Sivan Rahav Meir Comes to YU, Bridging Two Cultures
Renowned Israeli Torah scholar and journalist Sivan Rahav Meir is joining Yeshiva University as a lecturer and staff member for the next 10 months. Throughout the year, she plans to deeply connect to and understand the YU community through spreading Torat Eretz Yisrael and uniquely contributing to the campus environment, and to the rest of the community at large.
“I want to learn from them,” Rahav Meir says about the students. “I think we can learn something from young, professional, smart, sophisticated, modern people who [learn Torah] in Manhattan. I’m impressed.”
Rabbi Dr. Stu Halpern, the Senior Program Officer of YU’s Straus Center, assured that her schedule is packed with events and lectures for the YU community. In fact, these events have already begun.
On the evening of Sept. 3, approximately 150 people settled into the Koch auditorium for a panel featuring Rahav Meir and Bari Weiss of the New York Times, moderated by Tablet journalist Liel Leibovitz. The evening was titled “Days of Awe, Days of Anti-Semitism: The High Holidays and the Challenges of our Era.”
The bridging of Israel and America was a recurring theme throughout the evening, and it is something Rahav Meir is eager to deepen. “I know how important it is to study Torah in Eretz Yisrael,” she said. “I see it as a challenge [to learn from people] who know how to be Torah people, in the American society… although we have a Jewish state, we still need Jewish communities.”
Rahav Meir and her husband, Yedidya, are shlichim from the World Mizrachi organization. World Mizrachi partners with other organizations to form the Religious Zionist Shlichut Center, an umbrella organization that sends emissaries to Diaspora communities all over the world.
“When World Mizrachi approached us with an idea to bring Sivan and her family on shlichut to the US for the year,” said Stephanie Strauss, executive director of YU Israel, “it was clear to us that such a collaboration would be the perfect way for Sivan to engage the U.S. Jewish community.” Strauss was one of the initiators in this partnership. “Having a successful career woman share Torat Eretz Yisrael with her unique, charismatic approach is an exciting gift to share with the YU community,” Strauss added.
Currently, office hours are being set up for students to have one-on-one time to connect with Rahav Meir, communicated Rabbi Dr. Halpern via email. Additionally, her famed weekly parsha shiurim will be broadcast live from the Stern Beit Midrash, in both English and Hebrew.
The parsha shiur is broadcast live on the internet where Meir reaches over 179,000 followers. Zahava Fertig (SCW ‘21) was present at Rahav Meir’s first U.S. based weekly shiur. “I had previously heard Sivan speak while I was in seminary for the year,” she explained. “I knew she was a well known, well respected and intelligent person and I was interested in hearing what she had to say.”
Drawing crowds from in and out of YU, the shiur focused on repetitive words in the parsha which allowed her to illuminate a profound understanding of the parsha. “She is an excellent orator,” said Chana Weinberg (SCW ‘20). “She kept on referring to relatable situations. It was full of a clear passion for Torah and Yahadut.”
“They [the students] are involved, in a very deep way, in American culture, in Western thought, yet really serious when it comes to Judaism,” Rahav Meir said. “I want to listen to their story.”