Honors Trip to Spain

During the summer of 2010, a select group of Yeshiva University Honors students combined coursework and travel as part of a unique educational experience. The month-long program covering the history of Sephardic Jews in medieval Spain combined two weeks in the classroom and two weeks of travel. The travel portion included many on-site learning experiences at historic locations throughout the south of Spain and in the capital city of Madrid. Some students also took a Spanish language course during the same summer session.

The courses were taught by Dr. Ronnie Perelis, who is the Chief Rabbi Dr. Isaac Abraham and Zelena Alcalay Chair holder at YU in Sephardic Studies. Dr. Perelis also led the tours in Spain, in cooperation with Dr. Gabriel Cwilich, a noted professor of physics and director of the Yeshiva College Honors Program. Rabbi Moshe Tessone, director of the YU's Sephardic Community Program, accompanied the group and led the visits and programs that were held in conjunction with the local Sephardic community of Madrid.

During their Shabbat in Madrid, the students participated in services and a communal Shabbat meal with the local Jewish youth, also meeting the community's spiritual leader, Rabbi Moshe Bendahan. Rabbi Tessone and several of the students presented insightful divrei Torah to the community at several of the Shabbat meals, and projected the ideal of youth who engage in Torah Umadda, YU's unique mission, of combining Jewish and secular studies.

The highlight of the trip included a three-day tour of the historic cities of Cordoba, Grenada and Seville, where Dr. Cwilich guided the group through the Jewish quarters of each of these cities as well as other important sites that date back to medieval times.