On Wednesday, January 13, the Yeshiva University High Schools held its Virtual Dinner of Tribute, honoring Essential Responders. The event celebrated the tremendous impact these individuals have made on the YUHS community and the overall Jewish community throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and raised $430,000 in support of the exceptional educational experience YUHS provides to its students.

“Many words and phrases have been used to describe and capture the past ten months; unprecedented, uncharted, and abundance of caution are a few that come to mind,” shared YUHSB Head of School Rabbi Joshua Kahn. “The word that comes to my mind most often is ‘inspired.’ Rabbi Willig’s remarks were inspiring, reflecting the role he has played in leading klal Yisrael during this pandemic. The leadership of our faculty has been inspiring, as they have provided the best possible experience for each student during this trying time. And the partnership that the YUHS parents and supporters have shown over the past 10 months has been inspiring. This year’s Dinner of Tribute is another reflection of this partnership, and inspires us to continue to do everything we can for our high school communities.”

The event recognized Yeshiva University High School for Boys Torah Responder, Rabbi Mordechai Willig, the Rabbi Dr. Sol Roth Professor of Talmud and Contemporary Halachah at Yeshiva University, and spiritual leader of the Young Israel of Riverdale. During the program, guests had the unique opportunity to watch a conversation with Rabbi Willig and Rabbi Kahn, where they explored Rabbi Willig’s halachic leadership during the pandemic. Also recognized were Yeshiva University High School for Girls Community Responders, Gloria Gordon (’65), Tova Taragin (’65), Suzanne Weilgus (’66), Dr. Lynda Zentman (’65), and Rochelle Zupnik (’65), a group of YUHSG graduates who help Israeli vendors thrive through ACHI, the organization they founded together, which is dedicated to supporting Israel’s economy. The dinner celebrated the incredible dedication of Yeshiva University High School for Girls Legacy Family, Yakir & Mira Wachstock and Hadassah Kessler Wachstock (’64) and Jacob Wachstock z”l (’63), who continue to instill the values of chesed and tz’dakah they learned at both YUHSG and YUHSB within each generation of their family. The Yeshiva University High School for Boys Family of the Year, Dr. Yitzchak (’90) and Shoshana Schechter, were also honored for their countless contributions to YUHSB and serving as active Parent Ambassadors for many years.

One of the highlights of the program was the opportunity to pay tribute to the talented faculty at both YUHSB and YUHSG, who make learning come to life for their students every day, under the strong leadership of their respective Heads of School, Rabbi Joshua Kahn and Ms. Bracha Rutner. “Our faculties are the most devoted group of educators, who treat our students to the embrace of a Torah-loving community,” said Ms. Rutner. “Every day, our students have the chance to learn with and from moros and rebbeim who are walking embodiments of the Torah values that inspire them to be kind, respectful, grateful, loving members of the Torah community. Through the spring, summer, and fall, our teachers have been radically flexible, open to new ideas and new teaching methodologies, all with incredible devotion and sacrifice to ensure that our students have a normative educational experience at school. They come to school each day ready for a new adventure, and despite the barriers that could impede learning, they have created and built relationships with our students that are essential to learning. Our students’ lives are brighter and more meaningful because of our faculties’ incredible dedication and consistency.”

The program included a special video tribute to the YUHS faculty in gratitude of their heroic efforts on behalf of the entire YUHS community, as well as videos showcasing the unparalleled quality of learning that is unique to YUHS. Throughout the evening, guests watched as the YUHSB and YUHSG experiences came alive on their screens and saw first-hand what makes the Yeshiva University High Schools such warm and welcoming places where young men and women become the best versions of themselves, forge lifelong friendships and relationships with rebbeim and teachers, and develop solid foundations to build their futures upon.