JBuzz Features June 19, 2012: Yeshiva University Students Pursue Unorthodox Studies




YU students pursue unorthodox studies

If Yeshiva University is “the flagship institution of Modern Orthodoxy,” as it is often called, then Mechon Hadar is the flagship institution of the traditional egalitarian set, a not-quite-movement made up mostly of independent minyanim concentrated in a few major cities. To most students at Y.U., Hadar—which runs America’s only full-time egalitarian yeshiva—would appear to be obviously out of bounds, but a few supplement their Y.U. education with the more liberal, mixed-gender learning available at Hadar…..READ MORE

Ohr Chadash Academy: New Modern Orthodox school opening in Baltimore




Source: Baltimore Jewish Times, 8-3-11

A new Modern Orthodox day school is opening in Baltimore three months after another shut down.

The Ohr Chadash Academy, which is opening Sept. 1, will be located at the Park Heights Jewish Community Center, where the Modern Orthodox Yeshivat Rambam held boys’ classes. Yeshivat Rambam closed in June because of financial problems.

Ohr Chadash will run from kindergarten through sixth grade and expects to have approximately 90 students in its inaugural school year, growing over the next two years to add seventh and eighth grades. The average class size to start will be about 14 students.

Shayna Levine-Heyfetz, a school board member, enrollment chair and art teacher, said Ohr Chadash will fill a niche in the Orthodox community vacated by Rambam.

“Rambam was the only school that espoused a philosophy of Modern Orthodox Judaism and the only school that provided a commitment to Jewish law and an excellent college preparatory program,” she said.

Levine-Heyfetz said 12 families have shown interest in sending their children to the Ohr Chadash kindergarten next year.

Orh Chadash teachers, who mostly are from Rambam, attended a weeklong training session in Brooklyn, N.Y., on catering to the individual needs of students. Ohr Chadash also has formed a partnership with Shemesh, a local organization dedicated to providing services and support for students with learning disabilities.

Levine-Heyfetz said Ohr Chadash will have an independent financial oversight committee to ensure fiscal responsibility. Committee members have backgrounds in nonprofit management and school finance.

In addition, the school has created a rabbinic advisory committee, chaired by Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb, executive vice president emeritus of the Orthodox Union, to ensure that Ohr Chadash remains connected to the community.

Students in grades 4 to 6 will have iPads that have been donated by benefactors. Each iPad will be loaded with free educational applications.

“The iPads will allow learning at the highest level,” said Noah Davidovics, the head of the technology department. “They will allow teachers to have activities directed at the students’ needs.”

Levine-Heyfetz is hoping that Ohr Chadash will become a staple in the local Orthodox community, like Rambam.

“Will it bring Modern Orthodox Jews back to Baltimore?” Levine-Heyfetz asked. “Time will tell.”

Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun Fire: Damaged Synagogue Is an Architectural Milestone Too



Source: DAVID W. DUNLAP, NYT,7-13-11
DESCRIPTIONDavid W. Dunlap/”From Abyssinian to Zion” (left), David W. Dunlap/The New York Times Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun, 125 East 85th Street, as it appeared in 2002 (left) and on Tuesday.

The fire that roared through Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun on Monday night not only upended an important religious body but also badly damaged a milestone in the development of synagogue architecture. The restrained neo-Classical design speaks of a turning point in the early 1900s when Jews no longer felt bound to incorporate Moorish elements in their places of worship as a way of distinguishing them from Christian churches.

DESCRIPTIONPhotographs by David W. Dunlap/”From Abyssinian to Zion” Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun in 1993.
DESCRIPTION Congregation Shaaray Tefila on the West Side, now a church, inspired the design of Kehilath Jeshurun.

As late as 1893, Arnold W. Brunner — probably the most influential synagogue architect of his time — was still sprinkling Moorish features like cusped arches through his design for Congregation Shaaray Tefila, also known as the West End Synagogue, at 160 West 82nd Street. Within three years, however, Brunner abandoned Eastern influences entirely in designing Congregation Shearith Israel at Central Park West and 70th Street. Given the discovery of Greco-Roman synagogue ruins in Galilee, Brunner argued that neo-Classical design conferred the “sanction of antiquity” on the modern synagogue.

George F. Pelham was the architect of Kehilath Jeshurun’s synagogue at 117 East 85th Street, which followed Shaaray Tefila by nine years and was clearly inspired by it. The two buildings are siblings, if not twins; with four monumental arched windows in their principal facades, framed by wide symmetrical towers. Pelham’s synagogue, however, has no Moorish ornament. If it weren’t for the name “Kehilath Jeshurun” inscribed in Hebrew letters over the door, together with the date of 5662, it would be difficult to identify this structure as a synagogue.

DESCRIPTION Kehilath Jeshurun’s earlier synagogue on East 82nd Street was torn down.

Kehilath Jeshurun was founded in 1872. Before moving to 85th Street, it had a small synagogue at 127 East 82nd Street, which was constructed in 1890. That building stood until a decade ago, when it was torn down and replaced by Congregation Or Zarua. In between the two Jewish congregations, the building had served as the First Waldensian Church. Such turnover is quite common among houses of worship in New York City. Brunner’s Shaaray Tefila synagogue today serves St. Volodymyr’s parish of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. And Temple Shaaray Tefila is a former Trans-Lux theater at 250 East 79th Street.

Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun Fire: Blaze Shatters a Heart of New York Jewish Life



Source: NYT, 7-13-11

Andrea Morales/The New York

Members of Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun gathered outside the synagogue on East 85th Street Tuesday to survey the damage from a fire that destroyed the roof.

The fire that severely damaged Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun on Monday night sent ripples of distress across the Modern Orthodox community of Manhattan’s East Side and among Jews around New York familiar with Ramaz, its affiliated school.

Andrea Morales/The New York Times

Rabbi Haskel Lookstein delivered prayers on Tuesday. The congregation was founded in 1872.

Librado Romero/The New York Times

The building had been under renovation when the fire hit on Monday.

The synagogue was where generations of congregants gathered to pray — and schmooze — on the Sabbath, the place where they married their beloved, bar mitzvahed their young, bade farewell to a dead parent.

On Tuesday, dozens of congregants or their friends flocked to 85th Street near Lexington Avenue to view the damage for themselves, and many seemed stunned. Hundreds called and wrote the synagogue and Ramaz with expressions of sorrow and offers of help.

“This building is really the center of my life and my family’s life,” said Gabriella Major, 69, a psychological counselor who has attended the synagogue since she was 14 and sent her four children and nine of her grandchildren to Ramaz. “Everything — all my happiness and all my sadness — has been through this synagogue.”

Rabbi Haskel Lookstein, the synagogue’s senior rabbi since 1979, broke down and wept during the morning Shacharit service, held across the street at the Ramaz middle school, when he read the psalm that declares: “May God answer you on the day of your travail.” He took some comfort in leading the Kaddish prayer of mourning that follows soon after the psalm.

“It’s a prayer that says God’s will shall triumph, and we have absolute faith in that,” he said in an interview. He sent his community an e-mail that read, “Out of the ashes of destruction will come the seeds of reconstruction.”

The four-alarm fire, which broke out on the upper floors while the 110-year-old building was being renovated, destroyed the roof and punched out large segments of the four stained-glass windows on the limestone neo-Classical facade. Rabbi Lookstein said the collapse of the roof caused the sanctuary’s ceiling to cave in. The Torahs, however, were not inside the sanctuary because services were being held at Ramaz.

Rabbi Lookstein said that it would be difficult to resume services inside the synagogue in time for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, when the pews swell with worshipers, and that an alternative space would have to be found….READ MORE

Fire Ravages Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun Prominent N.Y. Synagogue



Source: JTA, 7-12-11

A fire has badly damaged one of New York City’s most prominent synagogues.

The four-alarm fire broke out in Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun on Manhattan’s Upper East Side at around 8:30 on Monday night, according to the Associated Press.

The fire caused the synagogue’s roof to collapse and severely damaged the building’s top floors. The New York Fire Department reportedly is concerned about the massive 110-year-old building’s structural integrity.

The fire was brought under control an hour after it began. Four firefighters sustained minor injuries quelling the blaze, The New York Times reported.

The cause of the fire, which fire officials think began on the roof or top floor, has not yet been determined.

The synagogue building had been undergoing renovations. Religious articles had been removed prior to construction, so no Torah scrolls were damaged in the fire.

Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun is an Orthodox synagogue and one of the city’s most prominent Jewish congregations. It is led by Rabbi Haskell Lookstein, a leading figure in American Modern Orthodoxy.

Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun Fire: Fire Devastates Synagogue Under Repair in Manhattan



Source: NYT, 7-12-11

Fire Devastates Synagogue Under Repair in Manhattan

Miles Dixon

Firefighters on the 84th Street side of Kehilath Jeshurun, a modern Orthodox synagogue, during the blaze on Monday.

A four-alarm fire broke out Monday night at an Upper East Side synagogue that was being renovated, spitting flames through stained-glass windows, destroying the roof and heavily damaging the upper floors, the Fire Department said.

No one was badly injured in the blaze, which obscured the sky over much of the neighborhood with smoke. Four firefighters received minor injuries battling the blaze, which fire officials said apparently began on the roof. The cause was not known.

Hundreds of people crowded around Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun, a modern Orthodox synagogue on 85th Street near Lexington Avenue, after the fire began about 8:30 p.m.

About 170 firefighters fought the blaze, which took about an hour to bring under control.

Onlookers gaped and snapped pictures with cellphone cameras as flames shot up from the roof.

“It went up like that,” said Stephen L. Ruzow, chairman of the FDNY Foundation and a member of the synagogue, who saw the flames engulf the roof. “Flames were 40 feet in the air, and there were large clouds of thick black smoke.”…READ MORE