1. As the head of the largest Jewish university, what do you see as the role of informal education?
I believe that experiential education is an essential partner with formal, text-based, education in developing the full intellect, the full citizen, and the full Jew. I believe that young people must know their story and own their story, both of which happen by the combination of both experiential and formal Jewish education.

2. What is the greatest challenge facing Jewish educators right now?
To instill a sense of Jewish passion, of a greater connection with both being a part of klal Yisrael and of connecting with God. And I think that consistency between school and home continues to be a very important matter. More than anything, my experience as a volunteer with Yeshiva University’s Torah Leadership Seminar programs shaped my life, not just my career in two important ways. First, I was able to see the impact that one could have if you use your skills to frame an environment and work with people more talented than you. Second, through a mentor that I had in Dr. Abe Stern z”l who was the Director of Youth Services for Yeshiva University, I saw someone who was dispassionately passionate, and that informed my life.
3. What are you most looking forward to at YouthCon?
I think it is very important to have the opportunity to be with others who share your passion and your sense of direction. I think I can gain strength from them, and I hope I can give strength to them.

Richard M. Joel is the fourth president of Yeshiva University and the Bravmann Family University Professor. Appointed in 2003, his commitment has been to foster an environment that “ennobles and enables” the university community, with a renewed focus on academic excellence, enriched university life, competitive career and graduate-school placement, and a broadened commitment to the Jewish and wider communities. Throughout his career, he has stressed the importance of communal leadership and rich Jewish identity to ensure a Jewish future in America, in Israel, and around the world.
 Prior to his work at Yeshiva University, President Joel served as president and international director of Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life and was an assistant district attorney and deputy chief of appeals in Bronx, New York. He was also an associate dean and professor of law at Yeshiva’s Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. He received his B.A. and J.D. from New York University, where he was a Root-Tilden scholar. He and his wife, Esther, live in Riverdale. They have six children and four grandchildren.

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