By: Ilana Kisilinsky  | 

YU Community Reacts to President Berman’s Investiture

On Sunday September 10, 2017, Yeshiva University celebrated the inauguration of Rabbi Ari Berman as the University’s fifth president.  The “Investiture,” the official name of the event, marked an important moment in the history of YU. With hundreds of students, alumni, faculty, friends, and family in attendance, the reactions to the event were incredibly varied and diverse.

The feeling of change and new beginnings was palpable and many students discussed their excitement for the days ahead.  “I don’t know what he [Rabbi Berman] is going to do but I feel like there is already a sense of change in the air,” said Chaviva Freedman, a senior at Stern College. “I think it’s a good change, I think we need something different. He’s the fifth president and it’s shocking that in over 100 years we’ve only had five presidents. I think it’s a good thing that they’re making a big statement about it, showing that we’re accepting change, we’re accepting something new.” Chaviva was sitting in the front row with a group of her friends at the Investiture viewing party, which took place in the heights lounge, and was attended by over 100 people.

The viewing party was put together by the Office of Student Life to ensure student involvement at this significant event.  They wanted to provide the opportunity for students to either sit in on the ceremony or participate in a more social environment with a viewing party.

“We’ve been planning it [the viewing party] for a couple of months now.  We wanted to give students the opportunity to participate in the event in whatever way that they would get the most out of it,” said Tzvi Levitin, a graduate of Yeshiva College and Stanton fellow at the Office of Student Life.  “Overall it’s worked really well, it seems like students are having a great time.” Student Life wanted to create an atmosphere where students could come and go as they please and participate in whatever way they felt most comfortable. “We’re giving out free t-shirts and all kinds of free prizes and raffles,” said Talia Molotsky, a Stern College graduate and viewing party coordinator. “The idea is to have the women from the women’s campus and the men from the men’s campus just sitting and chilling, which I think is what we have here today. It’s nice - people are clapping, people are really supportive, it’s a really nice environment.”

Many students expressed excitement and enthusiasm for what President Berman will bring to YU.  “This is such a fun event,” said Shir Ben-Shoshan, a student at Stern College. “I’m a very new freshman so I don’t know much about Rabbi Berman, but change is good and YU has been amazing already, I’m sure he’s going to make it so much better.”  

Rabbi Berman’s speech was met with cheering and applause, as everyone made their way to the festival outside. “He was definitely speaking from his heart,” said Daniel Nimchinsky a student at Yeshiva College. “I think he really cares for the University – he feels it.”  

“It was a truly wonderful event,” said Harriet Adelson, whose three children attended Yeshiva University and has been coming to YU events with her husband for the last ten years. “We are so impressed with Rabbi Berman and we love coming to everything YU because it feeds our soul.”

While many attendants felt this was an occasion to be celebrated, some questioned the tactfulness of such a grandiose event. “It [the Investiture] is a little much in my opinion,” said Sarah Poborets, a junior in the Sy Syms School of Business on the Beren campus.  “I personally connect with President Joel. He’s been here for so many years and dedicated so much of his life to Yeshiva University that I think they probably should have eased in Rabbi Berman a little bit better, rather than making a big thing about it.”

Additionally, many participants were more concerned about the fun and games than the ceremony.  Students were overheard asking if they missed the food while some lamented that the event was not as big as they had hoped and wished there would have been rides and more free food.

“For such a momentous event I was expecting a little more than free corn and cookies,” said Jason Kohanbash, a student in the new MS in Taxation program.  “But I was still honored to be a part of the new era Rabbi Berman is bringing to YU.”

Attendees were conscious of the significance and demand of President Berman’s new position.

“It’s so scary for him,”  said Shira Feen, a senior at Stern College, as Rabbi Berman took to the podium for his speech. “There’s so much pressure.”

Despite the large shoes that Rabbi Berman has yet to fill,  many are confident in his ability to rise to the challenge.