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Starting Up at Sy Syms 4Page 4
Focus on Faculty 4Page 6
Bearing Witness to the Witnesses 4Page 8
Ready to Lead: Yeshiva University Celebrates Largest Class of Rabbis at Chag HaSemikhah Convocation
on to become distinguished Orthodox rabbis, scholars, educators and leaders around the world. “At a very crucial time in Jewish history, you are uniquely trained and qualiﬁed to reach out to Jews of all backgrounds with an authentic Torah message,” Rabbi Menachem Penner, the Max and Marion Grill Dean of RIETS and Undergraduate Torah Studies at YU, told the musmachim. “In you, we see the bright future of our community.” The ceremony took place in the Nathan Lamport Auditorium at Zysman Hall, with video hookups in the Harry Fischel Beit Midrash and YU’s Caroline and Joseph S. Gruss Institute in Jerusalem and an online webcast. More than 3,000 people attended the event on campus and more than 5,000 viewed it online. “From the lumdus [scholarship] to the pastoral training to the internships and leadership workshops, we receive a top-of-the-line education at RIETS,” said Rabbi Yosef Bronstein, an instructor of Jewish philosophy at YU’s Isaac Breuer College of Hebraic Studies, a doctoral candidate in Talmudic Studies at YU’s Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies and a fellow in RIETS’ Bella and Harry Wexner Kollel Elyon, speaking on behalf of his fellow musmachim at the Chag HaSemikhah. “Our study of Torah, in addition to its independent signiﬁcance, heightens our responsibility and capacity to spiritually inﬂuence the community. And so, we musmachim will wear the badge of RIETS with pride.” Continued on Page 4 ç
∞ SPRING 2014 ∞ VOLUME 18 • NO. 2
A record 230 Musmachim celebrated their ordination from RIETS at the March 23 Chag HaSemikhah
o early spring chill could deny the warmth and excitement on Yeshiva University’s Wilf Campus as hundreds of voices lifted in joyful song and cheering soared high above Amsterdam Avenue. The streets ﬂooded with celebration as new musmachim [ordained rabbis] linked arms and hands and danced together in front of Zysman Hall, pausing only to receive hugs or words of congratulations from their esteemed
Roshei Yeshiva, mentors, family and friends. Representing the largest cohort in the history of YU-afﬁliated Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS), the musmachim were celebrating their ordination at YU’s March 23 Chag HaSemikhah. In a day ﬁlled with festive song and dance and brimming with pride, the 230 graduates of the 2011–14 classes joined more than 3,000 rabbinic alumni who have gone
Dr. Selma Botman Named New Provost and VP for Academic Affairs
r. Selma Botman will serve as Yeshiva University’s next vice president for academic affairs and provost, effective July 1. Botman joins YU from The City University of New York, where she served as executive vice chancellor for academic affairs and university provost and most recently as professor of Middle Eastern history at the Graduate Center. “Attracting a higher education professional with the experience, the humanity and the academic probity of Selma Botman is an achievement that reﬂects YU’s stature as one of the nation’s leading universities,” said President Richard M. Joel. “I believe that she will provide enormous academic leadership to the wonderful team that supports me as we work together to build a strong, sustainable Yeshiva University. Education is about tomorrow, and Dr. Botman’s experience, commitment to quality and exploration of different paths of learning will enable us to build an environment that supports the best educational practices of today and anticipates even greater innovation in the future.” Botman was selected in a nationwide search led by a 10-member advisory committee. Her responsibilities will include overseeing YU’s academic programs, research, personnel and resources; working with the faculty and administration to strengthen teaching and student learning; fostering scholarly research and creative projects; building a collaborative culture across the University; and reevaluating curricula and programs to ensure they
remain compelling and challenging. She will also recruit and retain high-quality faculty and staff for YU and work closely with the University Faculty Council. “I am honored to be entrusted by President Joel and the Board of Trustees with the leadership of Yeshiva’s faculty and academic affairs,” Botman said. “I look forward to working with the President and with the faculty and students to ensure that Yeshiva’s academic experience remains a vital and compelling choice for a new generation of students seeking a unique preparation for a lifetime of learning and thoughtful, ethical engagement with the world.” A native of Chelsea, MA, Botman holds a degree in psychology from Brandeis University and a degree in philosophy from Oxford University, in addition to a master’s in Middle Eastern studies and a PhD in history and Middle Eastern studies from Harvard University. Botman’s academic expertise is in modern Middle Eastern history, politics and society. She is a well-known lecturer on current events in the Middle East and South Asia as well as the author of three books and many scholarly articles in the ﬁeld. “Dr. Botman is a respected scholar and teacher and an experienced administrator,” said Dr. Matthew Goldstein, chancellor emeritus at CUNY. “Her high academic standards along with her warmth and compassion for others make her well-suited for the position of provost at Yeshiva University.”
Botman will succeed Dr. Morton Lowengrub, who will complete 15 years of service at YU in June. “His legacy is profound,” said President Joel. “Dr. Botman is a worthy successor.” n
YUTODAY WEB EXCLUSIVES
Support From Up North
for Women next fall after she returns from a year of study in Israel. “We feel very fortunate that our kids can attend YU and not all kids have that ability,” said Lax. “What motivated me to get involved and donate to the scholarship fund was that I recognized that YU creates leaders who go back to communities all over North America and the world and become integral parts of those communities. It’s a very important organization for the broader Jewish community and I feel it’s important to allow other students to get that experience and be able to give back to their own communities when they return.” Michael Lax, who works in real estate, is actively involved in Canadian Friends of Yeshiva University and the YU Torah MiTzion Beit Midrash Zichron Dov of Toronto. This year, he served as cochair of YU’s Toronto Convocation and Dinner, March 30. “In addition to the resources that the Laxes have shared so generously, what has been very meaningful is the personal effort that the Lax family has invested in Yeshiva University in Canada,” said Stuart Haber, national director of Canadian Friends of YU. “Whether it is the YU Kollel or Canadian scholarship funding, Michael is always there with a keen mind, seeking clever solutions and ways to personally get involved. The Lax family goes beyond for so many in so many ways. They are extraordinary.” The Laxes are also pillars of philanthropy in the greater Toronto Jewish community. Michael is currently Chairman of the Board at Bnei Akiva Schools, and he and his wife were honored as Distinguished Community Leaders at the school’s 40th anniversary dinner last May. They are deeply involved in other communal causes as well, including Chai Lifeline Canada, the UJA Federation of Greater Toronto and Friends of the Israel Defense Forces. n
Read President Richard M. Joel’s op-ed on the “Builders of The Jewish People”
Marsha and Michael Lax
hen Marsha and Michael Lax of Toronto, ON, were searching for a way to give back to the Jewish community, they didn’t have to look far. While their oldest child, Jonathan ’12SB, was a student at Sy Syms School of Business, they saw ﬁrsthand the incredible opportunities that Yeshiva University offered and decided to donate substantially to support undergraduate student scholarships. “I sent my son to YU and saw all the good that they were doing there,” said Michael Lax. “YU teaches its students to excel in both the secular and Jewish world and we fully support its unique mission of Torah Umadda.” The Laxes have two children currently enrolled at YU, Ethan and Amanda, and their youngest daughter, Rebecca, will begin at Stern College
From the historic ceremony to dancing in the streets, view incredible photos from Chag HaSemikhah 5774
Cardozo Professor and Youth Justice Clinic Help End Juvenile Solitary Conﬁnement in New York
Watch President Joel, Rabbi Menachem Penner (pictured), Rabbi Yosef Bronstein and others address the musmachim
lex Reinert, professor at Yeshiva University’s Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, served as co-counsel for the New York Civil Liberties Union in a recent settlement agreement with the New York State Department of Community Corrections, announcing an end to solitary conﬁnement in New York State’s prisons for youth, pregnant inmates and developmentally disabled and intellectually challenged prisoners. With this agreement, New York becomes the largest prison system in the United States to prohibit the use of solitary conﬁnement as a disciplinary measure against prisoners who are younger than 18. “New York is taking a substantial step in the right direction, and we hope that it will ultimately join the many other states who have recognized that lengthy isolation sentences cause serious harm while accomplishing little if any of the goals of a rational corrections system,” said Reinert. The case came a week after Cardozo held a conference on the use of solitary conﬁnement for youth and released a comprehensive report on the topic by the Cardozo Youth Justice Clinic. Titled “Rethinking Rikers: Moving from a Correctional to a Therapeutic Model for Youth,” it detailed conditions and highlighted current practices that actually increase the likelihood of sending young people down a path of despair and recidivism. According to the students who authored the report, solitary conﬁnement—deﬁned as ex-
DR. HENRY KRESSEL
YESHIVA UNIVERSIT Y ∞ SPRING 2014 ∞ VOLUME 18 • NO. 2
Chairman, YU Board of Trustees
RICHARD M. JOEL
Executive Director of Communications and Public Affairs YUTODAY
MATT YANIV Director of Media Relations, YAFFI SPODEK GISEL PINEYRO
Editor in Chief Aliza Berenholz, Barbara Birch, John Denatale, Caitlin Geiger, Perel Skier Hecht, David Huggins, Megan van Huygen, Tova Ross, Adena Stevens Contributors firstname.lastname@example.org www.yu.edu/cpa
Professor Alex Reinert
treme isolation for 22–24 hours a day with minimal human contact—is one of the most pressing changes that need to be addressed. “Data from around the country shows us that not only are New York City’s practices archaic, but that these policies are counterproductive to the goals of our justice system,” said Ellen Yaroshefsky, director of Cardozo’s Youth Justice Clinic. “The severe emotional, mental and physical harm caused by solitary conﬁnement is well documented. Moreover, the practice itself has proven to be unnecessarily costly and a substantial contributor to increased recidivism rates.” n
YUToday is published quarterly by the Ofﬁce of Communications and Public Affairs and is distrib uted free to faculty, staff, students, alumni, donors and friends. It keeps them informed of news from across Yeshiva University’s undergraduate and graduate divisions and afﬁliates. The quarterly newsletter covers academic and campus life, faculty and student research, community outreach and philanthropic support. It showcases the University’s mission of Torah Umadda, the combination of Jewish study and values with secular learning, through stories about the diverse achievements of the University community. © Yeshiva University 2014 • Ofﬁce of Communications and Public Affairs Furst Hall, Room 401 • 500 West 185th St. • New York, NY 10033-3201 • Tel.: 212.960.5285 Stanley I. Raskas, Chairman, Board of Overseers, Yeshiva College; Shira Yoshor, Chair, Board of Overseers, Stern College for Women; Alan Kestenbaum, Chairman, Board of Overseers, Sy Syms School of Business; Ruth L. Gottesman, Chair, Board of Overseers, Albert Einstein College of Medicine; Leslie E. Payson, Chair, Board of Overseers, Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law; Froma Benerofe, Chair, Board of Overseers, Wurzweiler School of Social Work; Mordecai D. Katz, Chairman, Board of Overseers, Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies; Carol Bravmann, Chair, Board of Overseers, Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology; Moshael J. Straus, Chairman, Board of Overseers, Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration; Joel M. Schreiber, Chairman, Board of Trustees, (afﬁliate) Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary; Miriam P. Goldberg, Chair, Board of Trustees, YU High Schools; Michael Jesselson and Theodore N. Mirvis, Cochairs, Board of Directors, (afﬁliate) Yeshiva University Museum. Board listings as of March 5, 2014.
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cancer therapy that would not negatively impact healthy, normal cells to the same extent as conventional chemotherapeutic agents. Our other goal is to determine the mechanism that enables these natural products to kill cancer cells.” “Our work could also be signiﬁcant in understanding some of the beneﬁts of a healthy diet,” added Weisburg. “Many health beneﬁts have been attributed to natural products, and our work further elucidates how those products contribute to cancer prevention.” To test the mechanisms that allow nutraceuticals to target cancer cells exclusively, Schuck and Weisburg use an in vitro culture system, working with human cells derived from the oral cavity, to study the effects of natural extracts containing nutraceuticals. Schuck and Weisburg make a great team: their individual areas of expertise—human physiology and immunology for Weisburg and protein analyses and microbiology for Schuck—enable them to tackle nutraceuticals from multiple angles at the same time. Working together with Dr. Harvey Babich, chair of the biology department at Stern, as well as with Dr. Harriet Zuckerbraun, clinical associate professor of biology at Stern, the two found that each of the natural extracts tested was more toxic to cancer cells than to normal cells, but that their methods of killing cancer cells differed. Students are a vital part of Schuck’s and Weisburg’s research, working alongside them in the lab to gain hands-on experience with everything from cultivating the cells to performing toxicity tests. “I had a terriﬁc experience at Stern as a student, and I think the mentoring I experienced there prompted me to go down the career path I chose,” said Schuck, who
Stern Faculty, Students Conduct Novel Cancer Research
graduated from Stern in 1999 before pursuing a PhD at New York University’s Sackler Institute of Graduate Biomedical Sciences. “We work with students individually in the lab, and it’s rewarding to really get to know them and see them succeed in accomplishing their goals.” Schuck and Weisburg are dedicated to helping students pursue those goals, including them not only in laboratory research but also as coauthors in their published work. In 2013, they published three papers in peerreviewed journals together with 13 Stern students and alumni. They also sent students to present their research at the American Chemical Society Annual Meeting and the Annual Meeting of the Society for In Vitro Biology. For Talia Felman and Rebecca Garber, two students hoping to attend medical school, the faculty mentorship and support they received in Weisburg and Schuck’s labs have been invaluable. “Dr. Weisburg’s patience and concern for his students is incredible—he is easygoing and able to explain complex concepts in creative ways to help us fully understand everything we learn from him,” said Felman. “In his lab, I learned not only how to handle cells, but also the kinds of obstacles to look out for in different kinds of experiments and the problem-solving skills to cope with them.” “When I say that Dr. Schuck is my mentor, I don’t just mean that I go to her and ask her what classes to take or for suggestions for summer research—I mean that she is someone I truly respect, not only for her intellect and professionalism, but also for her warmth and kindness,” said Garber. “Every time we meet, I do something different and learn about different aspects of the project.” According to Dr. Karen Bacon, the Dr. Monique C. Katz Dean of Stern College, the close mentorship that students receive is a perfect example of the nurturing environment that scientiﬁc study at Stern provides. “Drs. Schuck and Weisburg are dedicated to teaching, research and mentoring students,” she said. “This combination is what makes our biology department such a powerful incubator for developing female scientists.” n
Dr. Jeffrey Weisburg supervises a student researcher
hat’s in an apple? Maybe, just maybe, the secret to kicking cancer. According to research by Dr. Alyssa Schuck and Dr. Jeffrey Weisburg, the Doris Kukin Chair in Molecular Biology—both clinical assistant professors of biology at Stern College for Women—apples, along with cranberry juice, pomegranates and green and black tea, contain common cancer-ﬁghting compounds: nutraceutical polyphenols. Found in natural foods and plants, these polyphenolic extracts were proven by Schuck’s and Weisburg’s studies to be selectively toxic to cancer cells, leaving normal cells unaffected. “We all know that a lot of drugs used to treat cancer have harmful side effects that damage normal tissue,” said Schuck. “Unlike many other studies, which only test the effects of chemicals on cancer cells, we take care to test the effects of the extracts on normal cells. Eventually, this could potentially lead to the development of a
Agents of Shield: Meet YU’s Student-Run Broadcast News Team
he Shield News team—Yeshiva University’s student-run news video broadcast—is a well-oiled machine. Their popular “Week at a Glance” videos keep YU students up to date on the academic calendar, extracurricular events and university athletics news. In the beginning of the week, producer David Bodner ’14YC takes a look at the YU Events Calendar, selecting the most talked-about upcoming events for a script to be built out by a team of student writers and writing editors. Then anchors Benjamin Scheiner ’14YC and Shimra Barnett ’15S join videographer David Khabinsky ’14YC at the team’s studio in the Schottenstein Cultural Center, where they draw on many of the modern staples of broadcast news, such as a green screen and a teleprompter, to give their broadcasts a professional look and feel. Scheiner and Barnett do take after take as Bodner watches, correcting them if they forget a line or prompting them to add something if it sounds better. Then Khabinsky, who also serves as video editor, works late into the night, editing the ﬁlm until the team has a polished video that’s ready to help students kick off their week when they check their inboxes Monday morning. All in all, the enterprise has grown to include 11 students and produce dozens of videos garnering hundreds of views each. It’s come a long way since the day in 2011 when Scheiner, then in his ﬁrst year at YU, began thinking about a way to combine his passion for news and news-anchoring with his desire to raise school spirit. “I thought a student news broadcast could really make people feel part of their school in ways they didn’t know they could be by making them feel proud and excited about all the good things happening on campus,” Scheiner said. “I also thought it would be a cool way to
train students who were interested in video journalism, “Those videos are my personal trophies,” said in roles behind the camera or in front of it, producing or Khabinsky. “In a technical and creative sense, we really editing videos.” do exciting things with them, and people who weren’t at But it wasn’t until Bodner and Khabinsky came on an event can watch them and see how fun it was. ” board in 2013 that the team really solidiﬁed. In Bodner, Scheiner found an ABCtrained news producer: Bodner had interned at the news station the summer before, where he wrote the script that anchors would read on air. Khabinsky also brought solid experience to the group, having secured an internship through the YU Career Center with a videographer for popular blogger “Jew in the City” the previous year. The Shield News team: David Khabinsky, Oren Herschander, Ben Scheiner, Shimra Barnett, Avigayil Bachrach and David Bodner Barnett joined the team this fall as the Israel Henry Beren Campus representative and Scheiner’s coanchor. Looking back at the last year, the Shield News team is “I think it’s important to have that female presence proud of their hard work. Their videos are now featured there, so women know that just because something is in a special tab on YU’s events page and circulated widely happening on the men’s campus, that doesn’t mean it’s on campus. For Scheiner, the whole experience has been not for them,” said Barnett, who brought her experience a lesson in perseverance. as a stage actor to the role. “I also wanted to be involved “It’s hard to make something out of nothing, but if because I have a ton of school spirit and Shield News is you really want it, there are people who will stand by you about having school pride.” and it’s important just to stick with it,” he said. “We have In addition to Week at a Glance, the team began proan environment at YU where if you have the initiative and ducing more “Shield in the Field” videos, featuring crepassion to create something, you can.” n ative recaps and videos of fun or momentous University events, like the Seforim Sale, the Chanukah concert, Cake Wars and the Cholent Cook-off. k Watch Shield News in action at www.youtube.com/TheShieldNews
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Chag HaSemikhah Convocation ç
The record class of musmachim, hailing from ﬁve continents and more than 50 North American cities, includes the largest number of rabbinic alumni to receive yadin yadin, an advanced level of ordination which qualiﬁes recipients to serve as judges on Jewish courts, and the largest group of Sephardic students in RIETS history. “It’s amazing to see so many old friends here today and to be a part of something so much larger than yourself,” said Rabbi Eitan Ben-David, of Teaneck, NJ, who teaches at SAR Academy in Riverdale, NY, and is a pulpit rabbi at the West Side Sephardic Synagogue. “This is such an amazingly talented group of musmachim.” “I moved from London to pursue semicha [rabbinical studies] here because this was the leading home for people who are connected to the mesorah [tradition] with Modern Orthodox philosophical aspirations,” said Rabbi Gideon Black, a Jewish Learning Initiative on Campus rabbi at New York University, whose wife and in-laws celebrated with him at the Chag. As they go on to build careers in religious ﬁelds ranging from the Jay Schottenstein pulpit to Jewish education and outreach work, the new musmachim will beneﬁt from the unique education they received at RIETS. In addition to intense religious study with renowned Torah scholars, the seminary offers an enhanced Rabbinic Professional Education Program designed to meet the communal and spiritual needs of today’s Jewish communities. Students receive extensive training in topics critical for public leadership positions, such as pastoral psychology, public speaking and community building, all taught by renowned experts and rabbis. They’re also exposed to
contemporary halachic [Jewish legal] issues in bioethics, technology and business to prepare them for realworld dilemmas they may face. “It’s so important to me that RIETS is progressive in educating rabbis on these kinds of issues,” said Rabbi Dr. Yonah Bardos, a resident OB/GYN at Mount Sinai Hospital and one of many musmachim who will use their semicha in professional careers such as medicine or law. “That’s something you can’t ﬁnd at another semicha program, and there are so many things that come up as a physician that were critical for me to learn about.
Rabbi Gedalia Dov Schwartz
Ultimately, I hope this will help me be a resource to my medical and rabbinic colleagues.” At the convocation, RIETS honored philanthropist Jay Schottenstein with the Eitz Chaim Award and Rabbi Gedalia Dov Schwartz ’46YC, ’49R, Av Beit Din of the Beth Din of America and of the Chicago Rabbinical Council Beit Din, with the Harav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik zt”l Aluf Torah Award. “You as Jewish leaders have the ability to show the world how to balance living in the Torah and secular
realms,” Schottenstein told the musmachim. Remembering his own time at RIETS in the 1940s, Rabbi Schwartz said, “I heard the Rav [Soloveitchik] himself say, in this very auditorium at my Chag HaSemikhah, ‘You have the greatest Roshei Yeshiva in the world.’ Being here over Shabbos and seeing what goes on here, I must say the same thing today.” The Chag also celebrated alumni who received semicha 50 years ago from the RIETS classes of 1960–63. “As I look out now onto this group assembled here, my heart brims with hope,” said YU President Richard M. Joel. “Hope that you will take on nuance, and not run from it; hope that you will respect and revere the halachic system into which you enter, while responding to the needs of your congregants with warmth and understanding; hope that you will inspire us all to build lives of meaning and of purpose, engaging with the wide world around us while informed by our sacred Torah; and ﬁnally, hope that you will bring about a true state of shleimut [integrity] for us all and for all of klal Yisrael [the Jewish People].” Following the ordination ceremony, a Gala Evening of Celebration honoring Rabbi Schwartz and Schottenstein—which raised $1.1 million for RIETS—was held at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. The event featured a lecture by Rabbi Schwartz, remarks by Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, the Kressel and Ephrat Family University Professor of Jewish Thought at YU, and an armchair conversation between Schottenstein and President Joel. n
k Read more about our incredible musmachim on Page 5
Entrepreneur Adam Moisa Finds Mentors and Associates at Sy Syms
end and server-side coding, very talented, a member of MENSA”—and Doron David, a marketing major who will be his manager and already has experience in the ﬁeld. As Cloudifyd nears the beta stage, Moisa has received offers from several venture capitalists and angel investors. He also meets regularly with faculty at Sy Syms: Dr. Tamar Avnet, associate professor of marketing, about marketing strategies, and Associate Dean Avi Giloni about algorithms. “They always have time for you,” he said. “It’s great.” Moisa, a ﬁnance major, is paying that time forward. He founded a club, Suits Optional, to guide other students along their entrepreneurial journeys. Students transform start-up ideas into full-ﬂedged business plans with betas and mock-ups and later pitch their plans to VCs and angels for the chance to secure an investment. Moisa gives students the same advice he gives anyone who wants to learn to think creatively: “Be totally miserable about everything that functions. What’s the point of the thing you’re using? Could it be better?” But Moisa isn’t miserable about everything. He is excited by the vigor of Judaic studies on campus and his daily shiur [lecture] with Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Zvi Sobolofsky. “The kol [voice] in the beit midrash [study hall] is unparalleled, even louder than my experience in Israel,” he said. “I’m glad I didn’t miss this. I’m enrolled in a great business program and I get to learn until three every day. That’s pretty great.” Torah and business have always gone hand in hand in Moisa’s life, and he wants them to remain that way. Sy Syms’ guiding philosophy of business savvy informed by Torah and ethics strikes a crucial chord with him. “I think the morals of the Torah that you gain from a Jewish upbringing have to get mixed into what you do,” he said. “They go together.” n
k To learn more about the Sy Syms Business Honors and Entrepreneurship Program, visit yu.edu/syms/honors
Doron David, Adam Moisa, Jordan Schiff and Ronan Weinberg Waks work together on Cloudifyd
dam Moisa was impressed by his ﬁrst phone conversation with Michael Strauss, associate dean and entrepreneur-in-residence at Yeshiva University’s Sy Syms School of Business. Strauss called Moisa while he was studying at Yeshivat HaKotel in Israel to ask if he had thought of any business ideas lately. As it happened, Moisa had. He wanted to create an aggregate cloud storage program that would allow people to access all of their online content stored on various cloud storage services through one simple, easy-to-use platform. Moisa knew it was a great idea, but he wasn’t sure where to go from there. For two and a half hours, the two discussed how to take the idea to the next level, from getting an accountant and patent lawyer to ﬁnding web developers and creating a spec sheet. By the time he hung up, Moisa had a clear plan to get his business off the ground as well as an in-person meeting scheduled with Strauss to talk about next steps over the Sukkot holidays. And Moisa wasn’t even enrolled at YU. “I was amazed that there was a dean willing to give me two and a half hours of his day when I wasn’t even a student,” Moisa said. “It was so personal.”
Moisa had already been accepted to Princeton University when Strauss ﬁrst met him on a recruiting visit to Davis Renov Stahler Yeshiva High School for Boys in Woodmere, NY. “He was perfect for our school,” said Strauss. “Extremely mature, very decisive, bright, inquisitive and committed to his academic studies while at the same time continually coming up with business ideas.” The personal attention and mentorship that helped Moisa cultivate those ideas ultimately inﬂuenced his decision to enroll in Sy Syms’ new Business Honors and Entrepreneurship Program. “I’d much rather learn from someone who’s done it before and is willing to give me hands-on time than learn from a book,” he said. “I’d also rather be Adam Moisa at YU than one student out of 500 anywhere else. The Honors Program is small, inclusive and personal, which means a lot to me.” With Strauss’s guidance, Moisa started work on Cloudifyd, the storage program they discussed in that initial phone call. Strauss put him in touch with professional contacts and Moisa turned to his classmates to assemble his team: students like Ronan Weinberg Waks from Argentina, a web developer—“He’s a whiz at back-
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Hershel Billet ’67YUHS, ’71YC, ’74R, ’82BR Micah Greenland ’00YC, ’02R, ’10A
YESHIVA UNIVERSITY SPRING 2014
Rabbinic Alumni Recount Their Service to the Jewish People
Chaim Strauchler ’99YC, ’05R, ’05BR
wo hundred thirty newly ordained rabbis celebrated at Yeshiva University’s Chag HaSemikhah Convocation on March 23, joining thousands who have graduated from the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS) and become distinguished rabbis, scholars, educators and leaders around the world since RIETS opened its doors over a century ago. Through their tireless devotion to the Jewish community, these rabbis have positively impacted the lives of countless people. Below are a few of their stories.
RABBI HERSHEL BILLET: RABBI OF THE PEOPLE
Rabbi Hershel Billet ’67YUHS, ’71YC, ’74R, ’82BR was a pre-med major on the day he sat in a shiur [lecture] taught by Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein, the Rabbi Henoch and Sarah D. Berman Chair in Talmud at YU, that changed the course of his life. Rabbi Lichtenstein had told his students that while he believes that Israel needs as many professionals—doctors, lawyers and accountants—that it can get to make aliyah [immigration to Israel] and contribute to Israeli society, what America really needs are people who are committed to Jewish communal work and lay leaders who have a responsibility to serve klal yisrael [the Jewish People] in the Diaspora. “Rav Lichtenstein’s words made a deep impression on me and I really took his mandate to heart,” said Billet, who was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. “I decided to continue on to RIETS and the Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies to eventually work in both the rabbinate and Jewish education.” Billet was one of hundreds of students from Yeshiva College and Stern College for Women who demonstrated together in 1970—with the express approval of Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik and Rabbi Lichtenstein—to plead that YU retains its Torah Umadda personality. “We were demonstrating for Torah and to encourage YU to retain its sensibilities and philosophy as a yeshiva,” said Billet. “That we were so committed to the cause only indicated the love and pride of yiddishkeit [Judaism] that our rabbis and teachers had instilled in us.” Billet also served as president of the Student Organization of Yeshiva and found time to indulge in his lifelong passion for sports during Thursday afternoon football games with friends. After receiving rabbinical ordination, he became the rabbi of a small shul in Monsey, NY, and a teacher at Or Torah, a boys high school in Riverdale, NY, founded by Rabbi Shlomo Riskin ’56YUHS, ’60YC, ’63R, ’73BR. He also earned his master’s degree in Jewish history from Revel. When a position at the Young Israel of Woodmere in Long Island arose, Billet spoke with Rabbi Hershel Schacter, father of Rabbi Jacob J. Schacter, who was the rabbinic placement coordinator at the time. “I went by the name Heshie, and Rabbi Schacter told me I’d never get too far with a name like that,” said Billet. “He bestowed the name Hershel on me, a name he said seemed much more digniﬁed.” Sure enough, Billet got the job and the shul has nearly doubled in size during his tenure to nearly 1,000 families—quite a change from the 25-family congregation Billet led previously. “The transition was trial and error,” said Billet, “and I made plenty of mistakes then and continue to err to this day. I just hope that I make fewer errors than correct decisions.”
One recent memorable gaffe was when Billet was invited to a Baltimore Orioles baseball game at Camden Yards. The night of the game, Billet, an avid New York Yankees fan, agreed to don an Orioles cap and took his place directly behind the dugout, having evaded an invitation to a congregant’s son’s engagement party. Not long after, he began receiving phone calls from Rabbi Kenneth Hain ’69YC, ’78R of Congregation Beth Sholom in Lawrence, a neighboring town to Woodmere, and a couple of his own congregants. “Rabbi Billet, is that you in the Orioles cap on TV?” they asked. “My congregation has a good sense of humor, though, so I was easily forgiven,” said Billet. “Apart from a forgiving congregation, what’s necessary for those seeking to enter the rabbinate is a ready willingness to learn and seek advice from others,” he added. “You can’t have a temper and you need to know how to apologize. Common sense and sincerity don’t hurt either.” Billet is proud of his shul, which he said does extraordinary work for various charitable causes and allows him to travel to Israel and Russia to advocate for the Jewish community. Billet and the shul raised over $1 million to help Ethiopian Jews escape the country and travel to a new home in Israel. He also highlighted the shul’s wonderful chevra kadisha [burial society], their 10 daily minyanim [quorums] and the fact that Woodmere was the ﬁrst of the Five Towns to participate in Tomchei Shabbos, a program where community members package food for needy families. “There is a lot of good spirit here,” said Billet. “I feel blessed to lead this congregation and be part of this wonderful community.” Billet has lectured widely and published numerous articles in Jewish journals and publications. He is married to Rookie Katz ’68YUHS, ’71TI, a longtime Jewish educator who is currently serving as principal of the middle school of Shulamith School for Girls on Long Island. They are the proud parents of Dr. Dassi ’95S, ’01, ’03F and Rabbi Dr. Daniel Jacobson ’02R; David ’95YUHS, ’01YC and Anouche; Avi ’96YUHS, ’01YC, ’06A, ’06R and Chana ’03S; Moshe ’04SB; Shira and Steven Exler ’07BR; and Nava ’09S.
RABBI MICAH GREENLAND: INSPIRING YOUTH WORLDWIDE
As a young boy growing up in Rochester, NY, Rabbi Micah Greenland ’00YC, ’02R, ’10A could not have foreseen his future career as both rabbi and international director of the National Congregation of Synagogue Youth (NCSY), an organization that connects young men and women with their Jewish heritage. Yet today, Greenland inﬂuences the lives of thousands of youngsters who are searching for something meaningful. Greenland joined NCSY in Rochester when he was 9 and was elected national president as a teen in 1993. When he was deciding between Ivy League colleges and YU, Greenland thought long and hard about his goals and realized that only one school could offer him both superb secular academics and top-notch Torah studies. “I didn’t know yet that I wanted to become a rabbi, only that I wanted to deepen my relationship with Judaism and learn Torah on a high level,” said Greenland. “I knew YU was the best place for that and the many people I met who were accepted to the most prestigious universities and chose YU helped cement my decision.” At YU, Greenland majored in math, assuming he would work in the business world. He was an active participant in much of what YU had to offer:
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memorable nights learning in the beit midrash [study hall], intramural basketball competitions, Thursday night pickup games and the close relationships forged with rebbeim, professors and peers. During this time, Greenland also served as an NCSY adviser. “I realized that the experience I was having as an advisor and the impact I was able to have on others was so fulﬁlling that it motivated me to want to pursue that professionally,” said Greenland. He continued on to study at RIETS and earn a master’s degree from YU’s Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration. After graduating, he worked as a rebbe at the Davis Renov Stahler Yeshiva High School for Boys in Long Island. “I fell in love with teaching, and the interaction with the students really fulﬁlled me,” said Greenland. “I thought teaching was the way I’d pursue my goal of reaching others, but then the opportunity to head NCSY’s Midwest Region arose. It was clear to me that this position would enable me to impact so many more teens than the ones I could reach in a classroom.” With his wife, Rivkie (nee Maryles), Greenland moved to Chicago in 2001 to assume the position of director of NCSY’s Midwest Region. Under his leadership, the region ﬂourished. When NCSY’s international director, Rabbi Steven Burg ’89YUHS, ’05R, ’13YC, ’13BR, left, the position was offered to Greenland who became director in November 2013. Since then, Greenland has logged many miles ﬂying back and forth between his home in Chicago and NCSY headquarters in Manhattan. “NCSY is an international organization, so a lot already happens via phone, Skype and email,” said Greenland. “NCSY will never be conﬁned to one city or space. I will admit, however, that a difﬁcult part of all this is my sore shoulder from holding a phone up to my chin 16 hours a day.” Despite his aching muscles, Greenland is excited about the opportunities that lie ahead and the potential that technology holds for reaching more teens than ever in innovative ways. “I think that we’re just getting started in terms of ﬁguring out what the challenges and opportunities are for NCSY in the near future,” he said. “It’s thrilling to be at the forefront of ﬁguring out how to forge ahead, working with other youth organizations dedicated to helping the Jewish people and, with parents, helping our children grow as human beings and as Jews.” Greenland points to the natural synergy that exists between YU and NCSY, with many NCSY graduates choosing to continue their Jewish learning by studying at Yeshiva College, Sy Syms School of Business or Stern College for Women. YU’s James Striar School of Jewish Studies (JSS), tailored to those with a very basic level of Jewish education or none at all, is perfect for NCSY teens who have a public school background and a desire to immerse themselves more fully in Jewish learning. “In the end, NCSY beneﬁts because these YU students often choose to give back and become involved with NCSY again, both as advisers and often through a career with NCSY or otherwise serving the Jewish people,” said Greenland. “It’s a wonderful example of one hand feeding the other.” The Greenlands live in Chicago with their ﬁve children: Meira, Shimon, Mordechai, Noam and Daniel.
RABBI CHAIM STRAUCHLER: THE RHODES SCHOLAR
Rabbi Chaim Strauchler ’99YC, ’05R, ’05BR, originally of West Orange, NJ, was a freshman in calculus class at YU when he was ﬁrst exposed to the world of integrals. A cornerstone concept of calculus that is perplexing to most, it only made Strauchler more deeply appreciative of the beauty that exists throughout time and space. “It was almost a religious experience, really, and I thought: ‘Ma rabu ma’asecha Hashem [How wonderful are your deeds, O God],’” he said. “I just had this instant connection in my mind between the spiritual dimension within my Torah study and the secular subjects that I was learning.”
Though he was on track to follow both his parents’ paths to YU’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Strauchler began to contemplate a role where he could better serve the spiritual needs of the Jewish people, inspired by Rabbi Michael Rosensweig, the Nathan and Perel Schupf Chair in Talmud at RIETS. “There was a certain spark and simcha [ joy] that Rabbi Rosensweig displayed every time he opened a gemara [Talmud] and learned a sugyah [segment of Talmud],” said Strauchler. “He became a very speciﬁc model for me to emulate, as I saw a genuine love of engagement with the Torah.” Strauchler, who switched his major to English literature halfway through college, also credited Dr. William Lee and Dr. Joan Haar, professors of English, for greatly inﬂuencing his thinking. “Both professors helped me cement my analyses of texts and the way I thought about the process of reading and understanding humanities,” he said. In his last year at Yeshiva College, Strauchler began his rabbinical studies at RIETS, for which he received a Wexner Graduate Fellowship. He then moved to Israel for a year to learn at Yeshivat Har Etzion and YU’s Caroline and Joseph S. Gruss Institute in Jerusalem. There, he applied for and was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship, an international postgraduate award for foreign students to study at the University of Oxford, awarded to just 32 Americans each year. Strauchler was the ﬁrst YU graduate to receive the prestigious honor. After two years of study at Oxford, Strauchler received a certiﬁcate in theology and a master’s degree in religious studies. “I opened books during that time I would otherwise never have opened and met extremely interesting people, both professors and friends, from all over the world,” he recalled. He has maintained many of those friendships over the years. After earning ordination from RIETS and a master’s in biblical studies from Revel, Strauchler interned with Rabbi Jonathan Rosenblatt ’82R at the Riverdale Jewish Center in New York. He then assumed a position at Beit Chaveirim Synagogue in Westport, CT, before becoming rabbi of the Shaarei Shomayim Congregation in Toronto, ON, in 2008. “I am so blessed to be able to lead this wonderful, thriving congregation,” said Strauchler. “I am consistently challenged to think and give back, and there are so many opportunities that exist for proud Modern Orthodox Jews in this community.” Strauchler sees his rabbinical work as a blessing that allows him to help people during their times of greatest sadness and to share their moments of greatest joy. “I represent my community as an essential part of Canadian society and, more important, before the King of all Kings,” he said. Strauchler’s efforts in Toronto have focused on community building, by way of both growing membership and deepening each member’s commitment to community. His synagogue suffered a devastating ﬂood which became the impetus for a dramatic renovation and the largest fundraising campaign in the synagogue’s history. “Since his arrival in Toronto, Rabbi Strauchler has energized his congregation and created strategic plans for its future,” said Rabbi Ronald Schwarzberg, director of the Morris and Gertrude Bienenfeld Department of Jewish Career Development and Placement at YU’s Center for the Jewish Future. “We at Yeshiva recognize the excellent work he’s doing and look forward to partnering with him for many years to come.” Strauchler’s writing has lately focused on the origins of spirituality and how spirituality might be taught. He champions the idea of acharei ha’peulot nimshachim ha’levavot [after our actions, our hearts are drawn] and the importance of good Jewish habits. Many of his sermons draw from the ﬁeld of behavioral economics and psychology and seek to discover how the insights from these ﬁelds of research can help create better Jewish families and communities. Strauchler lives in Toronto with his wife, Avital, and their ﬁve children: Tehila, Adir, Atara, Zvi and Freda. n
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Class Notes is where Yeshiva University celebrates the milestones and accomplishments of its alumni. In this section, you can catch up on everything your classmates have been up to over the years, from marriages and births to professional and personal achievements. Submit your class note by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Class Notes” or by visiting www.yu.edu/alumni/notes to complete the online form. We hope that you enjoy reading about your fellow alumni and friends, and we look forward to hearing about your achievements.
Sheryl ’64YUHS, ’68S and Michael Cooper announce the birth of their granddaughters, Chana Bracha, born to Abby ’95S and Rabbi Yaron Weisberg, and Yael Tehillia, born to Lauren ’96S and Jonathan Cooper ’93YC, ’96C. Jonathan Halpert ’62YUHS, ’66YC, ’78F published his book, Are You Still Coaching? 41 Years Coaching Yeshiva University Basketball (AuthorHouse, 2013), www. jonathanhalpert.com. Sara and Rabbi Carmi Horowitz ’61YUHS, ’66YC, ’70BR, ’71R announce the birth of their grandson, born to Pe’er and Amitai Horowitz. Judy Siegel-Itzkovich ’67YUHS announces the birth of her granddaughter, born to Shira and Lior Rudel. Mazel tov to Rachel and Ephraim Rudel. Rabbi Dr. Bernhard Rosenberg ’69YC, ’74R, ’74F, ’92A was appointed to the New Jersey Commission on Holocaust Education by Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney.
RABBI DR. AHARON LICHTENSTEIN shlit”a
on receiving the Israel Prize in Jewish Religious Literature
Mindella and Rabbi Dr. Norman Lamm ’49YC, ’51R, ’66BR announce the marriage of their granddaughter, Peninah Lamm ’09YUHS, to Eitan Kaplansky. Mazel tov to parents Tina ’83S and Shalom Lamm ’81YC, member of Yeshiva College Board of Overseers. Rabbi Mordechai Schnaidman ’48YC, ’52BR, ’52R announces the marriage of his grandson, Ephraim Schnaidman, to Rivka Weiser.
Rabbi Aharon Ziegler ’67F published the sixth volume of his series Halakhic Positions of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik (Jason Aronson, 2014).
A renowned author, scholar and teacher, Rabbi Lichtenstein ’53YC, ’59R has served as a revered leader of our respective yeshivot for decades. Rabbi Lichtenstein is a graduate of both Yeshiva College and the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS). He is a former RIETS Rosh Yeshiva as well as former rosh kollel of the RIETS Caroline and Joseph S. Gruss Institute in Jerusalem. In 1971, he immigrated to Israel, joining Rabbi Yehuda Amital zt”l as co-Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat Har Etzion in Alon Shevut. He has served as Rosh Yeshiva of Har Etzion for more than 40 years, and has been instrumental in building it into a major Torah center with a worldwide reputation and inﬂuence.
Vivien ’53YUHS and Rabbi Bernhard Auerbach ’41YUHS, ’45YC, ’49R announce the birth of their great-grandson, Yoav, born to Tzuri and Avital Dotan. Dr. Seymour Hoffman ’52YUHS, ’56YC, ’99F edited the volume Rabbis and Psychologists: Partners or Adversaries (Mondial, 2014). Elihu Levine ’50YUHS, ’54YC published his third volume of his translation of the Kli Yakar Bereishis (Targum Press, 2013) into English with annotation. This volume is on the ﬁrst six parshiot of Bereishit. The previous two volumes covered all of Shemot. Diane and Dr. Norman Linzer ’51YUHS, ’55YC, ’60W announce the birth of their great-granddaughter, Rotem Hallel. Mazel tov to grandparents Rebecca and Moshe Linzer ’84YUHS, ’87YC. Liza and Rabbi Benjamin Samson ’57YC, ’60BR, ’60R were named Grandparents of the Year by Mesivta Ateres Yaakov of Lawrence, NY. RIETS Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Hershel Schachter ’58YUHS, ’62YC, ’67R received the 2014 Katz Award for his contributions to the practical analysis and application of Halacha [Jewish law] in modern life.
Sharon ’72S and Rabbi Shimon Altshul ’72YC, ’76R, ’76F announce the birth of their granddaughter, Ayala Rachel, born to Ora and Naftali Derovan. Dr. Debra (Schulman) ’71F and Barnett Brickner ’67YC announce the birth of their two grandchildren, Meirav Aviya, born to Bina and Jason Asher, and Ella, born to Naomi and Aryeh Brickner ’00SB. Toni (Feltscher) ’70S and Phil Chernofsky ’65YUHS, ’69YC and Judy and Irwin Kotler ’78YC announce the birth of their grandson, born to Ora and Noam Kotler.
Gottlieb, and their granddaughter, Adi Rachel, born to Tali and Noam Gottlieb. They also announce the marriage of their son, Matti, to Natalie Salem. Dr. Lois (Schwartzfarb) Grabin ’71S and Irving Grabin ’70YC celebrated the marriage of their sons, Gabi, to Sara Ribner and Yehonatan to Dana Levy. Mazel tov to Sara’s parents, Rabbi Dr. David Ribner ’68YC, ’72R, ’72BR, ’74W and Mindy Ganz Ribner ’74S, ’99BR. Daphne and Neil Herskowitz ’74YUHS announce the marriage of their daughter, Jennifer, to Shlomo Shenker, who will be graduating from YU in June. Mazel tov to grandparents Sylvia and William Herskowitz ’48YC, ’50W, ’55R, ’74BR. Rabbi Ari Kahn ’78YUHS, ’83YC, ’86R, ’89BR published his book Echoes of Eden: Sefer Bamidbar, Spies, Subversives, and other Scoundrels (Gefen Publishing House, 2014).
Penina ’72TI and Joel Kutner ’68YC, ’71R celebrated the Bat Mitzvah of their eldest granddaughter, Arava Rachel, daughter of Opher and Anat Kutner. Esther and Uri Ladell ’72YUHS announce the birth of their grandson, Or, born to Miki and Moriya Ladell. Karen ’79S and Rabbi Stuart Lavenda ’78YC, ’80W, ’80R announce the birth of their granddaughter, Adina Chaya, born to Tova and Avi Rosenbloom. Russell Mayer ’75YUHS, ’81C was appointed by retired Israeli Supreme Court Judge Jacob Turkel to a quasi-judicial position on the Israel Bar Association’s Disciplinary and Ethics Court. Rabbi Dr. Natan Ophir ’74YC published Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach: Life, Mission, and Legacy (Urim Publications, 2014), the ﬁrst academic biography of Reb Shlomo (www.CarlebachBook. com.) Rabbi Ophir also announces the birth of his grandson, Yiftach Binyamin, born to Racheli and Naftali Ophir. Toby Bergstein ’75YUHS and Rabbi Dr. Jeffrey Woolf ’82R announce the birth of their grandson, Elchanan Yaakov Zev, born to Talya (Drissman) and Ariel Woolf.
Jill Edelman ’76W published her book This Crazy Quilt: Parenting Adult Special Needs One Day at a Time (Amazon Digital Services, 2013).
Bryna (Greenberg) Epstein ’71S announces the birth of her granddaughter, Eliana Chava, born to Osnat and Yonatan Epstein. Francine (Mermelstein) ’73S and Ezra Fleischmann celebrated the Bar Mitzvah of their grandson, Dovid Monderer, and the Bat Mitzvah of their granddaughter, Avigayil Monderer. Ruthie ’75YUHS and Ahituv Gershinsky ’71YUHS, ’75YC, ’77W announce the birth of their granddaughter, Shachar Shulamit, born to Hadas and Yosi Gershinsky, and the birth of their grandson, Nadav Zechariah, born to Efrat and Zev Gershinsky. Sharon and Dr. Daniel Gottlieb ’79YC, ’81F announce the birth of their grandson, Matan Yitzchak, born to Ilanit and Eitan
Leah and Rabbi Ellis Bloch ’66YUHS, ’70YC, ’73R were honored at the Bridge Shul Dinner in January for making aliyah as the shul bade them farewell.
Dr. Bernie Kastner ’78YC published his book Back to the Afterlife: Uncovering the Mysteries of What Happens to Us Next (RVP Press, 2013).
Cookie ’70S and Rabbi David Klavan ’69YC, ’71R announce the birth of their grandson, Barkai, born to Tikva and Yuval Volhendler, and their granddaughter, Avigayil, born to Noa and Noam Klavan.
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Charles DeLaFuente ’81C published Libel-Proof Your Writing (McNally Jackson, 2014), based on his legal knowledge and newspaper-editing experience, capped by 15 years at The New York Times. Etana (Gordon) ’80S and Dr. Alan Friedman ’80YC announce the birth of their grandchildren Roni Hava, born to Tirtza and Aryeh Friedman; Carmel Rifka, born to Edna and Yanai Apelbaum; Ne’eman, born to Nava and Tzori Vieder; and Revital Shira, born to Betzalel and Nitzana Friedman. Rabbi Naftali Harcsztark ’86YC, ’90R was listed in the 28 Most Inspiring Rabbis of 2014 in the Forward (March 17). daughter, Shuli, to Ari Gordon ’05YC. Mazel tov to Ari’s parents, Susan (Neuman) ’68YUHS and Harold Gordon ’73YC. Yeshiva University Trustee Shira Yoshor ’89S was the Guest of Honor and received the Dena and Baruch Brody Community Leadership Award at the Robert M. Beren Academy gala in March. Berni and Rabbi Lawrence Zierler ’82YC, ’85R celebrated the marriage of their son, Yoni, to Yochi (Yocheved) Rappeport. Dr. Deena ’88E and Rabbi Samuel Philip Zimmerman ’77YUHS, ’81YC, ’84R announce the marriage of their son, Ari, to Hodaya Rosh. Joseph Gitler ’92YUHS received the Nefesh B’Nefesh Inaugural Bonei Zion (Builders of Zion) award for establishing Israel’s National Food Bank, Leket Israel (www. leket.org/english). Rabbi Aaron Goldscheider ’94R published The Night That Unites Passover Haggadah: Teachings, Stories, and Questions from Rabbi Kook, Rabbi Soloveitchik, and Rabbi Carlebach (Urim Publications, 2014). Judith Gottesman ’95W celebrated ﬁve years as matchmaker and owner of Soul Mates Unlimited® Personalized Jewish Matchmaking. She was featured in The New York Times in March. Cindy (Wagner) ’92S and Joshua Haynes announce the birth of their daughter, Abigail Grace, and the Bat Mizvah of their daughter, Emma Danielle. Dr. Lucille “Lucy” Kaplansky ’92F released a new single called “A Song About Pi.” Bonnie ’94S and Rabbi Dovid Kupchik ’89YC, ’93R, ’98A received the Keter Shem Tov Award at the Young Israel of West Hempstead’s 58th Annual Dinner. Dr. Dale Rosenbach ’99YUHS, ’03YC published “Grafting the Gap: A Review of the Literature and Its Application in Clinical Practice” in Dentaltown Magazine. Sarah (Rosenberg) Hofstetter ’92YUHS became CEO of 360i, a digital agency. Shifra ’92YUHS, ’96S, ’99BR and Rabbi Moshe Schapiro ’93YC, ’96A, ’98R celebrated the Bar Mitzvah of their son, Tzvi Yisrael. Ranan Well ’94YC was elected partner at Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young, LLP, where he will focus on a broad range of corporate and ﬁnancing matters. Ari Zoldan ’99SB, CEO of Quantum Networks, LLC has been on FOX News/ Business weekly covering trending business topics and spoke at the Marketing Politics Conference in Washington, DC in March.
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RIETS Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Elchanan Adler ’90R, ’95A published his book Yerach Tov: Birkat HaChodesh in Jewish Law and Liturgy (OU Press, 2014).
Yehudah Mirsky ’82YC published his book Rav Kook: Mystic in a Time of Revolution (Yale University Press, 2014).
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Tova (Auerbach) ’85S and Aharon Naiman ’83YC announce the marriage of their son, Uriel, to Tal Hacham. Mazel tov to grandparents Vivien ’53YUHS and Rabbi Bernhard Auerbach ’45YC, ’50R and Tzivi and Dr. Robert Segal. Judy ’81S and Rabbi Ronald Schwarzberg ’80YC, ’82F, ’83R announce the birth of their grandchildren: Simon Justin, born to Naomi and Rabbi Ari Schwarzberg ’07YC, ’09A, ’09R, and Julia Belle, born to Aviva ’11S and Philip Reich. Rabbi David Sykes ’85BR published his book Patterns in Genesis and Beyond (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2014).
Elana Joffe and former YU Director of Sports Information and SCW Lady Macs basketball coach Dr. Michael T. Cohen ’93YC announce the birth of their son, Natan Shalom Aryeh HaKohen, brother to Noa Libi and Uriel Ozi. Mazel tov to grandparents Tzippy and Chaim Cohen ’70F of Kfar Haroe’h, Israel. Jonathan Cooper ’93YC, ’96C published his e-book To Compete or Not to Compete: A Survival Guide for Dealing with Non-Compete Agreements in New York. Michael Dube ’95YC, known as the “Santa of Tzedaka,” was proﬁled in The Jewish Week (Feb. 5) for his volunteer and charity work. Michael secures in-demand sports tickets for children facing life-threatening illnesses.
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Shira ’13S and Rabbi Jeremy Donath ’08YC, ’10A, ’11R announce the birth of their daughter, Yael Tova. Yael and Rabbi Elie Farkas ’04YC, ’07A, ’07R announce the birth of their son, Yehuda Shalom. Hadassah and Rabbi Dovid Feinberg ’06R announce the birth of their son, Raphael Alexander. Michal ’07SB and Dr. Yoni Frankel ’07YC, ’12E announce the birth of their son, Ezra Yehoshua. Mazel tov to grandparents Sandy and Rabbi Alan Kalinsky ’69YUHS, ’73YC, ’76R, ’77F. Shoshana ’07S and Rabbi Yitzi Genack ’12YC, ’13R, ’14BR announce the birth of their son, Avraham. Mazel tov to grandparents Sarah and RIETS Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Menachem Genack ’65YUHS, ’69YC, ’73R and Helen ’73YUHS and vice chairman of Yeshiva College Board of Overseers Emanuel Adler ’72YUHS, ’76YC. Rivkah and Rabbi Micah Greenland ’00YC, ’02R, ’10A were honored at the Midwest NCSY banquet.
Bassie and Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshiva University High School for Boys Rabbi Michael Taubes ’80YC, ’83F, ’83R celebrated the marriage of their
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Brooke and Rabbi Aryeh Czarka ’09YC, ’12R, ’13A announce the birth of their daughter, Shira Zahava.
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Tamar Davis ’00SB married Allan Galper in November.
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Chava Willig Levy ’73S, Author of A Life Not With Standing, and a Life Worth Reading About
ommy, what’s wrong with that lady? This question—and variations of it—is likely familiar to many parents whose inquisitive young children see someone who doesn’t look like most people and ask, publicly and loudly, about this discrepancy. Chava Willig Levy ’73S, a mother of two, recognizes the question because she is that lady. A polio survivor, Levy zips around in a motorized wheelchair, but rather than let her disability deﬁne her, she has chosen to deﬁne it, and approaches her challenges with her trademark humor, insight and strong faith in God. Levy contracted polio at age 3 in August 1955, when her parents decided to escape Brooklyn for the summer and stay in the Catskills. “Polio was more common in big cities, but somehow I contracted it in the country,” explained Levy. “Although it’s highly contagious, thankfully not a single person around me contracted it. I don’t know why the Almighty decided I should be singled out in this way, but I really believe there’s a reason.” Levy’s faith and self-acceptance was undoubtedly inﬂuenced by her family’s reaction to her polio. “I never got a sense from my surroundings that I was an unfortunate child who had something terrible happen to her,” said Levy. “Now, as a parent and grandmother, I can’t even imagine what my parents must have gone through, but I suppose that they consciously decided not to label me as a tragedy or label what happened to me as one. It was never impressed upon me that I should be bitter.” Levy was able to ﬁnd joy and fulﬁllment through learning to master several languages and especially through her love of music. One French singer in particular captured her attention and, laughed Levy, her heart. “I fell in love with Enrico Macias, and discovering his music coincided with a major lengthy hospital stay for me at the time,” she recalled. “I listened to his music on this one radio show called Music From Around the World and I would often call the station to request his music and even befriended the show’s host in this way. When Macias was to make his American debut at Carnegie Hall in February of 1968, my father got special permission from Carnegie to allow me to attend the concert in a stretcher placed in the aisle… For me, the concert was a dream come true.” The decision to attend Stern College for Women was a no-brainer for Levy. “My father was Yeshiva College class of ’1938 and got semicha [rabbinical ordination] there, and he was completely devoted to YU,” said Levy. “My older brother, Rav Mordechai Willig, attended YU and is now a Rosh Yeshiva and rosh kollel there, and my sister and younger brother also attended YU. We were a YU family.” Furthermore, having attended public school because the Jewish day schools weren’t accessible for wheelchair users, Levy was hungry for real Jewish learning. Still, Stern wasn’t very accessible for handicapped students at the time either, though it did have a freight elevator that allowed Levy to enter and leave the main building. “I needed a lot of help, but I’m very glad I attended Stern,” she said. Levy majored in French literature which, at the time, consisted of one professor: Anna Krakowski, a cousin of the Rav. “It was a huge privilege to be able to study with Professor Krakowski,” said Levy. “She was a genius of geniuses, and got her PhD from the Sorbonne when she was something like 19 years old. Her courses greatly enriched my knowledge.” Levy recalled the heady social times too that coincided with her college years. “I have very fond memories of going with my classmates to the United Nations to protest on behalf of Soviet Jewry,” she said. “We felt that we were personally responsible for the fates of people like Natan Sharansky and Yosef Mendelevich and it fostered a wonderful sense of camaraderie with my peers.” Levy was also involved with Torah Leadership Seminar, a Yeshiva University-sponsored program for public school students to learn with and from Jewish college students, most of whom were from YU, but a few hailed from other colleges— including the future president of YU himself, Richard M. Joel. “I remember watching President Joel speak to the high school students and the way he engaged with them, and it was obvious then, as it is to many now, that he is a born leader,” recalled Levy. “President Joel’s humor, charisma and intelligence were electrifying to watch, and I wasn’t surprised when it was announced
he would be at the helm of YU. It’s a natural role for him.” After graduating from Stern, Levy obtained a master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling from Columbia University and then pursued doctoral studies at New York University, though she stopped several credits shy of obtaining her PhD. Levy found work in the CUNY system as a counselor for disabled college students, and then a job in the U.S. Department of Labor to work as a career counselor, this time for a population without disabilities. “Eventually, I realized I wasn’t too happy being a career counselor, which is kind of a unique dilemma to have as a professional who advised others about fulﬁlling careers,” said Levy. Levy found more satisfaction working as a corporate management trainer, teaching the counseling skills she had learned while simultaneously being true to herself. “Unlike counseling, training allowed me to be a ham, a role to which I naturally gravitate,” she said. Somewhere along the way, Levy shifted into working with corporations and communities and forming partnerships between the two. During this time, she began writing for major national magazines, including Ladies Home Journal, Woman’s Day and McCall’s. “In 1988, I was advised to stop working my regular 9-to-5 job because I developed post-polio syndrome, which means that the muscles less compromised by polio were being overworked, compensating for the ones that don’t work,” Levy explained. “I’ve been freelance writing, editing, and public speaking since.” By the time she had stepped down from her full-time work, Levy had already been married for ﬁve years to Michael Levy. Michael is blind, and their respective disabilities mean they compensate for each other and ﬁnd unique ways to work together to accomplish the tasks of everyday life. “Baruch Hashem [Thank God], what I can’t do, Michael can, and what Michael can’t do, I can,” said Levy. “This is best epitomized by the night in 1984 when a fuse blew, extinguishing all our apartment lights. I froze en route from kitchen to living room—back then, I could walk minimally—as I was terriﬁed of the dark and the damage it could cause me. And my sweetheart, as if absolutely nothing had happened, led me to a chair and fearlessly climbed onto the kitchen counter and ﬂicked the switches until I reported that our apartment was once again suffused with light.” The couple’s challenges included struggling with infertility for several years, a problem unrelated to their disabilities. After several lost pregnancies and much heartache, the two readied themselves to adopt, only to ﬁnd out that Levy was pregnant again; their daughter, Tehilah Sarah, was born in 1989. Their son, Aharon, was born two years later. And it is their births, amid the many triumphs and accomplishments that highlight Levy’s remarkable life, of which she is the most proud. Many have only just recently learned about Levy’s extraordinary life from her memoir A Life Not with Standing, a manuscript she had aspired to write for the past 15 years. “I spent most of those years grappling with a horrible case of writer’s block, but once I ﬁnally found a central narrative arc, it was full steam ahead,” she said. “People tell me that Chavi has a disability, but I don’t see it,” said Ari Goldman ’71YC, a professor at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism and a personal friend of Levy for many years. “She is a teacher, writer, singer, author, mom, wife and friend. Chavi is an extraordinary person who lives life to the fullest and sets an example for all of us, and her new book powerfully demonstrates that faith and love can overcome all obstacles.” Levy, who volunteers as a matchmaker for YUConnects, lives on Long Island, NY, with Michael, and is a proud mother and grandmother. n
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ALUMNI TODAY 5
ALUMNI IN ACTION
SHABBAT WITH RABBI LORD SACKS IN NEW ROCHELLE (JANUARY 24–25, 2014) ALUMNI FAMILY DAY AT THE SEFORIM SALE (FEBRUARY 9, 2014)
Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, Kressel and Ephrat Family University Professor of Jewish Thought, was the scholar-in-residence at Young Israel of New Rochelle for Shabbat Parshat Mishpatim. His lectures, “The Future of Modern Orthodoxy” and “Universalism vs. Particularism in Judaism,” drew hundreds of YU alumni from the community. Thanks to the Young Israel of New Rochelle for hosting a wonderful weekend and supporting Yeshiva University.
Alumni brought their relatives to Yeshiva University for the annual Alumni Family Day at The Seforim Sale. Together with educators from the Yeshiva University Museum, more than 80 graduates and their families made b’samim [spice] boxes to take home and use each week at Havdalah. Participants enjoyed a magic show by Gary the Great, who mesmerized the audience with his tricks and sent everyone home with balloon animals.
m Rabbi Lord Sacks, Yeshiva College Board member David Isaac ’89YC, ’89C and Lawrence Burian ’91YC o Rabbi Reuven Fink ’81BR, Rabbi Lord Sacks and Scholar-in-Residence Dr. Daniel Rynhold, associate professor of modern Jewish philosophy at YU’s Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies
m Rabbi Lord Sacks and the Young Israel of New Rochelle Committee Chairs: Rachel Berger ’88S, ’91C, Baila Weiss and Benay Meisels ’88S
m Yeshiva College Board Chairman Stanley Raskas ’65YC, ’69BR, ’69R, Rabbi Lord Sacks and Elana Raskas ’14S
WOMEN’S BASKETBALL ALUMNI GAME (FEBRUARY 9, 2014)
WASHINGTON, D.C. ALUMNI LUNCHEON (MARCH 27, 2014)
Alumni of the YU women’s basketball team returned to play against the current squad.
Yossi Goldman ’88SB, partner at Jones Day (pictured below, right, with Jules Polonetsky ’86YC), hosted an alumni luncheon at the ﬁrm on Capitol Hill. Guest speaker Jules Polonetsky ’86YC discussed his career path from politics to data security with attendees who graduated various YU schools from 1972 to 2011.
6 ALUMNI TODAY
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ALUMNI WRESTLING REUNION (FEBRUARY 16, 2014)
ISRAEL CAREER FAIR (MARCH 8, 2014)
Wrestlers spanning ﬁve decades joined their mentor and longtime coach Neil Ellman ’68YC to reminisce about old times. The wrestlers reunited with teammates and friends and shared memories of their time under two legendary coaches: Henry Wittenberg and Ellman. David Siegel ’75YUHS, ’78YC, ’81C served as the master of ceremonies and spoke about his experiences as a member of Yeshiva University’s wrestling team and the life skills he acquired. President Richard M. Joel ’68YUHS and Coach Ellman both spoke about the value of YU athletics and the growth of wrestling over the years, as well as the need for alumni support to sustain the sport. Siegel announced that YU will honor Coach Ellman next year for his contributions to wrestling during his 45 years of service to the University.
Students in the S. Daniel Abraham Israel Program attended a career fair at YU’s Caroline and Joseph S. Gruss Institute in Jerusalem, Israel. Alumni representing a wide range of professions discussed their careers with students. o Dr. Mitchel Benuck ’92YC, ’00E talks with students interested in pursuing a career in medicine
k Yonina Fogel ’13SB provides advice on the ﬁnance industry
m Jay Lerman ’81YC, ’86E and Leonard Holler ’88SB
k Leonard Press ’73YC shares wrestling stories m Marnie Benuck and Dr. Julie Fine ’89S, ’95F speak about clinical and school psychology
o Coach Ellman catches up with alumni o Tania Cohen ’93S discusses accounting opportunities
q Noah Nunberg ’68YUHS, ’72YC and Reuben Koolyk ’73YC with President Joel
SPRING 2014 CAREER FAIR (MARCH 14, 2014)
Close to 200 students and soon-to-be graduates met with 50 local employers to discuss internship opportunities, post-graduate positions and future careers.
m Students and employers mingle at the career fair
m Emcee Siegel talks about the future of YU wrestling and plans to honor Coach Ellman
m Kimberly Hay and Meira Zack ’11S
m Sarah Clyde ’11S
s WE WANT TO HE AR YOUR IDE AS FOR PROGR AMMING IN YOUR REGION. CONTACT BARBAR A BIRCH AT BIRCH @YU.EDU OR 212 .960.0848 .
ALUMNI TODAY 7
Rabbi Jonathan Gross ’01YC, ’04R was named one of Ten Outstanding Young Omahans by the Omaha Jaycees, the Omaha Junior Chamber of Commerce, in January. Rabbi Gross is the ﬁrst rabbi in 81 years to be on the list. Tali ’04S, ’12A and Rabbi Eric Ifrah ’04YC, ’07R announce the birth of their son, Binyamin Ovadia. Molly and Rabbi Aaron Katz ’07YC, ’10R announce the birth of their daughter, Batsheva Rachel. Rabbi Ari Kellerman ’05YC, ’09A received the Distinguished Alumni Award and the Leonard Goldberg Teacher of the Year Award at the Robert M. Beren Academy. Esti ’09S and Rabbi Avi Kilimnick ’05YC, ’08R, ’09A announce the birth of their daughter, Ahuva Chava. Naomi ’04S, ’06W and Rabbi El Kohl ’06YC, ’08R were installed as Rebbetzin and Rabbi of the Mount Kisco Hebrew Congregation. Ayelet ’04S and Rabbi Aaron Leibtag ’05YC, ’09R, ’11A announce the birth of their son, Alexander Ziskind. Adina ’04S and Rabbi David Lessin ’04YC, ’09R announce the birth of their daughter. Sara ’07S and Rabbi Andrew Markowitz ’10R received the David I. Goldberg Ohr HaChesed Award at Congregation Shomrei Torah’s 29th Annual Dinner. Miriam and Rabbi Menashe Rosen ’04YC, ’08R announce the birth of their daughter, Chaya. Susanne Goldstone Rosenhouse ’02S was awarded the Leslie Nelkin Special Service Award at National Jewish Outreach Program’s 20th Annual Dinner in February. Jackie ’08S ’10BR and Rabbi Ariel Rosensweig ’07YC, ’10A, ’10R announce the birth of their daughter, Rena Esther. Mazal tov to grandparents Smadar and Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Michael Rosensweig ’80YC, ’80R, ’96BR. Evan Rottenstreich ’09YUHS married Estie Hirt ’13S in February. Mazel tov to parents Stern College for Women Board Member Pamela ’90S and Ari Hirt ’84YUHS, ’88YC and Stacie and Tzvi Rottenstreich and to grandparents Linda and Stern College for Women Board Member Murray Laulicht ’61YC, and Virginia and Rabbi Robert Hirt ’55YUHS, ’59YC, ’62BR, ’62R. Rebecca ’04S, ’06W and Rabbi Ariel Schochet ’03SB, ’06A, ’06R announce the birth of their daughter, Batsheva Meira. Mazel tov to grandparents Shelley ’76S and Stuart Schochet ’70YUHS, Miriam ’70YUHS and Lenny Halstuch and to great-grandparents Vivian Furst and Rhoda Lipschitz. Shira ’00S and Jonathan Spielman ’02YC announce the birth of their daughter, Tehilla Bracha. Bethany ’01S, ’06A and Rabbi Joshua Strulowitz ’01YC, ’05R announce the birth of their son, Hillel Yaakov. Alex Taub ’09YC co-founded Modern Mast—a product development company aimed at commerce, advertising tools, and APIs—with Michael Schonfeld. Ilana ’05S and Rabbi Yaakov Weiss ’02YC, ’05R, ’05A announce the birth of their daughter. Bari Weizman ’08SB was proﬁled by several prominent media outlets for founding and creating Hadar, a fashion and lifestyle magazine for Orthodox Jewish women (www.hadarmagazine.com). Rabbi Elie Weinstock ’00YC, ’02R, ’08BR was listed in the 28 Most Inspiring Rabbis of 2014 in the Forward (March 17).
Save the Date
Yeshiva University Women’s Organization and Future Builders Young Leadership
86th Annual Spring Luncheon and 18th Annual Ballet Beneﬁt
Wednesday, June 18, 2014 Lunch at 11:45 a.m. With a performance of Giselle at 2:00 p.m. Metropolitan Opera House, Lincoln Center Special presentation to Bat Mitzvah girls.
For more information, contact email@example.com
Yafﬁ ’09S and Rabbi Matan Wexler ’05SB, ’09A, ’09R announce the birth of their son, Ezra Akiva. Mazal to Paula ’72YUHS and Rabbi Ira Spodek ’71YC, ’74BR, ‘74R. Sara ’06A and Rabbi Netanel Wiederblank ’03YC, ’05R, ’10BR announce the birth of their daughter, Bracha Hadassah.
Abby and Rabbi Mendel Breitstein ’11BR, ’12R announce the birth of their daughter, Tehila Serach. Batya ’10S, ’12F and Rabbi Yosef Bronstein ’03YUHS, ’08YC, ’12R, ’14BR announce the birth of their son, Yehuda Ariel. Mazel tov to Chasida ’66YUHS and RIETS Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Hershel Reichman and Brenda and RIETS Administrator Rabbi Chaim Bronstein ’66YUHS, ’70YC, ’72R, ’72BR, ’73R. Carrie (Kraft) ’10S and Dani Eckstein ’06SB announce the birth of their son, Natan Reuven (Noah Reuben). Mazel tov to great-grandparents Belle and Rabbi Dr. Simon Eckstein ’44YC, ’44BR, ’46R. Shira and Rabbi Lee-Ad Gottlieb ’10R announce the birth of their daughter, Shalva Yael. Aviva and Daniel Gordon ’10YC announce the birth of their son, Avery. Jessica (Ramirez) Gugenheim ’13S, fashion editor for Hadar magazine, was interviewed by Tablet magazine in an article titled, “This Fashion Week, Dress Modestly While Staying Stylish.”
Rabbi Herschel Hartz ’13BR, ’13R and Rabbi Marvin Schnaidman ’48YC, ’52BR, ’52R, served on a panel at the Mount Sinai Jewish Center titled, “Understanding Your Choices for End-of-Life Care” in March. Hartz was also listed in the 28 Most Inspiring Rabbis of 2014 in the Forward (March 17). He was also noted in The New York Times for working in cooperation with neighborhood pharmacy owner Manuel Ramirez, a Catholic, to use the pharmacy’s basement for the Inwood synagogue. Sari Margolis ’11S, ’12A launched a project, That Jewish Moment, posting drawings and captions illustrating special thoughts and moments in Jewish life. It can be followed on Instagram (@thatjewishmoment) or thatjewishmoment.tumblr.com. Lauren ’10S and Rabbi Michael Nadata ’10R announce the birth of their daughter, Chana Tiferet. Rabbi Shay Schachter ’11R, ’14A delivered the invocation at New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s State of the State Address in January.
Ethan J. Wasserman ’12YC is now Team Leader and Project Manager at Brilliance, LLC.
Daniella S. (Lee) Casper ’11SB Rabbi Sheldon Chwat ’53YUHS, ’57YC Rabbi Joseph H. Ehrenkranz ’49R Rabbi Edgar Gross ’56YUHS, ’60YC, ’62R Dr. Alvin I. Krasna ’50YC Benyomin Mayer ’69W Otto Mond ’53YC Dr. Jerome “Jerry” Quint ’58YC Joshua Sindler ’91SB Herbert Smilowitz, RIETS Board Vice Chair Mary WanderPolo ’86C Harold Zigelman ’52YUHS, ’56YC
PURE PHENOMENOLOGY CLAIMS TO BE THE SCIENCE OF PURE PHENOMENA. THIS CONCEPT OF THE PHENOMENON, WHICH WAS DEVELOPED UNDER VARIOUS NAMES AS EARLY AS THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY WITHOUT BEING CLARIFIED, IS WHAT WE SHALL HAVE TO DEAL WITH FIRST Phenomenology OF ALL. THE IDEAL OF A PURE and PHENOMENOLOGY WILL BE PERFECTED ONLY BY ANSWERING THIS QUESTION; existentialism are difﬁcult. PURE PHENOMENOLOGY IS TO BE SEPARATED SHARPLY FROM PSYCHOLOGY AT Making aPSYCHOLOGY gift to the OF THE LARGE AND, SPECIFICALLY, FROM THE DESCRIPTIVE PHENOMENA OF CONSCIOUSNESS. WITHIN THIS WIDEST University CONCEPT OF OBJECT, Yeshiva AND SPECIFICALLY WITHIN THE CONCEPT OF INDIVIDUAL OBJECT, OBJECTS AND Fund not. PHENOMENA STAND IN CONTRAST WITH EACH Annual OTHER. WHAT ISis THEMATICALLY POSITED IS ONLY WHAT IS GIVEN, BY PURE REFLECTION, WITH ALL ITS IMMANENT ESSENTIAL MOMENTS ABSOLUTELY AS IT IS GIVEN TO PURE REFLECTION. Fund support touches every aspect of a YU education–every student EDMUND HUSSERL Annual and every area of study, including philosophy.
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Legend for school abbreviations: A : Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration • BR : Bernard Revel Graduate School • BS : Belfer Graduate School of Science • BZ : Philip and Sarah Belz School of Jewish Music • C : Cardozo School of Law • E : Albert Einstein College of Medicine • F: Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology • R : Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary • S : Stern College for Women • SB : Sy Syms School of Business • TI : Teacher’s Institute • W : Wurzweiler School of Social Work • YC : Yeshiva College • YUHS : Yeshiva University High Schools
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Meet the Musmachim
ompassion and trust were the two words that led Rabbi Noah Cheses to a career in the rabbinate. As a high school junior in Newton, MA, he approached local congregation leader Rabbi Benjamin Samuels ’94YC, ’94BR, ’96R about his calling. “He told me that becoming a great pulpit rabbi requires opening your heart, sharing your mind and forming relationships of trust with your congregants,” said Cheses. Cheses took that message to heart. After graduating from the Jay Rabbi Noah Cheses and Jeanie Schottenstein Honor’s Program at Yeshiva College, he enrolled in Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS), while simultaneously pursuing a master’s degree in Jewish philosophy at YU’s Bernard Revel School of Jewish Studies. He also studied at YU’s Caroline and Joseph S. Gruss Institute in Israel for two years while completing course work for his master’s degree in family counseling and therapy at the Family Institute in Jerusalem. “It was a tremendous privilege to learn in the YU
beit midrash [study hall] with [Rabbi Henoch and Sarah D. Berman Chair in Talmud] Rav Aharon Lichtenstein, [Benjamin and Charlotte Gottesfeld Chair in Talmud] Rabbi Dovid Miller and [Ruth Buchbinder Mitzner Chair in Talmud and Jewish Law] Rabbi Asaf Bednarsh, who provided me with a derech halimud [methodology of learning Torah] and a derech hachayim—a method of living in the world guided by our sacred mesorah [tradition],” said Cheses, whose outstanding scholarship won him numerous accolades. At YU, he was appointed a Schottenstein Scholar in Jewish Studies, Dr. Norman Lamm Fellow in Jewish Thought and a Wexner Graduate Fellow. In New York, Cheses maintained a regular chavruta [study session] with Rabbi Dr. Jacob J. Schacter, University Professor of Jewish History and Jewish Thought. “He guided me to bring my passions and talents into alignment and to leverage that creativity to serve the Jewish people.”
For Cheses, that meant bringing his intellect and spiritual warmth to Yale University as a Seif Jewish Learning Initiative on Campus Torah Educator, a program run by the Orthodox Union. Together with his wife Sarah ’06S, Cheses provides Yale students with opportunities for religious study and a home-away-from-home in which to observe Shabbat and holidays. While pursuing a master’s degree in religious studies at Yale’s Divinity School, he also serves as director of religious life at Yale’s Tikvah Summer Institute and associate rabbi at the university’s Joseph Slifka Center for Jewish Life. “My education at RIETS has equipped me with many of the tools I use daily,” said Cheses. “I often look back at my notes to remind myself of the knowledge and wisdom that was availed to me. I also consult almost weekly with one of the RIETS Roshei Yeshiva to talk through a halachic [Jewish legal] inquiry.” Cheses is looking forward to building an inclusive community of his own in a pulpit role. “Rabbi J.J. Schacter has shown me the power of community,” Cheses said. “His unique blend of passion and compassion, of intellect and emotion, is contagious—it stimulated my soul to take responsibility for my own life and for the future of the Jewish people.” n
abbi Dr. Eytan Cowen of Toronto, ON, did not set out to become a rabbi. He always knew that he wanted to help others—but he interpreted that desire as an imperative to care for their physical well-being. So, inspired by his parents’ altruistic example, he graduated medical school with a specialty in naturopathic and integrative medicine. An active member of Hatzolah Toronto, Cowen maintained a solid learning schedule in the Kollel Dirshu as he devoted the next 10 years of his life to building up his practice in Toronto, together with his wife, Caroline Sarah Bitton ’00SB, and their children. But something was missing. “I felt I could and needed to do more,” said Cowen. “Making a difference in the spiritual realm by being involved in avodas hakodesh [holy work], in addition to making an impact in the physical realm as a doctor, seemed like a challenge but made sense to us.” Cowen decided to undertake rabbinical study at RIETS. There, Cowen enrolled in the program’s Sephardic studies track. “It was amazing to forge a kesher [connection] with great talmidei chachamim [scholars] such as [Maxwell R. Maybaum Chair in Talmud and
Sephardic Halakhic Codes] Rabbi educational programming, combinEliyahu Ben Haim, who I was priviing the worlds of Torah and medicine leged to sit and learn from every day in new ways, and being an example for four years,” said Cowen. “Drinkto our children. Toronto may not be ing from that wisdom and experiour last stop, either—I’ve always told ence was so much more than I could Sarah that I hope to one day return have expected in a semicha [rabbinito teach or be involved with the Sepcal studies] program.” hardic semicha program at RIETS.” After completing his studies, Though his career path has Cowen and his family relocated to taken a different shape than he exIndianapolis, IN, where he served pected, Cowen is happy with the way as rabbi of the Etz Chaim Sephardic it’s unfolded. “There could have been Congregation for two years. “It was no better preparation than the edua privilege for us to serve the needs cation I received at RIETS to inform of the community and gave us a stark me as I travel the road I’m on today,” Rabbi Dr. Eytan Cowen look at the realities of Jewish life he said. “The resources that it proin the ‘out-of-town’ world in the United States,” said vided and continues to provide to assist my congregaCowen. “It was truly all outreach Judaism all the time.” tion, the yarchei kallahs [learning conventions], and the Cowen ﬁnally returned to Toronto, where he serves access to the Roshei Yeshiva are a lifeline that I use conas part-time rabbi of the small but growing Sephardic stantly. The professional training was priceless and even congregation Tiferet Israel and restarted his integrative in my role as a physician, the sensitivity and awareness medical practice. “My long-term goals include expandyou can only acquire through semicha studies is beyond ing my role with the congregation by providing greater value in today’s world.” n
found. “I felt like I was in a war zone,” very day as a rabbinical student he said. He and other students at RIETS, Rabbi Shay Schachter started by delivering boxes of food, spent the afternoon learning with a world-renowned Rosh Yewater and supplies to senior citizens shiva and Torah scholar: his father, trapped without power in nearby Rabbi Herschel Schachter, the Naapartment buildings. than and Vivian Fink Distinguished “These residents were hugging Professorial Chair in Talmud. us and crying—we were the ﬁrst peo“I receive emails from everyple who’d noticed them since the where in the world asking my father storm,” Schachter said. “I think it about every conceivable halachic or was especially important for the communal issue,” said Schachter, one students to see how their rabbis of several musmachim who are chilurged them to help out. The message dren and grandchildren of RIETS was that chesed [acts of kindness] Roshei Yeshiva. “This has provided trumps everything—in an emergency, Rabbi Shay Schachter me with tremendous insight into the when no one else is able to help, we goings-on in our Jewish world. To me that’s the greatest must act.” privilege of learning here: translating the Torah we’re In January, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo sestudying to the contemporary issues that confront the lected Schachter to deliver the opening invocation bebroader Jewish community.” fore his State of the State address, partly because of his It was that focus on community leadership that hurricane-relief work. “I never thought I’d be doing that, spurred Schachter to organize a group of YU students to especially not at 27,” Schachter said. “There were a few help with relief efforts in Far Rockaway, NY, immedithousand people there. It was amazing.” ately after Hurricane Sandy. As assistant to Rabbi Eytan There was a time when addressing large crowds Feiner at the White Shul, Schachter drove in to check on would have terriﬁed Schachter. Thanks to his training the shul after the storm and was shocked by what he at RIETS, however, he was prepared. “As a student in
the Bella and Harry Wexner Semikha Honors Program, I took a public speaking course with [the late] Mr. Gerald August,” Schachter recalled. “Before my ﬁrst drasha [sermon] at the White Shul, I told him I was petriﬁed—I didn’t know how to speak before several hundred people. Mr. August put smiley faces all over the seats in Lamport Auditorium and made me practice speaking there. When it was time for the real thing, I felt conﬁdent.” Schachter also found that his classes at YU’s Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration, where he earned his master’s degree, formed the perfect complement to his studies at RIETS. “In terms of structuring shiurim [lectures], effectively presenting material and being engaging and interesting, it was incredible preparation for serving as a rabbi,” he said. Those skills dovetailed perfectly with the advice Schachter’s father gave him before he launched his rabbinical career. “He told me, ‘Remember, the same way you spend time selecting a perfect etrog because of hiddur mitzvah [enhancement of a Torah commandment], make sure you deliver beautiful shiurim and present them in an appealing way,’” Schachter said. “I think that’s the objective many of us young musmachim are trying to accomplish: to transmit to our communities the Torah we have received at RIETS with eloquence, clarity and coherence.” n
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FOCUS | ON FACULTY YUTODAY
Schnall Steps Down as Azrieli Dean; Novick Named Successor
YU Torah Scholars to Receive Katz Prize
Rabbi Hershel Schachter
Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks
Dr. David Schnall
Dr. Rona Novick
Yeshiva University Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Hershel Schachter, Nathan and Vivian Fink Distinguished Professorial Chair in Talmud at YU-afﬁliated Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS), and Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, Kressel and Ephrat Family University Professor of Jewish Thought, will be presented with the 2014 Katz Award for their contributions to the practical analysis and application of halacha [Jewish law] in modern life. “Rav Schachter and Rav Sacks are among the greatest Jewish minds of this generation, and we are so pleased that they are being recognized appropriately for their scholarship, works of profound
clarity and rabbinic genius that have not only informed but transformed the way we relate to Jewish thought and religious observance,” said YU President Richard M. Joel. “At Yeshiva University, we consider ourselves fortunate for the opportunity to engage with these Torah giants on a daily basis.” The Katz Prize, established by Marcos Katz, YU benefactor and trustee, along with his wife, Adina, has been awarded annually since 1975 to honor the memory of Golda Katz, the Katz family’s matriarch. This year’s presentation will take place at a ceremony at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem on May 27.
Dr. David Schnall, dean of the Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration, announced that he will step down following the academic year to spend more time with his family and pursue his writing and research interests. After a brief sabbatical, Schnall plans to resume teaching and publishing at YU. In recognition of his many achievements, President Richard M. Joel named Schnall the University Professor of Jewish Culture and Society. Schnall, who has served as dean of the school for the past 13 years, will be replaced by Dr. Rona Novick, effective July 1, 2014.
Prior to her new appointment, Novick served as director of the Fanya Gottesfeld Heller Doctoral Program. As dean, she will hold the Raine and Stanley Silverstein Chair in Professional Ethics and Values and will lead a team of educators who will focus on imagining the future of Jewish education, working closely with provost-elect Dr. Selma Botman. “As we welcome Dr. Novick to her new position, we also offer our deep sense of gratitude and appreciation to Dr. Schnall and look forward to his continuing involvement in the life of the University,” said President Joel.
Dr. Fabiola Barrios-Landeros, assistant professor of chemistry at Yeshiva College, received the Single-Investigator Cottrell College Science Award for her paper titled “Copper- and PalladiumPromoted Aromatic Acyloxylation.” Funded by the Research Corporation for the Advancement of Science, the award includes a $35,000 grant to further her research and to support research opportunities for undergraduates in her work.
Dr. Sumanta Goswami, associate professor of biology at Yeshiva College, coauthored a patent that was recently approved and published by the United States Patent and Trademark Ofﬁce. The patent centers on a new diagnostic test that would signiﬁcantly impact the way breast cancer and potentially other solid tumors are diagnosed and treated. The technology has already been licensed by YU to biotechnology company Metastat, which is developing diagnostic tests and therapeutic strategies.
Kaddish: Women’s Voices, a book featuring essays by Yeshiva University faculty—including Dr. Rachel Mesch, associate professor of French and chair of the department of foreign languages and cultures at Yeshiva College, and Dr. Chaya Rosenfeld Gorsetman, clinical associate professor of education and cochair of the education department at Stern College for Women—received a National Jewish Book Award from the Jewish Book Council. It was granted the Myra H. Kraft Memorial Award in the Contemporary Jewish Life Practice category. In addition, Gorset-
man coauthored a book, Educating in the Divine Image: Gender Issues in Orthodox Jewish Day Schools, which won the In Memory of Dorothy Kripke National Jewish Book Award in the Education and Jewish Identity category.
Dr. Emil Prodan, associate professor of physics at Stern College for Women, presented a lecture at Tohoku University’s Advanced Institute for Materials Research in Sendai, Japan, in February. Titled “An Invitation to a Computational Non-Commutative Geometry Program,” the talk focused on computer simulations Prodan was able to achieve in his research at Stern by combining math with materials science. Prodan’s research was also featured in the February edition of Europhysics Letters, a physics journal, where his article was highlighted as the Editor’s Choice.
Einstein Helps Establish $28M Consortium to Find Ebola Treatment
The National Institutes of Health has awarded a ﬁve-year, $28 million grant to establish a new center for excellence to ﬁnd an antibody “cocktail” to ﬁght two types of viruses that cause severe hemorrhagic fever, including the deadly Ebola virus. The project involves researchers from 15 institutions, including Dr. Kartik Chandran and Dr. Jonathan Lai from Yeshiva University’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Einstein will receive approximately $4 million of the total grant. Ebola causes an extremely virulent disease that leads to death in 25 to 90 percent of cases. The project will seek to advance treatments for Ebola, as well as other viruses, since no FDA-approved treatments exist for these pathogens. “Our consortium represents an unprecedented soup-to-nuts effort to develop antibody therapeutics against hemorrhagic fever viruses,” said Chandran, associate professor of microbiology and immunology and the Harold and Muriel Block Faculty Scholar in Virology at Einstein. “These products, when translated into clinical practice, will provide a much needed pre- or post-exposure therapy against some of the world’s most lethal viruses.”
Dr. Kartik Chandran
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EVENTS | AROUND CAMPUS
p Taking on Cancer, One Slice at a Time Close to 500 students sporting pink attire descended onto Furst Hall for YU’s Third Annual Cake Wars on February 12. The cakedecorating competition celebrates National Sharsheret Pink Day Around the World and promotes breast cancer awareness. An all-star panel, including Mauro Castano (pictured, left) from TLC’s hit show, “Cake Boss,” was on hand to offer their expertise, advice and judge the event. n
p New Perspectives on a Book of Mysteries On March 10, faculty from across the University came together for an event titled “Exploring Esther: The Origins, Values and Power of Purim” at the Yeshiva University Museum. Panelists (left to right) Dr. Aaron Koller, assistant dean and associate professor of Near Eastern and Jewish studies at Yeshiva College; Yael Leibowitz, instructor in Bible at Stern College for Women; Rabbi Dr. Meir Soloveichik, director of the Zahava and Moshael Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought; and Dr. Daniel Tsadik (not pictured), assistant professor of Sephardic and Iranian studies at the Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies, discussed the historical and political context, religious signiﬁcance and gender roles in the Book of Esther. n
u Hundreds of Educators Convene at iJED 2014 YU’s Institute for UniversitySchool Partnership cohosted iJED 2014, a conference focusing on innovation in Jewish education, at the Long Island Marriott in Uniondale, NY, March 2–4. More than 500 teachers, administrators and educational experts from across North America addressed a wide range of issues facing Jewish day schools: ﬁnancial sustainability, diverse learners and the changing nature of education in the 21st century. Participants heard from leaders in both the education and Jewish communal worlds. n
p Student Delegates Tackle Diplomacy at Model UN Over 450 delegates convened from February 9–11 for the Yeshiva University National Model United Nations conference, held at the Stamford Plaza Hotel and Conference Center in Stamford, CT. The event brought together student ambassadors from 46 yeshivas and community day schools across three continents, hailing from 15 states and 39 cities around the world. In addition, 60 YU undergraduates and 65 faculty advisers joined the conference, which is a studentrun simulation of the workings of the real United Nations that allows participants to learn about international diplomacy. n
t Eating Disorders in the Jewish Community YU’s Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology and Wurzweiler School of Social Work presented “Dispelling Myths: Eating Disorders in the Jewish Community,” on March 31 at the Israel Henry Beren Campus. “Eating disorders are becoming increasingly prevalent, especially in the Orthodox Jewish community, and people are becoming more aware of them. Events like these help people become more educated and help the community become more open in dealing with the problem,” said panelist Ilene Fishman (pictured), a social worker specializing in the treatment of eating disorders. n
p Getting Into The Purim Spirit Yeshiva University students rejoiced on campus at women’s and men’s chagigot [celebrations]. k View additional photos at yu.edu/purim
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n February, Yeshiva University basketball players Benjy Ritholtz and Rebecca Yoshor were both named Academic All-Americans by the College Sports Information Directors of America. Ritholtz was named a men’s basketball’s third team All-American, while Yoshor was named to women’s basketball’s second team. Ritholtz, a history major, had a 3.98 grade point average, which was tied for the highest GPA among the men’s ﬁrst, second and third team members. In 25 games, the Maccabees guard averaged 14.5 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 2.2 assists per game. “I am truly honored to have received this award,” said Ritholtz. “Credit goes to my amazing professors at YU for helping me so much academically, to my teammates and coaches and especially to my parents for their support and guidance in everything I do.” Yoshor earned a spot on the second team after becoming the ﬁrst women’s basketball player in Yeshiva University history to make the Capital One team last season. An English major with a 3.92 GPA, she led the entire NCAA, both men and women across all divisions, with 16 rebounds per game, to go along with 15.9 points and 2.1 blocks per contest. “I’m very fortunate to be ending my senior season and senior year at Yeshiva with this honor,” said Yoshor, who was featured in the March 10 edition of Sports Illustrated ’s “Faces in the Crowd.” “Rebecca and Benjy are the true deﬁnition of student-athletes, excelling both in the classroom and on the court,” said Joe Bednarsh, director of athletics, physical
education and recreation at YU. “They are the best examples of the success that comes from hard work, dedication and determination. n
k See what sets Yeshiva University student-athletes apart. Watch “I am
a Maccabee,” the newest video from the YU athletics department, at yu.edu/maccabeevideo
“Names, Not Numbers” Marks 10 Years of Holocaust Education
and Israel Exchange Programs at YUHS, who has organized and overseen the project since its inception. To date, she has helped over 450 Holocaust survivors and World War II veterans share their stories. “It’s an experiential, collaborative project that allows for each student’s creativity to shine,” said Rosenberg. “Nobody really understands what the number 6 million means, but everyone can understand what one story means. It makes the Holocaust relevant to the students, and I have seen over and Tova Rosenberg (left) and YU High School students connect with Shirley Berger Gottesman (center) over how the project really touches their souls.” In February, four students gathered in a makeor many seniors at Yeshiva University High shift studio at the Marsha Stern Talmudical Academy/ Schools (YUHS), one of the most memorable Yeshiva University High School for Boys (YUHSB), to parts of their educational experiences takes place interview Shirley Berger Gottesman. They touched outside of the classroom—not with their teachers or upon her childhood in pre-war Czechoslovakia; time in classmates, but behind a video camera, recording the the Munkács ghetto; work in Kanada II, a sub-camp of ﬁrst-person narrative of an elderly Holocaust survivor. Auschwitz-Birkenau; evacuation to Leipzig and ThereAs participants in “Names, Not Numbers,” stusienstadt; and eventual rescue by the Russians and emidents have the opportunity to delve into the history of gration to the United States. the Holocaust, hone their interviewing skills and ﬁlm“I’m glad to speak whenever I am asked,” said ing techniques and have a one-on-one encounter with a Gottesman. “Even if it doesn’t come out sounding proHolocaust survivor by taping and editing his or her testifessional, I don’t mind because it’s what really hapmony into a short clip, which becomes part of a ﬁlm that pened—it’s not a story. I want to continue speaking incorporates the ﬁrsthand accounts of other survivors. anytime, anyplace, until I get too old.” Now in its 10th year, “Names, Not Numbers” is an What was perhaps most unique about Gottesoral history documentary project founded in 2003 by man’s experience with “Names, Not Numbers” was that Tova Rosenberg, director of Hebrew language studies her great-great nephew, Avi Weschler, was one of the YUHSB students who interviewed her. “For me, it really struck close to home,” said Weschler. “I felt like I was talking to an ancestor, someone who brought me to where I am today.” Past YUHS students have been inspired to major in Holocaust studies in college, pursue ﬁlm careers and produce award-winning documentaries on the subject. In a recent development highlighting the scope of the project, copies of the documentaries are now available for viewing in the National Library of Israel and Yad Vashem. As part of the “Names, Not Numbers” curriculum, YUHS students also visit the Museum of Jewish Heritage, get hands-on training from a professional videographer and hear from a variety of guest speakers. Dr. Michael Berenbaum, coproducer of the Academy and Emmy Award-winning documentary “One Survivor Remembers: The Gerda Weissmann Klein Story” and director of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, addressed the senior class of both high schools in February, as he’s done for the last ﬁve years. “‘Names, Not Numbers’ is a unique, imaginative and creative project,” said Berenbaum. “The best learning is active learning, and it’s a fabulous educational opportunity for students to have this intergenerational dialogue with survivors. It’s truly a mitzvat aseh she’hazman grama [time-bound positive commandment], since they won’t have this opportunity again, even 10 years from now. The project really works and what they produce is terriﬁc.” n
k To watch video clips of interviews from the “Names, Not Numbers”
project, visit yu.edu/nnn
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