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Learning to Lead

In Its Ninth Year, YU’s Presidential Fellowship Expands Impact and Programming

They’re recruiting high school students in Los Angeles, preparing speeches for University leadership, and running programming around the country—and that’s just their first month on the job.

The 2012-13 cohort of Yeshiva University’s Presidential Fellowship in University and Community Leadership are rolling up their sleeves and getting down to business. The highly competitive program selects top graduates to spend 11 months working in departments across the institution. Fellows are mentored by senior staff and work on projects integral to the University while honing their professional skills in weekly graduate seminars with leaders from many backgrounds, including philanthropists Michael Steinhardt and Ronald Stanton, author A.J. Jacobs and human rights activist Brooke Goldstein.

Fellows will gain an even more nuanced understanding of Jewish communal life this year. In addition to mentors within the University, each fellow has been paired with a community leader who will offer guidance based on his or her experiences in the larger Jewish and professional worlds. This new mentorship program—the brainchild of lay leader and mentor Rick Guttman—had its official launch at the 2012 ChampionsGate Leadership conference in Orlando.

“The Presidential Fellowship is an ever-evolving opportunity for YU’s best graduates to interact with leaders of the Jewish community in an environment that promotes personal reflection and self-actualization” said fellowship director and YU Vice President and Chief of Staff Rabbi Joshua Joseph. “It is a foundational year that informs their careers, choices and lives.”

Since it was established by President Richard M. Joel in 2004, the fellowship has played a critical role in transforming the University into a leadership laboratory. Under the guidance of Rabbi Joseph, fellows develop thoughtful and innovative projects which they are able to drive from conception to fruition. They also partake in conferences and retreats focused on expanding their knowledge and appreciation of the larger Jewish community.

“Yeshiva University is truly blessed to have 18 top graduates choose to invest a year of their lives in bettering YU,” said President Joel. “And how truly blessed they are to gain from the wonderful mentorship, exposure and experiential opportunities the fellowship offers.”

This year’s Presidential Fellows are Faygel Beren, Daniel Elefant, Joshua Gottesman, Aaron Greenstein, Elana Honick, Noah Jacobson, Moshe Peters, Mordy Prus, Racheli Ratner Taubes, Tamar Schwarzbard, Dena Shayne, Binyamin Smith, Adam Tepler, Naomi Teplitsky, Ethan Wasserman, Mordy Weinstein, Anosh Zaghi and Joshua Zimmerman.

Racheli Ratner Taubes, of Brooklyn, New York, hopes her fellowship in YU’s Institute for University-School Partnership will provide her with unique insight into the world of Jewish education. “I plan on teaching in a Jewish day school or yeshiva next year, and I think it is important and will be beneficial for me to gain skills and knowledge about Jewish education from a different perspective before I embark on my teaching career,” she said.

Joshua Gottesman, of Beachwood, Ohio, graduated from Yeshiva College with a degree in political science and is working in the Office of the General Counsel. His responsibilities include everything from reviewing and proofreading legal documents to helping his mentor Andrew Lauer, YU’s vice president of legal affairs, secretary and general counsel, prepare the graduate course he teaches at the Sy Syms School of Business.

“I hope to learn about the legal profession as I plan to join the field, but I also aspire to learn from my mentors and those who surround me on a daily basis,” said Gottesman. “These individuals have years of experience with tremendous accomplishments and are looking to assist and educate others.”

While he knows the fellowship will furbish him with valuable tools to succeed in his career, Gottesman also felt a strong sense of connection to the University. “I jumped at the opportunity to give back to the institution that has molded me into the individual I am today.”