News Briefs - March 2015
Jonathan Schwab Joins Housing Staff
The Office of Housing and Residence Life currently has no Director, but it recently found a new Associate Director in Mr. Jonathan Schwab. On March 2, the University announced that Mr. Sean Hirschhorn had stepped down from the position - according to one Resident Advisor, Hirschorn simply got a better job offer elsewhere - and named Mr. Schwab his successor.
Mr. Schwab has a long and illustrious history here at YU: he graduated YC as Senior Editor of The Commentator in 2011 and soon joined the faculty, first serving as a Presidential Fellow, then joining the Office of Undergraduate Admissions, and finally being appointed an Enrollment and Admissions Associate at YU Global. He is renowned at Stern College for his “Schwabbatons,” having served as the male half of the Beren campus couple for the past two years, and he is currently enrolled in both the Revel and Azrieli graduate programs. During his years as a YU student, Mr. Schwab lived in all four YU dorms (including Strenger), though his stint in Muss lasted for only a few days. Morgenstern Hall is his favorite dormitory, even though he lived there before air conditioning was installed.
Mr. Schwab sees his new job as an opportunity to work directly with students, to “foster a safe environment of inclusion and fun that supports learning,” and he has hit the ground running, with interviews for next year’s twenty Resident Advisor positions already underway. While Mr. Schwab has no plans for a system overhaul, he will be in close contact with the RA’s to think critically about all aspects of residence life, from housing applications to hosting guests, to pinpoint the stronger elements of residence life and the areas that can use improvement. Mr. Schwab is particularly fond of his office’s convenient location. “I’m really looking forward,” said Mr. Schwab, “to now being officially allowed to utilize the passageway between Belfer and Rubin.”
Medical Ethics Society Spends Shabbat at Einstein
On February 20th, 32 YU and Stern students took the incredible opportunity to spend a Shabbat at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, a program that has been going on for nearly ten years. The program, organized by the Medical Ethics Society and AECOM Synagogue, allowed for students to experience the Jewish community life at Einstein while also engaging in discussion about medical, ethical, and halachic issues. This year, instead of inviting a speaker to Einstein for the weekend, Einstein students were given the opportunity to to lead the educational part of the programming and give shiurim throughout Shabbat in order to increase interaction between the undergraduates and medical students.
After Kabbalat Shabbat at the AECOM Synagogue, small groups of undergraduates were hosted by medical students for dinner, allowing for the former to get to speak with the latter in a more personal, relaxed setting. Following dinner, an oneg was held in the synagogue, at which MD student Matt Schaikewitz led an engaging discussion entitled “Brain Death in Halakha and American Law.”
The program continued on Shabbat day, when after Mussaf and a community Kiddush, MD/PhD student Jerry Karp gave an extremely comprehensive and enlightening shiur on the halachic and hashkafic issues of residency programs that are not, what he called, “Shabbos-accommodating.” The shiur also focused on several practical issues that Shabbat-observant medical students could find challenging when looking for a “Shabbos-accommodating” program, such as program location and specialty availability. After the shiur, undergraduates and medical students were invited to a group lunch where MES board member Mickey Abraham gave an inspiring speech. To close the program, Seudat Shelishit featured a discussion led by fourth year medical student Michael Kurin about the halachic perspective on abortion.
Lord Rabbi Sacks Addresses IBC and Other Students
Last Wednesday morning, Lord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks addressed students of the Isaac Breuer College (though many other students also attended) in the Heights Lounge. His speech’s main theme was the idea that Jews do not tell history, they live it. For a Jew, history is part and parcel of their religion, with faith that that God’s “hand” controls history, guiding it towards a pre-designed path. He noted that it was a funny anomaly that Jews, the world's first historians do not have a term for history. The closest term in biblical hebrew that we have is “zachor,” remember. This is indicative of Judaism's approach to history. To Jews, history is not cold facts and figures, with no connection to their identity as a nation. Rather, it is a command to remember how God constantly intervenes and affects world history, which leads us to where we are are today. That, concluded Rabbi Sacks, is the point of Pesach, retelling history and showing how God intervened not just in one instance of Yetziyat Mitrayim, but continues to on a daily basis and that we all should keep that in mind during the history in the making, which we call the “present.” YC junior Judah Gavant summed up quite succinctly, “I liked how Rabbi Sacks merged the contemporary with the ancient, bringing the message of Pesach to modern times.”
YCDS’ 50th Year Debuts with “The Boys Next Door”
This week, the Yeshiva College Dramatics Society is putting on their spring production, a comedy entitled “The Boys Next Door.” As the play’s description on the YCDS website explains, the play portrays the stories of “four adults with developmental and psychological disorders who live together in a group home…[The play] embraces situational comedy that draws from the endearing, creative, and lovable personalities of [the] characters.
The show includes some returning actors from last semester’s blockbuster “A Few Good Men,” including sophomores Jack Turell and Binyamin Bixon, while also featuring actors making their first appearance on stage, including sophomore Eliyahu Raskin and senior Ben Kohane. David Ben-Arie, the fiery Lt. Kendrick in last semester’s performance, is doubling as both an actor and as stage-manager for this play. All are invited to buy tickets (discounts are available), and a portion of the proceeds will be going to The Libenu Foundation.
Undergraduate Deanships to Be Consolidated
As announced by President Richard Joel in both university-wide emails as well as at the Wilf Campus Town Hall Meeting last Wednesday, Dr. Karen Bacon will become the inaugural Dr. Monique C. Katz Dean of the Undergraduate Faculty of Arts and Science at Yeshiva University, starting next year. Dr. Bacon, who already serves as the Dean of Stern College on the midtown campus, will now be taking charge of liberal arts education on both campuses, as the University continues to streamline its educational offerings and consolidate departments in an effort to cut costs without sacrificing academic standards. Dean Barry Eichler, who has served as YC dean for a number of years, will step down from the position at the end of the year, to “take a much-deserved sabbatical and then return to pursue his teaching and scholarship interests,” according to President Joel’s email. The exact details and logistics of how this new deanship position will be run, in addition to who Dean Bacon’s associate deans will be, is yet to be determined and will be explained at a later date.