HUC-JIR/New York Hosts Spring Yom Iyyun: "Engaging New York" - Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion
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HUC-JIR/New York Hosts Spring Yom Iyyun: "Engaging New York"

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Thursday, March 21, 2013

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."

Second-year rabbinical student Samantha Shabman commented, "The Yom Iyyun was a wonderful opportunity to engage and learn with students in all classes at HUC-JIR. Many of us pass through Harlem all the time, but were unaware of the rich and vibrant Jewish history that pervaded this part of the city. The tour opened our eyes to the types of Judaism that once existed in New York, providing us with a deeper understanding of the Judaism that exists here today."
Second-year education student Yael Dadoun continued, "Getting out of the classroom for a unique experience of exploring Harlem was a real treat! Walking around the neighborhood and learning about the remaining essence of Jewish culture gave us the opportunity to explore hidden treasures. It was particularly special to see remaining Jewish icons on the former Temple of Israel of New York and reviving the stories of the seemingly forgotten identity of the Jews in Harlem. This ultimately bitter-sweet tour gave us the opportunity to see another footprint the Jewish community has left in New York City."

Founded in 1875, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is North America's leading institution of higher Jewish education and the academic, spiritual, and professional leadership development center of Reform Judaism. HUC-JIR educates leaders to serve North American and world Jewry as rabbis, cantors, educators, and nonprofit management professionals, and offers graduate programs to scholars and clergy of all faiths. With centers of learning in Cincinnati, Jerusalem, Los Angeles, and New York, HUC-JIR's scholarly resources comprise the renowned Klau Library, The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives, museums, research institutes and centers, and academic publications. In partnership with the Union for Reform Judaism and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, HUC-JIR sustains the Reform Movement's congregations and professional and lay leaders. HUC-JIR's campuses invite the community to cultural and educational programs illuminating Jewish heritage and fostering interfaith and multiethnic understanding.