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Yellow Cartons and Elevator Lines: Another Orientation in the Books

August 20th marked the beginning of this year’s Fall Orientation, the start of a journey for a new class of first-year Yeshiva University students. Move-in day kicked it off, as as bag-toting students entered Belfer Hall, greeted by faculty and student leaders. There, they received information on the days ahead as well as dormitory assignments. With informative sessions throughout campus, a lot of unpacking, and chances to hear from faculty and meet one another, the students quickly became acquainted with each other and their new home.

The rest of the week was jam-packed with events ranging from placement exams, to class-registration, academic advisement, and a pair of kumzitzes at the homes of Rabbi Yehuda Willig and Rabbi Kalinsky. Perhaps the true highlights of the week, however, were the off-campus events that across the Big Apple. Students explored the city on a New York City High Line Tour and rooted for their home team at a Yankees-Astros baseball game. Chessed trips were also running with a visit to the Food Bank of New York where students helped sort and repack donated groceries, helping over a thousand people in need. The week was topped off by a packed Shabbat, with over 200 students of the new class in attendance. The group was excited to have a number of administrators join them for the weekend including President Joel, who had celebrated the birth of a grandson just that morning. Orientation came to a close with a Welcome Bash and BBQ Lunch where both new and returning students from the Wilf and Beren campus came together to eat, socialize, and look forward to the new semester.

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“Our main goal for Orientation is for students to feel comfortable. Comfortable in their new surroundings, comfortable with what's being offered both academically and Jewishly, and comfortable to know who and where to ask if they still have questions,” said new Director of Student Life, Hezzy Jesin. For Jesin and the rest of the Office of Student Life, this was their fourth year putting together Orientation, a task which Jesin said took “just a little bit of tweaking.” Greater coordination between departments was a focus of improvement for this year’s Orientation, allowing for less overlap of information and more clarity in presentations. This year was also the first time students attended a New York Yankees Game as well as the New York City High Line tour, a chance to “have social time with one another and a chance to get acclimated with the city,” explained Jesin.

Elie Lipnik, from Detroit, Michigan, noted that while he was originally anxious to start Yeshiva University, Orientation served as a great transition into his college experience. “The week really pumped me up!” Lipnik exclaimed. “Seeing the city, meeting new people, and setting up my classes, I became much more comfortable and excited for what's in store.”

Fellow out-of-towner Yoni Shedlo felt Orientation’s success was more nuanced, something he only fully appreciated in retrospect. He remarked, “At first Orientation felt like a lot of downtime with not much going on. Once classes began however, I was glad to have been on campus a few days beforehand. It gave me time to adjust, rather than feel like I was thrown into something I was unprepared for.”

Like many of their fellow first years, Lipnik and Shedlo spent the past year studying in Israel, an environment known to be less stressful academically. “A change in setting and schedule is difficult and in some ways scary,” said Jake Schrier, who similarly studied in Yeshivat Har Etzion last year. “Having Orientation was a great way to transition from one world to the next.”

“That students feel acclimated, that they feel engaged, that they feel like they have the tools to succeed when they start here - that is what Orientation is all about,” concluded Jesin. “It is the birth of a new year and we are looking forward to what's to come.”