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Lessons from Notable Yeshiva University Alumni: Chaim Potok, Gary Torgow, and More

Yeshiva University is a leading private Jewish university in New York, NY. The university supports three undergraduate schools, seven graduate and professional schools, and a variety of scholarly institutes, libraries, a museum, and a university press. These institutions are located on their United States and Israel campuses.  The school offers extensive opportunities in advanced courses, […]

Yeshiva University is a leading private Jewish university in New York, NY. The university supports three undergraduate schools, seven graduate and professional schools, and a variety of scholarly institutes, libraries, a museum, and a university press. These institutions are located on their United States and Israel campuses. 

The school offers extensive opportunities in advanced courses, humanitarian missions, non-profit organizations, publications, and more. Yeshiva University prides itself on providing its talented students a variety of activities as they create a career and life of service and purpose. 

Thanks to the many opportunities the school presents, it is no wonder that so many students have gone to accomplish so much in a variety of different industries. The following are just a few of the many notable alumni who attended Yeshiva University. 

Hershel Schachter

Rabbi Hershel Schachter is a Talmudic scholar and world-recognized decisor of Jewish Law. He has over 50 years of experience with YU RIETS, Yeshiva University’s Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary. He received his undergraduate degree from Yeshiva College. In 1967, he completed his MA in Hebrew Literature at the Bernard Revel Graduate School, and was then ordained. When he joined the YU RIETS faculty at age 26, he was the youngest Rosh Yeshiva.

Today he is also known for being an author. He has written over 100 articles in both English and Hebrew. Some of the publications in which he has been featured include Hadarom, HaPardes, Beth Yitzchak, and Or Hamizrach. He also serves as the REITS Nathan and Vivian Fink Distinguished Professorial Chair in Talmud.

Chaim Potok

Another graduate of Yeshiva University, Chaim Potok, was a rabbi and author. He was a teacher at institutes of higher learning, and later became the managing editor of Conservative Judaism in 1964. The following year, he earned his PhD at the University of Pennsylvania and became the editor in chief for the Jewish Publication Society of America. 

Potok may be best known for his novel The Chosen, the Edward Lewis Wallant Memorial Book Award. The book was also nominated for the National Book Award. In total, he authored ten books, including In the Beginning, My Name Is Asher Lev, and Wanderings. Potok passed away in 2002. 

Hillel Furstenberg

Hillel Furstenberg is an American-Israeli mathematician who graduated from Yeshiva University in 1955. It was there that he first started publishing in the American Mathematical Monthly. His first two articles were Note on one type of indeterminate form and On the infinitude of primes

Furstenberg won the Wolf Prize in 2007 for “his profound contributions to ergodic theory, probability, topological dynamics, analysis on symmetric spaces and homogenous flows.” He has also been awarded the EMET Prize and the Israel Prize by the Foundation for the Advancement of Science, Art and Culture in Israel. He was also elected to be part of the United States National Academy of Sciences and the Israel Academy of Sciences.

Gary Torgow

Gary Torgow is another graduate of Yeshiva University. Today he is a business leader and author living in Detroit. He currently works as the Chairman of TCF Financial Corporation. TCF Financial Corporation is a financial holding company based in Michigan that has $47 billion in total assets. They have 500 branches throughout the US. Torgow was also the Chairman of Chemical Financial Corporation, the name of the company before they merged with TCF. He was also the founder of Talmer Bank and the Sterling Group. 

Gary Torgow plays a significant role in his Detroit community. He serves on the board of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and is a member of the Board of Business Leaders of Michigan and the Detroit Downtown Partnership. 

Torgow has also written two books: Raising the Bar and Holy Warrior. 

Shlomo Riskin

Rabbi Shlomo Riskin is the Founder of Chancellor Emeritus and Rosh HaYeshiva of Ohr Torah Stone. He is a great advocate for sharing the relevance and beauty of Judaism’s past. His work has inspired many rabbis, educators, and individuals to reconnect with their heritage and serve their communities. 

Riskin founded the school that would become Ohr Torah Stone. Today it is a powerful network of 27 educational institutions, outreach initiatives, social action projects, women’s empowerment programs, and leadership development groups. 

Matthew Levitt

Dr. Matthew Levitt is a Fromer-Wexler Fellow at The Washington Institute, as well as the director of its Jeanette and Eli Reinhard Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence. Before his current job, he worked as deputy assistant secretary for intelligence and analysis at the US Department of the Treasury between 2005 and 2007. 

Dr. Levitt earned his bachelor’s degree in political science from Yeshiva University. He went on to receive his master’s degree in law and diplomacy and a doctorate from Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.

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