Students continued their learning of halakha these last two weeks. First- and second-year students reviewing and taking a test on the laws of bishul and beginning to learn the laws of amira li'goy - asking a non-Jew to do something for you on Shabbat. Third- and fourth-year students are wrapping up their study of Ta'arovet, and have just completed the laws of ta'am li'fgam - bad taste - and cooking food in non-kosher vessels. They will soon be taking their final on this material and begin next zman with the learning of basar b'chalav.
In the afternoons, third- and fourth-year students have been taking weekly classes on Shul Halakhot with Rabbi Love. I taught these classes the last two weeks, where we covered the topics of mechitza and women's ritual and leadership roles in the shul, based on a series of lectures I gave at the JCC a few years back.
Students in years 2-4 have been having a number of improv lessons on Monday afternoons which wrapped up this last Monday. Students had a great time in learning the skills of improv and using them in various ways during these sessions. They were also enthusiastic about the value of these skills in the rabbinate, where it is critical to have the ability to respond quickly, unrehearsed, and in a way which builds on, rather than contradicts, the other person's ideas and opinions. There teacher was Holly Mandel, who runs improv courses in the city, and we look forward to having her back in following years.
Rabbi Asher Lopatin led a Religious Leaders Mission of Support and Comfort for a Future of Growth and Peach in Israel this last Monday and Tuesday. The mission was jointly sponsored by YCT, the International Rabbinic Fellowship, Hadar and Maharat, with rabbis, faculty and students participating. Noah Leavitt (YCT 2013) was on the mission, and he spoke to students on his return about the power of visiting those who had been wounded by terrorist attacks, and what a rabbi can do by just being there for people. This message echoed what the students heard from Rabbi Chaim Marder the week before, who, having found himself in Israel when the war broke out, also spent many days giving support and comfort to those who had been injured and to those under attack.
And in the capacity of helping Klal Yisrael in ruchaniyut, were are so proud of Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz (YCT 2011), who led his shul, Kehilath Israel Synagogue, in Kansas City, to donate a sefer Torah to Congregation Ahavas Yisrael in Cedarhurst, whose four sifrei Torah were badly damaged by Hurricane Sandy. You can read more about it in an article in the Forward, here. Yasher Koach Rav Shmuly and your entire shul for this tremendous act of chesed and support.
There were many Mazal Tovs these last two weeks. Mazal Tov to Rabbi Ari Weiss (YCT 2007) on his marriage to Sara Kranzler. I had the zekhut to be at the wedding and to (sort-of) sing the sixth brakha. It was a truly beautiful wedding. Much simcha and brakha to the couple and may they both be zokeh to be boneh bayit ne'eman bi'Yisrael.
Also last week, Daniel Silverstein (YCT 2015) announced his engagement to Karin Fleisch. We are all so thrilled for the two of them. She'tizku li'vnot bayit ne'eman bi'Yisrael.