New Torah Programming at YU
As the new school is year set in motion, the feeling of excitement in the air is palpable. Much of that excitement comes as a result of the unprecedented number of new Torah opportunities and personalities at YU this year. After a summer during which many members of the staff and administration spent a great deal of time determining new ways to improve the undergraduate Torah studies at Yeshiva, these ideas are now being put to action. At the Yeshiva’s Opening Kennes last Monday, Rabbi Menachem Penner, Dean of Undergraduate Torah Studies, remarked that he was looking forward to the challenge of trying to find room on the doors of the Beis Medrash to post signs about all of the new events and Torah opportunities for the upcoming year. Here’s a breakdown of some of the new features around campus:
-The Isaac Breuer College of Hebraic Studies (IBC) has changed its schedules so that many of its classes will occur four times a week. “So far it’s been very positive”, said IBC student Yoni Shedlo, “It provides an opportunity to get to know both professors and classmates better and to delve into the course material with more depth”.
-The Irving I. Stone Beis Medrash Program (SBMP) has a new Rebbe, Rabbi Jonathan Schachter, who has been a prominent figure in Frisch High School and Camp Morasha in past years.
-The Mazer Yeshiva Program (MYP) has started two new shiurim designed especially for students in their first year on campus, geared towards allowing for an easier transition into the yeshiva program. These shiurim are given by Rabbi Yehuda Willig and Rabbi Netanel Wiederblank.
Rabbi Binyamin Krohn has been hired as a new mashgiach for MYP. Rabbi Krohn will be stationed in the Fischel Beis Medrash.
In addition, the yeshiva has set its eyes on improving night seder. Under the leadership of new night seder Rebbeim, Rabbi Reuven Berman and Rabbi Yitzchok Radner, the yeshiva has launched an incentive-based bekius program. Almost one hundred people have joined in to attempt to cover all of Mesechet Sanhedrin this year while taking bi-weekly tests along the way with cash prizes for those who maintain a certain average score. Rabbi Radner exclaimed, “You can feel the excitement when you walk into the Beit Medrash at night. It will be amazing to see so many guys learn Mesechet Sanhedrin and know it cold in just a few months’ time”. Another new night seder initiative is night seder chaburahs for first-year students. The chaburah groups a handful of students together with an older student who has already spent a few years learning in YU. The goal is to make sure that nobody feels out of place in what is to them a new, large, and potentially overwhelming atmosphere. Each Rosh Chaburah is designated to help make new students feel comfortable and answer any questions they have.
There is also a new Friday morning learning program. L.A.B, or Learning and Breakfast, will occur every week and feature a shiur from one of the Roshei Yeshiva. In the first week of this program, after a breakfast of delicious bagels, Rav Mordechai Willig gave shiur to nearly 40 students who came seeking to add a little voluntary extra Torah to their Friday mornings.
A new group of people in the Beis Medrash are the members of the new BA/Semicha program. This is a six year program, with students taking 3 years of full college, followed by a fourth year in which they complete their college studies while also beginning their Semicha study, followed by another 2 years of only Semicha study. This year’s inaugural class features ten motivated students who are learning a full three Sedarim a day while also taking a fairly light course load of college classes in their introductory semester. “It’s really the best of both worlds to be able to get exposed to secular knowledge from college classes while still spending the majority of your day focused in Torah”, said Avrumi Schonbrun, one of the pioneer students of this program. “It’s also great how they keep trying to test out and tweak various parts of the program in an attempt to make it perfect”.
All of this may seem a bit overwhelming. But don’t worry, you can follow all of the events throughout the year on the yeshiva’s new twitter page @YeshivaLink. Following the yeshiva’s twitter page might prove useful, because as opposed to the doors of the Beis Medrash, this page has unlimited space within 140 character units.