Memphian One of Nine Yeshiva University Graduates Named Valedictorians for Outstanding Academic Achievements
Editor’s note: When this press release came to us, it was because Yeshiva University wanted Jewish Memphis to know that a Memphian was named as one of nine valedictorians in this year’s graduating class. This brought us great joy, as this particular valedictorian-Memphian is the son of our colleague Bluma Zuckerbrot-Finkelstein and her husband, ASBEE’s Rabbi Joel Finkelstein.
On May 30, 2019, hundreds of students from Yeshiva University’s undergraduate schools will receive their degrees at YU’s 88th Commencement Exercises, to be held at the Theater at Madison Square Garden. Nine students will be honored as valedictorian for their outstanding academic achievements, including Memphian Asher Finkelstein.
As these graduates enter a new and exciting stage in their lives—pursuing a range of careers and advanced degrees in fields as diverse as business, education, finance, law and Judaic studies—they will bring with them the dynamic and fulfilling Jewish, academic, extra-curricular and social experiences they received throughout their undergraduate years at YU.
“I’m grateful that I had the opportunity to attend Stern College and benefit from all it has to offer,” said Peri Zundell, this year’s valedictorian of Stern College for Women. ”This is really an amazing place for a pre-med student. Not only are the courses thorough, but the opportunities for research, publications and extracurriculars are expansive.” A biology major, she will be attending the Albert Einstein College of Medicine under the Anne Scheiber Scholarship.
Alexander Selesny, a co-valedictorian of the Sy Syms School of Business and a third-generation YU graduate, said “I’ve been blessed to be in Rav Rosensweig’s shiur for the last three years and have gained a tremendous amount. I’ve also had many opportunities to learn from the other roshei yeshiva [rabbinic leaders], rebbeim [teachers] and other students, and the beis medrash [study hall] has provided me with a place to continue to grow religiously.”
A finance major, Selesny was very impressed by how much the success of the students has been the primary focus of the teachers. “They go out of their way to explain ideas, however many times necessary, until we understand, and make themselves available for students with questions even outside of class. Particularly in Syms, several of the professors and adjuncts who were very successful in the business world gave up their time and devoted themselves to sharing their experience and knowledge,” he said. After graduating, Selesny will pursue semicha [rabbinic ordination] at the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS) and study in the RIETS kollel [institute of study] for the next few years; after that, he plans on working as an actuary.
Michael Ozery, an accounting and finance major and the James Striar School of General Jewish Studies valedictorian, said of his experience at YU, “It’s a place where I grew spiritually and intellectually. I made friends with people from different backgrounds and ideals, which likely wouldn’t happen at any university.” Outside of the classroom, Ozery was captain of the men’s tennis team, which recently won its conference for the sixth straight year. He plans to pursue a career in finance after graduation.
It’s clear the graduates will look back at their YU experience as one of religious growth and being prepared to be successful in their chosen careers. As Aliza Lobell-Klein, also a co-valedictorian of Sy Syms and a finance major, said “No words can do justice in expressing the privilege I feel to be a student at Yeshiva University and Sy Syms. Nowhere else could I have both expanded the scope of my Torah learning and received the training and confidence to participate in cutting-edge projects in finance and real estate.” She added that “the respect and admiration for Sy Syms in the world of business is profound. I look forward to implementing what my professors have taught me and to upholding my charter to carry myself as a Syms graduate and a committed Bat Torah.”
This year’s valedictorians also include Rochel Hirsch, Rebecca Ivry Department of Jewish Studies; Samuel Gelman, Isaac Breuer College of Hebraic Studies; Liam Eliach, Yeshiva College; Asher Finkelstein, Mazer School of Talmudic Studies; andAryeh-Leib Deutsch, Irving I. Stone Beit Midrash Program.