By: Yonatan Kurz  | 

YU Releases COVID-Safe Purim Programming for Beren and Wilf Students

Purim programming for the Wilf and Beren campuses, following COVID-19 safety protocol, will begin on Thursday, Feb. 25, the night of Purim. Yeshiva University issued a statement to Wilf students from the administration of the Undergraduate Torah Studies (UTS) and the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS), as well as one from administrators of the Beren Campus for Beren students, regarding safety precautions for the holiday.

The Wilf letter — which was sent to undergraduate students by Rabbi Yosef Kalinsky on Feb. 18 and signed by three roshei kollel, two menahalei yeshiva of RIETS, Vice Provost for Student Affairs Dr. Chaim Nissel and President Ari Berman — began with a commemoration of the one-year remembrance of the first case of COVID-19 on the Wilf Campus and its subsequent closing. It then declared in bold and underlined font, “We strongly encourage all talmidim to stay in Yeshiva for Purim,” in an attempt to halt any further spread of the virus. It went on to detail the guidelines that students who will be leaving campus for Purim should follow.

The Beren administration sent out a similar email discussing precautions as an accompaniment to the release of the Purim schedule; the Beren letter was signed by Nissel, Associate Dean of Torah Studies and Spiritual Life Shoshana Schechter and Assistant Dean of Students Dr. Sara Asher. 

Both letters mentioned preventative measures to be obeyed, such as mask-wearing, social distancing and not attending “any Purim mesibah or Purim party of any type,” discouraging any option besides for eating with immediate family or apartment roommates. The letters stated that failure to adhere to such guidelines would result in an insistence from the administration to not return to campus for a full week. 

Wilf students will have a dinner sponsored by the Student Organization of Yeshiva (SOY) on Purim night, held after Megillah reading to break the Ta’anis Esther fast. The dinner will be followed by “Rebbe and Talmidim Purim Torah Time,” refreshments, divrei Torah (words of Torah), a ping pong tournament and a Q&A session from Rabbi Herschel Schachter. This will be Rabbi Schachter’s first in-person address at a YU event since the pandemic began in March 2020.

The Wilf Campus’s Purim Day schedule includes the “Kimu V’Kiblu Kollel,” where students will have an early shacharit and Megilla reading, followed by breakfast and learning in the Harry Fischel Beit Midrash, located in Zysman Hall. After the two hours of learning, there is a “Special Hot Purim Seudah,” with free seforim — including works by roshei yeshiva Rabbis Hershel Schachter, Elchanan Adler and Daniel Stein — and raffles offered to all participants.

“Over 100 students have already signed up for the Kimu VeKiblu Kollel, showing their interest in our plan to engage in serious Talmud Torah for this year's Purim," said Dean for Men’s UTS Rabbi Yosef Kalinsky.

On the Beren Campus, scheduled events also begin Thursday night with food provided by Carlos and Gabby’s for breaking the fast, sponsored by the Torah Activities Council (TAC). For the remainder of the night, Beren students will be “celebrating with music, crafts and activities together with friends, Mrs. Penina Bernstein and Dean Shoshana Schechter,” according to an email sent by the Beren administration. There is also a planned “V’Nahafochu” theme with “costumes preferred” in the style of dress from the year 2012. The schedule for Friday morning includes Megillah Reading followed by a Seudah.

It was also announced that all shiurim would take place over Zoom on the Sunday following Purim, and all students would be required to take a COVID-19 test in Furst Hall the next day.

Some students were satisfied with the protocols and scheduling implemented by the university. “I think that YU has so far done a great job in taking precautions and making me feel safe COVID-wise,” expressed Elisheva Adouth (SCW ‘23). “In terms of Purim, I know they have done well preparing and I have confidence that they know what they are doing at this point. Multiple emails from the administration against going to larger gatherings was an amazing choice and I hope that people follow it!” 

Photo Caption: Purim programming for Wilf and Beren campuses
Photo Credit: Yeshiva University