Students From New York, New Jersey, Chicago and Los Angeles Among Top Performers in Learning Contest Sponsored by Touro’s Lander College for Men

Date: May 23, 2008
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Dr. Moshe Sokol
Lander College for Men

Jerusalem, Israel - On a recent Friday morning, nearly 140 American students studying at post-high school Yeshiva programs in Israel participated in a siyum celebrating their participation in a learning contest sponsored by Lander College for Men.

As part of the program, students chose between learning Tractate Megillah or Beitzah of the Babylonian Talmud. Prizes were awarded to the students at the conclusion of the program, based on the results of short-answer exams testing their knowledge of the material learned.

The three grand prizes – a complete set of “Shas,” the entire 63-tractate Babylonian Talmud – went to Ariel Krakowski of Monsey, New York, Yosef Lifsics of Chicago, and Sam Reinstein of Teaneck, New Jersey.

“The contest is an opportunity for students from a variety of backgrounds and Yeshivas to participate in an exciting educational program outside the framework of the Yeshivas in which they chose to study,” said Ari Gruen, who heads Lander College’s Israel Programs. “In a time of so much discord it’s heartwarming to see so many students gather for a cause for which we can all come together – an excitement for Torah learning.”

Over 250 students signed up for this year’s contest, with participation ranging from students at Hesder Yeshivot that combine Torah-study and service in the Israeli Army such as Sha’alvim and Yeshivat Kerem B’Yavneh, to schools such as Derech HaTalmud and Ohr Sameach.

“The prizes were chosen by what we thought young men would treasure,” said Dr. Moshe Sokol, dean of the College. “These books are quite expensive and are meaningful to the students.” Dean Sokol added that the costs of the contest were underwritten by the family of Stephen Brown, chairman of the College’s Board of Overseers.

Other prize winners included students Shaya First, Benny Herskovitz, Baruch Goldberg, and Akiva Kenigsberg from New Jersey; Yehuda Kochman, Shmuel Motzen, and Reuben Morrow from the greater Toronto area; Daniel Rosenberg, Dani Abell and Ari Galster from Chicago; and Daniel Rabin, Akiva Schreiber and Izzy Korobkin from Los Angeles.

Lander College for Men, a division of Touro College, launched the “Pre-Purim Bekius Blitz” contest last year to raise awareness of the liberal arts institution that combines intensive traditional Torah study with a top-level liberal arts college program. Students attend small classes, work one-on-one with faculty mentors and benefit from a rigorous and innovative core curriculum. Located in Queens, N.Y., the college offers students a variety of bachelor’s degrees in liberal arts and sciences along with advanced Talmudic studies, on a state-of-the-art seven-acre campus that includes extensive laboratories, research facilities, lecture halls and classrooms and new athletic facilities.

Over $6000 of Seforim, or religious books, were distributed to the top-scorers in the contest, with the top prizes including complete sets of the Babylonian Talmud, Shulchan Aruch, and Mishnayot.

Everyone attending the siyum received a travel set of Mishna Berurah (a commentary on a section of the Shulchan Aruch), and a student from Yeshivat Mevaseret Zion won the raffle prize of an iPod preloaded with audio lectures on all of the Talmud.