April 15, 2024
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Letter: Yeshiva University Launches New LGBTQ Initiative

Yeshiva University has announced a new initiative for its LGBTQ students, which will serve as an “Orthodox alternative” to the YU Pride Alliance. On Monday, October 24, YU President Rabbi Dr. Ari Berman sent out a letter to the broader YU community to explain the initiative, signed by several of YU’s leaders, including Rabbi Herschel Schachter, Rosh Kollel of RIETS. 

The below is the official letter:

Dear Students, Faculty, Alumni and Wider YU Community,

We hope you had an enjoyable holiday break.

 As you know, Yeshiva University, since its inception, has been and remains a faith community dedicated to fostering and disseminating the principles, values, and dicta of the Torah. The essential features of our undergraduate curriculum and two single-sex campuses are reflective of the deep religious student experience that informs our faith community, including multiple prayer services throughout the day, Shabbat regulations, kashrut observance and a daily schedule requiring hours of Torah study.

 In this context, we recognize that our undergraduate students, including our LGBTQ students, who choose to attend Yeshiva come with different expectations and navigate different challenges than those who choose a secular college. And as such, we have been working to formulate a Torah framework to provide our LGBTQ students with an enhanced support system that continues to facilitate their religious growth and personal life journeys.

 Today, we are announcing a new initiative to support our LGBTQ undergraduates, which includes a new student club that presents an approved traditional Orthodox alternative to YU Pride Alliance and a commitment to strengthen our on-campus support services. The new club, designed to support and guide our students in living authentic Torah lives, was approved by the Administration, in partnership with lay leadership, and endorsed by senior Roshei Yeshiva. The club also reflects input and perspectives from conversations between our rabbis, educators, and current and past undergraduate LGBTQ students. Within this association, students will be able to gather, share their experiences, host events, and support one another while benefiting from the full resources of the Yeshiva community – all within the framework of Halacha – as all other student clubs.

 At the same time, as we launch this initiative, our defense continues against the New York lower court’s ruling that we are not a religious institution and that we lack full religious authority over our environment. Our defense of this matter is essential to our ability to operate Yeshiva consistent with Torah values.

 Throughout the course of the current legal case, some of our positions have been mischaracterized. To help share our perspective, we have developed FAQs that are attached below. We hope you find them informative.

 May we continue to have the privilege of partnering with our students in their religious journeys, representing our Torah and sanctifying God’s name in the world.

 

Our Warmest Regards,

 

Rabbi Dr. Ari Berman —  President and Rosh Yeshiva — Yeshiva University and Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS)

 Rabbi Hershel Schachter — Rosh Yeshiva, Yeshiva University –Rosh Kollel, Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS)

 Ira Mitzner — Chairman of the Board, Yeshiva University

 Lance Hirt — Chairman of the Board, Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS)

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