We Asked, Y(O)U Answered: Zooming Through the Summer
Editor’s Note: The Commentator's “We Asked, Y(O)U Answered” column provides students with a forum to express their opinions and/or experiences regarding various aspects of student life.
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, many Yeshiva University students saw their summer plans significantly altered. The Commentator reached out to various students via email and social media to ask them about their summer experiences. The responses of eight students are provided below.
Zahava Fertig (SCW ‘21)
“My original summer plans fell through in the middle of February. Then, when COVID-19 hit, my plans to make plans were put on hold. After seeing an email from Dean Wasserman about a potential internship program, I jumped on the opportunity and applied for YU's Consulting Force Summer Internship Program. I was paired with a grassroots Jewish non-profit called Project Proactive where I worked with two other YU students in creating, planning and facilitating a two week Virtual Leadership Development Program for 17 teens.
“Except for a few rare exceptions, most of my social life took place on my laptop, through Zoom and Whatsapp. I made sure to reach out to at least one friend per day, and I was part of a virtual Zoom library with a bunch of people who were also working/studying from home this summer. This was a great way to be productive without being alone and I had a chance to meet and get to know new people (what a novelty!). Plus, my friend Deborah, started a book club that met once a week, which was a great way to motivate me to read something new and get to talk about it with a great group of people.
“While this was definitely not the summer I expected or intended, having the flexibility to “be” in multiple places at a time enabled me to participate in a fellowship program, an internship, take a summer class and still have time to relax and spend with my family.”
Michael Stark (SSSB ‘22)
“I originally did not have an internship. Over the summer, I kept sending out my resume and was eventually asked to interview for a real estate company called GRI Properties. I got the chance to learn more about real estate through my internship as well as have fun going surfing at the beach and enjoying the nice weather.
“COVID definitely halted my social life. I was not able to see many of my friends and it became a lot harder to stay in touch. As each day passed, it didn’t feel like a new day started. Everything became monotonous and it was like one long day that never ended.”
Moshe Nissanoff (YC ‘21)
Business of Medicine
“It was definitely difficult to keep in touch with my friends, but I owe that mostly to studying for the MCAT instead of COVID-19. I still made it an effort to talk to friends both in person and over video chat!
“I had a super productive summer! I took Physics I and II with labs, Intro to Information Systems, began studying for the MCAT, and applied to medical schools, which included writing roughly 70 essays. Family is everything to me and I am grateful to have such a strong relationship with them. After being out of the house for the past three years, I am lucky to be able to spend so much time with them. My family also hatched turkeys for fun and I started a vegetable patch!”
Yoseph Talasazan (Katz ‘24)
“Quarantine definitely ruined my expectations of summer, where I couldn't really hang out with friends or go out to my favorite places such as the beach or synagogue. However, I had time to do things I've always wanted to do such as have a scheduled workout, call up friends from across the country, and learn more Torah throughout the week.
“If I got to be quite frank, it was not fun. Being around my family was fun but being at home all day, everyday, certainly was not. There is only so much you can do at home for a long period of time. However, being at home helped me because I was forced to brainstorm and think of ways to be productive. Without this quarantine, I may have not been able to progress and become a more scheduled and disciplined person.
“I am confident that I did have a productive summer. I feel closer to Hashem through prayer and Torah learning than ever before. I feel more disciplined when it comes to getting work done throughout my day. Although I wish I could spend my summer outside with friends and family, being inside was needed for me in order to progress and refine how I schedule my day.
“I worked part-time for a personal protective equipment company where I helped them get started on social media platforms. I also worked part time at a restaurant as a chef where I would make panini sandwiches and they were honestly really good. I did all this in order to support myself when moving to the YU dorms. It was not easy but was doable.”
Yosef Rosenfield (YC ‘21)
“I work for the Providence Eruv Corporation. Fortunately for me, Jews still like having a kosher eruv every Shabbos, even during a pandemic. I also did some work this summer with shemirat hamet (guarding the deceased).
“I tried unsuccessfully to run a boys baseball camp, but only one of the factors behind why it didn't work out was due to the fear of getting together during the pandemic. I turned 21 over vacation, but I anyways wouldn't have celebrated with too many friends because they were away for the summer or live in a different part of the country; one close childhood friend came over to my house, and we shared a drink and hung out.
“I like being at home. I'm way more productive, and I get to see my parents every day! I hate New York with a passion (I've lived there for the last seven years). I published my fourth book! I'm also juggling five editorial positions between three different YU publications, so I wrote and edited a ton of articles for those jobs. Additionally, my songwriting has been booming the last few months, and I've been rehearsing for my four upcoming concerts at YU.”
Megan Herskowitz (SCW ‘21)
“I worked at a day camp this summer. It was my original plan, but camp was only five weeks instead of the usual eight. COVID-19 had a big effect on my social life. I didn't get to hang out with most of my friends in person as I would have liked. I did hang out with some of my friends who don't live so close to me online, something I probably wouldn't have done if Zoom hadn’t become such a big thing this year.
“I love my family, but I spent a little too much time with them. I miss my roommates and can't wait to move into the dorms in October. I feel like I did more than others this past summer, however, I also feel like I missed out on a lot due to COVID-19.”
Shifra Lindenberg (Sy Syms ‘21)
“I was planning on searching for a summer job or internship, but after Covid hit I didn’t try because I was told it was near impossible to find one.
“I don’t have a lot of close friends in South Jersey so I didn’t really hang out with anyone in person. In five months, I only hung out in person with two friends who drove to see me. It was hard leaving all of my friends in New York because I’m a social person and it was tough not to see them. I stayed in touch with a couple of my close friends online but it wasn’t the same.
“Last year I had a turbulent summer so this summer wasn’t as bad. It wasn’t easy not doing anything with friends, but I was still able to go to the beach with my family and walk correctly. This summer, I taught myself how to make new drinks like slushie mimosas and a chocolate chip cookie cocktail. I’ve also put together an apartment in New York that I will be fortunately moving into for the fall.”
Dovid Morris (YC ‘23)
“I did not have an internship this summer. I was actually looking for a job as a phlebotomist (in training) at a local hospital. Unfortunately, I did not receive the job because of time constraints. Ultimately, I ended up working as a cashier at the local kosher store during July.
“My social life was not actually impacted all that much this summer, as I worked as a cashier in the one Jewish grocery store in Michigan. Bodybuilding gyms were open in Michigan and I had plenty of social interactions there.
“I was learning in Yeshivas Yishrei Lev (of Telz Stone, IL) last year. I returned, about 2 weeks before Pesach, and quarantined in my room for those 2 weeks. Afterwards, I generally stayed in the house. So my summer was actually quite liberating. I do feel that my summer was productive to a certain degree. Although, if I had received the phlebotomy position, it would have been exponentially more so.”
Editor's Note: There were many responses that were not included in the column. Many students mentioned that these past few months were challenging and a bit lonesome. While some enjoyed being at home for a certain amount of time, many are ready for a change of scenery. Surprisingly, many people felt that they had a productive summer and were able to catch up on a lot of hobbies and activities they usually don’t have time for. There were a number of others who did not feel productive at home. Thank you to everyone who responded to the survey!
Photo caption: Many summer internships went online
Photo Credit: Alexandra Koch