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Why YU Matters to YOU

on Friday, February 1 2013. Posted by Rabbi Efrem Goldberg

Usually, the interaction of a university graduate and their alma mater is limited to occasional reunions, annual alumni solicitations and alumni newsletters.  Perhaps a proud graduate continues to wear the university sweatshirt or display the college bumper sticker on their car.  Rarely does a University continue to shape, mold, influence and serve as an indispensable resource years and even decades after its graduate leaves its campus.   It is not an exaggeration or overstatement to use those exact words to describe what Yeshiva University continues to do for me, my colleagues and by extension for each and every one of you.

When Yisro arrives, Moshe Rabbeinu is preoccupied with the difficult task of leading the Jewish people.  Every moment of his time is taken up between resolving disputes, educating, inspiring and transforming a slave nation into a God fearing community.  Yet, Moshe stops what he is doing and brings an entire entourage of prominent and prestigious leaders to go out and greet Yisro.  Why?  Couldn’t he welcome Yisro on his next break or at dinner?  Why interrupt the holy and sacred work of leading the people to welcome a man who was known for experimenting with every religion and idolatry on earth?

Rav Avigdor Neventzal suggests that Moshe is simply displaying a character trait that he has exhibited previously – hakaras ha’tov, gratitude.  You see, when Moshe was fleeing for his life, Yisro took him in, provided hospitality, a safe refuge and even his daughter in marriage.  Now, when Yisro is visiting, ha’karas ha’tov demands that Moshe stop what he is doing and go out to greet him.

This Shabbos we enjoy the privilege of hosting Richard Joel, President of Yeshiva University and it is the perfect opportunity to express our hakaras ha’tov, our gratitude for all that YU means to us.  In my opinion, it goes without saying that Yeshiva University’s undergraduate programs should at least be considered by every one of our students for all that they uniquely offer.  However, it is important for you to know that even if you, nor your children, ever attended a YU school, you are a beneficiary of their impact nonetheless.  Permit me to share with you a sample of the ways YU benefits me personally, and our community as a whole, despite none of us being enrolled in their schools or being on their campus:

  • YUTorah.org – YU’s incredible Torah website offers more than 65,000 shiurim, classes and lectures from world-renowned speakers, teachers, professors and Roshei Yeshiva.  You can search keywords, find talks on the parsha, daf yomi, holidays, or by subject and/or speaker.   This incredible portal provides access to the greatest experts, academicians, and Talmidei Chachamim from anywhere you have your smartphone or computer including your car, the gym, work or home.
  • ChampionsGate – YU hosts an annual conference in Orlando that brings together the professional and lay leadership of Jewish communities across North America.  Meeting leaders of other communities who share the same challenges and convening to strategize in overcoming them is invaluable.  The sessions, speakers and ruach at ChampionsGate invigorate the attendees, including from our community, for the entire year ahead.
  • YU to GO, Shabbos Table Discussion Guide – Before each holiday, YU distributes its “To Go” series including a diverse group of articles and insights on the approaching holiday.  At BRS, every single copy gets taken each time and people come in to the office in anticipation of the next issue.  Monthly, YU provides Shabbos Table Discussion Guides on assorted topics that provide structure for a thoughtful discussion at the Shabbos Table.
  • Yarchei Kallah – Annually, under Yeshiva University’s banner, Rabbis gather with Rabbi Dr. Jacob J. Schacter to study, share insights and examine a array of issues.  Rabbi Moskowitz and I have been incredibly enriched and inspired by attending these two day gatherings and count down each year until the next meeting.
  • Rebbezin Conference – Yocheved and Rebbetzin Moskowitz recently returned from this years Rebbetzin Conference more excited than ever.  Annually, YU brings Rebbetzins together from across the globe to focus on issues from a Rebbetzin’s perspective.
  • Rabbinic Resource Center – YU provides Rabbis and educators an incredible website with articles, research papers, and responsa center.  BRS’s own Rabbi Josh Flug with his encyclopedic knowledge, researches halachic questions posed by Rabbis from across the world that need assistance and support in formulating an answer.
  • Phone Call Away – YU introduced me to the most incredible group of people who serve as resources for our community on a regular basis.  Whether its consulting with a Rosh Yeshiva on a complicated halachic matter, calling Dr. David Pelcovitz on a mental health issue, asking Professor Lawrence Schiffman or Dr. David Shatz a question on the Dead Sea Scrolls or Jewish Philosophy, YU has given me access to some of the greatest experts in our generation.
  • Men’s Club Trip to YU – This week, Rabbi Moskowitz will be leading a trip of men to study at YU for two days.  They will sit in a Beis Midrash of hundreds of young men filling the hall with the sounds of Torah study.  They will hear from foremost experts in their fields and great Roshei Yeshiva who will share their Torah, wisdom and knowledge.
The list of ways in which YU enriches our community could go on and on.  The most amazing part about all of the examples I just gave, is that they are completely FREE.  Under President Joel’s leadership and in partnership with our Rabbi emeritus, the indefatigable Rabbi Brander, Yeshiva University does not see its mandate as limited to effecting students formally enrolled in its programs or schools.  Please join me this weekend in giving hakaras ha’tov and expressing gratitude to Yeshiva University for being a true partner to our BRS community and for what it does for our children who are educated in its schools.
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