Governor Andrew Cuomo to be Keynote Speaker at YU’s Hanukkah Convocation
This year’s Hanukkah Convocation will feature Governor Andrew Cuomo, who will give the keynote address and receive an honorary degree at the Waldorf Astoria on December 13, 2015. President Joel will also confer honorary degrees upon Dr. Ben Chouake of Englewood, New Jersey; Norman Sternthal of Montreal, Quebec; and Mark Wilf of Livingston, New Jersey. President Joel will also honor Rabbi Dr. Herbert Dobrinsky, of Riverdale, New York, with the Presidential Medallion.
Drawing nearly one thousand of the most influential Jewish leaders and philanthropists from across the country, the annual convocation, heading into its 91st year, has featured other big name speakers including former President George W. Bush, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg; former Secretary of State and then-Senator Hillary Clinton, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Vice President Al Gore and Senator John McCain in the past.
In fact, none other than the late Governor Mario Cuomo, the current governor’s father, received the same honorary degree from YU President Emeritius Rabbi Lamm, in 1983. “We are thrilled to confer the University’s highest tribute on this year’s group of honorees who exemplify and are a wonderful reflection of many of our own values,” said President Joel.
Recent Security Issues on Campus
During the past three weeks, the Wilf Campus has been host to some unpleasant disturbances and violent activity. In these past weeks, all students received advisory notices from the YU Campus Security to their student e-mail accounts concerning the recent chaos on campus.
The first incident occurred on October 15th, and featured a pellet shooting at a local street corner here in Washington Heights. At one o’clock in the morning, according to the notice, “a student heard a popping sound and then was hit in the leg by a pellet.” Minutes later, a security officer was hit by multiple pellets at the same location.
The second strange occurrence happened Friday night, October 23rd, and involved a group of teenagers breaking windows on campus. After being pursued by security, the offenders fled. This group of boys has also been reported for breaking car windows in nearby areas.
The most recent, and perhaps the most frightening, episode transpired around midnight on Thursday, October 29th. An e-mail from security stated, “ three students were sitting on a park bench using their cell phones, when they were approached by three males on bicycles. The males displayed a screwdriver and attempted to steal their cell phones.” One of the three reported his phone was stolen. The New York City Police is investigating all three cases.
In light of these incidents, many students, like Sophomore Jacob Furer, have developed a newfound uneasiness about being outside on campus late at night. Furer commented, “My friends and I don’t feel totally comfortable outside after eleven o’clock. It just scares me because it happened where I was standing just a couple days ago,” regarding the screwdriver encounter.
While these incidents have surely instilled fear into many, no one was injured in any of these occurrences. YU Campus Security encourages anyone outside at night to maintain a constant level of vigilance, and to be cognizant of the current unstable local surroundings.
Renewed Dorm Talks to Invigorate Conversation on Campus
Dorm Talks, an event that once occurred frequently on the Wilf Campus, is back after a fifteen-year hiatus. On Tuesday night, October 20, a panel of faculty discussed “The Right Focus in College Years” in the Rubin Shul over coffee, tea, and dessert pastries. The panel consisted of Rabbi Yaakov Glasser, the David Mitzner Dean, Center for the Jewish Future; Rabbi Ozer Glickman, a Rosh Yeshiva of RIETS; Dean Moses Pava, the Dean of the Sy Syms School of Business; and Rabbi Yosef Kalinsky, the Assistant Dean of Undergraduate Torah Studies. University Housing and Residence Life Associate Director Jonathan Schwab moderated.
The panelists shared their biographies, each of which include impressive education and some of which include professional success as well. The speakers stressed the value in investing in education and in pursuing academic interests, even if the areas of academic interest are not all coherent with each other. The conversation became particularly interesting when Dean Pava and Rabbi Glickman expressed opposing views on various issues.
Rabbi Glasser told the Commentator that he recalls Dorm Talks from when he was a student at YU as a chance for students and faculty to engage about relevant issues. “Working in an office most of my day,” Rabbi Glasser said, he was excited to participate in Dorm Talks because he embraces “every opportunity to discuss and reflect on educational and communal issues with students.”
The re-institution of Dorm Talks is part of a larger initiative to make residence life more accessible to Yeshiva students with a wider spectrum of interests. The Shabbat enhancement project is part of this vision, as well. Some have suggested that Dorm Talks take place on Shabbat as well.