law schools to which stern alumna alla Digilova was accepted (three were ivy League)
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Yeshiva UniversitY

∞ sPrinG 2011 ∞ Volume 15 • No. 2


Class of 2011 Challenged to “Seek a New Horizon”

YUhsG students named finalists in the new York City science and engineering Fair
page 4


educators accepted into azrieli’s inaugural school Partnership Master’s Program
page 4


YU graduates (l–r) Joseph Novetsky, Ariel Urkowitz, Dov Lerner, Tzvi Feifel, Jonathan Seligsohn, Aron Kaplan and Daniel Eisman celebrate commencement at the Izod Center on May 26


employers at a recent career fair on campus
page 5


utside the Izod Center in East Rutherford, NJ, where Yeshiva University hosted its 80th annual commencement ceremony on May 26, there was a palpable, sun-kissed feeling of joy as more than 3,500 family and friends came together to celebrate the true value of a YU degree. “It’s pretty exciting,” said Daniel Gordon of Toronto, who, along with his wife, Ellen, was on hand to celebrate the graduation of their son, Avi, from Yeshiva College. “This is our third gradu-

ation of a family member. My daughter graduated from Stern, my son-in-law went to Yeshiva College, and my next son will hopefully be graduating in two years.” Gordon explained that his family chose YU because “nowhere else has the ability for us to have such a solid Jewish education combined with a solid general education in one fell swoop… there is no place that comes close to the quality of YU.” That quality, said Gordon, has allowed his son “to get offers

from some of the top graduate schools in the world.” Mijal Bitton, a newly minted graduate of Stern College for Women and a recipient of a Wexner fellowship, mentioned the high quality of her education but emphasized the close-knit community in which it is delivered. “YU gives you the opportunity to become very close to the faculty and fellow students. It’s not just a classroom; it’s like a family. I’m very grateful.” Adam Berman, the valedictorian of Yeshiva College, agreed.

“One of the highlights of my YU experience has been being part of a vibrant, young and exciting Jewish community.” Berman plans to attend medical school, but will spend the coming year studying at YU’s Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS) and developing Torah-learning curricula for the Center for the Jewish Future’s service learning programs. “YU has opened my eyes to the global Jewish community. I am continually amazed at how many
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students competed in YU’s annual cholent cook-off
page 6


Zahava and Moshael Straus Create Landmark Center for Torah and Western Thought
Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought in April. The center’s mission is to develop a cadre of Jewish thinkers wellversed in the moral, philosophical and theological questions of our age, who will also disseminate Jewish ideas to the world. The center will carry the name of Zahava and Moshael Straus in honor of their gift for its establishment and endowment. Moshael Straus, an investment executive, is a member of the Yeshiva University Board of Trustees and a graduate of Yeshiva College. Zahava Straus is a graduate of YU’s Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. President Joel also announced the appointment of noted theologian Rabbi Dr. Meir Y. Soloveichik as director of the Straus Center. Rabbi Soloveichik, the associate rabbi at Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun in New York, is a graduate of Yeshiva College who received semicha [rabbinical ordination] from YU’s Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS). He also was a Fellow in the Beren Kollel Elyon, the seminary’s highly select advanced ordination program, and earned a doctorate in religion from Princeton University. The motivation for the gift and the establishment of the center came about because, “I was looking for something that could be a game-changer,” Moshael Straus explained. “In Modern Orthodoxy, we talk about how the world impacts on our Orthodoxy. We don’t always talk about how our Torah impacts on the modern world. I envision that this center will create a twoway street, by developing Modern Orthodox Jewish thinkers, scholars who think big thoughts and go beyond the theoretical to bring their ideas for the benefit of the larger Jewish community and society.” “Moshael Straus is a wonderful partner in the leadership of Yeshiva,” said President Joel. “As an extremely devoted and engaged trustee, he, along with his wife, Zahava, shares a vision of the Jewish future that is one with that of Yeshiva University. The Zahava and Moshael Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought is a gift not only to YU, but to all of humanity.” At the Straus Center, select undergraduates from Yeshiva College and Stern, as well as rabbinical students at RIETS, will engage in courses that bridge a variety of disciplines and expose the students to both halachic [Jewish law] and Western schools of thought. There will
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$3.4 million
nih grant awarded to einstein and Ferkauf
page 7 Rabbi Dr. Meir Y. Soloveichik For more interesting YU numbers visit www.yu.edu/nowyouknow


eshiva University President Richard M. Joel announced the creation of the new Zahava and Moshael


YUTodaY on The Web

Rockefeller Partnership Deepens Study of Neuroscience at Stern
Joint programs created with New York University in nutrition and nursing
“You have to be very critical about how you’re setting up your procedures and to understand that because you’re the first person doing this, you’ll make mistakes,” Hunter said. “I want my students to know how to learn from those mistakes.” And that learning process is exhilarating for Ben-David. “That’s what I love about the work we’re doing,” she said. “When you’re creative and innovative, you can make new discoveries. You feel like you’re searching the unknown and nothing is impossible.” Partnerships like the one with Rockefeller allow Yeshiva University to offer its students specialized experiences as well as advanced study in their fields of interest. To expand student options in the health and sciences, Stern has also recently created two joint programs with New York University in the areas of nutrition and nursing. The agreement will give Stern students the ability to take nutrition classes at NYU to complete a shaped major in nutrition at YU, while an arrangement with NYU’s College of Nursing will enable students to pursue a combined degree in nursing at Stern and NYU. Other YU partnerships include programs in occupational and physical therapy, optometry, podiatry, social work, engineering, business administration and math and science education. n



s a child, Geulah BenDavid joked that her brain was the most-used muscle in her body. As a psychology major with an emphasis in neuroscience at Stern College for Women, she’s learning why. Ben-David is taking a new neurobiology laboratory course at Stern, which has grown from a partnership with nearby Rockefeller University. The course is led by Dr. Richard Hunter, a research associate at Rockefeller, and makes use of lab space at both Stern College and Rockefeller to grant students hands-on experience in graduate-level research. “It’s 80 percent experiment-oriented,” said Hunter. “I guide the class through everything from dissecting sheep brains in our neuroanatomy module to studying the effects of caffeine in rats as we look at psychostimulants.” The new lab was developed as part of an expanding neuroscience curriculum at Stern, which now includes a neuroscience concentration in both the biology and psychology departments. The partnership with Rockefeller offers students the unique opportunity to study behavior in animals, which in many cases is only available in graduate school.

Web exclUsive:

2011 Commencement
k yu.edu/commencement2011

Look at our online photo gallery, with over 180 photos from graduation
k Download mobile reader at http://scan.mobi and enjoy additional web content throughout YUToday.


For YU students, nothing succeeds like success
k yu.edu/nachas

YU celebrates israel at annual parade
k yu.edu/parade2011


phoTo gallerY

President Joel discusses education and Jewish identity with harvard Law professor alan Dershowitz (video)
Stern students experiment in a neurobiology lab k yu.edu/dershowitz

YU students commemorate israel with Yom hazikaron and Yom ha’atzmaut programs.
k yu.edu/israel2011

Zahava and moshael straus
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be fellowships, advanced tutorials and independent study courses, mentoring, summer seminars and travel abroad that will afford students opportunities to interact with leading thinkers and teachers. “Yeshiva University stands in a unique place,” said Rabbi Soloveichik. “Its students are the future of Jewish ideas. It is only YU that promotes a profound commitment to the study of Torah and yet also engagement with the best of Western thought. The Straus Center will build upon this unprecedented foundation by bridging an immersion in Torah study with formative academic experiences, thereby cultivating men and women who embody both Torah excellence and academic excellence. In so doing, the center will seek to further Yeshiva’s mission of Torah Umadda and the University’s critical role in the future of the American Jewish community.” In addition to his pulpit responsibilities, Rabbi Soloveichik teaches at the Ramaz School, where he leads the senior honors Talmud class. He also lectures throughout the United States and abroad, to both Jewish and non-Jewish audiences on topics relating to Jewish theology, bioethics and JewishChristian relations. His essays, which have been published in Commentary, The Torah Umadda

Journal, Azure and Tradition, among other publications, address subjects central to the Jewish faith, including the theological meaning of chosenness, kashrut and Torah study. He is the grandson of the late renowned scholar and rosh yeshiva [professor of Talmud] Rabbi Aaron Soloveichik and the grand nephew of The Rav, the late Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik. While its primary focus will be serving students, the Straus Center will also serve to enhance YU’s role as “an intellectual catalyst and beacon for all Jews,” Rabbi Soloveichik explained. To this end, the center will host public forums at the University’s various campuses that address great human questions that have engaged Jewish and nonJewish thinkers. Visiting faculty will be invited to participate and to teach student courses. In the first year, many of the center’s programs, as well as much of the student coursework, will relate to the theme “Biblical Ideas and American Democracy.” Moreover, the center will stage a series of one-day learning events in Jewish communities throughout the United States, Europe and Israel. These symposia and lectures will promote ideasfocused conversations about Jewish life and the Jewish future across the generations. “Ultimately, the goal of the Straus Center is not just to deepen our understanding of Judaism,” Rabbi Soloveichik said, “but also to help us understand how Jewish ideas have, and can continue to, profoundly impact the world.” n

Dr. HeNry Kressel

Yeshiva Universit Y ∞ sPrinG 2011 ∞ Volume 15 • No. 2

Chairman, YU Board of Trustees
ricHarD m. Joel Dr. NormaN lamm



GeorGia B. PollaK

Vice President for Communications and Public Affairs yutoday
mayer FertiG yaFFi sPoDeK Gisel PiNeyro

Editor in Chief


Art Director

Enrique Cubillo, Shimon Fried, Cecile George, Norman Goldberg, Stephen Nickson, Tova Ross, Perel Skier, V. Jane Windsor, Matt Yaniv Contributors yutoday@yu.edu www.yu.edu/cpa YUToday is published quarterly by the Office of Communications and Public Affairs and is distributed 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 2011 • 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, Chairman, Board of Overseers, Stern College for Women; Josh Weston, Chairman, Board of Overseers, Sy Syms School of Business; Ruth L. Gottesman, Chairperson, 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; Julius Berman, Chairman, Board of Trustees, (affiliate) Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary; Miriam Goldberg, Chairman, Board of Trustees, YU High Schools; Theodore N. Mirvis and Michael Jesselson, Co-Chairs, Board of Directors, (affiliate) Yeshiva University Museum. Board listings as of May 16, 2011.


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Tracing an Alumna’s Remarkable Journey from Chechnya to Stern to Harvard
entered Brooklyn Technical High School, a specialized science school, where she excelled despite her limited knowledge of English. She also co-founded an organization to promote women’s rights in the workplace. One of the only observant Jewish students at Brooklyn Tech, Digilova reveled in the atmosphere of Flatbush, Brooklyn, where Judaism flourished openly. “When I first arrived in New York, and saw all the Jewish people walking proudly to shul on Shabbat in their finest clothing, it was so beautiful to me because in Russia, Judaism is not something that was encouraged publicly,” she said. “When it came time to continue my education in college, I knew I wanted to be in a place where my Judaism could thrive.” When she heard about Yeshiva University, with its dual curriculum and Jewish environment, coupled with the prestigious S. Daniel Abraham Honors Program, Digilova was hooked. As an honors student at Stern with almost full tuition coverage, Digilova majored in both biology and economics, and discovered that legal complexities fascinated her, especially the laws surrounding patents for medicine. For her senior project, she worked under the tutelage of Dr. Marina K. Holz, assistant professor of biology, to research new mechanisms of breast cancer cell regulation. “Alla has always been one of my top students, and I have been impressed with her drive, ambition and cheerful disposition,” Holz said. “She co-authored, with me, an article based on our research together for her senior project that was published in a peer-reviewed journal [the Journal of Biological Chemistry], which is


Alla Digilova


lla Digilova, a 2010 graduate of Stern College for Women and soon-to-be Harvard law student, has come a long way since she arrived in Brooklyn at age 14. She and her family came from Nalchik, a city in Southern Russia, thanks to a loan from the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society. Fleeing war and strife, Digilova’s parents relied on welfare to get by, while her mother studied toward a degree in nursing to improve the family’s situation. Nurturing her desire to become a scientist, Digilova

quite an accomplishment for an undergraduate student.” When Digilova decided to apply to law school, she studied on her own for the LSATs. By November 2010, she was accepted into Columbia, the University of Pennsylvania, New York University and Harvard, among other top-tier schools. She chose Harvard for its strong program in intellectual property, and she hopes to work on patent laws and biotechnology, in addition to cases in humanitarian law. “It’s rare to come across a student as capable, poised and well-spoken as Alla,” said Dr. Cynthia Wachtell, founding director of the S. Daniel Abraham Honors Program. “She’s an incredibly impressive young woman who has demonstrated remarkable academic accomplishment, and her achievements are made even more striking by the atypical journey that brought her to Stern.” Never one to let an opportunity pass her by, Digilova spent this year learning at the Shearim College of Jewish Studies for Women in Jerusalem. She will begin Harvard Law School in the fall along with at least two Yeshiva College alumni. Digilova attributes her strong work ethic to her early struggles in Brooklyn, and the inspiration she received from her mother. “When we got to Brooklyn and lived in a small apartment, sleeping on mattresses on the floor and struggling for every dollar, it was quite a psychological blow,” Digilova recounted. “Nevertheless, I think it also helped me turn all my energies and focus toward becoming successful in my academics, as I know that is the best way to better my life.” n

Azrieli Graduate School Launches M.S. Program
Day School Teachers on Long Island Comprise First Cohort of 16

Rabbi lamm publishes book on Jewish holidays
Rabbi Dr. Norman Lamm, chancellor of Yeshiva University and Rosh HaYeshiva of the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS) has written Festivals of Faith: Reflections on the Jewish Holidays. Published jointly by RIETS/Yeshiva University Press and OU Press, the book is a compilation of insights on the Jewish holidays, portraying them as not only joyous celebrations but also repositories of profound teachings on personal and communal priorities, as Rabbi Lamm explores the holidays’ lessons for parenting, education, financial integrity and religious intensity. The book was edited by Dr. David Shatz, professor of philosophy at YU and editor of The Torah Umadda Journal. Shatz selected and edited the material from Rabbi Lamm’s archives, assisted by Rabbi Simon Posner, executive editor of OU Press and associate editor of this volume. n


eshiva University’s Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration is launching a School Partnership Master’s Program this fall, funded by the Jim Joseph Foundation. The initiative offers classes over five semesters to educators who wish to pursue a master’s degree in Jewish education while continuing in their teaching careers. “I felt that this would be a fantastic opportunity to participate in graduate-level studies in Jewish education at the acclaimed Azrieli School of Jewish Education while still being able to continue in my current position as a rebbe,” said participant Rabbi Yossi Bennett ‘98YUHSB, a 12th grade Judaic studies teacher at Mesivta Ateres Yaakov in Lawrence, NY. “I feel that a degree from Azrieli will open many new doors for me in the field, both in the education and administration areas, in addition to educating, equipping and preparing me for new challenges to come.” The inaugural cohort is comprised of 16 participants, both male and female, who currently teach at yeshiva day schools in the Five Towns and other areas of New York’s Long Island. The program builds upon existing relationships with these schools that were developed through Azrieli’s Institute for University-School Partnership. Participants of the program will receive full scholarships, supported by Azrieli and the Jim Joseph Foundation, as well as by the local yeshivas. To foster a sense of unity among the area yeshivas, a different school will host the weekly classes each semester. “This program fits in with Azrieli’s general mission, which is a deep and abiding commitment to harbatzas [spreading of] Torah, using the most modern techniques and technologies,” explained Dr. David Schnall, the dean of Azrieli. “We have a very interesting mix of people and

backgrounds, those with strong credentials who have been teaching for many years, and those who are new to the field.” The program will include coursework in cognition, educational psychology, models of teaching, classroom management and curriculum assessment, accompanied by programs given at Azrieli. These include an orientation on professional development and workshops on using a Smart Board and other technology. Classes will be taught by Azrieli faculty, with fall semester courses led by Dr. Rona Novick, director of the Fanya Gottesfeld Heller Doctoral Program and Dr. Chaim Feuerman, the Golda Koschitzky Chair in Jewish Education and chair of the Mendheim Student Teaching and Administrative Internship Program. Each participant will also be observed and supervised in a classroom setting while they teach. In addition, they will take classes on differentiated instruction, which offer strategies and techniques to enable teachers to meet the needs of more students more of the time. “We want our graduates to be aware of student differences and the various types of learning, and how to respond to and accommodate a mix of students,” said Dr. Jeffrey Glanz, the director of the master’s program at Azrieli. Close to 20 schools were asked to nominate two teachers, and the nominees then applied and were chosen by Azrieli faculty, based on their admissions essays. Participating teachers come from Hebrew Academy of the Five Towns and Rockaways (HAFTR), Hebrew Academy of Long Beach (HALB), Hebrew Academy of Nassau County (HANC), Mesivta Ateres Yaakov, Torah Academy for Girls (TAG), Yeshiva Darchei Torah, Yeshiva Ketana of Long Island and Yeshiva of South Shore. Next year, Azrieli hopes to expand the program to educators in other communities. Long Island was chosen as a starting point, because “we have a long relationship there, and it is an intense educational community with a large concentration of yeshivot that we feel would best benefit,” said Glanz. n


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Senior at YUHSB Wins Shakespeare Showdown

YUHSG Students Sweep Top Categories in City-Wide Science Contest


From left: Helene Sonenberg, Sara Shenas, Zohar Bachiry, Ayelet Abelow, Rachel Shapiro, Bracha Rose and Ruth Fried


ix students at the Samuel H. Wang Yeshiva University High School for Girls (YUHSG) have been named finalists in the New York City Science and Engineering Fair (NYCSEF), the largest high school research competition in the city. Under the guidance of Ruth Fried, chairperson of YUHSG’s science department, the students conducted research projects over the summer and wrote up their findings in original scientific papers. The six finalists—Ayelet Abelow, Zohar Bachiry, Bracha Rose, Rachel Shapiro, Sara Shenas and Helene Sonenberg—comprised the largest contingent from any yeshiva, and their projects were among the 150 chosen to advance out of 550 that were presented. In a later stage of the contest, Bachiry’s project—which focused on stem cell research and en-

gineering—was one of 15 selected from the New York finalists to compete on a national level. Bachiry presented her research, together with over 1,500 worldwide competitors, at the International Science and Engineering Fair in Los Angeles in May. Most of the projects were done in partnership with other students—from both yeshiva and public high schools— and were categorized as either engineering or cell biology, specifically in the field of nanotechnology. “I was motivated to do this project to gain firsthand insight into what scientific and engineering professions are about,” Shenas said. Shenas’ personal connection to science through Judaism also played a role in her involvement. “I see G-d in science and in all the tiny intricacies in the world

[He] has made,” she said. “Everything from the smallest particle to a galaxy in this universe has an imprint of G-d in it, and this is what Torah Umadda teaches.” As part of YUHSG’s Science Institute, headed by Fried, several of the NYCSEF finalists have been taking advanced science courses since their freshman year, in addition to being placed in summer internships at YU’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine and at Stony Brook. “The reason we have such a large group of finalists this year is because of the effort and diligence that they put in; they’ve been working toward this goal for so long,” Fried explained. Three of the NYCSEF finalists— Abelow, Sonenberg and Shapiro—were also named semi-finalists in the Siemens Science and Technology competition in October 2010. n

ani Goffstein, a senior at Yeshiva University High School for Boys/Marsha Stern Talmudical Academy (YUHSB), won the English-Speaking Union of New York’s regional Shakespeare competition in March, beating out nine other aspiring actors. Goffstein impressed the judges with his performance of Shylock from The Merchant of Venice and his recitation of Sonnet 138. He went on to represent New York City as a semi-finalist at the national competition, facing high schoolers from 56 regions across the country. At the finals on May 2, he finished in the top 10 out of 170,000 or so contestants. “It was an incredible opportunity,” said Goffstein, 18, of Teaneck, NJ. “I worked really hard and it was great to see that all that work really paid off.” The program is part of the EnglishSpeaking Union National Shakespeare Competition, designed to help students interpret Shakespeare without scenery or costumes, while teaching them to develop their speaking skills and their appreciation of literature as they explore the themes of Shakespeare’s works. “Dani’s win reflects his hard work, intense dedication and his individual interpretation of Shylock,” said Harriet Levitt, who teaches English and public speaking at YUHSB. Goffstein, an aspiring filmmaker, has written several screenplays and spent last summer at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. He credits Shakespeare for being a tremendous influence on his work. “I honestly don’t think anyone can appreciate the beauty of words without Shakespeare,” he said. n

NIH Awards $3.4 Million Grant on Aging to Einstein and Ferkauf

yuhsb crowned hockey champions
The Yeshiva University High School for Boys/Marsha Stern Talmudical Academy (MTA) varsity hockey squad won its league championship for the ninth time in school history. The MTA Lions shut out the Davis Renov Stahler (DRS) Yeshiva High School 2–0 to take the championship game of the Metropolitan Yeshiva High School Hockey League. Goalie yoni Jaroslawicz was named most valuable player. eliezer lisker and eitan Rosenfeld scored the only two goals. MTA enjoyed a 10–4 record in the 2010–11 season, led by Captain noah Isaacs and Co-captains eitan stern and gabe Rosenfeld.


he National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded a $3.4 million grant to Yeshiva University’s Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, to identify cognitive factors that influence mobility in the elderly population, specifically those factors that can be modified to help older people remain active. “Mobility limitations and disability in aging are major public health concerns,” said Dr. Roee Holtzer, principal investigator for the study and an associate professor at Ferkauf and Einstein. The National Institute on Aging grant will recruit 450 people, age 70 and older, for baseline and annual follow-ups over the five-year study period. Participants will undergo clinical, neuropsychological and physical exams as well as cognitive and neuroimaging assessments. “Ideally, these assessments will reveal specific cognitive abilities and brain structures and functions that correlate with mobility problems or that predict their occurrence,” said Holtzer. “Then we want to see whether efforts to modify those factors, which include the ability to concentrate and allocate attention resources to competing task demands, can help in preventing mobility decline and disability in these individuals.” According to Dr. Lawrence Siegel, dean of Ferkauf, the grant has important implications for “developing a profile for predicting risk factors for serious mobility problems in the elderly.” The project is an interdisciplinary collaboration between Ferkauf, Einstein and Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA. n

The YUHSB hockey team celebrates their victory


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Career Development Center Helps Students Market Themselves and Secure Jobs



Students meet with potential employers at YU’s annual Career Fair

ere is the two-minute pitch that helped Yaakov Miller, a history major and American studies minor at Yeshiva College, secure a full-time position with Teach for America: “I’m interested in policy and policy-making, and given the need for high-quality teachers in American classrooms, our declining graduation rates and the growing achievement gap, we need to have the best teachers in underprivileged schools. After working with disadvantaged children on the Center for the Jewish Future’s Counterpoint Israel Program in Dimona, I know how challenging the classroom is for new teachers. That experience, combined with my diverse skill set and passion for fulfilling Teach for America’s goals, makes hiring me a win-win situation for everyone.” As he had in previous years, Miller worked closely with Yeshiva University’s Career Development Center (CDC) to develop his pitch. In the past, collaboration with the CDC helped him obtain summer internships in Washington, D.C., with Congress’ House Committee of Oversight and Government Reform and the office of U.S. Representative Eric Cantor, who is now the House majority leader. So when Miller decided that Teach for America would offer him an opportunity to immerse himself in “the Ground Zero of policy-making,” he knew exactly where to go. The CDC helped Miller draft a professional statement, improve his resume and polish his skills in preparation for the rigorous interviewing process. “They taught me how to use the business lexicon to persuade others that my skill set was right for them and helped

me perfect my pitch over numerous mock interviews,” he said. In January, Miller found out that he would be teaching inner city kids in some of the most underprivileged areas of New York. The CDC’s personal attention and comprehensive support were also important for Sarah Clyde, who graduated in May from Stern College for Women, with a shaped degree in computer science. “The CDC has years of experience dealing with both students and employers,” she said. “They know what employers might ask and where students fumble on interviews. It can only help to sit down and have a conversation with an advisor.” Clyde had four job interviews within two weeks, all of them with employers she met at YU’s annual Career Fair, organized by the Career Development Center, on April 1. The fair offered students the opportunity to meet and engage with more than 45 employers across a spectrum of fields, including medical technology, publishing, Jewish communal work and finance. According to Marc Goldman, executive director of the CDC, the wide range of options the center offers is carefully cultivated throughout the year. The CDC prepared students for the fair with informational materials and workshops about revising resumes and the art of the personal pitch. “We try to make this event available to a diverse employer base,” Goldman said. “The diversity is important because we can expose students to employers they may not even realize they would be interested in.” n

Jewish Foundation for the Education of Women Expands Grant for Science Fellowship Program at Stern


eshiva University’s Stern College for Women has long prided itself on offering an excellent, well-rounded education featuring superior science instruction alongside scholarship and internship opportunities. In recent years, Stern has further enhanced its science offerings, and its graduates continue to become respected doctors, researchers, therapists and science teachers. The Jewish Foundation for the Education of Women (JFEW) was so impressed with Stern’s mission to provide a strong science education for young women that, in 2009, the foundation awarded the college an $835,000 grant to establish the JFEW Science Fellowship Program for two cohorts of scholarship students majoring in science. In 2010, the foundation renewed the program with a grant totaling $1.07 million for two more groups of students. JFEW is a New York-based private, nonsectarian organization that offers scholarships to women with financial need who live in the New York City area, and on a case-by-case basis to out-of-state students with extraordinary qualifications. “The foundation initially approached Stern because of its reputation for academic excellence,” said Elizabeth Leiman Kraiem, JFEW’s executive director. “We concluded that Stern’s small size, the quality of its faculty, its strong academic culture and Dean Karen Bacon’s ability to pull it all together made the school a worthwhile candidate for a grant from JFEW.” The fellowships at Stern are awarded to a group of 10 high-achieving incoming sophomores, who receive $10,000 in tuition support to study and conduct research under a science faculty member for three years. Each

JFEW Fellow is mentored by a Stern faculty member, and participates in a summer research internship for which she receives a stipend of $2,500. To be considered for the program, incoming students must score at least a 1300 on their SATs and have a grade-point average of 90 or above. “When the foundation came to us in 2009 to discuss a grant, I immediately thought of a program that would fund science fellowships,” said Dean Bacon, the Dr. Monique C. Katz Dean of Stern. “We have so many students entering various fields of science, and I knew that the grant would go a long way toward enabling many of them to achieve their goals at Stern and beyond.” Stern’s emphasis on the sciences is partly due to Dean Bacon’s own background; as a 1964 Stern College valedictorian, she went on to earn a PhD in microbiology from UCLA, and later taught biology at Yeshiva College. “It is certainly one of my goals to continue offering more science educational opportunities to our students and help them identify meaningful careers,” Dean Bacon noted. “At the same time, there is a national initiative that sees improved science education as a viable way to try to improve our quality of life, our environment and our overall function as members of a greater society. Stern’s concentration on the sciences is also a reflection of that current atmosphere.” Thanks to JFEW’s Science Fellows Program, which includes tuition support and one-on-one mentoring, more students can pursue intensive training and careers in the science fields. “The grant opened the door for all of the participating students,” said Dr. Alyssa Schuck, clinical assistant professor of biology and administrator for the JFEW

Science Fellowship Program. “It allowed them to pursue studies at Stern and a variety of opportunities in science fields. This fellowship really helps them get a head start in reaching their goals.” At a recent gathering of the first cohort of JFEW Science Fellows, the participants shared details of their research and internship opportunities with Jill Smith, Marcia Goldsmith and Phyllis Korff, directors of the foundation. “I was impressed with the quality of students and the dedication of the faculty mentors,” Goldsmith said. “We were able to see firsthand what the foundation’s grant is doing for students. This program is not just about book learning, but also about experiential learning, and combining the innovative ideas of students with the experience of faculty who have been there.” When Stern applied for funding for an additional cohort, the foundation decided to back two groups instead, each for three years, ensuring that there will be JFEW Science Fellows at Stern until at least 2014. The total grant, $1.07 million, was nearly twice what was asked of the foundation. “JFEW has responded to the changing educational needs and opportunities of women in America since its origins as a school preparing Jewish immigrant girls from Russia for life in America, back in 1880,” said Smith. “This program is another step in that evolution.” “We are embarking on an age when women will have more to say and to do, and we want to prepare them for that,” Goldsmith added. n
k To learn more about the JFEW science fellowship at Stern, please visit www.yu.edu/jfew


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class of 2011
ç Continued from Page 1

services YU provides to numerous communities in North America and abroad.” Irena Gretski, a graduate of Stern College, wore an extra blue and white tassel as a token of tribute that she felt she owed to future generations of YU students. “The tassel is in recognition of the seniors who contributed toward scholarships. A lot of us received scholarship help so I thought it was important to also give back to YU now that I’m finished,” she said. In fact, more than 340 graduating seniors gave nearly $6,500 to support future academic endeavors. Inside the Izod Center, the formal festivities began with the surprise announcement that Dr. Hillel Davis—who is stepping down from his position as vice president of university life and moving to Israel—was receiving a Presidential Medallion, the highest honor bestowed on a member of the faculty or administration for excellent service. In his remarks honoring the occasion, President Richard M. Joel noted that YU is perhaps the only university with a vice president whose job is to build a culture of caring. “You are the grand master in teaching people how to find the good if you look for the good,” President Joel said to Davis. “I bestow this honor upon you for a lifetime of service and for these past eight years of dedication at Yeshiva University as a model of nobility, a partner in transformation and a servant of G-d.” This idea of nobility and commitment was extended in the remarks of commencement speaker Dr. John Sexton, a legal scholar and higher education advocate who, as president of New York University for the past decade, has positioned the institution among the foremost in the world. In the course of his address, Sexton—the recipient of an honorary doctoral degree from YU—delivered what he called an homage to Yeshiva University, “to the wonderful commitment that YU Members of the Maccabeats prepare to ascend the stage for a musical performance during YU’s commencement has to minds grounded in spirit and the wonderful values of the tradition of Judaism.” Sexton reminded students that ald S. Lauder, who as U.S. Ambassador to Austria and through what they take away from their experience at Yeshiva Univervast philanthropic activities has played a pivotal role in resity can be applied to the greater world at large. vitalizing Jewish life across Eastern and Central European “Life on the other side of graduation is going to be fundacommunities that had been devastated by the Holocaust; mentally different than it’s been up to now… The question is, Father Patrick Desbois, a French Roman Catholic priest who are you going to use your YU education to, in your President’s undertook the monumental task of uncovering the previously words, ‘ennoble and enable’ the progress of humankind in unknown history of 1.5 million Jews murdered in the forthe world? … Never take for granted that your mind has been mer Soviet Union during World War II; and Mira Kowarski trained even as it’s learned to root everything you do in the Rothenberg, whose pioneering research into the treatment of great values of your tradition.” autistic children—some of it conducted while a graduate stuDaniella Neiman, the co-valedictorian of Sy Syms School dent at YU in the late 1950s—demonstrated to the world that of Business, echoed these thoughts by urging her fellow gradsuch children are treatable and educable. uates to have the courage to face the challenges of the present “Each individual we are honoring embodies our Uniand future while always remembering that they stand on the versity’s principles and commitment to Jewish values and inshoulders of the generations that have come before. Daniella Neiman, co-valedictorian of the Sy Syms School of Business novative thinking that impacts the greater community,” said President Joel took this idea a step further by imploring President Joel. the new graduates not to “settle for a new normal, but to seek The classes of 1961, 1971 and 1986 were recognized at the graduation cera new horizon.” emony for their 50th, 40th and 25th reunions, while more than 1,800 undergradu“What are you going to do to show the world the face of G-d? You have learned how ate students from Yeshiva College, Stern College for Women and Sy Syms School of to continue a conversation that spans millennia with those of our people who join with Business, as well as graduate students in the fields of law, medicine, social work, eduyou in the sacred chorus of understanding G-d’s ways and emulating them. You are enorcation, Jewish studies and psychology, were awarded degrees from YU during its mously blessed. You get to matter.” commencement season. n President Joel also conferred honorary doctorates upon global business leader Ron-

hilfiger tries yu on for size

students compete in cholent cook-off

Fashion icon Tommy Hilfiger addressed a crowd of students in March, discussing the trials and triumphs of his 25-year career

Sixteen teams of 64 students participated in YU’s annual contest to crown the best cholent makers in Washington Heights

k See full galleries on flickr.com/yeshivauniversity


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Yeshiva Celebrates Establishment of Rabbi Jacob H. Kupietzky Memorial Program
RIETS receives $1 million gift to fund students who study the tractates of Kodshim



abbi Jonah C. and Fran Kupietzky recently contributed $1 million to the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS) of Yeshiva University, with the funds specifically earmarked for RIETS students to study the tractates of Kodshim, a complex section of the Talmud that deals with the various sacrifices of the Temple. Rabbi Kupietzky’s father, Rabbi Jacob H. Kupietzky, made it one of his life’s missions to master Kodshim, at the

encouragement of the legendary Chofetz Chaim, a 19th-century Torah giant with whom the elder Rabbi Kupietzky studied at the yeshiva in Radun. The Kupietzkys made this goal the focus of their generous gift to RIETS, with the establishment of the Rabbi Jacob H. Kupietzky Memorial Program. While the Kupietzkys have given regularly to RIETS to ensure that there is study of Kodshim, this latest gift will cover two or three Scholars each year for many years to come. “We at RIETS continue to be beneficiaries of the generosity and grand vision of Rabbi Jonah and Fran Kupietzky,” said Rabbi Yona Reiss, the Max and Marion

Grill Dean of RIETS. “In establishing the Rabbi Jacob H. Kupietzky Memorial Program for the Study of Kodshim, the Kupietzkys pay tribute to Rabbi Kupietzky’s father, a Talmudic scholar in his own right, and pave the way for a new generation of scholars to acquire mastery of the rarified texts and esoteric concepts of the Talmudic order of Kodshim.” The three Scholars this year are YC graduates Raphael Stohl, Neal Rich and Moshe Ariel Rosensweig. Each Scholar devotes a regular weekly seder (study period) toward the study of Kodshim. “We hope that the gift that we gave to RIETS will introduce a more intensive study of Kodshim to the YU

world, and to the yeshiva world in general, and we feel grateful to allow for the regular review of this crucial text that was so important to my father,” said Rabbi Jonah Kupietzky, ‘56YC, ‘59RIETS. A dedication ceremony was held April 3 to celebrate the gift and new program. “The Talmud teaches us that those who study Kodshim are viewed as if they are actually performing the sacrificial order in the Holy Temple,” Rabbi Reiss added. “Through the munificence of the Kupietzky family, our students are able to bring the Jewish people closer to our eternal aspiration for ultimate redemption.” n

Students and Survivors Explore Themes in Holocaust Documentation
University Museum. One goal of the symposium was to provide participants with skills that would enable them to preserve Holocaust memories in their own right, according to Mindy Sojcher, a Jewish education major at Stern and vice president of SHEM. “My grandparents are Holocaust survivors and I wanted to know for myself how to approach them, how to interview them,” she said. “We wanted people to walk away from these sessions with tools that will help them approach their grandparents, neighbors or other survivors and ask questions about their stories.” Peninnah Schram, associate professor of speech and drama at Stern, delivered a lecture entitled “Stories of the Holocaust,” and suggested asking survivors to share the parables, proverbs and folklore of their childhood as a means of preserving the culture and heritage destroyed in the Holocaust. She also emphasized the roles that personal testimony and folktales have historically played in the survival of the Jewish experience. “Jews are a people who remember,” she said. “It is through our narratives and our creative imaginations that we most effectively transmit our history, faith, traditions and values.” That idea resonated with Jesse Shore, a Yeshiva College senior majoring in philosophy with a focus in religion. “We’re the last generation that will have direct contact with survivors,” he said. “I think that as a Jew, you have as much of an obligation to incorporate the stories of the Holocaust into your identity as you do those of the exodus from Egypt.” Closing speaker Stefa Hasson framed the night with testimony from her own experience as a Holocaust survivor, a vivid reminder of the reason memory preservation is a critical focus in the Holocaust education movement. “What happened before is not over,” she said. “By preserving the memory and traditions they tried to demolish, you are fighting yesterday’s Nazis today.” n

Ferkauf Professor Dr. Carl Auerbach Awarded Fulbright Fellowship


Mindy Sojcher, vice president of SHEM


spring symposium run by Yeshiva University’s Student Holocaust Education Movement (SHEM) brought scholars, survivors and students together to explore themes in Holocaust documentation and memory, guiding audience members through the process of preserving survivor stories in their own lives. Workshops and topic discussions included the psychology of victimhood, translating historical accounts into creative expression and how best to elicit stories from survivors with sensitivity. “Our students see their past, present and future as intertwined,” said Karen Bacon, the Monique C. Katz Dean of Stern College for Women. “As Jews, they have a sense of history and destiny. We all feel an obligation to elicit, document and immortalize these stories.” The March event on the Wilf Campus featured a range of speakers, including psychologist David Pelcovitz, the Gwendolyn and Joseph Straus Professor of Psychology and Jewish Education at the Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration, and Sebastian Mendez, artist-in-residence at the Yeshiva

r. Carl Auerbach, professor of psychology at Yeshiva University’s Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology, has been awarded a Fulbright Fellowship—the first Fulbright that Ferkauf has received in 20 years—to teach courses in the psychology of trauma in the Department of Clinical Psychology at the National University of Rwanda. Rwanda, home to nearly 11 million people, is an East Central African country about the size of Vermont. In 1996, between 800,000 and one million of its people, mostly from the minority Tutsi tribe, were brutalized by the majority Hutus. After the genocide ended, Rwanda went through a period of remarkably stable economic and social development, and it is now sometimes referred to as the Switzerland of Africa. Despite these advances, Rwanda is still a recovering society. And this is where Auerbach hopes to make a difference. He has two goals for his fellowship, which will run from August to December 2011. First, he wants to build a stronger foundation for dialogue between Western psychology and Rwandan psychology and in particular, a stronger connection between Yeshiva University and the National University of Rwanda. “This isn’t an abstract connection,” said Auerbach. “It’s really between people in both places. It’s about creating a cultural dialogue.” Auerbach cites this goal while acknowledging a major challenge posed by his work: Western psychology isn’t immediately applicable to Rwandan culture. “Trauma in the West tends to be viewed individually, but Rwanda is a collective society. Our methods aren’t really adaptive to this situation and we want to find ways where we can help.” Auerbach’s second mission is to ensure that whatever progress can be made in this area is sustainable. “In terms of mental health, we in the West tend to view others as ‘those poor natives we can save’ rather than trying to build a sustainable system.” Auerbach said it is important to ensure that humanitarian aid in any form doesn’t create dependency, so his teaching and research will focus on a different model: capacity building. “We want to help train the next generation of Rwandan trauma psychologists. We must focus on helping Rwandans help themselves.” n Dr. Carl Auerbach


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YeSH IvA U N Ive RSITY • 500 WeST 185TH STR e eT, N eW YOR k, NY 10033 • SPR I NG 2011 • vOlU M e 15 NO. 2


Newly Appointed
Questions for Vice Provost Dr. Lawrence Schiffman
What made you decide to come to Yeshiva University (YU) after 39 years as chairman of New York University’s (NYU) Skirball Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies? I loved it [at NYU] and had great satisfaction from the things that were accomplished there. On the other hand, there is a tremendous challenge here and a tremendous opportunity both in academic terms and in terms of serving the Jewish community and the Orthodox community, so I felt it was a challenge I should accept. [I] actually couldn’t believe that I told them I was leaving, but YU and NYU share connections. YU has [several] programs with NYU and maybe we’ll have more. YU honored the president of NYU, John Sexton, at commencement this year. In fact, in the letter Sexton sent me when I told him that I was leaving, he talks about how at least YU is a sister university. Also, eight of my former students—who did their doctoral studies under my supervision at NYU—are teaching at YU, so in certain ways, some of the connections aren’t going to stop. What surprised you when you arrived at YU? The first major surprise I had was on the first day that I came and I had a tour of the science labs. I was not aware that the science program here has been completely rebuilt and you have a tremendous amount of first-rate research going on among the faculty in the undergraduate colleges. I was very happy to see that. What responsibilities are you undertaking as vice provost? The first thing is the University’s ongoing project to update undergraduate education. Establishing a joint unified faculty between Yeshiva College, Stern and the Sy Syms business programs will allow everything to function in a much more unified manner. Our intention is to make this a platform for intellectual and academic growth. We’re also working on increasing the interaction between the graduate and undergraduate programs. How will this affect the business programs? We believe that this integration is going to make the business programs even stronger. One of the purposes of our plan is to encourage cross-fertilization of ideas, students and faculty across campuses. There are various excellent faculty members on the different campuses whom a student may never see, so we’re going to try and move the faculty around in a strategic way. We want everybody to gain the advantages of being together in a larger institution. What else will you be working on at the university? I’ll be teaching both undergraduate and graduate students starting in the fall with a [Dead Sea Scrolls honors] course at Stern, and hopefully a course at Bernard Revel Graduate School in the spring. I’m also hoping to be involved in some fundraising. Will you continue with your research on the Dead Sea Scrolls? I am, as a matter of fact. I am continuing my research, in the middle of the night, and I have a number of papers that I’m working on now. YU intends for me to continue participating in conferences, writing papers and speaking. Of which career accomplishments are you most proud? I’ll admit, I’m exceedingly proud of having built what is really the biggest and highest quality Hebrew and Judaic studies program in a secular American university, and at the same time, of having been part of a group of people that transformed the whole field of Dead Sea Scroll studies. n

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