In our learning this year third- and fourth-year students wrapped up their learning of gerut, studying a wide range of teshuvot from the last hundred years, addressing issues of policy and standards regarding potential converts who will most probably not be fully observant. The week ended with the learning of the sugya and of a wide range of teshuvot on the topic of conversion of minors, and the related topic of adoption. We were also pleased to welcome our musmach Rabbi David Almog (), who, together with me, heard students teshuvot to real-life questions that arise and were asked on college campuses, giving feedback both on halakha and policy considerations. Rabbi Almog shared with students his particular expertise in overseeing kashrut on campus, as he had done in many settings as the Hillel rabbi at Columbia.
We were thrilled this week to welcome a special guest, Chip Edelsberg, Executive Director of the Jim Joseph Foundation. Chip met with students and rebbeim, sat in on a chavruta, and gave a moving address to the students in the beit midrash. Chip spoke about the important and critical work that the Jim Joseph Foundation has done and continues to do to foster Jewish education throughout the Jewish community. He then went on to speak in particular about Jim Joseph's support of YCT, the recent recipient of a significant $3 million dollar grant from Jim Joseph. Chip spoke movingly about the way in which YCT rabbis are transforming the Jewish community, and the support that the Jim Joseph Foundation has for all the work we are doing. Chip's visit was an uplifting experience for all and we look forward to welcoming him back in the near future.
The day of Chip's visit also saw the visit of Steve Lieberman, YCT's Chairman of the Board. Steve flew in from D.C. to meet with Chip, together with Rabbi Weiss and other members of the administration. However , Steve made a point of taking out time from his busy schedule to address the students after mincha. He spoke about the work that he is doing as chairman, the support that the board has for all of our activities, and the marked difference that we are making out in the field. He then opened the floor for questions, and very open and honest conversations about sensitive and important issues transpired. It was so powerful to have had Steve speak to the students, and to be able to underscore and reaffirm our culture of openness and transparency.
And finally, we have two big Mazal Tovs this week. A Mazal Tov to Daniel Held, Educators Track Coordinator and In-house Mentor, and Arielle Berger on the birth of a baby girl this Tuesday. The Zeved HaBat will take place this Sunday morning at the HIR. Welcome to fatherhood and motherhood! And a Mazal Tov to fourth-year rabbinical student Aaron (YCT 2012) and Marina Braun on the birth of their baby girl - their first girl and second child - born early Thursday morning (missing a February 29th birthday by just a hair). Shetizku li'gadlan li'Torah li'Chuppah u'li'ma'assim tovim!