21 September 2009

Yeshiva University Officially Opens the New Glueck Center

Richard Joel speakingLast Sunday, I attended Yeshiva University's opening of the new Jacob and Dreizel Glueck Center for Jewish Study, which opened three years after they broke ground. It started off with speeches from various people, including a student and Rabbi Dr. Norman Lamm. From Richard Joel's introduction to Rabbi Lamm speaking, he stated
I've had privilege to view this process of constructing the Glueck Center as the first great collaborative effort between my administration and that of Rabbi Lamm. I believe that it turned out how both of us dreamed and how neither of us expected, but it cements the kind of continuity and partnership that I've come to treasure in Dr. Lamm and the ongoing guidance and involvement in the destiny of Yeshiva University.
Joel spoke of the history of the need for the building in his speech:
In 1928, under the administration of our first president, Rabbi Dr. Bernard Revel, Yeshiva College opened the doors of its first building down the street, now called Zysman Hall. This structure was to serve as the high school for the college, whose grand campus would stand opposite of it on the east side of Amsterdam Avenue. This campus was to contain a robust library and a stately beis medrash connected by an arcaded walkway. This connection between the celestial and the terrestrial hubs of Yeshiva, perfectly symbolized the ideology of that fledgling institution, that of harmonizing academia and traditional Torah study, what we now call Torah uMadda. Unfortunately, difficult financial realities torpedoed that campus plan, placing the burden of the entire institution on the one completed building originally intended to solely house the high school 81 years ago when it was established. This required some innovative ideas to make the transition work. The Harry Fischel Beis Medrash, where our students have studied Torah for over seven decades with some of the greatest Torah luminaries of our time was initially intended to be the school's lunchroom. We are honored to continue the legacy of the Harry Fischel Beis Midrash - it will remain filled with students and a proud center of Torah learning but what a profound honor it is to dedicate the first beis medrash that was actually built to be a beis medrash on the Wilf Campus. Today, we dedicate this magnificent Glueck Center to complete the vision of my predecessors for our yeshiva that began over 80 years ago.....
Nagel Commons Joel continued
Dr. Revel foresaw a splendid beis medrash for this campus - the Glueck Center would no doubt exceed all of his expectations. It was for his successor, Dr. Norman Lamm, together with our visionary namesake, Jacob Glueck, to see the possibilities of a timeless project in technological times, for their vision was a high-tech beis medrash where technology would serve as the servant of Torah study. Indeed, this center is completely wifi with video technology that allows presentations to be shared from this place to anywhere in the world. This building adds an additional 550-seat beis medrash, a magnificent shul for davening daily and on shabbas and yomtov, cutting-edge technology-laden classrooms and lecture theaters - 11 of them for our shiurim and for Yeshiva College and Sy Syms classes - 50 new faculty offices for proper space for our unbelievable roshei yeshiva, a faculty lounge with coffee complimentary for our roshei yeshiva, and space for the Beis Din of America to hold its proceedings under our roof even as our rabbinical students pursue the yadin yadin degree and learn from the proceedings of the beis medrash.
Joel further said
We now have our academic and traditional centers conjoined through the Nagel Family Atrium and Student Commons, symbolizing our continued devotion to the vision of our founder. The Heights Lounge - it's called the Heights Lounge because - it's not Mr. and Mrs. Heights - it's for Washington Heights - we're very ready to change the name. The Heights Lounge, the new grand entrance to the Gottesman Library and the closure of 185th street [between Amsterdam Avenue and Audubon Avenue], please God, within a year or two, to be a community pedestrian mall for the campus and our neighbors have provided a new center for our campus. But clearly, the Glueck Center represents so much more than the sum of its glass, stone, mortal and steel - it's the tangible symbol of our absolute optimism for the future of our yeshiva and our university. At a time when others are are scaling back, Yeshiva builds because we must. This building disarms the cynics, granting people the permission to feel the pride, the joy about Yeshiva University and the sacred values we represent. it redefines the campus center with learning at its hub. This is a space where we will grow. It shows how our future lies before us and symbolizes our dedication to Torah uMadda.
The Heights Lounge
Following the speeches, there was a hanging of mezuzah followed by a little bit more speaking, then some saying of Psalms, and then a reception followed in the Heights Lounge. There was also a parade for Torahs.
Interestingly, as the press release states is the environmental aspect of the building:
Careful attention was paid to the conservation of energy by incorporating efficient design features, including large windows on both the north and south facades to create an abundance of light. An insulated glass curtain wall along the exterior of the beit midrash both creates privacy from the street and reduces the heat load, while two columns of frosted glass at either end of the building allow light to stream in to the stairwells inside. The center was also built with a LEED-certified air-conditioning system.
The press release continues on to say that the new Glueck Center
will also house the administrative offices of Rabbi Yona Reiss, the Max and Marion Grill Dean of RIETS. Moreover, for the first time, all of the administrative offices from each of the University’s four men’s undergraduate Jewish Studies program will call the Glueck Center home, fostering an enhanced degree of coordination and communication among them.
The Glueck Center creates new places for study and socializing at the Gottesman Library. From inside the Nagel Family Atrium, visitors can enter the Glueck Center and access the library’s first floor via an elegant new stairway or continue on to the library’s ground floor, where the Nagel Family Student Commons offers students a bright, modern space to unwind, eat a snack from the “Nagel’s Bagels” food kiosk, or access the Internet using Wi-Fi. The Yad Norman Lamm, a permanent exhibit recognizing Chancellor Lamm’s lasting contributions to the University with a display of pictures, documents and memorabilia will be located off the Nagel Commons.
The schedule had called for guided tours, but I saw no signs for it, so I went wandering around the building by myself and the building's offices and lecture halls are much needed upgrades from what has heretofore been at the school.

No comments: