Izod Center Shutdown Impacts YU Commencement Plans
Last week, the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority decided to shut down the struggling Izod Center, one of the major arenas within the Meadowlands Complex. In addition to being the former home of the New Jersey Devils of the NHL, Seton Hall University basketball and the Nets NBA franchise (which has since moved to Brooklyn), for years the Izod Center hosted Yeshiva University’s commencement exercises. According to President Richard Joel, who sent out a university-wide y-stud, after already deciding to reschedule commencement for a Sunday afternoon during the middle of finals, YU must now look for a completely new place to host the graduation of its Class of 2015. “We are already immersed in the process of identifying a new location,” assured President Joel. The proposed date, Sunday, May 17, is now in limbo as well.
According to NJ.com, a total of “thirteen college and high school graduations scheduled for Izod in May and June must be moved,” in addition to various concerts and World Wrestling Entertainment’s annual SummerSlam event. The president’s email, while acknowledging the unfortunate news, ended with a heartwarming charge. “We are confident that a great alternative will be secured in the next few weeks and will provide an update as soon as possible.”
1992 Viral Video Shows What Has Changed and What Has Not
The newest viral video to sweep YU social media is a blast from the past. Produced for YU’s Admissions Office, the video is entitled, “The YU Experience 1992.” The twelve-minute promotional film opens with dramatic music to a scene of YU’s lush Danziger Quadrangle. A narrator boasts about YU’s diversity, claiming that YU is “the only place where you get a cross section of every single type of Jewish person around.” A student in Stern College then explains why she attended YU instead of other prestigious universities, explaining that she chose YU for its “range of types of people, personalities, [and] views.”
As the video cuts to various scenes of YU’s academics and student life, the similarities between YU then and now certainly stand out. True, some scenes in the video leave the modern viewer befuddled. In one mystifying scene, two male students weigh themselves on a beam scale and then look up and smile. In another, Dr. Feit asks his biology students “What’s the ultimate goal of every organism in biology? What’s the bottom line in biology?” but leaves these questions unanswered as students look on blankly. The students in the video model the fashion trends of the early 90s: pants are worn higher, glasses are larger, and shorts are shorter.
Still, while YU has surely evolved in many ways since 1992, the video reminds us that there is nothing new under the sun. Many current YU rebbeim and teachers star in the film, including Dr. Shatz, Dr. Lee, and Rav Tendler. Rav Meir Goldwicht sports his signature mustache (albeit with an accompanying goatee), and Rav Schachter’s distinctive tone is unmistakable. After the narrator discusses the benefits of attending school in New York City, the film then immediately shows a series of shots of New York’s kosher restaurants. The video explains that YU “can be a positive experience for anybody” because “you can learn the whole day…you can study the whole day…[or] you can play sports the whole day.” A shot of the intercampus shuttle cruising downtown with Wilson Pickett’s “In the Midnight Hour” blaring in the background cuts to a scene of undergraduate couples conversing outside of Brookdale. Some things truly never change.
Rich Economics Society Event Despite Poor Attendance
On one of the final Sundays of last semester, the Yeshiva University Economics Society organized an exclusive visit to the Morgan Library and Museum. Located on Madison Avenue, and just a couple of blocks from the Stern College for Women, the museum houses the private library of John Pierpont Morgan, a famous American banker and financier. The professionally-led tour, directed by the museums’ expert staff, provided the YU Economics Society with an overview of the historical significance of Morgan and his museum’s contents.
While the tour was open to twenty students from both campuses, only some of that total ultimately committed to attending the event. Despite its poor attendance, those who attended enjoyed the opportunity to discover the small but very impressive collection of illuminated manuscripts and medieval artworks. All marveled at the interesting architecture of the Library, especially the McKim building whose entrance is guarded by two lionesses sculpted by Edward Clark Potter, the same sculptor who fashioned the two lions that highlight the New York Public Library.
All in all, the trip, sponsored by both Yeshiva College Student Association and Stern College for Women Student Council, was extremely enriching and a cultural experience. In addition to appreciating the unique collection of masterpieces, they learned a lot about the life of J. P. Morgan, an icon of American finance, and his interests in literature and art.
Winter Break Activities Include CJF and RIETS Programming
Students enjoyed a break from classes during the first two weeks of January, but the CJF takes no breaks. Unwilling to even briefly pause the orchestration of the Jewish future, the CJF organized two major programs over winter break. In partnership with the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, the CJF sent fifteen undergraduate students on a humanitarian mission to Haiti. The students helped plant trees and develop infrastructure in the underdeveloped city of Zoranje. They also met with local and international humanitarian groups working in Haiti. On a more particularistic scale, the CJF also ran its Coast to Coast mission aimed to explore and cultivate Jewish leadership. Students were bussed down south to Georgia and then back up along the East Coast, stopping periodically en route at the various Jewish communities that dot the eastern seaboard. In cities such as Charlotte, Atlanta, Charleston, and Richmond, the students met with school administrators and community rabbis of various denominations, discussing and debating the nature of Jewish unity and leadership.
Much like the Jewish future, YU’s intense program of Talmud and Torah study similarly never skips a beat. “Yeshivas Bein HaSemesterim,” a program run by Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary, allowed budding Talmud scholars to continue their legal and literary analyses over winter break. Over forty students participated in the full day learning program, with chavrusa learning and shiurim by roshei yeshiva and members of the Kollel. Food was heavily subsidized by YU, and the Max Stern Athletic Center was open daily for exercise and recreation. The students also enjoyed dinner at Rav Schachter’s house and a trip to Brooklyn. Both at home and abroad, many aspects of YU’s mission continued unabated.