Shira Wein wanted a place where she could learn over the recent Chagim break. After a fruitless search for a Beit Midrash that would be open or available to women, she realized that she had a perfectly good Beit Midrash at school, and she may as well take advantage of it. “I decided that the Beit Midrash at Stern would be the perfect place to host learning for me and some friends,” Wein said.
After thinking about it some more, she wondered why she should be the only one to benefit from the Stern Beit Midrash over break. “I realized that if we created a structured Yom Iyun, we would appeal to a larger portion of the student body, thereby enabling more learning to occur,” she explained. Wein reached out to TAC president Hudy Rosenberg with the idea to create a Yom Iyun in preparation for Yom Kippur, which would feature an open Beit Midrash as well as a wide variety of shiurim.
Rosenberg was immediately supportive of the idea, and reached out to Director of Student Life, Naomi Kohl. Kohl helped Wein and Rosenberg bring the idea to life, and “after contacting the speakers, getting source sheets, making lunch orders, sending out flyers and sign up information, and much more, the day finally arrived,” Wein reflected.
On October 10, about 35 Stern students and alumnae arrived at the Stern Beit Midrash for a day of learning. Rabbi Kenneth Brander began speaking at 9 AM, with a shiur entitled “Yom HaKippurim: A Day Hallowed in Fear or Honored in Joy?” After that, there was chavruta learning in preparation for Professor Smadar Rosensweig’s shiur, “Profiles in Courage: Personal Repentance and Redemption in Tanakh.” Following Professor Rosensweig’s shiur, which was about the different approaches to teshuva in the Tanakh, the participants all enjoyed a bagel and salad lunch which was sponsored by the Office of Student Life. After lunch, there was more chavruta time in preparation for a shiur by Rabbi Yosef Bronstein entitled “Bittersweet: The Emotion(s) of Teshuva in the Teachings of the Rav, Rav Kook, and the Rebbe.”
After a full day of learning, Dean Bacon gave some closing remarks. She spoke about free will, and left the students with much to think about. “I thought that it was really nice to see the dean come on an off day to share some torah with us,” Jen van Amerogen said. “It was great to see our dean outside of the academic offices and sharing some Torah with students.” Around four o’clock, after davening Mincha, the participants in the Yom Iyun parted ways, inspired, refreshed and ready for Yom Kippur.
“I very much enjoyed the process of organizing this rewarding day of learning and if an opportunity to organize more learning events presents itself again, I would love to help out. I would like to extend my gratitude towards the incredible speakers who took time out of their busy schedule to share Torah and meaning with us.” Wein also thanked Rosenberg and Kohl, who she said “were the driving forces behind this day, truly enabling it to happen. Lastly, I would like to thank everyone that joined us to make the day a successful day of Limud Torah and a meaningful and significant one.”