIETS Board of Trustees.
master’s degree from YU’s Wurzweiler School of Social Work. The Schreiber family’s generosity has supported many Yeshiva University initiatives including the Aaron and Blanche Schreiber Torah Tours Program, which provides critical Jewish education and outreach around the world. Schreiber currently serves as president of A. H. Schreiber Co. Inc., a family owned and operated swimwear design and manufacturing company. He serves as vice chairman of American Friends of Yeshivot Bnei Akiva in Israel and is an honorary vice president of the Orthodox Union, where he was instrumental in creating Jewish Action, the magazine of the Orthodox Union, of which he is chairman emeritus. n
SAVE THE DATE
on wednesday, May 1, 2013, rIets will hold its annual dinner at the Grand hyatt. we are very excited that our honorees include our rosh Kollel Rabbi Hershel Schachter, vice-Chairman of the Board of trustees of rIets Rabbi Hyman and Anne Arbesfeld and Rabbi Eliezer Zwickler of Congregation aaBJ&D of west orange, nJ. rabbi arbesfeld will be accepting the eitz Chaim award which is the highest honor awarded to a lay leader.
for more information, please contract andrew Goldsmith at email@example.com or 212.960.0852.
C h av r u s a • s h e vat 57 7 3
torah and the arts
Keep Calm and Carry on
Shabbat is designed to be a day of rest, relaxation and communal prayer. Due to halachic restrictions on their carrying items from one place to another, however, observant Jews can become prisoners in their own homes. The rabbis, therefore, wherever they could, came up with a way to circumvent this issue: the eruv. The word literally means “mixture”; and views on the eruv are themselves mixed and hotly debated. The Yeshiva University Museum now has an exhibition devoted to the eruv called, “It’s a Thin Line: The Eruv and Jewish Community in New York and Beyond.” The museum launched the exhibition with a day-long symposium on October 28, 2012, reflecting the debates that the eruv has occasioned. Among the Sabbath laws is an injunction against transferring an object from a private to a public space or moving it within the public space itself. The prohibited activity is often simply called “carrying.” The activity is heavily regulated, and the rules are complex. Halachic literatures are occupied by questions of how to define a public or private space and what constitutes a transfer. For purposes of this idea of “carrying,” the rabbinic discussions generally identify four types of space: reshut harabim, or public space; reshut hayahid, or private space; makom patur, an exempt area; and karmelit, related to the word for “garden,” which is legislatively treated as a kind of limbo, a public space that nevertheless has some characteristics of private space. The karmelit is the only space around which the construction of an eruv is permitted. The eruv’s artificial architecture—often consisting merely of poles and wires— defines the confines of the space as
rIets student Dov Lerner on Yeshiva university Museum’s eruv exhibition
private and, thus, allows carrying within its bounds. Nowadays, it is not unusual for an area with a large Jewish population have an eruv. Manhattan’s eruv covers over half of the island, stretching from Harlem in the north to Greenwich Village in the south. In recent years eruvim have sprung up in cities across the globe, from San Diego to Vienna. But the halachic legality of the contemporary eruv is not universally accepted. Though many observant Jews embrace the eruv, a large swathe of Orthodox Jewry will not use it. Yeshiva University Museum’s inaugural symposium, titled “The Mystery and History of the Eruv,” covered the history of the eruv fairly quickly. In a presentation on the theoretical basis of the eruv, Lawrence Schiffman described the fierce debate over the device between ancient Jewish sects—the Sadducees, who rejected the entire eruv project, and the Pharisees who promoted the eruv’s use. Charlotte Fonrobert addressed the practical application of the eruv in a more recent context, describing its use, championed by Rabbi Selig Bamberger, in 19th-century Würzburg, Germany. Jeffrey Gurock brought the discussion rapidly into the present time, analyzing controversies over the eruv in 20th-century Manhattan. The demographic that now depends on the eruv, he said, consists of what may be called “eruv moms”—because mothers with young children are often the primary victims of an area with no eruv. While their husbands attend synagogue on the Sabbath, they are stuck indoors. Forbidden from transferring their children outside their private homes or shouldering their weight in the streets, they suffer from the inevitable result: Sabbath cabin-fever.
The eruv allows mothers and their young children to join the congregation. In the afternoon, the symposium turned to the future. There were pragmatic projections of eruv building, in which Elliot Malkin proposed replacing wires with lasers and weekly checkers with cameras. Isaac Cohen made sociological observations about the ways of making Jewish space. The final speaker, author and law professor Thane Rosenbaum, examined the philosophical implications of the different notions of Jewish private and public spaces, touching on the question of what it means, as a Jew, to be an insider or an outsider. The new exhibition itself builds on Rosenbaum’s theme, exploring the role the eruv plays within American Jewish culture and the ways in which that role differs from the eruv’s historical function. At the entry to the exhibit, one is greeted by a wall of images and biblical quotes that express and emphasize the restriction on Sabbath “carrying.” Then, before visitors are presented with any details of the ways
C h av r u s a • s h e vat 57 7 3
torah and the arts
in which the rabbis circumvented this restriction, they are offered the primary Jewish proof of the necessity of such circumvention—not mothers with babies but hot cholent. In pre-modern Europe, Jews did not have private ovens. Individual families warmed their Sabbath lunches in a common place: the premises of the local baker. The eruv provided the mechanism that allowed them to carry their cholent home. Breaking from the historical background, the exhibit, escorting visitors with a vertical wire tied taut above their heads, introduces the subject of the Manhattan eruv. The exhibit begins with some of the oldest disagreements and earliest designs, then proceeds through the evolution of the eruv to date. Where the exhibition excels is in giving a sense of the social impact of an eruv, running televised interviews with rabbis and builders and including Wyatt Cenac’s wry segment on “The Daily Show” describing the effort to prevent the construction of an eruv in the Hamptons—an effort led by secular Jews seeking to keep the Orthodox out. At the exhibit’s end, visitors are met by a wall of different quotes that attempt to make them confront the profound implications of the boundaries of private space. The quotes are not talmudic or rabbinic, neither biblical nor historic. Instead, they represent the voices of current residents of Teaneck and Great Neck, Passaic and Queens, all remarking on the ways in which an eruv has changed their lives—by freeing the otherwise fastened, allowing the infirm and elderly, as well as mothers and children, to experience the Sabbath world outside their homes. When an eruv is built, they say, synagogues become accessible and friends closer. Perhaps not so ironically, an eruv, by enclosing a space, unchains the immobile and breaks down walls. n
Dov Lerner is a Tikvah Fellow. For the past two years he has been a rabbinic intern at Lincoln Square Synagogue. He is in his final year of studies toward rabbinic ordination at Yeshiva University’s Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary. Reprinted with permission from Jewish Ideas Daily.
rIets Musmach honored by YCDs
honors Longtime Member rabbi Dr. John Krug (’78r)
On December 2, the Yeshiva College Dramatics Society (YCDS) celebrated one of its most beloved members with a reception and special performance of its 100th production, 12 Angry Men. Rabbi Dr. John Krug (’78R) first became involved with YCDS 42 years ago as a student actor and has served as lighting director in both a faculty and volunteer capacity ever since. Rabbi Krug graduated Yeshiva College in 1974 and received his rabbinical ordination from RIETS in 1978. He also holds several degrees from YU’s Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology and is an adjunct professor at RIETS. Rabbi Krug serves as the dean of student life and welfare at The Frisch School in Paramus, NJ and served as the longtime lighting director for The Fantasticks, which was the world’s longest running musical before it closed in 2002. Speaking of his three passions—psychology, rabbinic study and theater—Rabbi Krug listed his many degrees and said that his time at YU had helped him fuse divergent interests into a united life-view. “There is no other place on earth I could have pursued all of those fields. My hakart hatov to my alma mater will be lifelong—it has shaped me, molded me and whatever I am has been profoundly impacted by this very special place.” n
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Meet Yair from Queens. YU educated, Harvard Law bound.
nowhere but here
As a Yeshiva College graduate, and current rabbinical student at Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS), Yair knows firsthand that a YU undergraduate education is an excellent foundation upon which to launch a successful career: in 2013 he will enter Harvard Law School. In fact, 97% of law school applicants from Yeshiva University were accepted to a law school of their choice last year, far surpassing the national acceptance rate.* Call our Office of Admissions at 212.960.5277 to schedule a preliminary consultation and start your remarkable journey today.
*Source: Yeshiva University Career Center survey
500 West 185th Street | New York, NY 100339| 212.960.5277 | firstname.lastname@example.org
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Commentary for the ages
Yeshiva University has published a selection of essays based on sermons on the book of Genesis delivered by YU Chancellor Rabbi Dr. Norman Lamm (’51R) early in his rabbinical career. The volume, entitled Derashot LeDorot, is sponsored by the Michael Scharf Publication Trust of Yeshiva University Press and OU Press, and was released by Maggid Books, an imprint of Koren Publishers Jerusalem, on September 23, 2012. Derashot LeDorot (literally “A Commentary for the Ages”) is culled from the files of the Lamm Archives of Yeshiva University and draws from lectures and speeches given by Rabbi Lamm between the years 1952 and 1976 in both Congregation Kodimoh in Springfield, MA, and The Jewish
new Book Brings Chancellor rabbi Dr. norman Lamm (’51r)’s timeless Commentaries to a new Generation
Center in New York City. Rabbi Dr. Meir Soloveichik (’03R), director of the Zahava and Moshael Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought at Yeshiva University and associate rabbi at Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun in Manhattan, provides the volume’s foreword. In the book’s preface, editor Stuart Halpern, academic advisor at Yeshiva College and assistant director of operations at the Straus Center, explains that these essays are no less impressive, powerful and pertinent today than when they were first presented. “Each essay features reflections on the weekly parasha, brilliantly illustrating Rabbi Lamm’s masterful pedagogy, deep intellectual rigor and staunch commitment to the word of God. Today, almost half a century later, these essays remain as relevant and inspiring as ever,” said Halpern. “As examples of passionate pulpit [teachings], brilliant biblical insight and steadfast communal commitment, these essays stand in testimony to a master rabbi and teacher, whose words spoke to his congregants–when they faced war, political upheaval, social unrest and rapidly developing technology–and continue to speak to us today.” Every sermon included in Derashot LeDorot is presented as it was first articulated, with only minor editorial tweaks. Indeed, “current events” referenced in the essays have been retained so that the reader can best appreciate the historical and
New from Our Yeshiva
communal situation to which Rabbi Lamm was responding at the time. Derashot LeDorot is the newest addition to the growing list of innovative and substantial joint projects undertaken by Yeshiva University and Koren Publishers Jerusalem. Over the last two years, the partnership has released a 20th anniversary edition of Rabbi Lamm’s masterwork, Torah U’madda, a multivolume set on topics of contemporary Jewish law, authored by YU Roshei Yeshiva; and two volumes of the Mitokh Ha-Ohel series, a collection of original essays on the parashiyot and haftarot authored by rabbis and professors from every division of Yeshiva University. Koren hopes to release additional volumes of the Derashot LeDorot series in the coming months. n Available at www.korenpub.com
Kuntres Sha’ashuei Ephraim on Masechet Yevamot new York, 2012 by rabbi ephraim Meth (’12r)
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rIets and Calvary hospital form Collaboration to serve orthodox Community
RIETS and Calvary Hospital recently announced a collaboration to serve the needs of observant Jews in the metropolitan area in need of information and access to the best end-of-life care. Jewish families seeking halachically appropriate, highest quality end-of-life medical care often lack familiarity with the intricate religious laws that govern such care. To address this important need, Yeshiva University has formed the YU/RIETS End-of-Life Halachic Advisory Program to provide rabbinic consultation for families and community rabbis. It includes: • A rabbinic panel comprised of four roshei yeshiva who have extensive experience with end-of-life halachic issues. Rabbi Herschel Schachter (’67R), Rabbi Yaakov Neuburger (’79R), Rabbi Mordechai Willig (’71R) and Rabbi Dr. Moshe D. Tendler (’48R) will serve on a rotating basis as pre-hospice advisors, answering questions from patients’ families and community rabbis after a physician has recommended that an individual receive hospice care. • A panel of physicians associated with the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University and its affiliates will be available to advise community rabbis on the clinical issues surrounding the terminally ill. The medical panel includes Dr. Edward Burns, Dr. Seymour Huberfeld, Dr. Beth Popp, Rabbi Dr. Edward Reichman (’97R) and Dr. Robert Sidlow. “There is a pressing need in the Orthodox community for accurate and thorough information on the conditions under
which end-of-life care should be provided,” said Dr. Burns, Einstein’s executive dean. “Regardless of where a person chooses to seek hospice care, Yeshiva University’s End-of-Life Halachic Advisory Program is designed to answer their questions. Our decision to collaborate with Calvary recognizes the unmatched quality of care that every patient receives there and the staff ’s commitment to the hospital’s mission.” “Since the hospital was founded more than 113 years ago, Calvary has embraced the opportunity to care for people from all religious backgrounds,” said Frank Calamari, president and chief executive officer of Calvary Hospital. “We are confident that our collaboration with Yeshiva University will provide the Orthodox community with the information they need to make the right healthcare decisions for their loved ones. “And if they should decide to choose Calvary home hospice care or care in our hospital, we want traditionally observant patients and families to be confident that Calvary care will be provided in
accordance with their faith traditions.” Calvary’s patient care model successfully addresses the medical, emotional and spiritual needs of patients and their families. For Jewish patients and families this includes a comprehensive range of services such as: • Pastoral care by the hospital’s two staff rabbis, both of whom are graduates of RIETS; • End-of-life counseling in accordance with Jewish tradition; • Kosher meals and cholov yisroel dairy products available upon request; • Kosher food pantry with two microwave ovens, refrigerator and sink; • Celebration of Shabbat and all major Jewish holidays; • Shabbat lounge; • Inclusion in the Einstein and Pelham Parkway eruv; and • Being part of the Einstein and Pelham Parkway communities. For more information please visit www.yu.edu/riets/end-of-life-care. n
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Parshat Ha’azinu at the beginning of the Jewish year, is to remind us that we should not assume that our methods of avodat Hashem even from the previous year will continue to be successful in the coming year. Every year we must modify and update our approach to avodat Hashem in order to meet the new challenges that will confront us. Certainly then, as the generations pass we should not be afraid to modify and update the strategies of the past in response to the challenges of today. The Talmud (Menachot 28b) states that all of the utensils fashioned by Moshe for the Mishkan were able to be used not only during the lifetime of Moshe but by future generations as well, with one exception. The chatsosrot, the trumpets used to gather the nation together, which were made by Moshe, were not able to be used by subsequent leaders. Rather every generation, every leader, must engage in the process of constructing their own set of chatsosros. Rav Yechezkel Abramsky (cited in Me-Shulchan Gavoha, Deut. pg. 68) explains that this is because the chatsosrot were the instrument that inspired the nation to change, to move from one place to another, and even though the call of the chatsosrot is immutable, the method through which it is delivered must be molded to meet the particular needs of each generation. We should recognize as well, that while it is our sacred duty to transmit the timeless values, themes and laws of the Torah just as it was done in the past, we are also charged with fashioning our own chatsosrot, with finding and cultivating our own vehicles, our own language, for conveying those same messages in a way that will be best suited for our current setting and constituency. To that end, it is critical that we be intimately knowledgeable of the problems, issues and concerns facing our generation. The pasuk states, “you shall come to the Kohanim, the Levites,
remembering the Days of old but understanding the Years of Generations
Rabbi Daniel Stein (’05R)
Rosh Yeshiva, RIETS
he verse states in connection with Shabbat, “and you honor it by not engaging in your own affairs, from seeking your own needs, or discussing the forbidden” (Isaiah 58, 13), from which the Talmud (Shabbat 113a) derives that one’s speech on Shabbat should not involve discussions relating to the specific performance of one of the prohibited activities of Shabbat. The Talmud (Shabbat 116b) includes within this restriction a prohibition against reading most non-mitzvah related reading material on Shabbat. Nonetheless, the Ba’er Heitev (307:18) asserts that one is permitted to read works of history on Shabbat, because works of history are to be regarded as works of mussar. The Ba’er Heitev’s contention can be understood in light of the comments of the Hazon Ish (Emuna u-Bittahon pg. 7), who explains that through studying history one can learn from previous missteps, thereby enabling one to approach future dilemmas and predicaments from the enlightened perspective of experience. From this vantage point, the study of history plays a potentially critical role in the process of self-perfection and the overall enterprise of dveykus ba-Shem, and therefore its study is permitted on Shabbat. Many have suggested further that the plain meaning of the pasuk, “zechor yemot olam binu shenot dor vador”—“remember the days of old
understand the years of generations” (Deut. 32:7) is in fact a directive to study history in order to extract the valuable lessons it contains. However, if the simple meaning of the pasuk “zechor yemot olam binu shenot dor vador” is indeed commanding us to study history, we can ask, what is the significance of the repetition within the pasuk, “remember the days of old” and “understand the years of generations”? Rav Menachem Zaks (Menachem Tzion vol. 2 pg. 537) suggests that only the first part of the pasuk, “zechor yemot olam,” refers to the value in studying history as an effort to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past. However, the second phrase in the pasuk “binu shenot dor vador” refers to a different notion entirely. Namely, that we should recognize and contemplate the “shenot” the “differences”—not from the root “shanah” or “year” but from the root “shinui” or “difference”—that exist between generations. In other words, while we must undoubtedly learn from the mistakes of the past, we must also recognize that times change, and just because a certain strategy or method might have been successful in one generation, does not necessarily dictate that it will continue to be effective in the future. Rav Yisrael Alter of Ger (Beit Yisrael, Ha’azinu pg. 97) cites the Chiddushei Ha-Rim, who suggests that perhaps one of the reasons that we read
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and to the judge who will be in those days” (Deut. 17, 9). Rashi citing Chazal questions the seemingly superfluous qualification to only appear before a judge “who will be in those days,” since obviously it is impossible to appear before a judge of the past or future. Rav Yehuda Henkin (Bnei Banim vol. 1. pg. 166 in a eulogy for his grandfather z”l) suggests that perhaps the pasuk is indicating that one of the fundamental qualifications to be an effective leader, is that the leader be “in those days”—that he be familiar with the unique problems of the day, and wellequipped to confront them. Often people erroneously perceive aloof ignorance on the part of a religious guide as a form of other-worldly kedushah, when in fact just the opposite is the case. The most effective leadership can only be found in those leaders who are at times even more familiar with the challenges confronting their constituents than their constituents themselves. Therefore, it seems that our methods of communication and the character of our leadership should be uniquely tailored to correspond with the individual and contemporary needs of our times. At the end of Parshat Ha’azinu (Deut. 32:51-52) Moshe is informed that he will not be leading the Jewish people into Israel because of his actions at the waters of Merivat Kadesh, where Moshe hit the rock in order to obtain the water from within it, rather than speaking with the rock. Many commentators have struggled to understand why Moshe should have been barred forever from entering the Land of Israel because of this relatively minor offense, particularly in light of the fact that on an earlier occasion (Ex. 17:6) Moshe is explicitly commanded to hit a rock in order to bring forth water. How could it be that when the Jews are on their way out of Egypt, Moshe is told specifically to hit the rock in order to obtain water, but when they are later traveling through the desert, hitting the rock constitutes an unforgivable offense? The answer might be found in the Midrash Rabbah (Devarim 9:9), which states that Moshe was only forbidden from entering the Land of Israel in his role as leader. If in theory Moshe could have become a student of Yehoshua he would have been granted entry. Therefore, it seems that in fact Moshe was not denied entry into the Land of Israel because of the severity of his actions per se, but rather because of what they signified. Hitting the rock might have been the appropriate style of leadership for the generation of Jews who left Egypt, but it did not resonate with the generation of Jews poised to enter the Land of Israel. Moshe was denied entry into the Land of Israel in his role as leader because his leadership style had run its course, and the people needed a different brand of leader, they needed Yehoshua. [See Mitokh Ha-Ohel pg. 477-482 and fn. 8.] Even though we must cater our manner of leadership, and our method and strategies of communicating the eternal principles of the Torah in a way that will be most effective with our present generation, there is one final caveat. The opening Mishnah in Avot states that one of the sayings of the Anshei Keneset Ha-Gedolah was “and you should raise up many talmidim.” The Tosfot Yom Tov wonders why the Mishnah chose the odd language of “raise up many talmidim” as opposed to the more simple and obvious language of “make many talmidim” or “teach many talmidim.” The Medrash Shmuel suggests that this is a reference to the ancient custom recorded by the Gemara (Megillah 21a) that the talmidim used to stand while listening to their rebbi who was seated. The relevancy of this reference might be to underscore the point, that a successful and meaningful talmid is only one who reveres his teacher to the degree that he is willing to stand out of respect for his master and his teachings. At the same time, Rav Soloveitchik z”l (cited in Beit Yitzchak vol. 22 pg. 65) once proposed that the Mishnah chose the language of “raise up many talmidim,” to indicate that a successful rebbi is not one who seeks to create replicas of himself, but rather one who encourages his talmidim to stand independently and forge new paths of their own. I believe that as students of history, and talmidim of our illustrious Rabbeim at Yeshiva, integrating both of these notions is critical. We should approach the methods and successes of the past with a healthy measure of veneration and respect, but at the same time we must recognize when it is necessary to be creative and innovative in our approach, to conceive of and develop our own set of chatsosrot, in a way that will be most effective in transmitting the eternal and immutable values of the Torah to our present generation. n
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There really are Jews in Kansas
An Interview with Rabbi Dani Rockoff, (’03R)
CHAVRUSA: Rabbi Rockoff, are there Jews in Kansas? I am glad you asked that. It is not uncommon for a rabbi to find himself in what many consider the frontier. Yet for some reason, when people—even my colleagues—hear that we live in Overland Park, Kansas, the common refrain is, “there are Jews in Kansas?” The answer of course is that indeed there are, and many of them have been in these parts for many generations. Our shul finds its roots in what were undoubtedly very small gatherings of Eastern European Jews in the early 1890s in Kansas City, Missouri. At various points there may have been as many as 12 Orthodox shuls. Though few could support a rabbi, they did often join together to appoint a main rabbi to service all of them. Our shul, Congregation BIAV, or Beth Israel Abraham and Voliner, is the product of the most recent merger of whatever smaller shuls were around in 1960. The shul moved to Overland Park in 1994, following the growth of
sprawling suburbia and the rest of the Jewish community. The greater metro area has around 18,000 Jews, with about half of them affiliated with a synagogue or a Jewish organization. Our shul has around 150 families at the present time. CHAVRUSA: Can you tell us about your experience as an “out-of-town” rabbi and was it something you ever expected to be? Growing up in Newton, Massachusetts as one of few kids who came to shul regularly, I was always comfortable with the idea of being in a place a bit off the beaten track, where I knew I could make a difference. I didn’t always know I wanted to pursue being a community/pulpit rabbi, but once I ended up on that path, becoming an “outof-town” rabbi was very appealing. I had spent two years working for the OU synagogue services office, one in the West Coast office, and one in the New York office. I was able to travel to many communities for Shabbos and speak to colleagues about their experience as rabbis.
rabbi Dani rockoff, ‘03r
After getting married and serving as an assistant rabbi in West Orange, New Jersey for two wonderful years, it was time to see where I might fit in, and Overland Park it was! CHAVRUSA: Could you tell us about some of your efforts in Overland Park? In many ways I am sure being a rabbi in Overland Park is similar to what many of my colleagues have found in smaller to midsize Jewish communities.
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For starters, we are the main Orthodox shul in the area, affiliated with the OU. There are two smaller Chabad minyanim on Shabbat, but we are the only regular daily minyan. And this affords me the classic small-town experience of making sure we have a minyan each day, morning and afternoon, and often regretfully in a shiva house as well. For the most part our minyan is strong; we rarely miss one. But it does often involve making phone calls and special appeals. One of my earliest initiatives to support the minyan was to create a Minyan Man campaign. We have a congregant who sells clothing who designed a line of “Minyan Man” sweatshirts, with BIAV Minyan Man #10 on the lapel. Anyone who committed to one minyan a week would receive a sweatshirt. The next iteration was a Minyan Man dodgeball tournament. Teams were given different colored Minyan Man long sleeve T-shirts. In order to compete, participants needed to sign up for at least one minyan time slot a week. The results? We definitely generated goodwill and even a few regular minyan attendees. Most important, I think in a gentle, fun way we were able to generate enthusiasm and respect for one of the mainstays of shul life that is often preached but seldom heeded. We also gave the apparel to some visitors as a way of getting the word out about our community. I have heard several stories of people spotted in the New York area wearing BIAV Minyan Man shirts! CHAVRUSA: What has your relationship with the local eruv and other institutions been? Another aspect of my overarching duties as rabbi of the main Orthodox shul is to be the local authority for our halachic institutions: the eruv, the mikvah, chevra kadisha, geirut, and kashrut. I oversee the Overland Park Eruv and in that capacity I have brought out an eruv expert to make sure that what was already in place is up to par. Before coming to Kansas, I was an assistant rabbi in West Orange, New Jersey and one of my responsibilities was the expansive and complex West Orange Eruv. Relative to that, our eruv is much smaller and straightforward, but as anyone who has been involved in eruvim knows, it is something that requires constant vigilance and attention. One program we have run to educate about the eruv is an Eruv Scavenger Hunt. It is an educational program, where different clues are put at various points along the eruv and teams have to find the clues, and in the process they learn not only the boundaries of the eruv but a bit more about how the eruv works. Our local community mikvah was built by Rabbi Nata Greenblatt of Memphis, Tennessee. It was in decent shape when we arrived in terms of aesthetics but with full credit to my wife, Ayala, and some dedicated volunteers, through some local fundraisers and a grant from a national organization, the mikvah has undergone a complete makeover. This has already seen dividends in more patronage of the mikvah and greater satisfaction among mikvah users. Ayala and I have held classes together for the community on the topic of mikvah and taharat hamishpacha and we feel this is an area we can both make a difference in educating the community. Speaking of my wife, Dr. Ayala Zoltan Rockoff, I don’t think it would be proper not to recognize her role. I know there are different models of “rebbetzins” (not a title she embraces)—those more involved or less involved. In a place such as Kansas City, it is so crucial to any success that we have. I consider this interview to be שלא בפניהso I can give her complete praise. She not only helps me in every phase, but she on her own is the complete package—caring for the community, teaching classes and individuals, making and organizing meals, not to mention spearheading critical communal initiatives. Ayala has a critical role in our day school as well, which I will address a bit later. In my capacity as rabbi of BIAV, I am also the halachic advisor to the Chevra Kadisha of Kansas City. This means that I receive questions regarding tahara procedure as they come up, and we hold classes and workshops for the chevra volunteers. I also serve as an alternate on the rotation and have had the opportunity to participate in this important mitzvah firsthand. Another major responsibility I have is dealing with those interested in converting to Judaism. I am the official sponsoring rabbi for anyone who wants to convert through the Chicago Rabbinical Council, our local regional beit din. It has been
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an incredibly interesting experience for me. It has been very rewarding to work with numerous גרי צדקand monitor their growth through this process. It has also been incredible to become acquainted with the venerable Rabbi Gedalia Dov Schwartz, the av beit din. The issue of conversions is so vital to confront especially in light of the challenges of Jewish status in Israel. Another major local halachic institution is, of course, kashrut. While there are other Orthodox rabbis around, I remain the rav hamachshir for the Vaad Hakashruth of Kansas City. And this responsibility takes me well beyond simply answering policy and halachic questions as they come up. Our vaad supervises local events and we have many industrial accounts as well. In my first three years in Kansas City, much of my time was devoted to helping reconstitute the Board of Directors, obtain grant funding from the four major local Jewish foundations, and hiring a new director to administer the day-to-day operations of the organization. Kansas is a major locale for food production and distribution and we therefore created a business plan that demonstrated how we could become viable over time with new accounts. I am pleased to share that our new director and the organization are doing remarkably well. One successful and incredibly exciting event that our vaad ran was the first annual Kansas City Kosher BBQ competition. I was inspired by what I learned about a barbecue competition that is run in Memphis, and I reasoned that Kansas City barbecue is equally if not more famous, so we should have our own! Fifteen teams spent an entire night smoking their briskets and “burnt-ends” to perfection. We had a festival with barbecue available for all, and events for children. Nearly 2,000 people attended and we were covered by all the local news stations. We held the event in the parking lot of largest and oldest Reform temple in Kansas City. It was a real kiddush Hashem to have so many Jews eating kosher and feeling proud of their heritage. I should also mention that one unique aspect of our vaad board is that it is now made up of volunteers from throughout the community. Our by-laws confirm that I am the rav hamachshir, but in a place like Kansas City, for something to be successful, we really require support and buy-in from the community at large. The vaad has been a great example of such efforts. CHAVRUSA: What has your relationship been with non-Orthodox colleagues? I also sit on the local rabbinical association with other non-Orthodox colleagues. I know this is a somewhat contested issue and not all of my colleagues who may be reading this may participate in the same way. This was something that was very important for my shul and they shared this with me before I was hired. The greater Kansas City community is extremely grateful and proud that the Orthodox rabbi sits together with the other rabbis. Practically speaking, while it is frustrating at times, it has been mostly rewarding and productive. We discuss mainly matters of common interest within the community and there is some joint educational programming that we offer the community. I make it clear when I am not comfortable participating or signing on to a statement that I disagree with. My colleagues are not always happy about this but ultimately they respect me for it, and are grateful that I respect them enough to sit around the table with them. I don’t feel that my associating with them means that I am validating how they practice or what they preach, nor do I feel that it compromises me in any way. To the contrary—it helps me gain support for communal standards and initiatives. CHAVRUSA: What can you tell our readers about community growth? There is a great deal of appeal to live in a place like Overland Park. Overland Park is consistently rated by the relevant magazines as one of the best places to raise a family, and also to retire. The homes are beautiful and inexpensive. There is very little traffic, and the conveniences are many. People are generally more relaxed and well-mannered. And Kansas City is a thriving metro area, with over two million people spanning five counties, and numerous major companies, such as H&R Block, Hallmark, Sprint and Garmin to name a few. My challenge is to make Overland Park a viable and thriving destination
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for Orthodox families. We have a wonderful and warm shul. We have the aforementioned halachic institutions necessary for any frum community. Kosher restaurants are nice, but the main ingredient we have been missing is an Orthodox day school. CHAVRUSA: I am glad you mentioned that. What opportunities are there for orthodox families in the local day school? There is a community day school, the Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy. It is a K-12 school that serves the whole community. The reality is that even were the school able to serve the educational needs of Orthodox families, it is a nonstarter for the vast majority of families when they consider moving if there is no “mainstream” Orthodox day school. In fact, in the time just before I arrived and during my first year, there were a couple of attempts to create separate day schools. One I know of did not get off the ground and another one lasted just four years. These attempts also created ill will within the broader community that pledges allegiance to its beloved Hebrew Academy. So we tried something different. The school agreed to partner with us to create a separate Judaic track for the Orthodox community. What this means is that the students are together for general studies and extracurricular activities, but our students are separate for Judaic studies, Hebrew and Tefilla. Our teachers are Torah-observant Jews and the families who send to our program can be assured that their children are receiving a rigorous education that teaches halacha according to Orthodox norms and can be a match for any day school around the country. Just as important—this creates a social group for our kids who can now feel proud to be among the children who wear kippot and tziztit and keep Shabbat and kashrut at home. And this also serves as a building block for families from out of town looking at Kansas City. If they are willing to consider something a bit different from what they are used to and be pioneering in being part of a process of growth, now they have something they can set their sights on. Our program is called Matmidim and currently runs grades K-3. We intend to add a grade every year through middle school. Our shul has a formal agreement with the school. We fund the extra cost for teacher’s salaries and the school absorbs the extra cost of administration, housing, etc. I function as the religious advisor to the program, and I administer the program along with the head of Judaic studies, who is an Orthodox rabbi as well. My wife, Ayala, teaches our first grade and also serves as the curriculum coordinator and community liaison. Ayala develops the curriculum to fit the needs of the Orthodox children and adds the extra arm of administrative support to advocate for our needs within the school. Such “track” models to my knowledge are very rare. But it works in the context of our community where we have a great deal of mutual respect with the broader community. Also, the school recognizes that they are seeing a great deal of growth through our program, which benefits them as well. We now have 30 students in our program and our kindergarten class makes up nearly half the entire class. Fortunately, we have seen growth within our community, specifically with young families moving to our kehila to partner in the vision of making Kansas City a home for a bona fide Orthodox community that can stand on its own two feet. My other initiative, which is really in tandem, is to actively attract and recruit people to move to Kansas City. We have an award-winning NCSY chapter, and our advisors always return home raving about the warmth and vibrancy of BIAV. We have also hosted Torah Tours at every opportunity. CHAVRUSA: Can you tell us about some of the RIETS musmachim who live and have lived in your community? Kansas City has been home to many YU musmachim, including several former rabbis of BIAV. Rabbi Herbert (Chaim) Berger served for many years until his retirement to Israel in the late 1980s. Rabbi David Glickman followed him for two years, and then Rabbi Morey Schwartz served as rabbi during a pivotal time for the kehila that saw the transition from Missouri to Kansas. During Rabbi Schwartz’s tenure, BIAV attracted several core member families that led to its resurgence as a young congregation. He was followed by Rabbi Ari Perl. Other YU musmachim included Rabbi Michael Merdinger, who served as a rabbi in Nashville before moving to Overland Park to be near to his wife’s family the Megermans. He and Eliana have since made aliya. This past summer Rabbi Meshulam Twersky, son of Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Mayer Twersky, moved to Overland Park with his wife Tova and their two children,
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Emunah and Yitzchak Asher. Meshulam teaches in the Matmidim program at the HBHA and learns part time with the Kansas City Community Kollel, and Tova serves as the shul’s youth director and works for NCSY and JSU. Of note also are two musmachim of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, both of whom passed away this past year. Rabbi Morris Margolies served as rabbi of Congregation Beth Shalom for many years until his retirement in the 1980s and stayed in Kansas City in his retirement. His family tells us he was the youngest musmach of the Rav. Rabbi Gil Shoham is also a RIETS graduate who served as rabbi of Kehillath Israel Synagogue in the 1970s and lived in Overland Park, as a member of BIAV, until his death last year. CHAVRUSA: Can you share with us a little about your YU Summer Experience? For the last few summers, we created a novel summer program called the Kansas City Summer Experience. It is run in conjunction with the CJF Summer Programs. It is a program for college students, both men and women, who spend the month of June in Kansas City. We find them internships in their area of professional interest—medicine, law, engineering, finance. On the weekends and evenings, they are engaged in learning and programming with the community. It is the ultimate lay leadership experience, balancing professional, personal and communal obligations, all while learning about Kansas City. The CJF awarded the Summer Experience with Program of the Year at the most recent ChampionsGate, and I am most pleased that other communities are moving to this model as well. It has the benefit of the “summer kollel” in that it generates chavrutot, classes and programs. But is also models a Torah Umadda lifestyle and opens the eyes of a new generation to the possibility of a thriving Jewish community in a place like Kansas City. I have also hosted many out-of-town visitors and community leaders who can help spread the word about Kansas City, and share with our community what it will take to take our community to the next level. CHAVRUSA: Does the yeshiva continue to support you and if so how? As a RIETS Musmach, I have been amazed at the amount of support I have been given in my first few years in the Rabbinate and I do not take it for granted. I understand that once upon a time a Rabbi went to a community and had to fend for himself. In my first year in Kansas, YU’s CJF paired me up with a Rabbinic mentor with whom I still maintain a close friendship. I have attended numerous CJF Yarchei Kallah and Executive Rabbinic Seminars, and I utilize the resources for Rabbis such as the rabbanan website and the webinars. I am indebted to our Yeshiva not just for what I gained during my years on campus but also for its continued interest in the welfare and success of its musmachim. CHAVRUSA: What does the future hold for Overland Park and Rabbi Dani Rockoff? I believe strongly in the importance of supporting communities such as ours. While I don’t think there is any Divine mandate that Kansas City has to have a strong Orthodox Jewish community, I do see it as a great opportunity and alternative that the Jewish people need greatly. It is such a healthy place to raise a family, to have children who are respectful and parents who are less harried after their 10-minute commute home. With Hashem’s help, things are looking up. We have recently done some beautiful renovations within the shul. We have a new Web site. Our membership is up 35 percent from when we arrived, attracting new families and slowing down the attrition rate of those who may have otherwise moved. I feel blessed to have the opportunity to serve in a community such as the one I am in. The people are generally more respectful and appreciative of the rabbi. And it is less established and therefore there is so much more room to build, create and innovate. I also am able to really see the full gamut of halacha in action, not only through davening, holiday and lifecycle events, but through the many communal institutions I have been put in a position to learn about. There really are Jews in Kansas—and I, my wife and three children are among them. n
accepting the award for program of the year at Championsgate vII, august 2012.
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rabbi sidney Kleiman (’36r) Celebrating 100 Years!
By: Lainee Cohen Grauman
Rabbi Sidney Kleiman (’36R) , rabbi emeritus of Congregation Talmud Torah Adereth El, turned 100 in January 2013. To celebrate this momentous occasion, the historic synagogue in Manhattan’s Murray Hill honored him at a dinner at the Museum of Jewish Heritage on Sunday, January 6, 2013. Rabbi Kleiman is both the longestserving and oldest congregational rabbi in the United States. He was hired in 1939 and has served Congregation Adereth El for 60 years. In a sense, Rabbi Kleiman’s age perfectly fits his synagogue, for Adereth El is New York’s oldest continually used synagogue building. Founded in 1857, the congregation constructed its current building on East 29 Street in 1864. Born in New York City, Rabbi Kleiman studied at City College, Columbia University and Yeshiva University, where he received his BS in 1935. He did post graduate work at Bernard Revel Graduate School. He received his semicha at RIETS from Rav Moshe Soloveichik in 1936. Rabbi Kleiman shared the story about his appointment as rabbi at Talmud Torah Adereth El. “It was in 1939. At the time I was rabbi at the Jewish Center of Violet Park, in the northern-most part of the Bronx,” he recalled. “I used to bring my children to school every morning on the Lower East Side and return in the afternoon to pick them up. “One of my congregants, also a member of the 29th Street Synagogue, cautioned me that I’d wear myself out running back and forth, and mentioned that his other synagogue, closer to my children’s school, was looking for a rabbi. He suggested I apply for the job. I said I was happy in Violet Park, but he arranged for me to deliver a sermon at the other synagogue.” The telephone rang at Rabbi Kleiman’s home right after Shabbat. It was the cantor of Adereth El calling, offering him the position of rabbi. “I said I didn’t want the job,” Rabbi Kleiman said, “but he told me to come down next Tuesday evening at 7:30 to sign the contract.” On his way to Adereth El to sign the contract, Rabbi Kleiman described how he “stumbled upon a stickball game that was short a player. My first time up I hit a home run: the game was over just about 7:30 and I ran hard to the shul.” He explained to the committee why he was late. They told him not to do that again but hired him nonetheless. During his tenure, Rabbi Kleiman saw the outbreak of World War II, Israel’s rebirth and struggles, wars in Korea, Vietnam and the Persian Gulf, and the rise and fall of the Berlin Wall. The Great Depression naturally hit the synagogue hard, and Rabbi Kleiman remembers congregants donating coal and suits instead of money. Since its founding by German Jewish immigrants, Adereth El has gone through many evolutions. By the time Rabbi Kleiman came to the shul, Russian Jews were the majority of the congregants, and Adereth El’s rabbis delivered sermons in Yiddish. That didn’t last, either. Although Rabbi Kleiman’s first drasha was in Yiddish, “the American kids didn’t understand Yiddish,” he recalled. “They said, ‘Rabbi, speak in English,’ so I did.” Rabbi Kleiman has seen his neighborhood evolve from working and middle class to trendy, transient and high rent. In addition, assimilation and migration
to suburbia challenged the Orthodox character of his synagogue and community. “The founders of the shul were very pious,” Rabbi Kleiman said. “The main support came from business people in the area—retailers and manufacturers. But then the neighborhood changed. The families moved out and young singles and couples moved in. Also, it was a period when Orthodoxy was fading. I saw my job as keeping the shul Orthodox, and strengthening Orthodox Judaism in the area.” That included calling people for minyan on Sunday mornings. The congregants would say, ‘Hey, rabbi, I want to sleep.’ I said, ‘Never mind sleep, come to shul.’ They resented me for what I did, but that didn’t stop me.” Even today, Rabbi Kleiman attends minyan every morning without fail. “I’m determined to do so,” he said. “I’m the first one in shul because I believe that minyan is the most important part of Judaism today. If people come to minyan every day, then Judaism will endure.” Rabbi Gideon Shloush (’97R), Adereth El’s current rabbi, sees Rabbi Kleiman as a legend, role model and inspiration. “He’s impacted so many lives over so many decades,” said Rabbi Shloush. “He continues to give drashos. That’s an amazing thing—he’ll get up and speak with no papers for 10-15 minutes. People are very inspired; they love to hear him. He kept this shul going, and now,
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remarkably, we’re seeing a resurgence and revitalization of the community.” Characteristically modest, Rabbi Kleiman does not see himself as someone people look up to. “I’m not interested in Rabbi Kleiman shared his memories of Yeshiva and his thoughts on how American Jewry has weathered, and even flourished, over the past century. What was Yeshiva like when you attended, and what compelled you to attend RIETS? It was under Dr. [Bernard] Revel’s influence—he was the founder of the University. He encouraged me to continue there, which I was happy to do. Semikha was tough. The questions they asked you on the final test were very difficult questions. How do you think Judaism in America has changed since you’ve been a rabbi? The yeshiva movement has grown stronger. The American people have taken to the life of the yeshiva. They have learned you don’t need persecution to make you a Jew. How has Adereth El changed since you started here in the 30s? This shul has always stood for strong Judaism, to be a good Jew in America. Of all the people that you’ve met, who made the deepest impression on you? Dr. Revel. He influenced me to continue to learn Torah. What is the most important thing you’ve learned over your career as a rabbi? You must have a good relationship with all the other Jews. That’s what Torah teaches. You met Albert Einstein. What was that like? They [YU] were giving him a degree. I was picked to meet him when he came to the Yeshiva and take him to Dr. Revel’s office, I think because I was majoring in math at that time. He wore baggy pants. Very smart. I didn’t speak with him much. When he came to Dr. Revel’s office, he didn’t have a gown to march in the parade. seeing myself as a model,” he said. “I’m not that big a man. My name is Kleiman, which means ‘small man,’ kleiner mann. I’m just happy to do what I do, and if people want to follow my example, so much better.” n Dr. Revel got excited. He said, ‘Where’s your gown to march in the parade, Dr. Einstein?’ Einstein said, ‘I don’t need a gown. I see the world the way it is. I don’t need a mask.’ It was a very quick answer. Eventually Dr. Revel called up facilities to bring a gown to him. What was Dr. Revel like? A big talmud chacham who was very devoted to Yeshiva. He was a nice man, a righteous man, who wanted to see the Yeshiva’s success and growth. What was it like to be the rabbi of a shul in the Great Depression? Tough, but I made it. What was your congregation like then? Not too strong. It was a battle to keep alive. Most synagogues disappeared. Demographics changed. We were the lucky ones that survived. How did you survive? [Kleiman points to the ceiling] What was it like to be an American rabbi during the Holocaust? I’ll give an example. I came to this shul in 1939, on the day Hitler invaded Czechoslovakia. Chamberlain went to visit Hitler and came back to England—it was a rainy day—and he opened his umbrella and he made a proclamation to the world, ‘We have peace in our time now!’ The title of my sermon that Shabbos was, ‘We Will Not Have Peace in Our Time.’ Because Hitler was determined to keep his dirty hands on the throat of the Jewish people. We had to fight him! A lot of Americans at that time weren’t aware of what was going on. Of course not! I had to fight them. Even the people at the shul. They admired me because I had the guts to say what I had to
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Thanks to The Jewish Press and Yeshiva University’s YU Today for material and quotes from articles written about Rabbi Kleiman. Chavrusa thanks Aderth El for this special adaption.
say, and that’s why they elected me. That’s why I was the rabbi here 60 years. Very few people have that kind of a record. Students at Stern College for Women have been coming to this shul for Shabbos services for years. Can you talk about how they’ve become a part of the shul’s culture? They made the shul strong. They showed that you could be an American girl and still be religious, and that was my theory: that you could live your life as an American and still be a good Jew. You don’t have to be persecuted. You can live in a land of freedom and still be a good Jew. How do you do that? By going to Yeshiva. What is the most important thing for YU students today to keep in mind? To keep Yeshiva alive and keep Judaism alive. Be devoted to Torah. Be religious. Be an example that you can be a good Jew. Ve-atem ha-deveikim be-Hashem Elokeikhem, chayim kulkhem hayom [you who cling to Hashem, your G-d, are all alive today]. You’ll survive those Jews who do not follow Judaism. Some people don’t think they make a difference, but they’re wrong. So many people say, ‘I can’t do anything.’ I say one Jew can do a lot. n
You Are Your Parents’ Keeper
by Rabbi Reuven Becker (’71R) Published by Feldheim Publishers, 2012
reviewed by rabbi Ira Kronenberg (’71r)
A prominent rabbi was once visiting a congregant in the geriatric center that I work in. After seeing so many residents who were old and frail, including many suffering from dementia, he told me this vort in the name of the Rov z’l. The posuk in Kedoshim states, “Ish imo v’aviv tirau v’es Shabbsosai tishmoru, ani Hashem Elokachim.” What is the connection between Shabbos and kibud av va’eim? Rashi, quoting the Gemera, explains that if your parent tells you to violate the Shabbos or any other mitzvah, you should not listen. The Rov z’l had a more hashkafic connection between these two mitzvos. He stated that both Shabbos and kibud av va’eim have two aspects to them, the rational and irrational. Even if we were not given the mitzvah of Shabbos, man would have eventually understood that he needed a day of rest during the week; practically all societies and cultures have a day when they refrain from work. However, without the Torah, would we have ever thought that carrying a feather daled amos in the public square is considered work? There is no rational way of explaining this melachah. Kibud av va’eim also has both a rational and an irrational aspect. When a parent is healthy, when a parent can be there for you, physically, financially and emotionally, it is easy to perform the mitzvah of kibud. However, when a parent gets older and may no longer be in full possession of their faculties, it can be emotionally difficult to honor the parent.
The Torah is telling us that we have an obligation to fully honor a parent, even a parent who is no longer able to be the parent who raised us. In his Sefer, aptly named You Are Your Parents’ Keeper, Rabbi Reuven Becker describes all aspects of the mitzvah of kibud av va’eim, from the halachic to the hashkafic to the practical. While this mitzvah is incumbent upon all children at all times, it is particularly difficult when the parent is elderly and sick. Many times there is a role reversal in the parent-child relationship and the child becomes the caregiver. Often, the children are themselves parents and are therefore caught in the “sandwich generation,” not only having to care for their own children, often with both the father and mother working, but while having the additional burden of caring for their own parents as well. While there are many seforim that are available that discuss the various themes found in this sefer, Rabbi Becker has combined all the issues that present themselves to children with elderly parents. Starting with the fundamental care management issues that adult children face as parents can no longer care for themselves, he continues with the issues that arise from end-of-life concerns such as dementia and terminal illness. As the halachos of kibud av va’eim continue even after petirah, there are also sections on levaya and aveilus. The sefer is a unique synthesis of halacha and hashkafa, as well as practical solutions for dealing with this important mitzvah. As someone who has spent over 37 years in geriatric care, I was particularly impressed with the sensitive way Rabbi Becker deals with what I call the “elephant in the room,” the financial aspects that accompany end of life care issues. The sefer is suited both for the rabbi and the layman. Everything in the sefer is
carefully footnoted so that the reader can go to the original sources. The section, “Confronting the Challenges of Life, Death, and Illness,” featuring writings by Gedolim, is an excellent source for drashos on these topics. The worksheet for aveilus practices during the 12 months of aveilus allows the layman to know when he has to ask his rabbi a shaila. Rabbi Becker is uniquely qualified to author this sefer. A 1971 musmach of our Yeshiva, Rabbi Becker earned a master’s in Jewish education from Ferkauf Graduate School the same year, as well as an MBA from City University. He is the founder of L’Orech Yomim/Center for Healthy Living as well as the center’s “Caring for our Elders” lecture series that integrates rabbinic and professional expertise and is the model for this sefer. The sefer has the haskamos of the Rosh Ha’Yeshiva and Rosh Ha’Kollel HaRav Hershel Schachter (’67R) and HaRav Noach Isaac Oelbaum, Rav of Congregation Nachlas Yitzchok. n
C h av r u s a • s h e vat 57 7 3
Yeshiva University-RIETS and CJF salute the inaugural members of the
Elef L’Mateh Society
Rabbi Elliot Aberbach
Lakewood, NJ Denver, CO
We are proud of the leadership role you are playing in helping our Yeshiva support the spread of Torah, in promoting the values and ideals of YU, and in helping inspire and educate the rabbinic and global Jewish community.
Rabbi Tobias Feinerman
Rabbi Kenneth Hain
Rabbi Eliezer Langer
Rabbi Adir Posy
Beverly Hills, CA Passaic, NJ
Rabbi Gershon Segal
Rabbi Daniel Alter Rabbi Hayyim Angel
New York, NY
Rabbi Arnold Feldman
Philadelphia, PA Brooklyn, NY
Rabbi Neil Hecht
Brookline, MA New York, NY
Rabbi Zalman Levine
Rabbi Daniel Price Rabbi Yona Reiss
Rabbi Steven Segal
New York, NY Dewitt, NY
Rabbi Jay Fenster Rabbi David Fine
Rabbi Robert Hirt Rabbi Shlomo Hochberg
Jamaica Estates, NY Brooklyn, NY
Rabbi Abraham Lieberman
Los Angeles, CA
Rabbi Evan Shore Rabbi Andrew Sicklick
Woodmere, NY Baltimore, MD Bergenfield, NJ
Rabbi Hyman Arbesfeld
Kew Gardens, NY New Milford, NJ New Milford, NJ Cleveland, OH Teaneck, NJ
Rabbi Meir Lipschitz
Stony Brook, NY New York, NY Chicago, IL
Rabbi Daniel Rockoff
Overland Park, KS
Rabbi Shalom Baum Rabbi Adam Berner Rabbi Binyamin Blau Rabbi Kenneth Brander Rabbi Aaron Brody
Flushing, NY Atlanta, GA
Rabbi Joel Finkelstein
Rabbi Jacob Hoenig Rabbi Barry Holzer
Rabbi Haskel Lookstein Rabbi Asher Lopatin Rabbi Marc Mandel
Rabbi Ari Rockoff
West Hempstead, NY Jerusalem, Israel
Rabbi Shmuel Silber Rabbi Zvi Sobolofsky Rabbi Chaim Strauchler
Rabbi Daniel Friedman
Edmonton, Canada Belle Habor, NY Houston, TX
Rabbi Walter Rosenbaum Rabbi Yitzchak Rosenblum
Rabbi Aaron Fruchter Rabbi Barry Gelman Rabbi Gershon C. Gewirtz
Brookline, MA Passaic, NJ
Rabbi Fred Hyman
New Haven, CT Edison, NJ
Rabbi Gedaliah Jaffe Rabbi Avery Joel
Cleveland, OH Lawrence, NY Montreal, QC
West Hempstead, NY
Rabbi Abraham Mann
New York, NY
Rabbi Martin Rosenfeld
Fair Lawn, NJ
Rabbi Lawrence Teitelman
New Hyde Park, NY Boca Raton, FL
Rabbi Leonard Matanky
West Rogers Park, IL Lido Beach, NY
Rabbi Michael Broyde Rabbi Daniel Cohen
Rabbi Yaakov Glasser Rabbi Ozer Glickman
Rabbi Josh Joseph Rabbi Howard Joseph Rabbi Milton Kain
Ramat Beit Shemesh, Israel
Rabbi Azriel Rosner Rabbi Sol Roth
New York, NY Passaic, NJ
Rabbi Perry Tirschwell Rabbi Kalman Topp
Beverly Hills, CA
Rabbi Daniel Mehlman Rabbi Gary Menchel
West Hempstead, NY Passaic, NJ
Rabbi Shlomo Rybak Rabbi Benjamin Samuels
Rabbi Abraham Cooper
Los Angeles, CA Oakland, CA Oakland, CA
Rabbi Efrem Goldberg
Boca Raton, FL
Rabbi Norman Avinoam Walles
Rabbi Yaakov Mintz Rabbi Jonathan Morgenstern
Rabbi Judah Dardik Rabbi Michael Davies Rabbi Edward Davis
Hollywood, FL Riverdale, NY Merrick, NY Skokie, IL
Rabbi Shraga Goldenhersh
Baltimore, MD Englewood, NJ
Rabbi Alan Kalinsky
Los Angeles, CA Teaneck, NJ Passaic, NJ
Rabbi Elchanan Weinbach
Rabbi Hershel Schachter
New York, NY Riverdale, NY Teaneck, NJ
Rabbi Shmuel Goldin Rabbi Marvin H. Goldman
Silver Spring, MD Jerusalem, Israel New York, NY New York, NY Omaha, NE
Rabbi Mark Karasick Rabbi Zev Karpel Rabbi Aaron R. Katz
Rabbi Jay Weinstein
East Brunswick, NJ Plainview, NY
Rabbi Elazar Muskin
Los Angeles, CA Riverdale, NY Hong Kong
Rabbi Herschel Schacter Rabbi Jacob J. Schacter Rabbi Fabian Schonfeld
Rabbi Elie Weissman Rabbi David Wilensky
Rabbi Herbert Dobrinsky Rabbi Ira Ebbin Rabbi Zvi Engel Rabbi Reuven Escott
Rabbi Moshe Neiss Rabbi Asher Oser Rabbi Marvin B. Pachino
Jerusalem, Israel Holliswood, NY
Rabbi Aaron Goldscheider Rabbi Sheldon Goldsmith Rabbi Meir Goldwicht Rabbi Jonathan Gross
Rabbi Yaakov Kermaier
New York, NY
Rabbi Shimon Wolf
Kew Gardens, NY Columbus, OH
Rabbi Max N. Schreier
Rabbi Barry Kislowicz
Cleveland, OH Flushing, NY
Rabbi Howard Zack Rabbi Eliezer Zwickler
West Orange, NJ
Rabbi Isaiah Koenigsberg Rabbi Norman Lamm
New York, NY
Rabbi Marc Penner Rabbi Irwin Peyser z”l
Atlantic Beach, NY
Highland Park, NJ
Rabbi Ronald Schwarzberg
Rabbi Elie Farkas
Rabbi Ari Segal
Los Angeles, CA
Anonymous Anonymous Anonymous
As of 1/29/2013 To join the Elef L’Mateh Society, please email Eleftorah@yu.edu or call 212.960.5400 x 6014.
We mourn the loss of RIETS Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Dr. Sidney Zevulun Lieberman z”l (’54R)
We mourn the passing of RIETS Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Dr. Zevulun (Sidney Z.) Lieberman z”l (YC ’51, RIETS ’54, FGS ’59). Rabbi Lieberman served as the head of both the Syrian Community Bet Din and the Vaad Harabonim of Flatbush and was the revered senior rabbi (and later rabbi emeritus) of Congregation Beth Torah in Brooklyn for over 52 years. An erudite historian, he arrived at Yeshivah of Flatbush in 1954 and served as high school administrator, assistant principal and acting principal and then principal of general studies until he ended his tenure in 1966. He was an integral contributor to the development of the Joel Braverman High School from its founding days. He continued in the field of Jewish education as headmaster of the Ramaz School and principal of Hillel Day School. Most recently he held the Maxwell R. Maybaum Memorial Chair in Talmud and Sephardic Codes (Halacha) at RIETS for close to three decades where he taught the Sephardic rabbinic students. He was revered by his congregants, students and colleagues alike for his chessed, his profound knowledge and his sincerity of purpose in all his endeavors. In October 2000 his son Hillel zt”l was murdered by a Palestinian mob on his way to Kever Yoseph. Condoleces to his wife Bracha, his daughters Tehila and Eliora, his brother Hon. Paul Lieberman and the entire family. Hamakom yenachem etchem betoch sheor avelei tzion veyerushalayim. Min hashamayim tenuham. Rabbi Lieberman lived in Israel for a time. In September 1988, RIETS Dean Emeritus Rabbi Zevulun Charlop ‘54R visited him there. Below is an article Rabbi Charlop wrote at the time describing the experience. It was Saturday night several weeks ago in Jerusalem. I received a call from Zevulun Lieberman, a boyhood friend of mine who is now a distinguished and well-known rabbi in Brooklyn. He had invited me to come to Elon Moreh where he had just completed building a home. Elon Moreh is in the heart of Shomron: the festering hub of Arab unrest in the so-called territories. It overlooks the ancient city of Shechem, probably better known today as Nablus. From the days of the patriarch Jacob, Shechem has been an ill-fated locale for our people. One goes there at his or her own peril, at least that’s the impression one gets from reading the newspapers and watching TV, and, in fact, the risks cannot be altogether dismissed. My immediate reaction was to find a nice way to say no without betraying unseemly fear. But as I was groping for the right words that would allow me to decline with dignity, I suddenly realized that I had to go, and for a number of reasons. You see, Rabbi Lieberman and I were raised on the same block in the Bronx on Crotona Park East, and as far we knew, we were the only Zevuluns in the borough. I came from a prominent home whose roots were in Jerusalem. On the other hand, my namesake came from a poor hardworking family, who, at the time, were not yet particularly celebrated. And here we are years later: He is brave enough to put down roots on the front line of Jewish aspirations; and I’m too timid to visit him. Beyond that there was a striking coincidence between his invitation and the portion of the Torah, Re-ey, that was being read that week. Indeed, not two hours before he called me on Motzaay Shabbat, at the Mincha service, I heard the declaration that begins Re-ey (11;26,
Rabbi Lieberman (L) is presented with a Rabbinic Alumnus Award from Rabbi Dr. Herbert Dobrinsky ’57R (R). (Courtesy of the YU Archives)
29:30) Behold I set before you today a blessing and a curse … and it shall come to pass when the L-rd your G-d brings you unto the land … that you shall set the blessing on Mt. Gerizim and the curse on Mt. Ebal … beyond the Jordan … in
C h av r u s a • s h e vat 57 7 3
the land of the Canaanite … over against Gilgal (which is the immediate vicinity of Shechem) at Elonay Moreh. In the face of this uncanny coincidence I had to go. I took a bus, which dropped me off at Tzomet Hatupuach, the “Juncture of the Apple,” a nondescript bus stop in the middle of Shomron, where my friend was to pick me up. On the bus I met Dr. Leo Landman and his wife who were also going to visit Rabbi Lieberman. Dr. Landman is the dean of the Bernard Revel Graduate School at Yeshiva University. It was a little late and while we were waiting, I observed four Israeli policemen in their well-creased uniforms standing adjacent to their police car stopping all traffic as it was coming by and closely examining the drivers and the passengers, oftentimes ordering the hood lifted and the trunk opened. What struck me was that the policeman didn’t look much different than the Arab drivers they stopped. We came to the ready conclusion that they must be of Sephardic origin, with features and coloring that were very similar to the Arabs. And indeed, I went over to one of the policemen and said, in Hebrew, it’s hard to tell the players apart here. He looked at me noncommittally, and enough so, to make me feel uncomfortable. Just at that moment, and none too soon, Rabbi Lieberman arrived. We got into his car and were surprised to see on the seat next to him, now sandwiched between us as I was sitting up front, an Uzi machine gun. He explained that no Jew living in that area would venture alone in a car without an Uzi at his side. I said, “Zevulun, do you know how to shoot one of these things?” When we lived on Crotona Park that wasn’t exactly the kind of toy we carried around, although I’m not so sure that’s still true today. He replied that there was mandatory target practice and that he had become, believe it or not, quite a marksman. I told him about my conversation a moment before with the Israeli policeman, and he said that they indeed happen to be Arabs. In wonderment I said, “Arabs in Israeli police uniforms carrying guns?” He replied, not much has been made of this in the newspapers, but more than 30 percent of the Arab constabularies who were forced to resign their commissions by their fellow Arabs had returned to the Israeli police force in the last few days and are sufficiently trusted to carry guns in the performance of their duties. Before I bring you to Elon Moreh, he added, I want to take you to Shechem. I said, “Schechem! That’s like going into the fire.” He reassured us that he goes there quite often on his own and that there was little cause for apprehension. When we got to the city he brought us to a still-functioning yeshiva, which stands next to the gravesites of Joseph and his sons Ephraim and Menashe, and which directly abuts two Arab schools that have the reputation of being the most notorious denizens of Arab insurrection. There were about half a dozen Israeli soldiers on duty there, but Zevulun, with his Uzi on his back, took us on a stroll beyond the immediate protection of the soldiers to see recent archeological digs that had uncovered much of the original city of Shechem which dates back to the dawn of Jewish history. And then we walked through several of the streets of the town itself, unafraid of the sullen presence of its Arab inhabitants. I say unafraid because Rabbi Lieberman’s fearlessness was contagious. Nonetheless, I was happy when he was finally taking us to his home. As we were climbing the hills surrounding Shechem on the way to Elon Moreh we passed between the two great mountains that had been referred to during the synagogue reading that Shabbat and again that very morning, Mt. Gerizim and Mt. Ebal. It’s an amazing thing about these two mountains. In shape and size they appear almost identical. Yet Mt. Ebal, upon which the
curse was set, is to this day almost entirely naked of any growth. Save for a few scraggly trees, few and far between, it is an otherwise forbidding rocky protrusion from the ground, an intimidating barrenness. Mt. Gerizim, on the other hand, on which the blessing was set nearly 4,000 years ago, was covered with a lush and vivid green carpet. Through the millennia these mountains gave and continue to give testimony to that moment when Israel first crossed the Jordan, and as they faced these mountains, heard: Behold I set before you this day a blessing and a curse. But all this was only a prelude to my visit to Elon Moreh itself. A beautiful little community, bustling, vibrant, unperturbed by its salient position, surrounded as it is by enemies. But it wasn’t the buildings or the institutions, including, believe it or not, two Young Israels, which indeed were impressive, that made this day for me unforgettable. It was the people, so quick to smile, robust, their eyes laughing. On their faces there was none of the hard strain of the fanatic, only the luminous glow of idealism. How much further than geography were these people separated from their rich and powerful brethren in America, who shake and quake with fear at every threatening headline and biased news report! n
C h av r u s a • s h e vat 57 7 3
the obligation to Disclose Medical Information to a Potential spouse
by rabbi netanel wiederblank (’05r)
rebbe, undergraduate torah studies Program, Yeshiva university faculty, rIets rosh Beis Medrash of the Yu’s CJf Bnai Yeshurun Beis Medrash in teaneck, nJ
requently individuals looking to marry grapple with the following sorts of questions: What negative information must I disclose to my potential spouse? Do I have to tell him or her that a number of my family members died of cancer at a young age? What if telling people will likely prevent me from finding an appropriate spouse? What if I suffer from a condition against which people unfairly discriminate, though I believe it will have no bearing on my marriage? In this article, we will present a brief synopsis of some of the relevant sources. There are two components to the halakhic question of what information must be disclosed to a potential spouse before marriage: 1. It must be determined if a lack of disclosure is grounds for a mekah ta’ut, a transaction invalidated because one party failed to inform the other of a defect. 2. Even if lack of disclosure would not constitute a mekah ta’ut, the prohibition against geneivat da’at must be considered. Regarding a sale, the Shulhan Arukh rules that a seller must reveal any possible blemishes in the article being sold.1 Moreover, the burden of revealing imperfections falls upon the seller, who must reveal blemishes even if he did not state the article is unblemished2 and even if the article is being sold “as is.”3 It is the seller’s responsibility to correct any false presumptions, as long as the
buyer’s presumptions are reasonable. This is true even if the seller is not directly responsible for the buyer’s assumptions. Finally, many sources indicate that failure to reveal a defect would violate geneivat da’at, even if not constituting a mekah ta’ut.4
The View of the Steipler Gaon
R. Yaakov Yisrael Kanievsky (1899– 1985), known as the Steipler Gaon, was asked whether someone who had his left testicle removed must reveal this information to a prospective spouse.5 In his response, R. Kanievsky considers both of the above issues; however, we will focus on his analysis of the second issue, the prohibition against geneivat da’at. One could argue that the individual would be required to disclose such information, since his prospective wife may see this as a defect, and failure to do so would presumably violate geneivat da’at. In an innovative and surprising ruling, the Steipler argues that the information need not be disclosed even if the prospective wife may see this as a defect, because the halakhah follows Rabbeinu Tam6 who rules that such a union does not violate the prohibition of a Pisua Dakah from marrying most Jewish women,7 and this is therefore objectively not considered a defect.8 Accordingly, the question is essentially whether a seller must reveal information that will cause the buyer to erroneously perceive the good as tainted. If I know that
some people consider something about me a blemish, must I reveal that fact to a potential spouse if I know that, in fact, it is not a blemish? In other words, to what extent is subjectivity a factor? A story related in Yevamot sheds light on our dilemma. The Talmud concludes that if someone’s mother is Jewish, he is Jewish, even if his father is not. However, many people still would not consider marrying such a person. The Talmud records that R. Yehudah advised someone whose father was not Jewish to move to a place where people were not aware of his lineage so that his ancestry would not serve as a deterrent to marriage.9 Clearly, R. Yehudah advised this person not to reveal information that other people might see as damaging. Accordingly, the Steipler rules that a person may withhold information from a prospective spouse that might cause unwarranted discrimination. Likewise, the Steipler does not require disclosure of medical conditions or procedures that may hurt a party’s chances of finding a spouse if these medical conditions will not affect the marriage. Of course, any information that might cause actual harm must be disclosed. R. Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, who accepts the Steipler’s ruling, adds that even if withholding such information is legitimate, one may never lie.10 Even if we accept the legitimacy of the proof from the story of R. Yehudah, the question remains as to why there is no need to disclose information that the other
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party in the transaction would likely see as a defect. The Steipler suggests two solutions. First, perhaps the reason that hiding something that would not cause a makah ta’ut still qualifies as geneivat da’at is that were the buyer given the opportunity to easily exchange the object after the sale, he would wish to do so. Thus, the seller must inform the buyer of the defect even before the sale. However, in the case of marriage, if the uninformed spouse were informed of the defect after the marriage, they would presumably not want to terminate the marriage. Thus, there is no requirement to disclose the information before the marriage.11 The Steipler’s second suggestion is that geneivat da’at in which no actually false claims are made is only a rabbinic violation, and it was not prohibited in a case in which a person would be unable to marry as a result. Although many Rishonim assume that geneivat da’at is biblically prohibited,12 the Steipler postulates that when no explicit claims are made, but rather information is simply not disclosed, all agree that the prohibition is only rabbinic.13 the condition will not bother his potential spouse. It therefore need not be disclosed.14 How would Divrei Malkiel respond to the Steipler’s proof from the story in Yevamot? Seemingly, the Talmud allows a person not to disclose information that others perceive as harmful if it is in fact not harmful, indicating that we follow halakhic reality and do not consider false perceptions, whereas according to Divrei Malkiel, we follow people’s perceptions independent of halakhic reality. Nishmat Avraham quotes R. Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, who distinguishes between a case in which the people were acting inappropriately by ignoring the ruling of R. Yehudah, the leading halakhic decisor of the generation, in discriminating against a person whose father was non-Jewish, and the case of a medical condition, regarding which no such definitive stance can be made. If we can definitively state that there is no concern, then the information need not be revealed, even if it is perceived as a defect. However, where no such definitive stance can be taken, as is often the case regarding medical conditions, then the condition must be disclosed, even if in the eyes of one party it is unreasonable to see such a condition as a defect.15 For further analysis on this topic as well as the question about the extent to which potential spouses have to inform each other about previous sexual promiscuity see my article in the upcoming issue of Verapo Yerape: The Journal of Torah and Medicine of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. n Footnotes
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. Shulhan Arukh, Hoshen Mishpat 228:6. Tosafot, Hullin 94b, s.v. inhu. Shulhan Arukh, Hoshen Mishpat 232:7. See Sema, Hoshen Mishpat 228:6. Kehillot Yaakov, Yevamot 44. See Yevamot 76a Tosafot s.v. sh-ein lo. Deuteronomy 23:2. It is important to note that the Steipler is only considering the question of whether the missing testicle would be considered a halakhic defect; he does not consider whether someone would perceive the aberration as a non-halakhic defect, either due to an increased chance of infertility or for aesthetic reasons. Later in the piece, he explains that the basis of his presumption that the only issue is halakhic is his assessment that no reasonable person would be concerned about the other issues. Yevamot 45a. See Nishmat Avraham, Even Ha-Ezer 5:7. R. Yaakov Werblowsky pointed out to me that this understanding seemingly presumes that geneivat da’at is a form of stealing (see Ritva, Hullin 94a), and not that the basis of the prohibition is deceit (see Sha’arei Teshuvah 3:184). However, the Steipler’s analysis is somewhat tenuous. His presumed understanding of the reason for geneivat da’at is conceivable, but unproven. One could instead argue that geneivat da’at is violated any time the purchaser would feel that had he known the undisclosed information, he would not have initially made the purchase. In the Steipler’s case, since the bride may feel deceived based on lack of disclosure, the groom is in violation of geneivat da’at, even if upon discovery the bride does not want to reverse the deal due to the high emotional cost of divorce. See Ritva, Hullin 94a; Sefer Yerei’im 124; and Semag 155. This argument is also debatable, as the Steipler’s presumption regarding the nature of geneivat da’at seems to be contradicted by Kiryat Sefer, Hilkhot Mekhirah 18:1. Moreover, one may object on ethical grounds. Hillel famously stated that the central tenet of Judaism is that one should not do onto others what they would not want done onto them. Seemingly, failure to disclose information that the other party would surely want to know is in violation of this dictum. Apparently, the Steipler felt that if the other party would truly know the full picture, she would not see this aberration as a defect; failure to reveal the aberration is therefore not unethical. It is also important to note that the Steipler, as well as the other lenient authorities, are only lenient in cases of great need, where disclosure may result in a person’s inability to find a suitable spouse. Divrei Malkiel 3:90. Nishmat Avraham, supra n.10. Following this logic, in the case of definitive medical information, no disclosure need be made. For example, if one party knows that they are a carrier of Tay–Sachs disease, they are not obligated to disclose this information to their potential spouse if they know that their potential spouse is not a carrier (for example, if they performed genetic testing). This would be true even if the Tay-Sachs carrier had good reason to suspect that, due to medical ignorance, their potential spouse would likely view this as a liability.
9. 10. 11.
R. Malkiel Zvi Halevi Tennenbaum (18471910), the author of She’elot u-Teshuvot Divrei Malkiel disagrees with the Steipler’s conclusion. He argues that a man must disclose information that his potential wife might consider a defect, even if the potential husband believes that it is not a defect. When it comes to geneivat da’at, we follow perception; one is obligated to disclose something that is perceived as defective even if in reality it is not. Nevertheless, in the case of a medical condition that is popularly associated with male infertility, Divrei Malkiel allows the prospective husband to rely on the diagnosis of a doctor. Thus, if his doctor says that his condition does not cause infertility, he need not inform his potential spouse of the condition. This is because most people rely upon doctors, and it is thus reasonable to presume that
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‘שבתי בבית ה
a conversation with rabbi David silber (’74r) and rabbi Dovid Miller(’71r)
On Wednesday November 14, 2012 the Yeshiva University student run organization TEIQU: A Torah Exploration of Ideas, Questions and Understanding sponsored this conversation between two prominent musmakim, moderated by Rachel Weber, a senior at Stern College and co-president of TEIQU . Adopted and excerpted from the complete discussion available on YUTorah.org at: www.yutorah.org/lectures/lecture.cfm/784283. Rachel Weber: Rav Miller, when you look at the world of today’s Torah learning, where do you see a place to make a contribution or a place to move forward? Rabbi Miller: The world is constantly changing, people are changing and their focus is changing. I think a person has to be the sort who has his finger on the contemporary pulse in terms of what is motivating students, and what aspect of Torah learning is talking to students—not in terms of a fashion or a vogue, but simply something that is built somewhat into the atmosphere. In that respect, I think Israel is a few steps ahead of America. Namely, that there simply is a spiritual revolution that one feels in the world—not only the Jewish world—a search for spirituality, a search for something that will touch a soul, a learning that would be more organic. In Eretz Yisrael that’s already a given. It’s a question simply of how practically to facilitate it. In America, I can only speak about the Modern Orthodox world, but things are evolving a little more slowly. It’s one of the reasons why I came from Yerushalayim to New York, in order to help the students who are here to relive or continue the experience they had in Israel. That which touched them there wasn’t only the learning of the head— for that I think there are wonderful institutions [in America]—but it was the learning of the soul as well. To bring the two together allows students to have more of a dialogue with God. So I think that for educators, it would be meaningful to have a feel for what talks to the students, of where you see a shine in their eyes, where you can see a more natural growth, and to take advantage of that which HaKadosh Baruch Hu has placed in potential and try to actualize it. Rachel Weber: Last year, you may have heard, there was a small uproar when a number of bishops were invited to Yeshiva University and came to visit the beit midrash. Rav Miller, can you share what you think about the concept of the sanctity of the beit midrash and how that would relate to who’s invited to participate or to visit a beit midrash? Rabbi Miller: The pasuk that was read earlier was “Shivti biveit Hashem … u’livaker bihechalo,” that there is a concept of also being a visitor in a beit midrash. I don’t see a problem of simply giving someone who is a spiritual individual a sense of what we do. I mean, the bishops, really cardinals I think they were, were basically blown away because they were used to the concept of a library in which people study with a text and with a quiet intensity. To hear the roar of Torah, the kol Torah, in the beit midrash, to see students arguing with one another, to feel that there is something alive, I think just gave them a tremendous respect for Jewish tradition. But really what you’re speaking of in terms of the kedusha of the beit midrash, it’s very fascinating that in the concept of halacha there’s a certain balance, that on the one hand a beit midrash has more kedusha than a beit haknesset because it affects the individual in a broader sense. But on the other hand, there are things that are permitted in a beit midrash that are not permitted in a beit knesset, because the assumption is that this is the home of the individual,
the role of torah and Beit Midrash in our Lives
Rabbi David Silber (’74R) is the founder and dean of the Drisha Institute for Jewish Education. Rabbi Dovid Miller (’71R) is the RIETS Mashgiach Ruchani and Benjamin and Charlotte Gottesfeld Chair in Talmud. TEIQU: Torah Exploration of Ideas, Questions and Understanding is a YU undergraduate club sponsored by TAC and SOY-JSC, and is headed by Rachel Weber, Josh Botwinick and Hillel Gross.
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that this is where the student lives and as such, not speaking about what goes on in the YU beit midrash, but halachically there’s not a problem of eating or drinking in the beit midrash, even of dozing off, if this is the person’s home. So there’s a certain fascinating balance between the two. Just as in the world of batei knessiot there is a Jewish center and a synagogue and a shul and a shteibel and you have different models, so also within the batei midrash you those which are somewhat more formal and those which would be on the other extreme, much more homelike. And they’re all valid models as long as they maintain the balance that there is a sense of kedusha on one hand and a sense of being a bayit on the other hand. Rachel Weber: Rabbi Silber, do you have something you would like to add? Rabbi Silber: To bring in visitors, people of faith, maybe a different faith, to see what we do and what a beit midrash looks like, obviously I have no problem with that. I wonder whether the question is about visitors or whether the question is about what kinds of activities are appropriate within the beit midrash itself, not on the basis of visiting, but for the participants in the beit midrash, and what kinds of learning are appropriate. I do have a very strong view about that. And the view of Drisha is that a multiplicity of views is very important for many reasons. At the end of the day we’re trying to understand a text or a set of texts, and what these texts mean for us, what they should mean for us. There is a sense of being mitzuveh. And I think it’s important in our search for truth that we start with the assumption that no one has the whole truth. That’s our first assumption, a sort of post-modern assumption that I think is not post-modern, I think it’s also pre-modern. No one has the whole truth. Therefore we are searching for understanding, and the more people we can hear with different points of view, the more we will all benefit. Someone once asked me about women learning Torah— is it an issue of kavod HaBriyos? And I said no; it’s an issue of kavod HaTorah! In other words, the more people you bring into the process the more the Torah is enhanced and the better understanding we get. So, in terms of the beit midrash, in terms of the kedusha, what it means for me is this: There’s a lot to be gained from the various programs in Jewish studies on campus, because what they bring to the table is a certain distance from the text. The students stand back and they ask all kinds of questions that someone who is passionately engaged in learning would never ask. Of course, these are questions from the outside. What the yeshiva brings is a deep love, passion and commitment. I think that fundamentally a place like Drisha is really a yeshiva, but we also see the value of stepping back, of asking all kinds of questions that as yeshiva bachurim or bachurot we would never ask. So I think that there is a great value to both and there is a value to being able to at least respectfully hear what the other person is saying, what the other approach is about. Not to accept it but to be in a place where you can hear it. I would say one last point: You want to create a beit midrash where everybody feels they can say whatever they want to say. They should definitely defend what they have to say. They can be attacked respectfully. That’s all part of talmud Torah. But they should never be afraid to say something because they’ll be branded one way or the other. So I think what’s allowed in the beit midrash are the things we want to engender. We want to create an environment where no one feels they can’t speak up, and that to us is central. There’s more to be said about that, but I’ll leave it at that. Rachel Weber: As a sort of continuation of that question, we were wondering about the specific value that you saw in learning in a beit midrash as opposed to learning in other settings, whether in a classroom, or on your own at home, or in some sort of other forum. What specifically does a beit midrash’s contribute to Torah learning, or what would other forums contribute? Rabbi Miller: One knows that on Sukkot there is a mitzvah of teyshvu k’ein teduru, that one is basically supposed to live in the sukkah. But when it comes to the individual’s learning, a person is supposed to go to the beit midrash because the beit midrash is a qualitatively different experience. While it may be that the roar of the beit midrash is perhaps not the best atmosphere for a rebbe preparing a shiur, it is the best atmosphere to grow. As we grow, and in order to grow, we need others. This touches on what Rabbi Silber spoke about, which is, that the moment that you have “keshem shepartzufeihen shonot kach deoteyhem shonot, [just as their features differ, so do their opinions],” the moment you have a group of individuals is the moment there is room for a dialogue. There is room for an argument. There is room for a sense of a living Torah, something that is being created within the group, within the community. So on the one
So on the one hand you have a group of individuals, but on the other hand ... a learning community which really links them one to another and also links generations, in terms of past, present and future.
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hand you have a group of individuals, but on the other hand they share a learning community that really links them one to another and also links generations, in terms of past, present and future. I don’t know what Judaism was ever like without a beit midrash. I don’t know if there ever was a Judaism without a beit midrash. We speak of beit midrasho Shel Shem V’Ever, so kanireh the concept of beit midrash preceded even Avraham Avinu. But clearly, Yaakov Avinu, with all that he received in yoshev ohalim, of sitting in the house of Yitzchak, there was also something that in 14 years he was able to gain in Yeshivat Shem V’Ever before being able to go out into the world and being able to reach the sense of “Im lavan garti taryag mitzvot shamarti.” So it’s a very special experience and I would hope that everyone would be able to participate. Rabbi Silber: I totally agree with that; I think that’s actually very important. And, as far as the women’s institutions are concerned, what most women don’t have, and maybe this is changing, but certainly for the older women, there’s no sense of having a rebbe and there’s no sense of having a real chavrusa. A chavrusa in yeshiva. I had a chavrusa in Kerem B’Yavneh and he lives in Har Nof and he’s a very special person. But I hadn’t seen him in maybe 25 years and I remember about ten years ago I went to see him, and when I walked in it was like I saw him yesterday. There’s no time gap. The connection is so deep. As Rabbi Miller said, when you learn Torah in a real way with other people, you create all types of bonds, which is such a powerful thing. That’s one aspect of the beit midrash. I would add to that in terms of dispositions, which is very important to me, there is another thing the beit midrash adds. The power of being in a beit midrash—and I think it’s especially important today—is that let’s say you’re a high school grad and you go to a beit midrash, and you have your rebbe, and then your rebbe has a rebbe, and there are older bachurim there, and then there’s a rosh yeshiva. You begin to understand that there are people who dedicate their lives to Torah, many of whom know a lot, a lot more than you know, a lot more maybe than you’ll ever know, and they have expertise in various areas of Torah. It allows you to get a sense of one’s place, one’s true place. I think it encourages humility, which is probably the most important of all the dispositions. So the beit midrash, if you’re around big people, great people, honest people, it also creates in you the feeling that there’s purity to the learning, there’s integrity and there’s a deep humility. If you learn all by yourself, you’re in your own little world, without having real access to or learning from such people, of seeing them. I think then something is lost. So the idea of being in a community of learning, in addition to what Rabbi Miller says about having a sense of community with the other person, with your chavrusa, with a chevra, is also about being around people who know a lot, people who are deeply connected to Torah, to the place. That’s important in terms of our own personal growth as well. Rachel Weber: We just heard one perspective about the place one learns Torah, but the Gemara focuses on a different question of where one learns Torah. The Gemara highly recommends learning Torah in Eretz Yisrael. Please share a few thoughts on the difference between learning in Eretz Yisrael as opposed to in Chutz La’aretz, or if there are many more commonalities than we would expect. Rabbi Miller: It’s a question that touches me very deeply because I really feel that we are living in a very special generation, where the nevoot of Ki M’tziyon Teytze Torah are being fulfilled on a daily basis. Namely, that the Ramban points out in a number of places in his perush and also in his famous drasha on Rosh Hashana that we were meant to live in Israel, that’s our spiritual home, that HaKadosh Baruch Hu when created the world created as our home; when we’re there, the spirituality flows much more naturally. There could only be nevuah in Eretz Yisrael. The whole world of Torah in Eretz Yisrael is organically connected to the people and to the Land. The yeshiva experience is different because of Eretz Yisrael. Rabbi Silber and I learned [in America] in the pre-Eretz Yisrael mode of learning, and although there were great individuals who were here, such as of Rav Soloveitchik and Rav Dovid Lifshitz among others, the concept of Ki Hem Chayeinu V’orech Yameinu, of being able to sit and learn all day and into the night, of an evening seder, the fact that people are in the beit midrash on Shabbat, the fact that people look for opportunities to run into the beit midrash whenever they have free time— that all came from Eretz Yisrael. And so, because “Ki M’tzion teytze Torah,” so this [way of learning Torah] has been exported. But before that movement began, Torah learning in America was of a very different nature. Rabbi Silber: I have a slightly different take on the difference between Torat Eretz Yisrael and Torat Chutz La’aretz. To me what it represents, what Torat Eretz Yisrael is supposed to be, is as follows: As far as Chumash is concerned, when you are living in Chutz La’aretz you’re living under someone else’s agenda, whether it’s Pharoh, Achashveirosh or whatever it is. One way or the other you compromise. You make many compromises. You can’t live the way you really should be living. You have to deal with the reality of living with the Other and the Other typically is not very pleasant. And the Torah of Eretz Yisrael is the Torah of a place where you can make all your own decisions and therefore you can live fully. You can live fully in every element of your life: religiously, politically, socially, which is also a great challenge to us, but a great opportunity. You asked before where
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Drisha is headed, and what I’m interested in has some impact on where Drisha goes—so what I’m actually very interested in right now is the connection between the beit midrash and the life. How do we put the beit midrash into practice? How do we create a program of learning Torah which then people take with them and has relevance outside the beit midrash, relevance in all kinds of places where you deal with real problems, issues of health, mental health, physical health, addictions, poverty, aging? What did we learn in yeshiva that allows us better to deal with these problems? And I’m not convinced it’s the content of the yeshiva. I’m more convinced that it’s the spirit of the yeshiva. It’s the engagement with the Other. It’s being able to hear, which I think is very important. So to me, what I call the Torah of Eretz Yisrael is the Torah that addresses every piece of ourselves. The next step is to have a program that engages idealistic young people who want to make a difference in this world, to give them an opportunity to learn Torah, maybe to meet inspirational people, to figure out—as they say in Chassidus—what is God instructing me to do. Our goal is to be God’s servants, Avdei Hashem. Each of us has a different service—what is our calling? What is our service? And then to put into play the power of the beit midrash, the power of Torah, take it with us throughout our lives and to live a full life of service. This is what I call the Torah of Eretz Yisrael, the Torah that speaks to every fiber of us, to all of us. As opposed to the Torah that is in one place, the Torah of the beit midrash and when you walk out it doesn’t exist anymore. So that’s the real Torah, I think, the deepest Torah, the Torah that speaks to us all the time. That’s our challenge. Rabbi Miller: I just would like to second what Rabbi Silber pointed out. I noticed that in Eretz Yisrael, really the beit midrash doesn’t have walls. You know, one walks outside and one feels still part of the beit midrash in a very real sense. You don’t necessarily need to walk to the Kotel, but wherever you’re walking is just an extension. As opposed to walking onto Amsterdam Avenue, even if there is a bit of a plaza, one does feel that sense that one has left the beit midrash. When you are in the beit midrash here, you are in what is more of an Ir Miklat, to sort of hold you in a certain holding pattern, in order to be able to energize you when you leave, as opposed to Eretz Yisrael where it would be a much more organic extension. Rachel Weber: So, can you share from your personal experience why is it that it’s important to even learn Torah? What is it that we gain through our study of Torah? Rabbi Miller: Ki ner mitzvah v’Torah or. Hakadosh Baruch Hu gave us a lot of ways, 613 ways, of coming close to Him. But one of them is the Or. One of them is ritzono. One of them relates to that which is Hakadosh Baruch Hu’s will and that is Torah. And to link into Hakadosh Baruch Hu’s will and to have that privilege of being a partner with Hakadosh Baruch Hu, of feeling that which is within us, of feeling that Chelek Eloka Mimaal within us, and to create that unity with Him, Ashreinu, that Hakadosh Baruch Hu gave us such a gift, Halivay that we would take it more seriously. Rabbi Silber: I think that at least traditionally we believe the human being can be part of Torah. We have an interpretive tradition, an ongoing interpretive tradition, which gives us the opportunity really to try to address the question that you are asking. How does the Torah speak to us? How does the Torah speak to me today? I’m studying a text that is thousands of years old, but we believe that it continues to speak. How does it speak? What are we hearing? Because the difference between the academy and the yeshiva is that for the academy it’s a kind of intellectual exercise, but for the yeshiva it’s all about a search for meaning. That’s what makes Drisha a yeshiva. We certainly want to understand what does God impose, and I say impose, upon us. We are commanded beings. What is my obligation in this world? And what the beit midrash is about doesn’t always manifest in every detail. You can’t find great meaning from every line in the Gemara, but b’gadol, when you look at the totality of it I believe that it has. By the way, I think the question is a very good one. It’s very important. Sometimes I ask that question myself because I see people working in the field, working with very difficult populations, doing God’s work, and they didn’t necessarily learn in yeshiva, but they’re doing very good work. So I ask, what added value does the study of Torah bring? I believe it does bring a value, both in terms of the content, but even more so in terms of the person. Learning Torah, done properly, makes one a better person, a more engaged person, and a more committed person and yes, allows one to see oneself as being here on earth to serve. So it’s not about doing it for the thank yous, doing it for gratitude, it’s about doing it because that’s my job. What emerges from the totality of our text is the tradition that we are mitzuvim and we’re commanded to do so and it’s an honor to be commanded to do so. From the totality of our tradition, the totality of the text, we can try to decipher a meaning in these texts and a direction for all of us. n
What I call the Torah of Eretz Yisrael is the Torah that addresses every piece of ourselves.
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Rabbi David Aaron, Jed H. Abraham, Professor Abraham S. 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rebbetzin: the ultimate Balancing act
adina shmidman on the various roles of the rabbi’s wife
On January 7-8, 2013 Yeshiva University’s Rebbetzin Esther Rosenblatt Yarchei Kallah for Rebbetzins hosted 100 Rebbetzins. This article was written to mark the event. ecently, a congregant asked me to speak to her daughter, who was going off into the “Great Yonder of Rebbetzinhood,” and give her some words of encouragement and advice. My first response was, “I am so thrilled for her—and for her community.” But knowing that the role is complex, I had to seriously think about what I was going to say. Challenges, yes; work, yes; satisfaction, absolutely! The role of the rebbetzin goes on and on—from hosting meals to visiting sick congregants, supporting families through challenging times and reaching out to the unaffiliated. It is challenging to juggle your home, family and job with the added responsibility of shepherding a congregation, but the deep, meaningful emotional bonds that you forge with the kehillah are intensely gratifying. So when we met, my first message to this young woman was to embrace the position. I observed that initially the scope may seem overwhelming, with programming expectations, teaching Torah publicly and privately, involvement with the youth and hosting out-oftown guests as well as congregants. But I reassured her that just as in a new marriage there is an adjustment period where one gets to know her new spouse, here, too, the union of the rabbinic couple and shul is a relationship that develops in time. While there are many demands and responsibilities, you have the opportunity to use your unique
talents and strengths to contribute to the spirit of the shul and the community. “But what if I work?” she questioned. “How can I juggle all the responsibilities that would be asked of me?” I responded that the job is somewhat self-defining. There are those rebbetzins who play a less visible role, while others take upon a more public role. Furthermore, the size of the community contributes to each shul’s unique demands. Living in a small community may obligate you to participate in functions that a rebbetzin in a larger community does not, for example, teaching taharas hamishpacha, being a mikveh attendant or a member of the chevra kadisha. Ultimately, the
Rebbetzin Adina Shmidman
extent of involvement and parameters of her contribution is a decision that the rebbetzin and her husband need to define in the context of their shul. “Is there a checklist of obligations of things a rebbetzin must do? How does a rebbetzin know where to place her focus?” I was impressed with the extent of her questions and took a moment to pull together my thoughts. Whether it is something simple like the delivery of cooked food or sharing a momentous life-cycle event, your presence and investment of time and energy add depth and importance, I
C h av r u s a • s h e vat 57 7 3
answered. It communicates that you and the rabbi value the congregant and his or her needs. I think maybe even more important than the checklist of tasks is the sense of accessibility and affability that you create. Ask yourself: Do people feel they can turn to you as a confidante and as a friend? Can they reach out to you in times of crisis and times of joy? Do they know that you value them as people and will do everything within your means to support them? The warmth you communicate through your smile and interest in people radiates through the shul and creates a welcoming spirit that is contagious. The role, I added, extends beyond the congregation, to share the beauty of Torah Judaism with everyone you meet, whether in the supermarket or at the public library. By virtue of your leadership role, you have the ability to connect with people in a unique and meaningful way. There are challenges, I admitted to her. While trying not to overwhelm her, I noted that you do have to share your husband with the shul and it is hard for the job not to spill over into the rabbinic home. It can be intense, I told her, knowing that you are your husband’s partner in this holy mission. It is your devotion to him and the family that keeps your home vibrant and strong. As the conversation wrapped up, I suggested that it may prove valuable to have a mentor and/or a support group. Having a safe place to share stresses, learn from others’ experiences and develop skills will give her the encouragement she needs and deserves. I recommended the Rebbetzin Esther Rosenblatt Yeshiva University Yarchai Kallah for Rebbetzins, which furnishes a nurturing atmosphere that facilitates open discussions between peers and the more seasoned rebbetzins. Their diverse experiences both edify and inspire. At the conference, the rebbetzins feel appreciated and valued for all the efforts and energy they devote to their congregants. When the conversation finished, I sensed her optimism and confidence and I myself had a renewed sense of excitement about this holy work. At a Yarchei Kallah several years ago, a speaker led off the event by likening the rebbetzin’s responsibilities to juggling many balls, some rubber and some crystal—some that can be dropped and others that cannot. The challenge of the rebbetzin is to build and maintain meaningful relationships with others while still nurturing herself and her family. Yet, the incredible force of the rebbetzin shapes her community and gives added dimension to her husband’s position. Experiencing fulfillment through this role allows me to embrace the challenge of being a rebbetzin. n
Adina Shmidman received a PhD in Educational Psychology from City University of New York, a MSEd from Queens College, and a Masters in Jewish Education from Yeshiva University’s Azrieli Graduate School for Jewish Education and Administration. Following a nine-year stint as the Rebbetzin of Knesseth Israel Congregation in Birmingham, AL, she now serves as the Rebbetzin of the Lower Merion Synagogue in Bala Cynwyd, PA. Shmidman was a recent participant at the Center for the Jewish Future Rebbetzin Esther Rosenblatt Yarchei Kallah for Rebbetzins in Teaneck, NJ. The opinions expressed above are solely those of the author.
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Professional Mazal tov
Rabbi Reuven Becker ‘71R authored You Are Your Parents’ Keeper (feldheim, 2012). Rabbi Jack Bieler ‘74R was presented with the rCa’s rabbi Jacob and Deborah rubenstein 2012 Memorial award. Rabbi Reuven Boshnack ‘04R authored Sefer Avodas Yehuda: Reflections on the Maharal’s Netzach Yisrael (2012). Rabbi Steven ‘06R and Rachel Burg were honored at the new Jersey nCsY Bergen County scholarship Melava Malka with the inauguration of the rabbi steven and rachel Burg Israel scholarship. Rabbi Avraham D. Cohen ‘62R’s most recent article,”the eschatological Meaning of the Book of ruth: “Blessed Be God: asher Lo hishbit Lakh Go’el,” appeared in the July-september edition of The Jewish Bible Quarterly. Rabbi Mark Dratch ‘82R was appointed as executive vice president of the rabbinical Council of america. Rabbi Zev Eleff ‘11R authored .קונטרוס אגרות הלוי Rabbi Ezra Frazer ‘06R placed second in the first International Bible Contest (Chidon hatanakh) for adults in 32 years. Rabbi Cary Friedman ‘96R re-published his translation of Chanukas HaTorah: Mystical Insights of Rav Avraham Yehoshua Heschel on Chumash as a Kindle eBook (Compass Books, 2012). Rabbi Shmuel Hain ‘01R edited The Orthodox Forum: The Next Generation of Modern Orthodoxy (Yeshiva university Press, 2012). Rabbi Robert S. Hirt ‘62R is the series editor. Rabbi Ari Kahn ‘86R authored Echoes of Eden Sefer Shmot: Salvation and Sanctity (Gefen Publishing house, 2012). Rabbi Barry Kislowicz ‘03R received the Covenant foundation’s Pomegranate Prize for exceptional, emerging professionals in Jewish education settings. Rabbi Sidney Kleiman ‘36R was honored by Congregation adereth el, where he serves as rabbi emeritus, on the occasion of his 100th birthday. Rabbi Dr. Norman Lamm ‘51R authored Derashot Ledorot: Genesis: A Commentary for the Ages (Koren 2012). Rabbi Ephraim Meth ‘12R authored Kuntres Sha’ashuei Ephraim on Masechet Yevamot (2012). Stanley Raskas ‘69R received an honorary degree at Yeshiva university’s 88th annual hanukkah Dinner and Convocation. rIets rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Hershel Reichman authored Reshimot Shiurim Brachot (2012). Rabbi Avraham Sacks ‘96R is now head of school of the newly formed tiferet academy in woodmere, nY. Rabbi Dr. Elihu Schatz ‘57R authored פירוש אליהו להפטרות השנה (Commentary on the Yearly haftorot), פירוש אליהו לאותיות מיוחדות ( במקראCommentary on the special Letters of the tanach), and התפילות המבוססות על פרקי תהלים ופרקי התנ”ך (Prayers Based on the Psalms and other Books of the tanach). Rabbi Dr. David Shatz ‘73R and Rabbi Reuven Ziegler ‘81R co-edited Vision and Leadership: Reflections on Joseph and Moses, by Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchick zt”l along with Dr. Joel wolowelsky. Rabbi Rami Strosberg ‘07R is now head of school of the newly formed westchester hebrew academy. Rabbi Shlomo Wexler ‘51R authored Men & Women in the Torah (ZmanMa Press, 2012). Rabbi Avi ‘08R and Anna Billet on the birth of a daughter, temimah Pearl. and to the grandparents, Rabbi Heshie ‘74R and Rookie Billet. Rabbi Yaakov ‘90R and Malki Borow on the marriage of their daughter, shlomit, to shmuel schneider. and to the grandparents Rabbi Aaron ‘59R and Pearl (Karalitzky) Borow. Rabbi Aaron ‘59R and Ellen Brander on the birth of a greatgranddaughter, sara, born to atara and Motie edelstein. and to the grandparents, Malka and Moshe weiss and ettie and saul edelstein. rIets student Natan Brownstein on his marriage to Jessie Busch. Rabbi Yoni ‘08R and Shani Chambre on the birth of a daughter, Yael elisheva. and to the grandparents, Rabbi Allen ‘86R and Alisa Schwartz. Rabbi Rafi ‘05R and Atara Eis on the birth of a daughter, Yonina sara. and to the grandfather, Rabbi Meir Sendor ‘80R. Rabbi Zev ‘11R and Melissa Eleff on the birth of a daughter, Meital shoshana. Rabbi Avraham Engelson ‘12R on his marriage to shoshana Blackstein, daughter of Rabbi Darren Scott ‘78R and Brenda Blackstein. rIets student Ari and Meira Federgrun on the birth of a son, shlomo Yedidia. Rabbi Yaacov ‘06R and Aliza Feit on the birth of a son,Yosef Chaim elazar. rIets rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Daniel ‘98R and Leah Feldman on the birth of a daughter, tehilla orah. rIets student Yair and Miraim Frankel on the birth of a son, ephraim ever. Rabbi Ezra ‘06R and Azadeh Frazer on the birth of a daughter, tamar avigayil. Rabbi Adam ‘12R and Sara Frieberg on the birth of a daughter, rina Menucha. rIets student Reuven and Michal Garrett on the birth of a daughter, ayala rachel. Rabbi Efrem ‘01R and Yocheved Goldberg on the birth of a son, shmuel Yisroel nosson. Rabbi Joe ‘10R and Abby Hirsch on the birth of a son, elisha. Yeshiva University President Richard M. and Dr. Esther Joel on the marriage of their son, noam, to Leora Goodman. Rabbi Effie ‘12R and Tamar Kleinberg on the birth of a son, akiva. Rabbi Yonatan ‘07R and Elana Kohn on the birth of a daughter, aderet tehila. Rabbi Aaron ‘09R and Lynn Kraft on the birth of a son, avigdor Meir. rIets student Dov Lerner on his marriage to Miriam weiss. rIets student Marc Liebman on his marriage to rena shanin. Rabbi Elchanan ‘77R and Ruth Lipshitz on the birth of granddaughter, tchiyah, born to eli and Kedma Lipshitz. Rabbi Elihu ‘56R and Chaya (Heschel) Marcus on the marriage of their granddaughter, tal, to shimon Breitbard. Rabbi Yechiel ‘00R and Adina Morris on the birth of a son, Menachem Moshe. and to the grandparents, Rabbi Joel ‘74R and Mrs. Morris and Rabbi Dr. Gershon ‘72R and Mindy Gewirtz. Rabbi Meir ‘90R and Esther Orlian on the birth of a granddaughter, tehilla Leah, born to sara and avrahami rosenberg. Rabbi Uriel ‘10R and Aviva Rabinovitz on the birth of a daughter, tziporah Chaya rachel. Rabbi Dani ‘95R and Dr. Chaya Rapp on their daughter, Devora, becoming a Bat Mitzvah. Rabbi Zev ‘02R and Chana Reichman on the birth of a daughter, emma Malka. and to the grandparents rIets rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Hershel and Chasida Reichman.
Rabbi Daniel ‘98R and Rivka Alter on their son, shimmy, becoming a Bar Mitzvah. Rabbi Gedalyah ‘98R and Miriam Berger on their daughter, shoshana, becoming a Bat Mitzvah.
C h av r u s a • s h e vat 57 7 3
While Rachel Masters Science...
Rabbi Dani ‘03R and Ayala Rockoff on the birth of a daughter, ora hila. Rabbi Ari ‘01R and Deborah Rockoff on their daughter, shoshana, becoming a Bat Mitzvah. Rabbi Elimelech ‘09R and Chaya Rosenthal on the birth of a son, Yechezkel David. Rabbi Dr. Aaron ‘02R and Tzippy Ross on their son, shmuel Yehuda, becoming a Bar Mitzvah and on their daughter, Chaya tova, becoming a Bat Mitvah. and to the grandparents, Rabbi Michael ‘74R and Debbie Ross. Rabbi Yonason ‘84R and Manya Sacks on the marriage of their daughter, Zahava, to Gavriel neufeld. rIets student Shay and Rena Schachter on the birth of a son, Yosef shlomo. and to the grandparents, rIets rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Hershel ‘67R and Shoshanah Schachter. Rabbi Dr. Elihu ‘57R and Freida Schatz on the birth of a grandson, Dror, born to Pinchas and tziporah schatz: on the birth of a great-grandson, Mahalalel, born to Idit and noam freeman: on the birth of a great-granddaughter, avital, born to fraydel and ariel Gilor: on the birth of a great-grandson, amitai, born to Yael and shilo Gilor: and on the birth of a greatgranddaughter, hodaya, born to shaindie and shai Markovich. Rabbi Yechiel ‘03R and Chava Schrader on the birth of a daughter, Chaya Gittel. and to the grandparents, Rabbi Menachem ‘78R and Rina Schrader. Rabbi Morey ‘90R and Deena Schwartz on the birth of a granddaughter, Yuval Leah, born to naftali and Yael schwartz. and to the great-grandparents, Rabbi Ephraim ‘61R and Esther (Cohen) Zimand. Rabbi Yechiel ‘11R and Aliza Shaffer on the birth of a son, Bentzion Meir Yitzchak. Rabbi David ‘98R and Bracha Silverberg on the birth of a son, Yonatan Moshe. Rabbi Yair ‘02R and Ilana Silverman on the birth of a son, 38amitai shalev.
Rabbi Aharon ‘85R and Beverly Simkin on the marriage of their daughter, Devorah, to Pini Berlinger. Rabbi Yehuda ‘78R and Edna Singer on the birth of a grandson, noam, born to raphael and tali. Rabbi Reuven ‘97R and Rena Spolter on their son, Bezalel, becoming a Bar Mitzvah. Rabbi Aryeh ‘07R and Danya Stechler on the birth of a son, Yaakov oded. Rabbi Steven ‘72R and Chana (Altman) Stein on the marriage of their daughter, eliana, to shlomo Lechiani. Rabbi Michael ‘86R and Sheryl Susman on the birth of grandsons, Yotam eliya, born to eitan and Michal susman, and adiel Yosef, born to tamar and tsuriel edri. Rabbi Brian Thau ‘92R on making aliyah. Rabbi Moshe ‘03R and Yonina Tuchman on the birth of a son, Yair aryeh. Rabbi Dovid ‘72R and Tziporah Twersky and Dr. David ‘71R and Vivian Luchins on the birth of a grandson, born to Dena and Moshe Luchins. Rabbi Stuart ‘84R and Ora Verstandig on their son, Pinchus Moshe, becoming a Bar Mitzvah. Rabbi Tuly ‘06R and Abby Weisz on the birth of a daughter, tzofia Bracha. Rabbi Naftali ‘08R and Nava Wolfe on the birth of a son, Yonatan ronen. and to greatgrandfather Rabbi Dr. Bernard Rosensweig ‘50R. Rabbi Howard ‘77R and Annette Wolk on the birth of twin granddaughters, ronit ariana (ruby) and sima Leah (sydney), born to talia and Gavi wolk.
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Rabbi Elan Adler ‘86R on the loss of his mother, Gertrude t. adler. Rabbi IB Nathan Bamberger ‘51R on the loss of his brother, Bjorn Bamberger. educational Coordinator of the Bella and harry wexner Kollel elyon and semikha honors Program at rIets, Dr. Norman Blumenthal, on the loss of his father, fred Blumenthal.
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Karen aaron Braverman on the loss of her husband, Rabbi Dr. Life-Cycle events Jay Braverman ‘61R, father of Debbie Braverman, Jeff Braverman and alan Braverman. Rabbi Avraham ‘62R and Dorothy Cohen on the loss of their son, azriel Cohen, brother of Rabbi Aaron Cohen ‘94R, shula Kelman and avinoam Cohen. the family of rebbetzin Chaya sarah Drillman, wife of the late rIets rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Shlomo Elimelech Drillman ‘49R, zt”l. Rabbi Marty Gold ‘76R on the loss of his mother. Rabbi Yosef (Jay) Goldberg ‘75R and Rabbi Elimelech (Michael) Goldberg ‘81R on the loss of their mother, Gertrude Goldberg. the family of Rabbi Louis Goldblatt ‘52R, z”l. sylvia halbfinger on the loss of her husband, Rabbi Abraham I. Halbfinger ‘58R and the loss of their daughter, Bracha tal. Rabbi Dr. Joseph Heimowitz ‘55R on the loss of his wife, vita heimowitz. Rabbi Dr. Jerry Hochbaum ‘56R on the loss of his mother, Mrs. Marcia hochbaum. Mrs. tzipora hollander on the loss of her husband, Rabbi Fred Hollander ‘46R, father of Dr. Judy Medzinsky, shevy har-Zahav, Dina wilshinsky and rabbi Yoni hollander. Rabbi Moshe Jablon ‘75R on the loss of his mother, ann Jablon. rIets rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Aharon Kahn ‘69R on the loss of his father, rabbi Yaakov Kahn. Rabbi Eliezer Kaminetzky ‘66R on the loss of his brother, rabbi Chaim Kaminetzky, past president of the national Council of Young Israel. Chairman of Yeshiva university Board of trustees Dr. Henry Kressel on the loss of his wife, Mrs. Bertha Kressel, mother of Dr. aron Kressel and Kim ephrat. Bracha Lieberman on the loss of her husband, rIets rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Dr. Zevulun Lieberman ‘54R, father of eliyorah Lieberman, tehilla Lieberman, and the late hillel eliyahu Lieberman, and to his brother, Paul Lieberman.
Vivian and Dr. David ‘71R Luchins on the loss of vivian’s mother, Ida osdoby. ruth Margolies on the loss of her husband, Rabbi Morris B. Margolies ‘43R, father of Daniel Margolies, Jonathan Margolies and Malka Margolies. Bernice Metzger on the loss of her husband, Rabbi Stanley (Shmuel) Metzger ‘49R, father of Chani Jakubowitz, shani Itzkowitz, Yocheved Granik, and tova Lisker. rIets Board Member Mr. Leon Meyers on the loss of his wife, Mrs. Joan Meyers. Rabbi Boaz Mori ‘98R on the loss of his mother, Mrs. rena Mori. Beatrice Peyser on the loss of her husband, Rabbi Irwin Peyser ‘54R. Rabbi Jay L. Pomrenze ‘73R on the loss of his mother, Mrs. Brondell Pomrenze. Rabbi Daniel Price ‘04R and Debra (and Rabbi Marc ‘98R) Spivak on the loss of their father, Dr. Clifton Price. aaron rothstein on the loss of his mother, Miriam rothstein, who was predeceased by her husband, the late Rabbi Joseph Rothstein ‘39R, and by her sons, Chaim Philip rothstein and Judah Mayer rothstein. Isaac Breuer College adjunct Instructor and Mendel Gottesman Librarian Rabbi Moshe Schapiro ‘98R on the loss of his father, Dr. norman schapiro. Rabbi Dr. Max N. Schreier ‘52R on the loss of his wife, Mrs. toby schreier, mother of Leah Kochanowitz, Rabbi Josh Schreier ‘82R, avi schreier, Zev schreier, ari schreier, shabsi schreier, Benjy schreier, and Rabbi Dov Schreier ‘96R. Dr. Moshe Sherman ‘81R on the loss of his father, Mr. sol sherman. Rabbi Alfred (Alie) Thee ‘56R on the loss of his brother, Joseph thee. Member of the rIets Board of trustees Rabbi Solomon Trau on the loss of his wife, Beryl trau.
...We’ll Help You Master the Math on College Expenses.*
Includes d room an board!
*A student from Illinois has two siblings in day school. The family has an adjusted gross income of $98,000 a year, and pays $6,900 a year for a YU education. Unlike other private universities, YU’s financial aid calculations consider K-12 tuition for siblings and do not consider the value of a family home and retirement savings.
*A student from New Jersey has four siblings—one in college and three in day school. The family has an adjusted gross income of $192,000 a year, and pays $18,250 a year for a YU education. Unlike other private universities, YU’s financial aid calculations consider K-12 tuition for siblings and do not consider the value of a family home and retirement savings.
Scenarios are based on the comprehensive cost of a YU undergraduate education for the 2012-2013 academic year, include all scholarships awarded, federal and state grants and loans received, and standard room and board. Additional fees are not included. Financial aid awards are based on many factors, are subject to funding availability and may vary significantly. This is not a guarantee of your actual cost to attend YU.
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rabbi Isaac elchanan theological seminary Center for the Jewish future 500 west 185 street new York, nY 10033