By Dina Stein
The Yeshiva Activities Society, warmly coined “YAS” at its inception, initially launched four years ago. The goal of the club is to provide a setting for students to explore New York’s educational, cultural, and social opportunities. YAS has consistently proven to be a strong presence on both the Beren and Wilf campuses. The mission of the club is to unite the Yeshiva University community in a fun and social environment. YAS hosts events, both on and off campus, which appeal to a wide array of students.
Events have included glow in the dark dodgeball, which was a personal favorite of mine; a trip to the Federal Reserve Bank; and the Ringling Bros. Circus show, which was especially popular among attending students. Additional events comprised of stargazing on the highline, a beautiful park which had recently been converted from an old railroad; picnicking in Central Park; celebrating Purim with delicious hamantaschen baking; kayaking on the Hudson, which offered a new and unique perspective of the City to students who spend so much of their time inside of it. An especially creative use of YU space was “Screen on the Green,” an outdoor movie night on Wilf Campus which always has an enthusiastic attendance. One of the most engaging and educational events was the scavenger hunt in the Museum of Natural History where students had a blast exploring the famous museum, and were surprised at how much they learned simultaneously. These were just a few of the amazing and innovative club events YAS has hosted in the past.
Unsurprisingly, the club easily provides students with an opportunity to make new friends, build lasting bonds, and ultimately enhance each student’s college experience. Yossi Hoffman (YC 2017), the founder of YAS, entered YU with immense enthusiasm to explore NYC and attempt to scratch the surface of its boundless offerings. He quickly discovered, however, that the school seemed to contain a void. It was one that he believed he could fill. Yossi wondered why there were scant school-organized avenues to venture into the City. He realized that YU is what he called a “commuter school.” He did not intend that literally; however, he asserted that many students matriculate with previous friendships from camp, seminary, yeshiva, or elsewhere. He felt there was a lack of opportunity to expand his social circle and viewed YU’s location as an incredible opportunity to do so. Yossi was determined to take action and change his university’s culture in a meaningful way. He declared that, “instead of complaining about it or relying on the administration, I decided to fix the problem and started YAS with friends to organize student events.” As a result, he established the club which quickly gained widespread popularity and has remained to serve an important purpose on campus ever since.
Personally, my experience with YAS has been nothing but positive. I discovered YAS my first year on campus at the Stern club fair and was instantly intrigued. I enthusiastically signed up and in no time at all I increased my involvement and began attending board meetings. The energy at board meetings was palpable and energizing as members spent their time brainstorming and bouncing a plethora of amazing ideas off of one another.
When I displayed interest in planning a picnic in Central Park, I received a tremendous amount of support and eagerness from everyone in the club. YU recognized the importance of such a club, and The Office of Student Life generously provided funding to enhance the picnic with scrumptious snacks for all in attendance to enjoy. Astoundingly, over 50 students attended the event, and the feedback YAS received was overwhelmingly incredible. Amazingly, in the span of a few short months I had advanced from simply joining the club to creating my own event. After this positive experience, I found myself hooked on being as involved with the club as possible. I felt truly a part of what co-president Joshua Deutsch calls, “a YAS community for those looking to enjoy a NYC experience with one another.” YAS truly empowers every board member and provides students with a voice on campus.
One of YAS’s primary codes is to value every student’s opinion. A student’s idea is of utmost importance, and as a result, YAS attempts to not only listen to student’s suggestions but to enact them whenever possible. The events are made with the student body in mind, and witnessing a student’s idea come to fruition is an instrumental part of YAS’s success. The beauty of YAS is that is it not geared toward one type of individual. Any and all kinds of students at YU are warmly welcomed into the club with open arms.
YAS thrives the most when new faces appear at events and a diverse range of students are given dynamic opportunities to cultivate new friendships and enjoy new experiences. For students starting their journey in YU who are looking to branch out, or for veteran students looking for a venue to establish new friendships and spend time enhancing old ones, YAS is a no brainer. Make sure to be on the lookout for the awesome events which will be occurring this year and for all things YAS!