By: Michael Shavolian  | 

IBC Launches New Student-Organized Speaker Series

On December 6th, Rabbi Benny Rofeh, faculty member of the Isaac Breuer College of Hebraic Studies, hosted the second of a series of four IBC Talks. Inaugurated this semester, IBC Talks is a program sponsored by the Office of Undergraduate Torah Studies and was initiated by SOY IBC Vice President, Aryeh Laufer, and fellow classmate, Michael Shavolian.  In his introductory comments, Rabbi Rofeh remarked, “I am sorry I am not giving you a normative rule because I don’t think a normative rule exists”. The ensuing discussion attempted to parse out the issues that arise when authenticity conflicts with sensitivity towards others. Does intention matter? Should the onus be on others to lessen their sensitivity? Ben Matz, an IBC student who attended the event, thought that “Rabbi Rofeh moderated and guided the conversation quite well”. At the conclusion of the discussion Rabbi Rofeh commented, “I think it’s important to be personally authentic...because almost anything you do can be seen as offensive by others and ultimately almost anything can be repressed.” Zvi Teitelbaum, a senior in IBC, added “Sensitivity has to come from both sides.”

Previously, Rabbi Yosef Blau hosted the first IBC talk, where he spoke about sensitivity and tolerance in the Orthodox community in regards to racism, homophobia and abuse. More than thirty students were in attendance. This upcoming week on December 13th, Rabbi Dr. Yosef Kalinsky, Associate Dean of Undergraduate Torah Studies, is scheduled to host a discussion about autonomy and religious struggle. Rabbi Kalinsky will open the conversation by discussing his recent Wurzweiller Ph.D dissertation on the role of autonomy and individuality in the religious experience of Modern Orthodox Jews. On Tuesday December 20th, IBC Talks will host Senior Vice President, Rabbi Dr. Josh Joseph.

Laufer, who organized the student-run series, remarked that the goal of IBC Talks is “to create a sense of community among the student body and to open up conversation about important issues.” He stressed the need for a pragmatic discussion at YU of modern issues in Orthodox life, and expressed appreciation to Rabbi Kalinsky and his assistant, Michael Altaras, for their support of the program.