Faculty Profile: Esther Ben-Ari
By Raquel Leifer, Features Editor
Each month, the YU Observer aims to highlight a YU faculty member. For the February 2023 edition, the YU Observer is highlighting Professor Esther Ben-Ari.
RL: Please introduce yourself.
EBA: Hello. My name is Esther Ben-Ari. I moved from Eastern Europe to the United States as a teen. I received my bachelors degree in mathematics from CUNY, and my master’s degree from YU, completing my thesis under the guidance of Dr. Otway. I live in New Jersey with my husband and three children. I have been teaching mathematics for the past nine years in learning institutions in New York and New Jersey.
RL: How long have you worked at YU?
EBA: 6 years
RL: What do you like most about working at YU?
EBA: Since my graduate degree is from YU, I feel very close to the YU community–sometimes it feels more like an extended family ,which is great! I consider it a very important center for the American Jewish community, and I am glad to play my part in it.
RL: What made you passionate about your field?
EBA: Since my childhood I have always enjoyed mathematics and its logical elegance. It was, and still remains a fair, honest, and competent attempt at truth. I, therefore, have a great respect for the subject.
RL: Is there anything interesting you are currently working on?
EBA: Currently, I’m trying to learn about C* algebras. This concerns a mathematical representation for some aspects of quantum theory.
RL: Do you have any advice for students interested in a career in your field?
EBA: Mathematics requires a lot of personal input. It has many fields where a person may find what is suitable according to their character, such as the variety of areas of applied and theoretical mathematics.
RL: What makes your field special?
EBA: Mathematics helps develop careful, rational thinking and independent breadth of thought. It also has a subtle, yet strong, commitment to the objective search for truth. It is important that some subjects remain committed to teaching these skills in our generation.
RL: If you could bring in any guest lecturer, alive or deceased, who would it be, and
what would they speak about?
EBA: I find Sir Isaac Newton to be a really fascinating personality. In some sense, he was able to encompass in his discoveries, various aspects of science and philosophy. For example, as a
Noahide, he analyzed the dimensions of the Tabernacle and brought forth foundations of Calculus.
RL: What is one thing you want students to know about you?
EBA: I want my students to know that I aim to show them the beauty of mathematics, the beauty of logic, and the beauty of truth. I hope that they find a way to apply these concepts in their future endeavors.
RL: Is there a particular book you would recommend that everyone read?
EBA: From Jewish literature, I would recommend Rabbi Shimshon Refoel Hirsch’s “19 Letters” with the original translation into English. For general knowledge, I would recommend the Thornton Wilder play, “Our Town.”