By: Doron Levine and Lilly Gelman  | 

BREAKING: Board Elects Rabbi Ari Berman as YU's Fifth President

The Yeshiva University Board of Trustees voted today to elect Rabbi Dr. Ari Berman to succeed Richard Joel as Yeshiva University’s president. Rabbi Dr. Berman will become YU’s fifth president, joining the ranks of Rabbi Bernard Revel, Rabbi Dr. Samuel Belkin, Rabbi Dr. Norman Lamm, and Mr. Richard Joel. The vote happened this afternoon in the Gottesman Board Room on the fifth floor of the YU Beren Campus building located at 215 Lexington Avenue. The result of the vote was transmitted to The Commentator by a number of YU Trustees, and is expected to be officially announced by the Board tomorrow.

The Board of RIETS convened for a meeting soon after the YU Board meeting was adjourned, and is expected to vote similarly, electing Rabbi Berman to the twin position of President of RIETS.

A quadruple alumnus of YU, Rabbi Dr. Berman graduated from MTA in 1987. He graduated magna cum laude from Yeshiva College in 1991 and then received his ordination from RIETS and his masters in Jewish philosophy from the Bernard Revel Graduate School. Rabbi Dr. Berman taught Talmud in YU’s Stone Beit Midrash Program and served as first the assistant rabbi and then the lead rabbi of The Jewish Center of Manhattan. He left his post at The Jewish Center when he moved to Israel in 2008, and recently completed a PhD in Jewish thought from Hebrew University under the guidance of Dr. Moshe Halbertal. He resides in Neve Daniel with his wife and five children.

Rabbi Hy Arbesfeld, a benefactor of Yeshiva University and its programs who was present at the vote, said he was "very pleased that our new president will be Rabbi Dr. Ari Berman, whom I know very well from his days of being rabbi at the Jewish Center."

The vote followed quickly on the heels of a highly secretive selection process. The JTA published on September 12th that Rabbi Berman was the top candidate for the position and Chairman of the Board Moshael Straus confirmed the next day that Rabbi Berman’s candidacy had been advanced by the presidential search committee. For the past two months, Rabbi Berman has been meeting with various YU stakeholders in preparation for the Board’s vote. Notably, his only meeting with YU undergraduate students to date took place last night, the day before the final vote, when he sat down to dinner with YU’s undergraduate student council presidents.

Was the outcome of today’s vote a foregone conclusion? One YU administrator, though reticent to speak to the press, heavily implied that Rabbi Dr. Berman’s appointment was anticipated and expected by those close to the process. Trustees have been less forthcoming, repeatedly rebuffing The Commentator’s requests for comments throughout the entire search process. When approached by a Commentator journalist this past week, one YU Trustee shared these cryptic words: “We will try to find common ground and I’m sure we will.” Rabbi Dr. Berman himself has not yet spoken to the press, and his goals as YU president remain unclear. The Commentator will continue to report on this story as it develops.