Yeshiva University’s 91st Annual Commencement Ceremony will take place in person at Arthur Ashe Stadium at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens, New York, on Thursday, May 26, at 1 pm ET.
Nine students will receive the distinction of being named undergraduate valedictorians, an honor that reflects their remarkable academic achievements. The students were chosen because they achieved at the top of their class, excelling in every facet of their academic career.
YU News Spoke with each of them to learn about who they are, their experiences at YU and their plans for the future.
Stern College for Women
Originally from Caracas, Venezuela, Debbie Cohen is majoring in computer science at Stern College with a minor in business analytics from the Sy Syms School of Business. After graduation, she will start a position at Credit Suisse as a technology analyst in the operational analytics division working on software development for data analytics and machine learning.
Her extracurricular activities included being a tutor in computer science and a member of TAMID. She also collaborated with the International Club and Computer Science Club to plan the annual YU Hackathon, Big and Little Sister programs, Big Challah Bake and many other activities.
A huge fan of dancing since she was young, she was also involved with Israeli dance whenever given the opportunity, appreciating how it connected her to her Jewish identity.
“Coming to YU from Venezuela has been the best decision I have ever made in my life,” said Cohen. “My family is now a whole strong community, and I am so grateful to everyone who has supported me along the way.”
Yehuda T. Goldberg
A philosophy major, Yehuda Goldberg plans to stay at YU to pursue semicha [rabbinical ordination] at the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS) as well as taking courses at the Bernard Revel School of Graduate Jewish Studies.
Throughout his undergraduate years, the Passaic, New Jersey, native has been very involved with YU’s Zahava and Moshael Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought as a Straus Scholar and is thankful that he gained a tremendous amount from his studies there. He is particularly grateful for the relationships he formed with the Straus Center’s professors, particularly Rabbi Dr. Meir Soloveichik, director of the Straus Center, and Dr. Neil Rogachevsky, associate director.
The most formative experience of his time at YU was the privilege to study in the shiur [lecture] of Rabbi Dr. Michael Rosesensweig, Rosh Yeshiva at RIETS and Rosh Kollel of the Beren Kollel Elyon. As Goldberg explains, “This was central not only in orienting and furthering my Torah study in these past few years but essential to my college experience as well. Rav Rosensweig’s dedication to intellectual honesty, analytic rigor and the formation of a substantive religious personality firmly grounded in mesorah [Jewish tradition] has provided a blueprint that I have sought to apply to each class, paper and reading. Even more fundamentally, Rav Rosensweig’s shiur, and by extension, YU, has allowed Torah study to frame my day not just symbolically but literally as well. This is an opportunity for which I am profoundly grateful to YU.”
Sy Syms School of Business
Jonah Loskove, from Woodmere, New York, is a finance major with a minor in English literature and plans to pursue a career in the business world. During his three years on campus, his extracurricular activities included being head of the Sy Syms Honors Student Committee, senior co-chair of the Wilf Student Life Committee and playing for the men’s tennis team.
He also served as one of three portfolio managers to manage the Harold Charno Investment Fund, a student-run $140,000 scholarship aid endowment fund.
“I am so thankful to YU’s dedicated rebbeim [rabbis], faculty and administration who are so integral in making Yeshiva University such a special and unforgettable place,” said Loskove. “YU has provided me with far more than just a top-notch education. It has given me a foundation to live my life as someone who exemplifies Torah values.”
Sy Syms School of Business
Shoshi Tuchman, from Cedarhurst, New York, double majored in accounting and finance with a minor in economics. She will be starting full time at BKD CPAs and Advisors as an audit associate after graduation while also studying for the CPA exam.
During her years at YU, she was a teacher assistant for the Business Statistics and Business Communications courses and assistant COO and cashier at The Seforim Sale. She also served as campus ambassador for BKD and Becker (a CPA exam prep course) and was a member of YU’s Chessed Club, Finance Club and Accounting Society. In addition, she worked with many nonprofits, including Tomchei Shabbos, Camp HASC and the Super Soul Party.
“As I reflect back at my time at YU, I am grateful to have learned from such excellent teachers and professors and had the opportunity to get to know them inside the classroom and develop a relationship with many of them outside as well,” said Tuchman . “I have spent countless hours on calls or during office hours getting their help with the subject material along with excellent life advice. The professors at YU want to get to know you and help you become successful in the business world and become future leaders, and I am tremendously grateful to all of them.”
Rebecca Ivry Department of Jewish Studies
A native of Teaneck, New Jersey, Dafna Levine is graduating with a double major in biology and Judaic studies. She will be learning at the Graduate Program for Advanced Talmudic Studies for Women (GPATS) next year with the hope of pursuing a career in medicine afterwards. Her extracurriculars included being captain of YU’s women’s soccer team, co-president of the Medical Ethics Society, peer tutoring and START! Science. She also worked in the lab of Dr. Alyssa Schuck, clinical assistant professor of biology, studied Alzheimer’s disease at NYU Langone Health and volunteered in the pediatric emergency room at Weill Cornell Medicine.
Levine enjoyed her time at Stern College, especially her Judaic studies classes. “I feel particularly privileged to have learned in Rav Moshe Kahn’s Gemara shiur for all three years that I spent at Stern.”
“Both in and out of the classroom,” added Levine, “YU has gifted me with opportunities to truly experience the value of Torah U’madda. Nowhere else would I have been able to pursue my passions for studying both science and Torah on such a high level while also playing for a shomer shabbos [Sabbath observant] NCAA soccer team and organizing events about issues in medical halacha [Jewish law].”
Irving I. Stone Beis Medrash Program (BMP)
Majoring in political science, David Rubin will be learning at RIETS and studying for the LSATs. Following RIETS, he plans to go to law school.
Rubin, who is from Woodmere, New York, was the marketing director for the FinTech Society and The ClarionYU’s political science journal, as well as a founding member and club officer of the YU branch of the Alexander Hamilton Society.
He has been a student madrich [counselor] at YU for the past two years and is excited to continue in that role next year as well. He was also a student ambassador and a member of YU’s Torat Chessed mission to Vienna, helping the Ukrainian Jewish refugees who found safety there.
“When I look back at my time at Yeshiva University, I think about the amazing relationships that I have formed,” said Rubin. “My rebbeim, professors, mentors and friends have all had a tremendous impact on me and my growth over these past three years. These relationships are invaluable, and each one of them has helped me become a more wholesome person in various ways. At Yeshiva University, I have grown as a ben Torah [son of Torah], a community member, a student and friend. For this, I am forever grateful.”
Isaac Breuer College of Hebraic Studies (IBC)
A Woodmere, New York, resident, Naftali Shavelson is majoring in media studies with a minor in architecture.
Shavelson held many club positions while at YU, including senior opinions editor of The Commentatorfounder and president of the Typography Club, photography section editor of the YU Journal of the Arts, and marketing and design consultant for The Seforim Sale. He also participated in the inaugural YU MassChallenge Israel internship program in Jerusalem last summer and served as a teaching assistant in a graphic design class last semester.
“I’ve learned and grown more at YU than I possibly could have imagined when I sat down to my first shiurim and classes in 2019,” said Shavelson. “The opportunity to learn from and connect with world-class rebbeim and teachers in a dual curriculum setting hasn’t been lost on me. I’m especially grateful to Rabbi Hayyim Angel, from whom I’ve learned so much, by instruction and example, about what it means to be a Torah scholar and a tireless embodiment of our eternal Jewish values.”
James Striar School of General Jewish Studies (JSS)
Marc Ziarno, from Woodmere, New York, is majoring in finance with minors in management, marketing and real estate management. He looks forward to attending law school in the fall and pursuing a career in real estate law.
He is currently the student body representative for the JSS program, and in addition to being selected as valedictorian, he has received awards, including the Manfred and Mignon Siegbert Fischel Memorial Award for character. He was also captain of YU’s men’s soccer team for four rewarding seasons and a member of the Real Estate Club.
“My experience at YU has been very fulfilling,” Ziarno said. “As a JSS student, I was welcomed into a program where I was able to strengthen my Jewish learning and identity while representing Yeshiva as both a finance student in the classroom and an athlete on the field. I found my purpose at Yeshiva and have been blessed to have had the opportunity to build an extensive network of peers, rebbeim and mentors. I look forward to making the values I have learned during my time here commonplace in my everyday life.”
Mazer Yeshiva Program (MYP)
Majoring in political science, Michael Fagin, from Woodmere, New York, will be attending RIETS after graduation. He was a member of the Masmidim Honors program and the shiur assistant for Rabbi Hershel Schachter, Rosh Yeshiva at RIETS. He spent the past four summers in Israel as part of the NCSY Kollel, most recently serving as head madrich.
“I am extremely thankful to the yeshiva and its rebbeim for providing an atmosphere focused on religious growth and high-level learning,” said Fagin. “YU is a place where I felt challenged and motivated to take my Torah learning to the next level, and I had the honor of attending Rav Schachter’s shiur for four years. His shiur allows his talmidim [students] a glimpse into his encyclopedic Torah knowledge, his connection to the mesorah and his inspiring emotional connection to the Jewish people. I am grateful for my Rebbe’s Torah, his caring guidance and wise advice, and am looking forward to continuing to learn and grow from Rav Schachter for many more years.”
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Yeshiva University is exceptionally proud of their accomplishments and wishes these nine outstanding men and women much mazal and success in the years ahead.