This Monday night we had a Leil Iyyun for the community on the topic of Agunah, with over 80 people attending. It began with chavruta learning which was followed by a shiur that I gave on the proposed solutions to the agunah crisis. The sources for the shiur can be found here. We then heard a presentation by Rivkah Haut on the challenges of dealing with the batei din. Karen Rosenthal, Esq. gave a presentation on the legal issues and the New York Get Law, and finally, Jeremy Stern from ORA presented on the role of power of community activism. People emerged with a renewed sense of commitment to work to finding solutions, whether local or systemic, and a realization that serious solutions will require the concerted effort of rabbis, community leaders, and the community at large. While the prenuptial agreement has been extremely effective in producing gittin, and YCT requires its musmachim to use it at any wedding they perform, it is not a panacea, and we must continue to work together to address this profound injustice.
This Leil Iyyun was the second major community event that we have hosted since coming to Riverdale. We will be continuing our community programming this coming Monday night, February 8, when we will be beginning our weekly Leil Limmud from 7:30-9:30 PM. There will be chavruta learning from 7:30 - 8:30 PM, and a shiur by one of the rebbeim from 8:45-9:30 PM. I will be giving the first three of these shiurim on the topic of Jew/Non-Jew. We trust we will get a nice turnout from the community and that we will continue to make YCT a Torah center in Riverdale.
In the yeshiva itself, we had a number of important guests this week. On Tuesday, Dr. Mark Levy, a gynecologist, spoke to the Niddah students regarding gynecological procedures and makkah related issues. Following that, we had Dr. Valerie Altman, a gynecologist as well, speak to the students on Thursday about issues of menstruation in general, and the use of the pill and other methods of birth control. These expert presentations helped the students fully understand the issues that they were learning, and the complexities of the intersection of the medical and halakhic fields. We hope in the near future to be bringing in other experts, including Sally Mendelsohn, a midwife and midwifery professor, as well as yoatzot halakha and chatan and kallah teachers.