Colloquium Highlights YU’s Ties with Israel
President Joel Confers Honorary Degrees on Four Israelis at Convocation in Jerusalem
Honorary doctoral degrees were awarded to: Rabbi Dr. Chaim Brovender ’62Y, ’65B, ’65R, president of the Academy for Torah Initiatives and Directions in Jewish Education, who President Richard M. Joel called “a visionary architect whose pioneering work for both men and women has brought us into a modern era”; Professor Jonathan Halevy, MD, director general of the Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem, who President Joel said applies “the values borne of Torah and the wisdom of scientific research for the welfare of humanity”; Clara Chaya Hammer, founder of the Chicken Fund that helps 250 needy Israeli families a week with food and basic necessities, who, at age 97, was praised as “the stuff of legend” by President Joel; and Professor Michael Rosenak ’54Y, PhD, the Mandel Professor Emeritus of Jewish Education at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem who “defined and shaped the discipline of Jewish education.” continued on page 6


L–R: Joel, Joseph, Rabbi Hershel Billet YH, ‘71Y, ‘74R, ‘82B, and Yitzchak Dadon, a student at Mercaz Harav. While in Israel, President Richard M. Joel and his chief of staff, Rabbi Josh Joseph, visited Yeshivat Mercaz Harav, where eight students were massacred by Palestinian terrorists a week prior to the Colloquium. “Yeshiva University’s links with Mercaz Harav go back to a series of letters between my predecessor, Dr. Bernard Revel [the first president of what is now Yeshiva University], and Rav Avraham Yitzhak Hacohen Kook [the first Chief Rabbi of Israel for whom the Mercaz is named],” said President Joel at the convocation that launched the Second YU Colloquium in Israel. Back in New York, over 300 people mourned the victims at a community-wide memorial service on the Beren campus where speakers included Israeli government dignitaries, local community leaders and students.

Honorary degree recipients (back row, L–R) Rosenak, Halevy, Brovender, and (front row, L–R) Hammer with President Joel.


eshiva University celebrated the central role that the State of Israel plays in its mission during the Second Yeshiva University Colloquium in Israel in March. The week’s events highlighted the educational, religious, and cultural strands that weave the university and the Israeli people together. The celebration, which coin-

cided with Israel’s 60th anniversary, was part of a tradition that began two years ago when the inaugural colloquium was held. This year, YU honored four Israelis who embody the institution’s philosophy of Torah Umadda [the synthesis of Torah learning with secular studies] at a special academic convocation ceremony attended by more than 450 people at the Renaissance Jerusalem Hotel.

Schusterman Grant Expands Student Outreach to Needy


imona is a hardscrabble town in the Negev desert, home to emigrants from Russia and Africa, many of whom are unemployed. It was a quiet place until Feb. 4, when a Palestinian terrorist blew himself up at a mall, killing one woman and injuring 38. This summer, it will be the destination for a group of YU students hoping to make a difference in the lives of Dimona’s residents. The YU Student Service Corps trip will be made possible by a grant from the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation.

“The Student Service Corps educates students for leadership and service by providing opportunities to deepen their commitment to the enduring Jewish value of tikkun olam [healing the world],” said Rabbi Kenneth Brander, dean of the Center for the Jewish Future, which develops the programs. “The trips supported by the Schusterman Foundation set up an exchange between our students and other Jews with a variety of views and practices, as well as with the community at large.” The grant enables YU to increase

the number of students it can send on service-focused travel programs by more than 30 percent. The grant funded winter break trips to the West Coast and Israel. Students on both trips interacted with a broad population of people and lent a hand to the needy, from painting a classroom for disadvantaged teenagers in Los Angeles to working at a soup kitchen serving struggling Israelis. In Dimona, the students will team up with Israeli counselors to run a summer camp for Jewish youth from continued on page 6

Students on the West Coast winter break mission served breakfast to the homeless.


SOURCES REVEALED Debra Kaplan Reconstructs Early Modern Jewish Life Page 2

ROOTS RECLAIMED High School Reaches Out to Belarus and Lithuania Page 5

STIGMA REMOVED Speaking Out About Students’ Mental Health Page 6

TALENTS RENOWNED Basketball Teams Enjoy Winning Season Page 7


2 YUToday

May 2008

Faculty Profile: Debra Kaplan

Seeker of the Source


hat was it like to be a Jew 500 years ago? Ask Dr. Debra Kaplan, assistant professor of Jewish history at Yeshiva College and Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies. She teaches her students about Jewish life in the early modern period—from 1450, just after the medieval period, to 1750—through the words of the actual people who lived it. It was a time of major change for Jews as well as the rest of the world. One of the first professors at YU to focus on the period, Kaplan reconstructs Jewish life during that time through the letters of the common men and women who lived then, poetry, intellectual writings, artwork, and architecture of the period. These primary sources, she says, give her students an opportunity to “see for themselves what’s going on” and how scholars used these kinds of materials to write history. “The early modern period is when the printing press was invented, new countries were being discovered, and new ways of warfare were being developed. Jews then were establishing new communities in different places. Primary sources give students insight into what it was like to be Jewish during that time,” said Kaplan.

It’s an approach that has resonated with her students, who voted her the Lillian F. and William L. Silber Professor of the Year at Yeshiva College last spring. Her students have “a lot of reasons to be interested in Jewish history,” she said. They come with deep analytical skills in reading Hebrew texts that students at other universities may not be able to read. “They’re extremely engaged,

history and an influential leader during YU’s early years. Dr. Morton Lowengrub, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, said Kaplan was “the perfect choice” for the chair in Jewish history. “Her strong commitment to teaching and mentoring exemplifies the life of the late Dr. Churgin, who devoted more than 30 years to the field of Jewish history and to the university,” Lowengrub said.

Debra Kaplan was voted 2007 Professor of the Year by her students. wide to speak on topics in early modern Jewish history. One theme that interests Kaplan is Jewish-Christian relations during the early modern period, which is the subject of her forthcoming book, whose working title is Beyond Expulsion: Jews, Christians, and Early Modern Strasbourg. Now in France, Strasbourg was part of the Holy Roman Empire during her period of interest. “Jews living there were expelled in 1391, scattered to the countryside. During the 400 years they were forbidden to return, the Jews nevertheless continued doing business with their former Christian neighbors and also found ways to fulfill their religious obligations while living in places that lacked communal institutions such as synagogues, mikvahs, and schools,” said Kaplan. “Reconstructing the lives of these Jews reveals a social history that would otherwise have remained concealed.” This August, Kaplan is organizing the Fifth Annual Early Modern Workshop cosponsored by YU’s Center for Jewish Law and Contemporary Civilization at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. The gathering will allow scholars of early modern Jewish history from Israel, Europe, and across the United States to share with one another the work they are doing with texts from that period. Yeshiva College Dean David Srolovitz said of Kaplan, “She represents the best the college has to offer—a truly compelling instructor, an up-and-coming scholar, and a wonderful colleague. She makes Jewish history come alive for students and, as a result, is already one of their’ favorite professors.” I

“Reconstructing the lives of these Jews reveals a social history that would otherwise have remained concealed.”
so I encourage discussion that focuses a great deal on how to think about a text critically and from the historical perspective,” the professor said. Kaplan came on board Yeshiva in 2005 and was named occupant of the Dr. Pinkhos Churgin Memorial Chair in Jewish History last September. Her appointment marks the 50th anniversary of the death of Churgin, a renowned scholar of Jewish “As a Jewish historian, I’m interested in the ways religion and history impact each other—how Jews interacted with their neighbors, what boundaries they drew between themselves and the people they lived with,” said Kaplan, a summa cum laude graduate of Barnard College at Columbia University who earned her PhD at the University of Pennsylvania. Since then, she has been invited by institutions world-



Two Profs Appointed Journal Editors

YESHIVA UNIVERSITY Morry J. Weiss, Chairman YU Board of Trustees Richard M. Joel President Dr. Norman Lamm Chancellor Georgia B. Pollak Vice President for University Communications and Public Affairs
Joshua L. Muss, Chairman, Board of Directors, Yeshiva College; Marjorie Diener Blenden, Chairman, Board of Directors, Stern College for Women; Bernard L. Madoff, Chairman, Board of Directors, Sy Syms School of Business; Ira M. Millstein, Chairperson, Board of Overseers, Albert Einstein College of Medicine; Kathryn O. Greenberg, Chairman, Board of Directors, Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law; Robert Schwalbe, Chair, Board of Governors, Wurzweiler School of Social Work; Mordecai D. Katz, Chairman, Board of Directors, Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies; Katherine Sachs, Chair, Board of Governors, Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology; Moshael J. Straus, Chairman, Board of Directors, Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration; Julius Berman, Chairman, Board of Trustees, (affiliate) Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary; Theodore N. Mirvis and Michael Jesselson, Vice Chairs, Board of Directors, (affiliate) Yeshiva University Museum. Board listings as of April 1, 2008.


wo Yeshiva College professors were recently named editors of two distinct journals. Steven Fine, PhD, professor of Jewish history and director of the Center for Israel Studies, is one of four editors of Images: A Journal of Jewish Art and Visual Culture, while Lauren Fitzgerald, PhD, associate professor of English and director of the Yeshiva College Writing Center, was appointed co-editor of The Writing Center Journal. Images is a scholarly journal on Jewish visual culture in all disciplines—including architecture, painting, sculpture, graphics, textiles, and photography—from Greco-Roman antiquity to the present. Published by Brill Academic Publishers, it also contains reviews of books and exhibitions, and notices of scholarly

Dr. Steven Fine conferences or symposia on Jewish art. The Writing Center Journal is an official, peer-reviewed publication of the International Writing Centers Association. It is a bi-annual journal publishing articles, reviews, and announcements that explore issues or theories related to writing center dynamics and administration. Fitzgerald was chosen by a selection committee for her

Dr. Lauren Fitzgerald broad understanding of writing center scholarship, her experience with writing center administration, and her publication and editorial experience. A longtime writing professional, Fitzgerald was recently elected to the executive committee of the Conference on College Composition and Communication, a professional organization for researching and teaching composition. I

YESHIVA UNIVERSITY TODAY Valerie Peters Editor-in-Chief Kelly Berman Editor Boris Volunuev Designer Gila Berkowitz, Enrique Cubillo, Steve Eichinger, June Glazer, Norman Goldberg, Lois Goldrich, Andrea Kahn, Ryan Khaldar, Celia Regan, Peter Robertson, Raphael Rosenzweig, Arlene Schulman, Hedy Shulman, Mike Spinner, V. Jane Windsor Contributors yutoday@yu.edu www.yu.edu/publications
YU Today is published every two months during the academic year by the Yeshiva University Department of Communications and Public Affairs, 401 Furst Hall, 500 West 185th St., New York, NY 10033-3201 (212-960-5285). It is distributed free to faculty, staff, students, alumni, donors, and friends. © Yeshiva University 2008

May 2008

YUToday 3


New Program Seeks Ways to Prevent Cancer


lbert Einstein College of Medicine will establish a major research program within its Cancer Center, thanks to a $7 million gift from longtime benefactors Marilyn and Stanley M. Katz. The Marilyn and Stanley M. Katz Comprehensive Cancer Prevention and Control Program will bring together Einstein scientists to design new methods for promoting the health of Bronx residents. It will include population studies to identify lifestyle and environmental factors that cause cancer, as well as cancer prevention initiatives

focusing on smoking cessation, exercise, healthy nutrition, and preventing obesity. “The program created by their gift will expand the scope of population-based research at the center and lead to new approaches to the prevention and early detection of cancer,” said Dr. I. David Goldman, director of the Cancer Center and the Susan Resnick Fisher Professor of Brain Cancer Research at Einstein. “This program will benefit not just our community, but will contribute to cancer control efforts throughout the US.” Marilyn and Stanley M. Katz

are members of Einstein’s Board of Overseers. As founding chairperson of the Einstein Cancer

Center’s Cancer Research Advisory Board, Mrs. Katz has fostered many of the center’s

Marilyn and Stanley Katz are longtime benefactors at Einstein.

research programs over the past 10 years. In announcing her gift, Mrs. Katz noted that she had a sister who died from cancer. “I’ve dedicated my life to honoring the memory of someone I loved dearly by doing all I can to help find a cure,” Mrs. Katz said. “Stan and I have such wonderful memories of growing up in the Bronx, so it’s especially gratifying to be able to give back to the community in this way,” she said. “I know that our involvement in this important program would make my parents very proud.” I



Psychologist Gives School Kids a Head Start

Reverend Heads to South Africa for Fulbright Research on AIDS


f Dr. Greta L. Doctoroff has her way, the children of the Archdiocese Head Start program will be learning faster, behaving better, and—most important— smiling wider than ever. Thanks to funding from the New York City Council, Doctoroff, assistant professor at Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology, and her graduate students, along with the Early Childhood Center at the Rose F. Kennedy Center at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, are developing a project to provide additional staff training and mental health consultation services to the Head Start program. The project—the Supportive Partnership for Child, Family, and Staff Wellness—aims to enhance Head Start’s existing support for mental health. Among its goals: to improve Head Start staff’s understanding of children’s emotional and behavioral development and to support teachers and parents as they guide children in developing their self-regulation skills. Doctoroff and her students will conduct classroom observations to assess the children’s needs and help teachers and family workers become “behavior detectives” in order to understand the challenges the children face. Doctoroff describes her approach to supporting staff training as “strength-based.” Because most of the children come from backgrounds bur-

Dr. Greta Doctoroff dened by poverty and social disadvantages, she insists that the program “be very positive” and consider their strengths as well as their challenges. Furthermore, the focus is on what the staff is doing right, adding to their toolbox of strategies to promote mental health and coaching them to experiment with new techniques. Doctoroff has done extensive research in the development of preschool-age children. For example, she and her colleagues have found that parent involvement correlates with children’s reading success, regardless of the family’s socioeconomic status. Doctoroff hopes that the new project will lead to future programs that build socialemotional competence in children, families, and staff at Head Start. She also looks forward to conducting research into strengthening the resilience of children and families facing multiple risks. I

everend Dr. Frederick “Jerry” Streets secular organizations. “The University of ’81W, ’97W, the Carl and Dorothy Pretoria’s department of practical theology’s Bennet Professor of Pastoral Couninterdisciplinary approach to dealing with seling at Wurzweiler School of Social children and families coping with HIV and Work, was recently awarded a Fulbright FelAIDS is consistent with my experience of paslowship to conduct research toral care research and teachat the University of Pretoria ing courses in professional in South Africa. schools of theology, social Streets is spending the work, and counseling,” said spring semester in the uniStreets, who received his MSW versity’s department of pracand PhD from Wurzweiler. tical theology studying how “I want to leave here with the HIV/AIDS crisis is affecta better understanding of ing South Africa. He hopes to how South Africa’s response gain a deeper understanding to HIV/ AIDS can contribute communities’ of faith-based to our world community’s Freddy Streets Dr. collaboration with public efforts to address this panhealth organizations to demic,” he said. address the crisis, as well as the challenges Sheldon R. Gelman, PhD, Dorothy and David such partnerships present to both religious I. Schachne Dean of Wurzweiler, said, “We are and nonsectarian communities. immensely proud of Jerry’s accomplishment As an ordained Baptist minister and and look forward to his return in the summer licensed social worker, Streets is accustomed when we will all benefit from the research he to bridging the divide between religious and conducted in South Africa.” I

Howard Jonas (left), chairman of IDT Corporation, spoke candidly about his career as a leading entrepreneur and founder of the global telecommunications company to Sy Syms School of Business (SSSB) students in March as part of the Kukin Entrepreneurial Lecture Series. Jonas described some of the challenges along the way to becoming a successful entrepreneur. IDT, which has established a customer service center in Jerusalem, is one of the city’s largest employers. Jonas said he opened the center to support job growth in Israel. He advised the students to stay true to their values and to foster an environment of integrity in the workplace. “There simply is no substitute for hard work,” he said. The Kukin Series is a unique opportunity for SSSB students to have direct contact with outstanding entrepreneurs and executives. I

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May 2008


A Safe Space to Discuss Sexuality and Judaism


zelem, a special project of the Center for the Jewish Future that builds awareness of relationship and sexuality issues in the Orthodox Jewish community, is taking its mission into Jewish day schools. Tzelem has introduced the Life Values and Intimacy Education Program—a curriculum situating sexual education within a broad interpersonal context and from a Torah point of view—to students in grades 3–12 at two schools. “Today’s child growing up in the Orthodox Jewish community receives lots of mixed messages,” said Tzelem’s director, Jennie Rosenfeld YH, ‘01S, ‘04AG, PhD. “Schools need to be there to give the Jewish message. They can’t have the media message on one hand and silence on the other.” The curriculum was authored by Yocheved Debow, an educator with a background in child psychology, in collaboration with Anna Woloski-

Wruble, EdD, a sexual health educator at Hadassah Hospital and assistant professor in its Nursing School. “Sexual education is not discussed in isolation,” said Rosenfeld. “Rather, it is seen within the larger context of interpersonal relationships and personal development.” Particularly, for the younger grades, actual “sex ed” plays a very small role and most lessons are geared toward life values, interpersonal relationships, self-esteem, appropriate assertiveness, healthy decision-making, and the Jewish values that inform those areas. The curriculum taps several resources—including the federal government’s 1991 sex-ed guidelines for schools—and allows for adaptation to individual class requirements. The curriculum is being piloted in two middle schools: SAR Academy in the Bronx and Yeshivat Noam in Paramus, NJ. “The goal is to develop a healthy understanding of what

it means to grow up,” said Rabbi Menachem Linzer, associate principal of SAR Academy who oversees the program at the school. The program has been a resounding success in both schools, with overwhelmingly positive feedback from students and parents. Rosenfeld expects to release the curriculum in book form this summer. “Today more than ever, we need to create a safe space for kids and teenagers to learn and ask questions about issues of sexuality and Judaism that are so often on their minds— these include questions about puberty, how to talk and behave with the opposite sex, as well as issues of body image,” said Rosenfeld. “It is critical to start educating children at a young age in a holistic, Torahoriented way before they get the wrong ideas.” “This curriculum presents basic values related to sexuality in a way that is sensitive to the development of the child,”

Jennie Rosenfeld oversaw piloting of curriculum. said David Pelcovitz, PhD, the Gwendolyn and Joseph Straus Professor of Jewish Education at Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration, who sits on Tzelem’s Advisory Board. “It fills an important need at an age where research shows that children often are exposed to conflicting values regarding sex from the Internet and the media.” I


Researchers Show Overlap of Sacred Texts and Science

Professor Giancarlo Elia Valori (above center), an eminent Italian economist and businessman, was the guest of honor at a cocktail gathering hosted by Yeshiva University and its Rabbi Arthur Schneier Center for International Affairs on the Beren campus in March. The gathering celebrated Professor Valori’s recent gift to the university and highlighted the ties between YU and the Italian Jewish community, many of whom attended the event. A non-Jew, Professor Valori attributes his support of Jewish causes to the inspiration of his mother, Emilia, who helped save the lives of Italian Jews during the Holocaust. He has written widely about anti-Semitism and the Middle East conflict. He holds a number of positions at institutions around the world, including the Chair of Peace Studies and Regional Cooperation at Hebrew University in Jerusalem and director of Beijing University’s Chinese-European Center for International Relations. Seen at the event were (above, L–R) Abe Foxman, national chairman and director of the Anti-Defamation League; Giovanni Castellaneta, Italian Ambassador to the US; Valori; Francesco Maria Talò, Consul General of Italy in New York; and Rabbi Arthur Schneier. I

Want more go to

NEWS www.yu.edu/news


In his lecture titled “On Contradictions hat do dragons, unicorns, and Between Torah and Science: The Creation of mermaids have to do with the Universe,” Dr. Nathan Aviezer, professor of Torah? According to Rabbi Natan physics at Bar-Ilan University in Israel, showed Slifkin, affectionately known as that the big bang theory of cosmology, accepted the “Zoo Rabbi,” these strange creatures have by all cosmologists and buttressed by a wealth of all appeared in ancient Jewish texts. scientific evidence, “agrees in every detail with “All the famous creatures of myth and legend the Genesis account of the origin and developare to be found in the Torah, Talmud and ment of the universe.” Midrash,” said Rabbi “Recent discoveries show Slifkin, one of three scienthat the first chapter of the tists who addressed stubook of Genesis records dents during Stern College the events that actually for Women’s first Torah occurred in the past,” Dr. Umadda Week in FebruAviezer said. ary. “But what are we to Edward I. Reichman, make of them? Do they MD, professorz at Albert really exist? Did the Torah Einstein College of Medscholars of old believe in icine and associate profestheir existence? And if not, sor of emergency medicine why did they describe at Montefiore Medical these creatures?” Center, addressed “The Torah Umadda Week was ’Zoo Rabbi’ Natan Slifkin Halakhic Approach to New co-sponsored by the biolFrontiers in Ovarian Presogy department at Stern ervation and Transplantation.” College for Women and the Yeshiva University He drew on medical history, medical Center for Israel Studies, and organized by Harvey Halakhah, and modern medicine in addressing Babich, PhD, professor of biology at Stern. the preservation and transplantation of the Rabbi Slifkin’s lecture on “Sacred Monsters: human ovary. The Fabulous Jewish Creatures of Harry Potter” “Since the field of assisted reproduction was based on his recent book Sacred Monsters. began a few decades ago, advances are being Rabbi Slifkin investigated the bizarre animals made at an astounding pace,” he said. “This field that are mentioned in Torah literature, such as of research poses unique challenges for the dragons, phoenixes, griffins, fireproof salamanTorah-observant Jew.” I ders, and mermaids.

May 2008

YUToday 5


Connectors Facilitate Matches in New Venture


ndergraduate students and alumni now have a resource for meeting other singles through a new initiative of the Center for the Jewish Future. The program, YU Connects, features events, a Web site, and personalized support. “We are working diligently and sensitively to invite singles to a host of social opportunities where they can feel comfortable connecting and mingling with others,” Efrat Sobolofsky ‘95W, ‘06W, PhD, mental health advisor of YUConnects, said at the program’s launch, which drew over

200 professional alumni to the YU Museum in January. A group of married men and women, most of whom are alumni, play a key role in facilitating and networking. These “connectors” meet with members to better understand the qualities they are searching for in a spouse and to facilitate their introduction to other compatible people. The program distinguishes itself from other dating services that are conducted solely online or over the phone. “The personal, face-to-face interaction will create more opportunities for on-target matches,” Rabbi

Yosef Kalinsky, the program’s administrator, said. “Our goal and projected success is in the quality of the interactions.” Dr. David Pelcovitz, the Gwendolyn and Joseph Straus Professor of Jewish Education at Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration, plays an instrumental role in training the connectors and is an active advisor to the program. Activities include interactive events, educational lectures, Shabbat meals, chesed projects, and BBQs. “YUConnects does a great service to the Jewish commu-

nity,” said an alumnus who attended the launch. “I have been to various singles events before, and my experience with YUConnects thus far has exceeded my expectations.” YUConnects has the support of the roshei yeshiva (professors of Talmud) at YU’s Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary, a contingent of whom make up an advisory board for the program. The YUConnects online system was developed in partnership with SawYouAtSinai.com to offer YU singles the opportunity to select an online connector who will develop a

relationship with and perform searches for them. Becoming a member of the YUConnects online system enables undergraduates and alumni to network with other YU singles and provides the option of interacting with the greater SawYouAtSinai.com network. “In today’s large Jewish world, we are striving to provide a personalized service using the benefits of a technologically advanced and premier online system to link people together,” Dr. Sobolofsky said. I Go to www.yu.edu/cjf/yuconnects for more info or to sign up.


Students Reconnect with Roots on Mission to Eastern Europe
organization based on YU’s campus that aims to foster a sense of identity among Jews of the former Soviet Union. The group visited Vilna, Minsk, Pinsk, Radin, and Volozhin, where they ran educational programs for youth groups, met with Jewish community leaders to learn more about the challenges confronting Eastern European communities, and visited local synagogues for daily prayers and additional learning programs. They also visited yeshivot in Radin and Pinsk. “The program gave the boys an opportunity to spread their knowledge and commitment to Judaism and chesed by impacting the world around them, educating other Jews through their knowledge, and fulfilling the mitzvah of tikkun olam [healing the world],” Schuval said. Despite the language barrier, the students interacted with the youth at the YUSSR Lauder Lech Lecha Youth Center in Minsk. “We didn’t know if we’d be able to communicate with them,” Ari Schaffer said. But the 11th-grader took out his guitar and soon the two groups were singing Hebrew and Russian songs together. “It was touching to see so many kids learning about Judaism in a place that was devoid of Judaism only 50 years ago,” Schaffer said. The trip was funded by YUHSB Board member Harvey Wrubel, in memory of his father, Julius. “My father studied at a yeshiva, but because of financial circumstances during the Depression, he had to go out to work,” Wrubel said. “He would have loved to have remained at the yeshiva. This gift, which is an opportunity to impart the values of Torah Umadda, is a blessing to his memory and others.” The Julius Wrubel, z”l International Service Mission will be held annually to various countries around the world. For more information, please contact Mindy Schachtman at 212-960-5279. I To see a gallery of photos from the trip, go to www.yu.edu/news/belarusphotos

High school student Mordechai Tiefenbrunn surveys the remnants of a Jewish cemetery in Volozhin, Belarus.


oshe Wasserman, a student at the Yeshiva University High School for Boys/Marsha Stern Talmudical Academy (YUHSB), found the house that his grandmother grew up on in Pinsk. Principal Ya’akov Sklar found headstones bearing his family’s name at the site of the Jewish cemetery in Grozhov. Eleventh-grader Eric Suss heard the long-gone echoes of Torah learning at the Volozhin Yeshiva, now crumbling and empty. Although they had never visited Lithuania and Belarus before, the high school students and staff on the inaugural Julius Wrubel, zt’’l International Service Mission felt like they were reclaiming a piece of their memories during their winter intersession trip. “We could feel the holiness of the place at the Volozhin Yeshiva,” said Suss. “We sang and danced in memory of the learning that took place there. It was the most powerful part of the trip for me.” Six students—accompanied by Principal Sklar and Daniel Schuval, director of special programs—explored the region through its Jewish, historical, and political lenses. The program was run in conjunction with Yeshiva and University Students for the Spiritual Revival of Soviet Jewry (YUSSR), an





MAY 22 AT 11 A.M.

The WaMu Theater at Madison Square Garden • New York City
For detailed information, please visit www.yu.edu/commencement Congratulations YU Class of 2008!






6 YUToday

May 2008

YU Goes for Green with Energy-Saving Goals


t’s one thing to reduce the carbon footprint of a single-family home, but it’s a daunting task when it comes to a major university with approximately four million square feet of residential, classroom, and office space. That is what the new Energy Task Force is doing through the establishment of an energy conservation program. “Environmentalists look to the academic community to lead this effort because they don’t see it happening in Washington, DC,” said Michael Winkler, energy manager in the Procurement Services Office.

“This is the right time for YU to create a more environmentally responsible culture on campus. It’s good stewardship for us.” Winkler sits on the task force, which is chaired by Jack Zencheck, chief procurement officer, and whose members come from the President’s Office, the Yeshiva College Board, faculty, students, and staff from the offices of Procurement, Facilities, Plant Operations, and Project Planning. President Richard M. Joel— who called for the formation of the task force after Yeshiva University experienced record

energy costs in 2006—recently joined 473 other college and university leaders in signing the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment. The pledge lays out a number of far-reaching and multi-faceted goals to achieve sustainability. Within one year of signing the document, a complete inventory of greenhouse gas emissions will be conducted, and, within two years, an action plan for how to reduce those emissions, especially carbon, will be developed. “This will be a road map for sustainability,” said Zencheck.

“It will include energy conservation, energy efficiency, purchasing renewable energy, and carbon offsets.” The university has adopted a policy to purchase only Energy Star-rated appliances and equipment, such as heaters, air conditioners, lighting systems, and computers. To this end, Albert Einstein College of Medicine has almost completed a $20 million upgrade to its central steam plant. Undergraduate students also played their part to promote recycling on campus by competing in RecycleMania, a 10-week nationwide recycling

competition. The YU Environmental and Energy Club and the Office of University Housing and Residence Life instituted an internal competition between dorm floors and the two campuses to encourage participation. The Beren campus won with a total recycled weight of 4,815 pounds. Zencheck is also working on President Joel’s mandate to replace all existing vehicles in the executive fleet with hybrid models. “The university is not sitting by,” Zencheck said. “We are working to increase people’s energy IQ across the organization.” I


Joining Together for Proactive Approach to Mental Health


ith rising national attention to the problem of depression on college campuses, Yeshiva University has taken a preventive and proactive stance toward students’ mental health. “We take a multi-faceted approach, which includes increasing public awareness about depression and mental illness and providing quality mental health services on campus,” said Dr. Chaim Nissel, director of the Yeshiva University Counseling Center. “We also train others in the Yeshiva community and beyond to be aware of the warning signs and refer students to the appropriate services.” Now, students are getting involved.

Yeshiva College junior Asher Morris established a local chapter of Active Minds on Campus, a student-run mental health education organization on college campuses, last November. “We hope to empower students to speak out about the mental health issues they face either through personal experience or through someone close to them,” Morris said. “We want everyone on our campuses to feel comfortable discussing mental illness from whatever angle they know it.” Active Minds hosted the organization’s founder and executive director, Alison Malmon, for an educational event, “Perspective on Suicide: Mental Illness on College Campuses,” in February. In a panel discussion with

Alison Malmon and Dr. Chaim Nissel emphasized the importance of professional help. Dr. Victor Schwartz, dean of students, and Dr. Nissel, Malmon said, “You have responsibility as a friend not to counsel others out of their issues, but to bring your friend to a professional.” Malmon created Active Minds on Campus in 2001 after her brother, Brian, committed suicide. Active Minds now has over 100 chapters across the country. “It is reassuring that our community is seriously addressing an issue that has been swept under the carpet for far too long,” said Yeshiva College senior Noah Chesis, who attended the panel discussion. I

Schusterman Grant
continued from p. 1 various backgrounds. Using YU’s Zusman Family Counterpoint Israel Program held last year in the nearby town of Yerucham as a model, the students will run activities to build the children’s self-esteem and will teach English language and computer skills. They will also perform hands-on volunteer work in Dimona, helping to clean up and beautify the town. “Many students want an alternative to typical winter and summer break activities,” said Lynn Schusterman, chair of the Schusterman Family Foundation. “Whether here in the United States or overseas, these volunteer opportunities can transform the lives of those served, as well as those who serve.” I

Israel Colloquium
continued from p. 1 President Joel also honored the memory of Moshe Pearlstein ’46Y, a Palmach guard who died in the massacre of the Lamed Hey at Gush Etzion in 1948 while under attack by the Jordanian Legion, with a special certificate presented to Gush Etzion Mayor Shaul Goldstein. The convocation address, delivered by Dr. Karen Bacon, The Dr. Monique C. Katz Dean of Stern College for Women, set the tone for the Colloquium’s subsequent events. “Passion sets our university apart,” Dean Bacon said. “No other student body in America debates, dissects, and revisits time and again the nature of the university’s mission in the way that Yeshiva University students do.” That mission of Torah Umadda was the topic of conversation between President Joel and Rabbi Dr. Aharon Lichtenstein, the Rabbi Henoch and Sarah D. Berman Professor of Talmud and rosh kollel and director of the RIETS YU Israel Kollel, at a discussion about “Contemplating Torah Umadda: Bedieved or Lechatchila” at the Jerusalem Great Synagogue. And a scion of Torah Umadda—the late Rabbi Israel Miller, who nurtured the founding of YU’s campus in Jerusalem and devoted 60 years of his life to YU as a student and an administrator— was the inspiration at the dedication of the beit midrash [study hall] at the Yeshiva University Israel Campus in his memory. Now named the Rabbi Israel Miller Beit Midrash/Beit Midrash Heichel Azriel, the space is at the heart of the Israel campus and was where Rabbi Miller studied during his many trips to Israel. “This makom [place] bears his name because it bears the fruits of his life’s work,” said President Joel at the dedication, which was attended by several hundred family, friends, and admirers of the late Rabbi Miller. The beit midrash is used by students in the RIETS YU Israel Kollel, rabbis, scholars, and laymen from throughout Israel and abroad under the direction of Rabbi Dovid Miller YH, ‘68Y, 71R, ‘72B, eldest son of Rabbi Miller. The younger Rabbi Miller, together with his siblings Rabbi Michael Miller YH, ‘71Y, ‘75R, 76B, Deborah Kram, and Judy Kalish YH, ‘80S, also dedicated the Office of the Rosh Kollel in memory of their mother, Ruth. The colloquium concluded with an alumni Shabbaton where the 250 gathered at the Renaissance Jerusalem Hotel heard inspiring shiurim [lectures] from YU rabbis and professors, learned about the latest developments at their alma mater, and reminisced about their years at YU. “[This was a] nice opportunity to get back in touch with the YU family. I look forward to further involvement of YU with their Israeli alumni,” said Yechiel Corn ’83Y, who attended with his family. I

May 2008

YUToday 7


Sensational Season for Basketball Teams
Yeshiva College and Stern College for Women Athletes Get Multiple Honors


t was a bumper season for Yeshiva University basketball. The YU men’s basketball team clinched the Sportsmanship Award at the Skyline Conference—the New York City intercollegiate athletics championship that competes in the NCAA’s Division III—in March. Freshman Zachary Gordon was named both First Team All-Conference and the Skyline Conference Rookie of the Year, the first YU men’s basketball player to earn the title. Moreover, women’s basketball junior Tova Laufer was named to the Hudson Valley Women’s Athletic Conference (HVWAC) All-Conference team for an outstanding effort during the 2007–08 season, when she led Yeshiva to the conference’s semifinals. Gordon, a guard/forward, led Yeshiva in almost every major statistical category at the Skyline Conference and finished among the Skyline Conference leaders in four categories. “He completed one of the finest individual seasons in the history of the

Zachary Gordon and Tova Laufer were honored for their standout performances. Yeshiva University men’s basketball program for a player of any year, let alone a freshman,” said Joe Bednarsh, director of athletics. Gordon earned Skyline Conference Rookie of the Week five times, was named to the PrestoSports/MBWA Honor Roll four times, and was named to the D3Hoops.com Team of the Week twice for his outstanding season, which included seven double-doubles, 20 games during which he scored 15 points or more, and 13 games during which he broke the 20-point plateau. The Maccabees advanced to the Skyline Conference Semifinals for the first time since the 2001–02 season, and for the second time in the team’s history.

Laufer, a student at Stern College for Women, finished the season among the Yeshiva leaders in scoring, rebounding, assists, and steals. She emerged this season as one of the best two-way players in the conference, finishing the season averaging 7.7 points, 7.6 rebounds, 2.2 assists, and 3.5 steals per game and leading the Maccabees in the final three categories. She was perhaps the team’s most consistent scoring threat as she reached double figures in 11 games, and recorded four double-doubles. She was an HVWAC Honorable Mention pick for the conference’s weekly awards three times, and averaged seven points, eight rebounds, three assists, and 3.5 steals per game against HVWAC competition. Yeshiva finished the 2007–08 season with a 4–21 overall record, including a 1–3 mark in HVWAC play. The Maccabees advanced to the HVWAC Semifinals with a 65–33 win over the College of New Rochelle on Feb. 14 and lost to eventual champion Mount Saint Vincent in the semifinals. I

YU Picks Top Attorney as Chief Counsel

Seasoned Career Counselor Brings New Approach to Career Center


eshiva University has appointed Andrew “Avi” J. Lauer as vice president for legal affairs and general counsel. “Avi Lauer combines the skills of a topflight attorney with a profound commitment to advancing our ideals and values,” President Richard M. Joel said. “He will be a worthy successor to Marty Bockstein, Andrew Lauer who built the General Counsel’s Office into an important and well-regarded resource for our institution.” Lauer was most recently a partner at Thelen Reid Brown Raysman & Steiner LLP, a large international law firm. He managed a large volume of client matters in all areas of the law, and helped expand and supervise the firm’s Israel practice. He served for almost a decade as senior counsel at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP and as assistant general counsel at Deloitte & Touche USA LLP. Prior to Deloitte, Lauer served as assistant district attorney in Kings County (Brooklyn) for several years, including working within the Trial Cadre of the Homicide Bureau. He earned his JD at Brooklyn Law School and holds an LLM in labor and employment law from the New York University School of Law. A resident of Woodmere, NY, he has been an active lay leader within the Five Towns (Long Island) and the Greater Jewish community for many years. His many board positions include chairman of the Hebrew Academy of the Five Towns and Rockaway and president of the Young Israel of Woodmere, the largest Young Israel in the United States. “This position provides the best of all possibilities: the ability to practice law, assist a growing and vibrant institution, and serve the Jewish and greater community,” Lauer said. I


arc J. Goldman has been appointed executive director of the Career Development Center at Yeshiva University. Goldman, who was previously associate director of New York University’s Wasserman Center for Career Development, heads a team of 10 staff in the center, formerly the Office of Career Services. Goldman and his team bring a new philosophy to the center, which serves undergraduate students from Yeshiva College, Stern College for Women, and Sy Syms School of Business on both the Beren and Wilf campuses. “As is the case at the vast majority of college career centers throughout the country, our center no longer emphasizes placement services,” he said. “The focus is on early intervention and the education and empowerment of students to make their own career decisions and plan a career for themselves. “We provide them with the tools, resources, and support to search out, apply, and interview for jobs so that when they move on to the working world or grad schools

they continue to succeed and develop as professionals.” Goldman has overseen the creation of a new Web site, www.yu.edu/cdc, and added an array of online tools to facilitate students’ job search. The center recently launched YU CareerLink, a 24-hour accessible database

Marc Goldman of job listings, where students can upload their résumés and send them directly to employers. Goldman is overseeing the rollout of other Web functions, including online mentoring and a mock-interview program called InterviewStream. The Career Development Center occupies a new space on the 12th floor of 215 Lexington Avenue on the Beren

campus, and a new office at 90 Laurel Hill Terrace on the Wilf campus is scheduled to open in fall 2008 (the center is presently based on the 4th floor of Belfer Hall). Prior to YU, Goldman worked as a career counselor in various capacities at NYU since 1994, including assistant director of liberal arts. Goldman was also a career, education, and life planning course instructor and test preparation instructor at NYU’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies. “Being a GMAT instructor exposed me to the business school admissions process and to people from many walks of life and career paths,” he said. Goldman holds an MA and Advanced Graduate Certificate in Community/Career Counseling from the University of Maryland. He worked as a career counselor, academic advisor, and psychology instructor at Suffolk County Community College after receiving his graduate degree. I For more information about the Career Development Center, go to www.yu.edu/cdc




A bequest or charitable planned gift to Yeshiva University

of the Jewish people and their lasting impact. We invite you to leave your legacy by including Yeshiva University in your will, trust, or other estate plan. For more about Planned Giving opportunities, visit www.yu.edu/giving or contact Henry Rubin, JD, Senior Director of Development for Institutional Advancement–Gift Planning, at 212-960-0870 or hrubin@yu.edu



YU Mourns Benefactor and Arts Patron Erica Jesselson
War II broke out, Mrs. Jesselson and her younger sister, Lucy Lang, were sent to England on the Kindertransport. The sisters were reunited with their family in 1940 when the Pappenheims moved to Brooklyn, NY. Mrs. Jesselson and her sister, who became a prominent businesswoman and, later, the treasurer of the Friends of the Yeshiva University Museum, were never separated. Ludwig Jesselson, a legend in the commodities and trading community, was a stalwart fixture at the university where he served as chairman of the Board of Trustees from 1989 until he died in 1993, as treasurer from 1977 to 1989, and as a Board member for more than 30 years, from 1961 until his death. Together, the Jesselsons made an indelible mark on the Jewish community and the arts and culture of America and Israel through decades of gifts. The couple provided key support for the university’s undergraduates through gifts to scholarships and Jewish education. They were renowned collectors and connoisseurs of Judaica and Hebraica. Through gifts from the Jesselsons and the Jesselson Family Trust, YU was able to acquire a number of rare materials (including Judaica Americana), publish a catalog of its incunabula, and make its Judaica collections more accessible to students and scholars. In 1983, Mrs. Jesselson was presented with the Distinguished Service Award at Yeshiva University’s 59th Annual Hanukkah Dinner and Convocation, and received an honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters at the May 1998 commencement. The Jesselson family remained close to Yeshiva University for more than four decades. To honor her husband’s memory, Mrs. Jesselson joined with other family members to establish the Ludwig Jesselson Kollel Chaverim (Institute of Advanced Talmudic Study) at the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS). Mrs. Jesselson was presented with the Eitz Chaim (Tree of Life) Award, the highest honor conferred by RIETS. Mrs. Jesselson is survived by three sons—Michael (married to Linda) and Daniel (married to Yael), both residents of New York, and Benjamin (married to Phyllis), who lives in Israel—by numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and by her sister, Lucy Lang. Michael Jesselson has served on the Yeshiva University Board of Trustees since 1993 and received an honorary doctoral degree from YU in 2002. He is a member of the Boards of Albert Einstein College of Medicine, RIETS, and the Yeshiva University High Schools, and vice chair of the museum’s Board. Writing about Mrs. Jesselson in 2000, Kenneth Bialkin, president of the American Jewish Historical Society, noted that “she has spent her life attempting to make the world more beautiful.” I

High Schools Compete for Sarachek Trophy

Ida Crown beat Hebrew Academy of Nassau County in the finals.

Erica Jesselson


eshiva University deeply mourns the loss of Erica Jesselson, a benefactor of Yeshiva University who devoted her long life to philanthropy, the arts, and Jewish education. Mrs. Jesselson was 86 and died of natural causes on March 12, 2008, at her home in Riverdale, NY. Mrs. Jesselson was the driving force behind the establishment of the YU Museum. She and her late husband, Ludwig, founded and endowed the museum and she served as the chair of the Board of the museum from 1973 until her death. “Erica Jesselson was quite simply a magnificent woman of extraordinary intellect and unwavering devotion who was involved in every phase of Jewish education, art, and culture throughout the United States and Israel,” said President Richard M. Joel. “The university has lost a cherished friend and matriarch.” Born Erica Pappenheim in Vienna in 1922, when World


asketball players from 18 Jewish high schools across the country, and their family members and friends, descended on the Wilf campus for the 17th Annual Red Sarachek Basketball Tournament in March. Fans stormed the court for the third game in a row following Ida Crown Jewish Academy’s victory over top-seeded Hebrew Academy of Nassau County in the finals of the tournament, named after Bernie “Red” Sarachek, YU’s team coach for 25 years and a legend in the basketball world. Ida Crown head coach Howard Braun pinpointed the key to his team’s success. “This entire team is one team,” Braun said. “For the entire season that’s the way we played.” Students at Ida Crown Jewish Academy gathered in the school gym to hear the MacsLive broadcast of the final game. Started by students Adam Cohen ’02Y and Avi Bloom ’02Y in 2001, MacsLive has become a main feature of the championships. Its Web site registered more than 300,000 hits over the five-day competition. “MacsLive brings the excitement of the tournament to everyone who could not make the trip to New York,” said Cohen, now a lawyer at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, who used his vacation time to help out at the event. The student-run operation, led by Asher Goldberg and Danny Cohn, has grown into a 30-person staff with three mixers and 10 microphones. This year, MacsLive launched the live scoreboard with a real-time box score for all games at the Max Stern Athletic Center. It also added a new feature that allowed users to visit a special site designed to work better on mobile devices. For the many fans who joined the teams in New York City, the spirit was palpable. “We came from California, for our second year in a row, to watch our son play,” said Cathy Hoffman, mother of Valley Shaarey Zedek star Dovie Hoffman. “It is an amazing opportunity to bring Orthodox kids together in this setting.” I

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