July 24, 2024
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July 24, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

YU Undergrads Liven Holiday Celebrations in 39 North American Jewish Communities

Over the holiday season, more than 160 Yeshiva University students traveled to 39 communities across North America to share their love of Torah and enliven holiday celebrations as part of the Aaron and Blanche Schreiber “Torah Tours” mission.

For more than 40 years, Torah Tours has sent students to synagogues as close as Fair Lawn, New Jersey, and Scarsdale, New York, and as far as Memphis, Tennessee, and Charleston, South Carolina, where they deliver shiurim, lead prayer services and engaging programming for community members of all ages and add their spirit to the dancing on Simchat Torah, all while gaining valuable insight into how Jewish communal life functions in different areas.

“Torah Tours is both an opportunity to share the richness of the YU education and spirit with communities as well as a chance for our students’ holiday experiences to be enriched by the breadth and depth of Jewish life in those communities,” said Talia Molotsky, Yeshiva University’s student life coordinator. “For many students, this is a highlight of their YU experience. The widespread interest and capability of our student body to participate in a program like this is truly a testimony to their dedication to Torah life and the Jewish community.”

Rivka Salhanick, a senior studying biology at Stern College for Women, decided to participate in Torah Tours because of the impact the program had made on her own holiday celebrations growing up in New Haven, Connecticut. “When I was younger, I loved dancing with the YU students who came for Simchat Torah. They brought so much ruach and spirit to our community and made a difference in my experience as a child. I wanted to do the same for other communities,” she said.

“My group had a wonderful experience in Livingston, New Jersey. The community there is diverse and still maintains such a wonderful sense of achdut. After three days there, dancing and organizing programming for kids and young adults, we truly felt part of the community.”

Bella Adler, a sophomore from St. Louis, Missouri, studying Jewish education, traveled with her group to Ohawe Shalom Synagogue in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, for the holiday. “I am interested in Jewish leadership and how successful Jewish communities are built, and I also love to travel and meet new people, so Torah Tours was the perfect opportunity to travel to a Jewish community and use the opportunity to mold myself into an influential Jewish leader,” explained Adler.

“The people that volunteer their lives to keep the synagogue in Pawtucket together taught me about staying faithful to religion no matter the circumstances. In turn, our group helped the members of the shul gain a deeper appreciation for prayer and showed them how to get excited about religion and embrace each and every opportunity to engage in avodat Hashem with a smile.”

Benjamin Freund, a sophomore from Minneapolis, Minnesota, was moved by his interactions with community members at Congregation Shaar Hashamayim in Montreal, Quebec. “We were in a different country, but it felt like home. The shul was beautiful, the people were beautiful, the cantor and the choir were beautiful and the whole experience was just beautiful,” he said. “This trip helped me realize that everyone has the potential to inspire others. In this case, it was my dancing with the Torah that inspired someone in the community to begin exploring his own place in Judaism further. My Torah Tours experience taught me that you don’t have to be an amazing public speaker to become an inspirational figure for others—every single action can have a lasting positive effect on someone else.”

By JLNJ Staff

 

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