By: Shlomit Ebbin  | 

News Briefs: Annual Yom Events Held Over Zoom

YU Hosts Yom HaShoah Virtual Commemoration

Over 400 people tuned in live on April 20 at 8:15 p.m. for YU’s Yom HaShoah Virtual Commemoration in memory of the six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust at the hands of Nazi Germany. The program was organized by the OSL and YU’s student-run Student Holocaust Education Movement (SHEM). 

Co-President of SHEM Isaac Goor (SSSB ‘22) introduced the program, which was followed by the anthems of the United States and Israel sung by SHEM member Moshe Stuart (YC ‘21). Rabbi Dr. Jacob J. Schacter, University Professor of Jewish History and Jewish Thought and Senior Scholar at the Center for the Jewish Future, began by sharing stories of his late father, Rabbi Herschel Schacter, an army chaplain and one of the liberators of Buchenwald concentration camp; his father was the first American Jewish chaplain to enter into the concentration camps as a soldier on April 11, 1945.

Afterward, SHEM member Sophie Gordon (SCW ‘22) introduced Dr. Moshe Avital, a well-known author and speaker on the Holocaust. A “Names, Not Numbers” video was shown in which Dr. Avital tells the story of his life before the war in Czechoslovakia, during the war in different camps, and his journey to Palestine after the war. “Dr. Moshe Avital is a true inspiration to all,” said Gordon in her introduction. “His passion for Israel, Jewish education, and devotion to family and faith has accompanied him throughout his life.”

Following a speech by President Berman about the importance of continuing the values of those who perished, a video was shown of YU students from various parts of the world lighting candles in memory of the victims of the Holocaust. The program concluded with words from Co-President of SHEM Tania Bohbot (SCW ‘21), read by Gordon.

“I was very moved by this year’s Yom Hashoah program,” shared President Berman. “With all of the lives that have been lost during this pandemic, including many from the generation who lived through the Holocaust, there was something about this year’s ceremony which was particularly meaningful.”

“It was a beautifully run program commemorating the 75th Yom Hashoah,” reflected Leeba Sullivan (SCW ‘22), a student who attended the program. “Although these were not the circumstances we all expected the program to be done in, it was done flawlessly and still brought so much meaning to the night.”

President Berman added, “I am deeply thankful to our students for organizing this event which reflects the perseverance, continuity and strength of our people.” 

A recording of the program was posted on YU’s Facebook page.

Yom HaZikaron Commemoration Held Over Zoom

Yom HaZikaron commemorations began on April 26, the Sunday before Yom HaZikaron, at 2 p.m. with over 30 students hearing from Israeli tour guide Eytan Rund about Israel’s holy sites. This preceded the main event of Yom HaZikaron, the Tekes Ma’avar, which took place virtually on the evening of April 28 and drew approximately 900 student viewers via Zoom and YouTube live stream.The YOMS Student Committee, a group of students appointed by student council leaders to coordinate Yom HaZikaron and Yom Ha’atzmaut programming, together with the Office of Student Life (OSL), planned and organized the programming in honor of Yom HaZikaron.

At his event, Rund related the history from the battles of the Jewish Quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem during the wars of 1948 and 1967. “It was nice to hear from Eytan again after having him as my tour guide in seminary last year,” shared Elisheva Grayson (SCW ‘22). “He was very informative and engaging, and he’s also so funny.”

The Tekes Ma’avar began with Yom HaZikaron commemorations at 8 p.m., which were followed by Yom Ha’atzmaut celebrations an hour later. Stern College for Women Student Council Vice President of Clubs Elka Weisenberg (SCW ‘20) delivered opening remarks, followed by IDF soldiers Yehuda Benhamu (YC ‘16) and Lara Vosbourgh (SCW ‘20). The evening continued with a candle lighting ceremony and words from various rabbeim.

Rachel Silvera (SCW ‘20), a student who attended the programming, said, “The sheer number of people in attendance, combined with the fact that people joined no matter the time of day or night it may have been in their physical location, demonstrates both the students’ and faculty’s sincere commitment and dedication not only to the YU community, but to the greater community of Am Yisrael and Medinat Yisrael.”

YOMS committee member Eli Seidman (SSSB ‘22) introduced the candle lighting ceremony, which was followed by the kel maleh prayer sung by Gedalia Penner (YC ‘17), musical director for the Y-Studs A Cappella group.

Wrapping up the program, Senior Mashgiach Ruchani Rabbi Yosef Blau recited the misheberach for the fallen IDF soldiers, which was followed by a prerecorded message from Rabbi Dr. Leonard Matanky, Dean of Ida Crown Jewish Academy and co-President of the Religious Zionists of America. Finally, Rabbi Meir Goldwicht, Visiting Israeli Rosh Yeshiva and Visiting Professor of Jewish History at YU, delivered a closing message to students.

A recording of the Tekes Ma’avar was posted on YouTube.

Yom Ha’atzmaut Zoom Celebration

Yom Ha’atzmaut celebrations began in the second part of the Tekes Ma’avar, but programming continued the following day on Wednesday, April 29. The YOMS Committee organized a Yom Iyun and student activities including shiurim and games throughout the day.

At the conclusion of the Tekes Ma’avar’s Yom HaZikaron segment, the Yom Ha’atzmaut celebrations began with a communal siyum, a Tefilah Chagigit and a live concert with Eitan Katz. The next day, Yom Iyun shiurim began at 11 a.m. and ended at 5:15 p.m. Student activities ran throughout the afternoon.

At the Tekes, President Ari Berman introduced the siyum on all of Tanach, Mishna and Shas Bavli by reciting the tefilat shalom hamedinah. “This siyum ties together our core values of Torah, Talmud Torah, chessed, and tzionut, and Zionism,” remarked President Berman. RIETS Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Herschel Schachter then delivered the siyum.

The Tekes continued with President of Y-Studs Ari Mandelbaum (SSSB ‘20) singing Hatikvah and reciting Tefilat Chagigit, followed by a shofar blowing performed by CJ Glicksman (YC ‘20). A 45-minute live chagigah featuring Eitan Katz concluded the program.

The Yom Iyun featured Israel-focused shiurim by Beren Campus Rabbi and Rebbetzin Jacob Bernstein and Penina Bernstein, as well as by other rabbis from outside of YU. In addition to the Yom Iyun, student activities hosted over Zoom included interactive games and a cooking tutorial with Kosher cookbook author and personal chef Naomi Nachman. 

“I was pretty disappointed when I realized that we wouldn’t be able to have the Yom HaZikaron and Yom Haatzmaut programs in person because I know how meaningful they always are,” commented Shira Pahmer (SCW ‘22). “In the end, the online programs did a great job in filling in for what we could not do in person. I really enjoyed every part of the Zoom programs and appreciate all the hard work that the organizers put into planning it all.”

Photo Caption: Yom programming was held online.
Photo Credit: Yeshiva University