On the Washington Heights campus of Yeshiva University, much excitement surrounded Rabbi Dr. Ari Berman’s arrival from Israel; in June 2017, Rabbi Berman became the fifth president of the 132-year-old Jewish institution.
Taking up residence in Teaneck — a strong community of YU alumni and faculty — Rabbi Berman already has expanded enrollment and course offerings across the 11 affiliated undergraduate and graduate schools on four New York City campuses.
“One of his main charges to the YU community is to use their talents and heroic qualities to build the Jewish world,” Alyssa Herman, YU’s vice president for institutional advancement, said.
Accordingly, “YU Hero” was chosen as the rallying theme of the Yeshiva University 2018 Giving Day, to be held from noon April 25 to noon April 26.
The university aims to raise $1.5 million from at least 3,000 donors via online crowdfunding. Every contribution made during the designated time period will be matched by several benefactors for a total of up to $3 million. This amount is in addition to more than $10 million donors already had pledged in honor of Rabbi Berman’s inaugural year.
“The YU Hero theme will highlight the heroic character of Yeshiva University’s students and how YU helps nurture and cultivate those qualities,” Ms. Herman said.
“Our students, faculty, and alumni are making the world a better place, advancing Torah study and scientific research, human rights and social justice, and giving back to the community out of a desire to improve the world around them,” she continued. “This is a value that is built into the fiber of YU and it is the animating charge of the president to the students to use their talents to improve the human condition.”
She noted that YU is “generationally embedded” in many New Jersey Jewish communities. The university counts 657 undergraduate students, 399 graduate students, and 25 rabbinical students from New Jersey out of an overall population of more than 6,400 undergraduate and graduate students. Many of the university’s major benefactors and leaders also make their homes in New Jersey, just across the bridge from the main YU campus.
Suzy Schwartz of Teaneck, YU’s assistant vice president of alumni affairs, spearheaded the Giving Day campaign.
“This fund reflects our commitment and support for Rabbi Dr. Berman as he leads Yeshiva University into the next chapter in its great history,” Mark Wilf said; a member of YU’s board of trustees, he grew up in Hillside and lives in Livingston.
The first chapter of that history began with the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary; RIETS was founded in 1896 on the Lower East Side as the first yeshiva for advanced Talmudic study in America. In 1928, Yeshiva College was launched, in keeping with the vision of its first president, Dr. Bernard Revel, as a liberal arts college where Jewish students could “harmoniously combine the best of modern culture with the learning and the spirit of Torah.” The parallel Stern College for Women opened its doors in midtown Manhattan in 1954.
In 1916, Dr. Revel founded the Talmudical Academy high school. It was the first academic Jewish high school in America, and the first to offer a dual Judaic studies and secular studies curriculum. The school later became the Marsha Stern Talmudical Academy, YU’s high school for boys on the Washington Heights campus.
In addition to these institutions, and a separate high school for girls in Queens, today YU encompasses the Sy Syms School of Business for undergraduates, and graduate and affiliate schools, including Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Wurzweiler School of Social Work, Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology, Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration, Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies, and the Mordecai D. and Monique C. Katz School of Graduate and Professional Studies.
Giving Day will be highlighted by live events and motivational competitions on all four YU campuses for students helping in the drive, and an interactive social-media component promoting alumni and community engagement using the dedicated hashtag #YUHero. An online toolkit of social-media assets is available for download. It includes Snapchat filters, Facebook covers, “Twibbons” and share graphics.
Ms. Herman said that donations will help fund the university’s undergraduate, graduate, and high school communities, as well as scholarships, student life, and various other programs. It will be possible to designate a donation to specific YU-affiliated schools. The minimum gift is $5, and all donations are tax-deductible.
“It is important for YU to have wide support in helping make the dreams of the next generation of students possible,” Ms. Herman said. “Many people have launched tremendously successful careers out of YU and this is a moment to celebrate and build school pride.”
To learn more about YU’s Giving Day or to make a contribution, go to givingday.yu.edu or call (212) 960-0898.