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Yeshiva Zman Kickoff

It is that time again. Some of us have been looking forward to it the whole summer. Others might be somewhat less excited. Regardless, we are all back in YU. With another return to YU comes the beginning of the new yeshiva zman, a time for Jewish exploration and growth.

The new yeshiva zman was ushered in by a kennes in the Lamport Auditorium. It featured speeches from President Richard M. Joel, Rabbi Menachem Penner, and Rabbi Mordechai Willig. The first speaker was Rabbi Penner. He discussed the holiness of the learning that takes place in YU, and how important it is for every student to maximize their potential by taking advantage of the many opportunities the yeshiva offers. President Richard Joel then spoke about how each person as an individual can make a small impact upon their community, and how the small change each person makes to the world can result in a massive positive net gain for the Jewish people. President Joel also spoke about how “this is a critical time to reassert the notion of kol yisrael areivim zeh lazeh.” Rabbi Willig ended the event with a limud specifically aimed to help students grow during the time of Elul.

Screen Shot 2014-09-10 at 5.38.53 PMThis year the yeshiva will be learning the tractate Ketubot, which deals with many different laws governing the interactions that take place between men and women. Every year, the yeshiva picks a tractate from a different section of the Gemara, and this year’s section was Nashim. They consequently chose Ketubot, which is one of the more famous tractates in the Nashim section of the Talmud. Most of the yeshiva’s shiurim are starting from the third chapter called Eilu Na’arot. This is known to be one of the most technical and “Lomdush” parts of the Talmud. Yet, despite the difficulty in learning such complex parts of the Talmud, YU students as always are ready and excited for the challenge.

Most students seem very excited for the new year. Benjamin Statman, a YC super-senior, says, “I am really thrilled to be back in shiur. Shiur is one of the highlights of my day in YU.” Statman did, however, express that he feels there is room for improvement. “I would like to see more interaction among people from all the different morning programs,” he continued. “I think people should try to venture out of their peer group and meet those from the other parts of the Yeshiva.” Several students have been outspoken about pursuing changes and improvements in various aspects of the Undergraduate Torah Studies curriculum, but especially in terms of fostering achdut, unity, between students in different morning programs. Many have stated that we need to break down barriers that frequently hold students back from having the opportunity to interact with individuals outside their peer group.

Daniel Kanter, a first year semicha student in RIETS, said that his experience has exceeded his expectations. “Just the fact that there are so many great Torah scholars all around the institution is incredible,” continued Kanter. He did however have one big complaint: “How can YU call themselves a yeshiva without a coffee room!”

With or without a coffee room, it is clear that the students and rebbeim of the Yeshiva are enjoying the beginning of the zman and eagerly anticipating what the rest of the year will  have in store for them. By taking advantage of all the resources available to YU students, and furthering initiatives and ideas that can lead to achdut, we have the potential to make this zman one of the most productive and invigorating in Yeshiva history.