Undergraduate Torah Studies Commences Year with Opening Ceremony
The Wilf Campus sprang back to life yesterday as students returned for the fall semester on a sun-soaked day. Students began the day in their respective morning programs. Then, at 11:15, students from all Undergraduate Torah Studies programs congregated in the Glueck Beit Midrash for a start-of-semester assembly.
The ceremony began with remarks from Shua Brick, the newly inducted president of the Student Organization of Yeshiva. Mr. Brick urged students to feel at home at YU, to “make this your Yeshiva.” Yeshiva University President Richard Joel, who is expected to be replaced within the new academic year, spoke next, expressing his hope that he attend next year's opening ceremony as a professor and not as president. He then shared remarks based on the weekly Torah reading, saying that we should never feel alone because, as children of God, we always have God’s ear. He also encouraged camaraderie since “we are all children of God, we are all siblings.”
After the president’s remarks, Rabbi Menachem Penner, Dean of RIETS and Men’s Undergraduate Torah Studies, argued that Torah study at Yeshiva has cosmic importance. He exhorted students to refrain from using cell phones in the Beit Midrash and shuls, and from using laptops during shiur, because of the negative effects the presence of technology has on students’ ability to focus. “Gentlemen, you can’t text on a date,” he said. “We’re on a date, so to speak, with God.” Only time will tell how successful this new anti-technology push from the yeshiva will be. Moshe Spirn, a first-year student of the Mazer Yeshiva Program, said, “the cell phone policy is a good idea. It's going to be hard to implement, but if we do it together as a Yeshiva, we can do it.”
The ceremony continued with a video tribute to the late Rabbi Yosef Weiss, a YU Rosh Yeshiva who passed away last year. Rabbi Baruch Simon then shared a Torah thought and led the crowd in the recitation of a Psalm and the singing of a melody that students in the Klein Beit Midrash traditionally sing on the first day of each academic session. Students left the event inspired and ready to begin a new semester of Torah studies.