By: Sruli Fruchter  | 

Syms Announces New Jewish Values Curriculum for Men, Beginning in Fall 2020

The Sy Syms School of Business (SSSB) will be replacing Wilf students’ current Syms Academic Jewish Studies (JVCW) series with a revamped Syms Jewish Values Curriculum (SJVC). This change was announced to Wilf Syms students via email on April 6 and is set to begin in the fall.

The active curriculum requires Syms students to complete four courses: Jewish Engagements, Jewish Values in the Contemporary World, Jewish Public Policy, and Business and Jewish Law; these courses are completed during a student’s first, second and third year, respectively, while the fourth may be taken at any time at the student’s preference. Under the redesigned SJVC, however, students may complete their courses in whichever order they prefer.

“In the summer of 2019, we created a steering committee [for these changes] that included three faculty from outside Sy Syms...and three people from inside the school,” SSSB Dean Noam Wasserman told The Commentator. “In addition to this faculty group, we also received input from a variety of students who were taking or had taken courses in the program, and I interviewed YU alumni to understand what further help YU could have provided to them as they transitioned from college into the workforce.”

The three recurring problems students and alumni mentioned, Wasserman shared, was their difficulty to see the practical implications of their classes, their desire to see “explicit connections” between what they learned in their shiur and classes and that some courses overlapped each other. Consequently, the aforementioned committee prioritized amending those issues.

According to its overview and course synopses sent to students, the new Jewish Values curriculum will offer “practical, experiential and actionable courses to prepare you for the workplace." Students will study two types of issues: purely business and universal with a business lens, each in the context of the “Jewish” and “non-Jewish” world. This culminates into four courses: Jewish Business Law, Practical Workplace Halacha, Jewish Public Policy and Jewish-World Interaction.

According to its overview and course synopses sent to students, the new Jewish Values curriculum will offer “practical, experiential and actionable courses to prepare you for the workplace.”

Three of the new courses are debuting this upcoming fall, and the fourth, Jewish-World Interaction, is scheduled to be offered in the spring of 2021. Rabbi Dovid Baskevkin will continue teaching Jewish Public Policy, Rabbi Itamar Rosenzweig paired with Rabbi Shlomo Weissman will teach Jewish Business Law, Prof. Ari Wasserman paired with Rabbi Yoni Levin will teach Practical Workplace Halacha and Rabbi Dr. Ari Lamm will be teaching Jewish-World Interaction. 

“I believe that the new Syms Jewish Values Curriculum looks promising and will expose students to the many different scenarios they will be in when they leave YU,” commented SSSB Student Council President Chayim Mahgerefteh (SSSB ‘20). “It is important for students to understand the proper way to conduct oneself in business as an observant Jew.”

Students who have already completed the four JVCW courses are considered to have completed their requirements. Any students who have already completed at least one of the current curriculum requirements may select any of SJVC’s courses to fulfill their remaining requirements. 

The last changes to the current JVCW series was in the fall of 2015, when former SSSB Dean Dr. Moses Pava first introduced it as an option for Syms students. 

“When we are judged, the first question we will be asked is whether we acted with integrity in our business dealings,” said Dean Wasserman, quoting Shabbos 31b. “For the Jew in the workplace this means both personally acting with integrity (despite the challenges that the workplace can pose to our Jewish values) and embodying our values for everyone around us.”

Photo Caption: Belfer Hall
Photo Credit: The Commentator