As members of the extended Yeshiva University community, we share a deep appreciation for YU and its impact on our lives. Whether we are current students, alumni, faculty, staff, donors, board members, or trustees, YU holds a special place in our hearts. Its commitment to excellence in both Jewish and general education has benefited our personal and professional lives and nurtured our growth as human beings. Its mission of integrating timeless Torah values with the best of worldly knowledge has inspired our own spiritual and intellectual quests. And perhaps most importantly, the lifelong connections we made at and through YU–with classmates, friends, teachers, colleagues, fellow supporters, and rabbis–mean that our connection to YU is also lifelong. It is a bond that has withstood the test of time, that holds fast in the face of everything that threatens to sever it.
But beyond our relationships with YU and the thoughtful and compassionate people who study, teach, work, and lead there, we are Jews with responsibilities towards fellow Jews, human beings with responsibilities towards fellow human beings. We believe strongly that LGBTQ+ Jews, like all human beings, deserve not only our love and support, but to be listened to fully, in all of the depth and complexity of their personal experiences. The great Sage Hillel, known for his remarkable empathy and willingness to listen, said as much: “Al tadin et chavercha ad she-tagia limkomo – Do not judge your fellow until you have reached their place” (Pirkei Avot 2:4). Hillel’s exhortation not only reminds us not to make assumptions or draw conclusions about other people; it teaches us that every person already has a makom, a place of their own only they occupy and understand fully. LGBTQ+ Jews already have a place in our communities, a place that is not ours to give but is given to them by God. It is our responsibility to attempt to reach their place. And we can do that by listening.
That is why it causes us such great pain and sorrow that our beloved YU has not yet listened to its LGBTQ+ students. We are heartbroken that an institution that preaches Torat Chesed, a Torah of compassion, created an initiative intended for LGBTQ+ students without the knowledge of its LGBTQ+ students with whom it had been in dialogue. We are embarrassed that an institution that espouses Torat Emet, a Torah of truth, defended its actions with words that, regardless of intent, have the effect of misleading readers. We are confused why an institution that embraces Torat Chaim, bringing Torah values to life, needs to continue a court battle to vindicate its own values when a peaceful settlement is within reach. We are troubled that an institution that champions Torat Adam, the infinite worth of every human being, questioned the dignity of its LGBTQ+ students by declaring their efforts to attain recognition of their identities necessarily incompatible with Torah values. And finally, we are disappointed that an institution that prides itself on Torat Tzion, a Torah of redemption, passed on an opportunity to demonstrate strong spiritual leadership for Jews all over the world.
But it is not too late for our leaders to listen. The LGBTQ+ students of YU, to their great credit, returned to the table with a willingness to reach the makom, the position, of their teachers; now, it is their teachers’ turn to do the same for their students.
We respectfully ask YU leadership to do the following:
- Dissolve the new Kol Yisrael Areivim initiative, as no LGBTQ+ students were involved in or consulted about its creation.
- Re-enter dialogue with the Pride Alliance.
- Commit to full transparency and cooperation with the Pride Alliance in finding a new solution, including the following:
- Naming specific objections to the Pride Alliance’s proposals.
- Clearly and specifically delineating the requirements the Pride Alliance needs to meet to earn approval from YU administration and the Office of Student Life.
- Clearly and specifically delineating the requirements any potential Pride Alliance events and initiatives need to meet in order to earn approval.
.למען אחי ורעי אדברה נא שלום בך
We pray for a peaceful and speedy resolution that brings safety, comfort, and belonging to all of our LGBTQ+ siblings and all members of the YU community.
Sign the Letter
Students, Alumni, Faculty and Staff of Yeshiva University
Note: The following signatures were collected for Yeshiva United’s original letter, “A Call from the Heart of the YU Community.” They do not imply endorsement of the above letter.
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Trustees & Donors of Yeshiva University