JBuzz News July 24, 2014: Former Senator Joe Lieberman To Take Professor Post At Yeshiva University




Lieberman To Take Professor Post At YU

Source: The Jewish Week, 6-24-14‎

“We are thrilled to welcome Senator Lieberman, whose public life and values serve as a model for our students, especially those who aspire to careers in public service while embracing Orthodox Judaism,” said Dr. Selma Botman, university provost…READ MORE

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

David Reich & Priya Moorjani: Genes Tell Tale of Jewish Ties to Africa




Exchange Between Groups Took Place About 2,000 Years Ago

Source: The Forward, 8-2-11

Genetic Melting Pot: David Reich (left) and Priya Moorjani found that Jews and Africans mixed genes about 2,000 years ago.

Genetic Melting Pot: David Reich (left) and Priya Moorjani found that Jews and Africans mixed genes about 2,000 years ago.

In the Book of Kings, Solomon is depicted as an international businessman of sorts who sent ships from the port of Etzion-Geber, near modern day Eilat, to trade precious metals and other goods with various parts of the world, including Africa. Solomon also famously received a visit from the Queen of Sheba, who is thought to be from what is presently Ethiopia.

Now, a new scientific paper offers a genetic timeline that could support these biblical tales. The paper builds on two studies published last summer that were the first to use genome-wide analyses to trace the history of the Jewish people through DNA.

“It demonstrated that there was a biological basis for Jewishness,” said Dr. Harry Ostrer, director of the human genetics program at the New York University School of Medicine, who led one of the studies.

Among its many findings, Ostrer’s paper indicated that Jews have African ancestry — an observation that David Reich, associate professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School, and his colleagues decided to explore further.

Reich’s team analyzed more than half a million DNA markers across the entire genomes of people from seven diverse Jewish populations — including Ashkenazim from northern Europe; Sephardim from Italy, Turkey and Greece, and Mizrahim from Syria, Iraq and Iran. They then compared the genetic data with DNA from 15 sub-Saharan African populations.

Reporting in the April issue of PLoS Genetics, the researchers found that modern day Jews can attribute about 3% to 5% of their ancestry to sub-Saharan Africans, and that the exchange of genes between Jews and sub-Saharan Africans occurred approximately 72 generations, or about 2,000 years, ago.

Priya Moorjani, a doctoral student in Reich’s lab who led the research, was surprised that the degree of African DNA was so consistent across the various Jewish populations. She had expected, for example, that North African and Middle Eastern Jews would have a greater degree of genetic mingling than Europeans, based on their geographic proximities.

So the findings, Moorjani said, may point to a shared ancestry among the various Jewish groups. “It’s definitely suggestive that most Jewish populations have a common ancestral population,” she said.

Although the Harvard team couldn’t determine where exactly the exchange of genes took place, the results complement historians’ understanding of the Jewish narrative.

“This is interesting, and it gives me food for thought,” said Norman Stillman, a professor of Judaic history at the University of Oklahoma. “Does it prove something historically specific beyond the fact that we know the Jewish bloodline was open to some extent throughout history? No. But it fits in with the rest.”

Lawrence Schiffman, a professor of Hebrew and Judaic studies at Yeshiva University, said two time periods came to mind that could support the geneticists’ findings. The first is during the First Temple Period, between about 950 B.C.E. and 600 B.C.E., when Solomon’s kingdom would have had contact with Africans.

Or, Schiffman said, the mixing of populations could have taken place a bit later, during the Hellenistic period, from about 320 B.C.E. to 30 B.C.E., when Jews were living all over the southern shore of the Mediterranean Sea and could have come into contact with Africans to the south of them.

Yet even though the biblical accounts offer possible explanations for the Reich lab’s findings, Schiffman stresses that he and other social scientists can only offer historical interpretations of the genetic data. “The facts are the ones that scientists are developing; the theories are what [historians] have,” he said. “We now have to take what they are giving us, and we have to add it to our picture of history.”

Stillman pointed out that Jews are often thought of as an insular group, because they tended to marry within their community. “But,” he said, “that doesn’t mean there wasn’t, all throughout history, an inflow of others into the group.”

As Reich sees it, genetics and history are not actually so disparate. His work, he said, is “a kind of complementary way of studying history.”

Yeshiva Fair Is a Bastion for Jewish Books of the Printed Variety

Source: NYT, 2-11-11

Those who mourn the metamorphosis of books made of paper into digital versions for e-readers can find some solace by taking a trip to Washington Heights in Manhattan.

James Estrin/The New York Times

The sale offers gilded volumes of Torah and Talmud, and Jewish-themed novels, cookbooks and children’s picture books.

James Estrin/The New York Times

Mordechai Weiss went to the fair on its first day and found an armful of books to buy.

There, in a cavernous hall on its campus, Yeshiva University is holding its annual seforim sale — its book fair. It offers 150,000 new and incontrovertibly genuine books — printed and bound — of 13,000 titles. They include gilded volumes of Torah and Talmud, novels, cookbooks, biographies, humor collections, self-help guides and children’s picture books, all Jewish-themed.

The fair opened on Sunday and ends on Feb. 27; 15,000 people are expected to visit and to spend a total of $1 million.

The fair, managed by students, has been running for at least 25 of the university’s 125 years, but it has mushroomed in recent years and has become a highlight of the New York region’s Orthodox calendar — not quite on the level of Passover, but an important period nonetheless.

That is because it has become a must-do social event, where some of the 58,000 Yeshiva alumni, as well as observant students from colleges and high schools in the New York area, know they will bump into one another. And it is where eligible men and women meet up behind the fig leaf that they are there only to browse through the books. Mingling among them are sprinklings from other Jewish subcultures, from insistently secular to Hasidic.

On Sunday, among the skullcap-wearing men prowling the aisles, some with prayer fringes dangling out of their shirts, was Yishai Barkhordari, 23, a graduate of Yeshiva University now studying counseling psychology at Fordham University. He said he had run into 10 friends.

“Jews buy and read books, especially Jewish books,” Mr. Barkhordari said. “So you put a lot of books in one place, you’ll get a lot of Jews.”

The book fair also draws thousands of visitors to the neighborhood, from which, for a long time, Yeshiva University had remained relatively separate…READ MORE

Jim Joseph Foundation gives $33 million to Jewish rabbinical seminaries

Jim Joseph Foundation gives $33 million to Jewish rabbinical seminaries

By Jacob Berkman Source: JTA, 5-24-10

The Jim Joseph Foundation announced that it has given $33 million to the rabbinical seminaries of the Reform, Conservative and Modern Orthodox movements to help them train more Jewish educators.

The grant – which comes on top of an initial $12 million in emergency funding the foundation gave the seminaries last year – is aimed at helping the Hebrew Union College, the Jewish Theological Seminary and Yeshiva University work together to help train more Jewish teachers.

According to the foundation, “the funding provides financial aid for students pursuing education degrees or certification in programs that prepare them to work with Jewish youth and young adults. The grants will also assist each institution in planning, staffing and implementing new and enhanced programs designed to attract more educators to the field.”

Jim Joseph, which has now given out nearly a quarter of a billion dollars since opening its doors in 2006, estimates that the money will help the schools train more than 1,000 teachers…. READ FULL ARTICLE