Shoshana Schechter Appointed Associate Dean for Torah Studies at Stern
Mrs. Shoshana Schechter has been named the Associate Dean for Torah Studies at Stern College for Women (SCW), a newly inaugurated position on the Beren Campus. Beren students were informed of Schechter’s promotion via email from Dean of Undergraduate Faculty of Arts and Sciences Karen Bacon on April 7.
According to Schechter, the Beren Associate Dean for Torah Studies position was envisioned by President Ari Berman and modeled after Rabbi Yosef Kalinsky’s former role as Associate Dean for Men’s Undergraduate Torah Studies (UTS). As Associate Dean for UTS, Kalinsky oversaw the four undergraduate Torah morning programs on the Wilf Campus; Schechter’s job will be to “maximize the collaboration” between Beren’s Jewish Studies courses and campus environment and ensure that “academic programs and the extracurricular activities on campus complement and support each other,” according to Bacon.
While the search for an Associate Dean of Torah Studies at SCW began in the summer of 2019, Schechter told The Commentator that she applied for the role recently and will assume her new position on July 1. She will work under Provost Dr. Selma Botman and Bacon.
"We are so pleased that Shoshana Schechter will join the leadership team at Stern College,” remarked Botman. “She will apply her remarkable skills as an effective academic and popular mentor to the entire student body of the Beren campus. The true beneficiaries of this appointment are the students."
“Mrs. Schechter’s track record as both a Jewish Studies faculty member and as someone dedicated to students’ spiritual growth outside the classroom make her ideal for this position, “ Bacon told The Commentator.
Schechter is a graduate of SCW and holds master’s degrees from Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies and Columbia University School of Journalism. Beginning her career at Yeshiva University as an adjunct professor in 1998, Schechter currently teaches four bible classes at SCW and leads the Mechina Pathways Basic Jewish Studies Program, which she founded 16 years ago to accommodate students who did not receive a formal Jewish education prior to their enrollment at SCW. Approximately 30 students join the Mechina Program every year.
“We call ourselves Yeshiva University, but really, the uptown campus has been more of a yeshiva,“ Schechter remarked, adding that she hopes to make SCW a “makom Torah on all levels” because “the beit midrash needs to be a central focal point.”
In addition to her new administrative responsibilities, Schechter will maintain her current position as director of the Mechina Program and continue teaching two Bible courses next semester. Schechter explained that she did not want to completely give up teaching for her administrative role. “Relationships with students for me begin by learning Torah together … that relationship starts in the classroom,” she said.
“We can’t just keep doing what we did 20 years ago,” added Schechter. “We need to continue ... innovating and improving on what we’ve had for so many years.” She hopes to reshape Torah studies at SCW by increasing Beren students’ exposure to YU roshei yeshiva, tackling low enrollment in advanced Jewish studies classes and inspiring students who come from a diverse array of religious backgrounds. “If people weren’t so worried about their GPAs, they would be taking more advanced classes,” Schechter explained. She also expressed worry that Beren students’ “religious peaks” occurred during their year in seminary. “I want them to continue being inspired in Stern. Of course, we’re a university, not a seminary, so it’s more challenging but students’ experiences at Stern should be religiously inspiring.”
Schechter plans to work closely with faculty members, Department Chair of Judaic Studies Dr. Deena Rabinovich, the Graduate Program in Advanced Talmudic Studies (GPATS), the Office of Student Life (OSL), Director of Spiritual Life Rachel Ciment, Campus Rabbi Jacob Bernstein and Campus Rebbetzin Penina Bernstein to introduce new Torah initiatives to the Beren Campus.
Schechter’s promotion was welcomed with warm enthusiasm by her students. “She teaches in a way that allows each student to feel cared for and listened to,“ said Laurene Dana (SCW ‘20), a student of Schechter’s. “I trust her opinion and go to her for advice on my personal and spiritual life.”
“I think that there is no one more fit to be Associate Dean than Professor Schechter. She is connected to students from all backgrounds, and with all levels of Torah knowledge,” another one of Schechter’s students, Neeli Fagan (SCW ‘21) commented. “I think that she will be able to improve the learning in Stern and help to create better Torah learning opportunities for people with all levels of Torah knowledge.”
Photo Caption: Shoshana Schechter has been teaching at Stern College for Women for over 20 years.
Credit: Yeshiva University