On Tuesday, March 5, the New York campus of HUC-JIR hosted a Spring Yom Iyyun, “Engaging New York.” Y'mei Iyyun, unique to the New York campus, provide students with the opportunity to take a break from classes for special programming or the opportunity to catch up on their own studies. This year, leaders of the Student Association suggested that they spend their Yom Iyyun off campus in some activity in New York City.
Rabbi Renni Altman, Associate Dean, HUC-JIR/NY, led a community service project at West End Temple-Sinai Congregation in Neponset, Queens. Students painted the classrooms of the congregation which suffered severe damage during Hurricane Sandy. Rabbi Altman stated, “This was a great opportunity for our students to get away from their books and have a hands-on community service experience. Many of our students were able to help out in the immediate aftermath of Sandy, yet months later, there are still communities in need, and this was a small way that we could be of assistance."
Fifth-year cantorial student Amanda Winter currently serves as the student cantor of West End Temple-Sinai Congregation. She noted, "It was so special that my colleagues volunteered to help repaint some of our classrooms at West End Temple. Since so much of our building is currently unusable, it was really nice to see a little bit of life come back into the hallways. It was also an incredible opportunity to show my friends and classmates just what we've been dealing with at West End. Rabbi Marjorie Slome and I are so grateful that HUC-JIR and Rabbi Altman organized this Yom Iyyun project."
In addition, twenty five students participated in a walking tour of Jewish Harlem with Dr. Jeffrey Gurock, Libby M. Klaperman Professor of Jewish History at Yeshiva University. They were joined by Rabbi Shirley Idelson, Dean, HUC-JIR/NY, and Rabbi Carole Balin, Ph.D., Professor of Jewish History. Rabbi Idelson explained, “Dr. Gurock provided a fascinating and informative overview of the history of the Jewish experience in Harlem. Here Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox Jews of German, Eastern European, and Sephardic descent, representing all parts of the socio-economic and political spectrum, lived alongside one another. Dr. Gurock explored with us the vibrancy of the neighborhood's institutional as well as the social history, and it was great to have an opportunity to learn together for a day outside our usual downtown classrooms, by walking this uptown neighborhood on a beautiful New York City day."