By: Sruli Fruchter  | 

YU Chanukah Concert Sells Out

Over 1,000 people attended the “GMF Capital and Yeshiva University Chanukah Concert,” held in the Lamport Auditorium on the Wilf Campus, on Dec. 23. According to Yeshiva Student Union (YSU) President Ariel Sacknovitz, approximately 750 of the attendees were YU undergraduate students. The sold-out event featured performers Mordechai Shapiro, Benny Friedman and the Freilach Band. 

Moshe Stuart (YC ‘21) and Zak Benarroch (SSSB ‘20) began the event singing the national anthems of the United States and Israel, respectively, which were followed by President Ari Berman’s opening remarks. Sy Syms School of Business (SSSB) Dean Noam Wasserman then introduced his father, Dr. Emanuel Wasserman (YC ‘61),  who came on stage to celebrate his completion of Masechet Niddah. Afterwards, Dean Wasserman returned to address the audience before his Siyum HaShas. Upon his completion, audience members danced with him around the stage before welcoming the main performers.

Friedman opened the show with selections from his albums. Shapiro appeared shortly after, performing some of his own hits, including “B’Yachad”. The two singers also performed a few songs and mashups together, before the concert came to a close at around 9:15 p.m. 

“As I was at the registration stand, watching students come in,” Student Organization of Yeshiva (SOY) President Yoni Broth (SSSB ‘20) said in the midst of the performance, “it was really impressive. I didn’t expect this many [students] to show up, and everyone seemed to be enjoying the concert.”

Students from both Wilf and Beren campuses expressed a similar sentiment. 

“I love the concert. I think it’s so cool that YU can get all the different elements of the student body together,” exclaimed Moshe Gordon (YC ‘22). “Siyum HaShas, incredible dancing and singing — it’s beautiful.”

The event cost roughly $60,000 — more than twice the cost of last year’s “Chanukahfest” — and tickets for the approximately 750 undergraduate students who attended the concert were free. Student attendance at the concert was less than the over 800 and nearly 1,000 students present at the first and second Chanukahfests in 2015 and 2016, respectively. The Commentator was unable to ascertain how many students were at the third and fourth Chanukahfests in 2017 and 2018.

“I was shocked that [YU] had this [concert]. I never knew they had this before,” Chevi Pittinsky (SSSB ‘20) shared during the concert. “It’s very fun, and my friends and I are really enjoying.”

Seating for the event was divided into four sections. Women were seated on the lower left-hand side of the auditorium, men’s seating was on the lower right-hand side and the lower middle section and the balcony sat men and women.

Yeshiva College Student Association (YCSA) President Leib Weiner (YC ‘20) observed, “The women’s seating had been full the entire time, the general seating has been generally full the entire time, and the men’s seating was full through the Siyum HaShas, and around 7:50 p.m. it became about half the size.” Night seder begins nightly at 8:00 p.m. in the Glueck Beit Midrash.

“The concert was really fun with a lot of energy. The singers were incredible, and I had an amazing time,” Michal Ladenheim (SCW ‘20) said. “A co-ed event was really nice.”

Following the event, students were invited to the Furman Dining Hall for donuts, latkes and drinks. Other post-concert activities included options for men-only, women-only and co-ed Leilei Iyun, which went from 9:30 p.m. until 11:00 p.m. 

“It was a tremendous night that captured almost everything important about YU in a single event,” Dean Wasserman reflected. “The achdus that is possible when everyone comes together pursuing a unifying goal, the joy of Chanukah plus Torah, the ruach on both YU undergrad campuses, and so much more.”

“Tonight’s Chanukah celebration is a spectacular expression of our values, bringing together our student body with great joy and ruach,” President Berman shared. “It is a personal pleasure and privilege to serve in a university where we not only study together — we dance together. Congratulations to our student leaders for organizing this amazing event. It was a true Kiddush Hashem.”

Photo Caption: Benny Friedman performing at the Chanukah concert
Photo Credit: The Commentator