From the YSU President’s Desk: On the Importance of Diversity
“Our ability to reach unity through diversity will be the beauty and test of our civilization” -M.K. Gandhi
Yeshiva University is an institution that includes four New York City locations, 12 schools and a host of faculty and alumni. We are one university family, with many parts. Included in that family is a myriad of individuals who bring their specific talents, interests, life experiences, and personalities to create the corpus of this university. We are one body with many different minds. At YU we often stress the importance of the unity of that mind, as it creates a feeling of cohesion and a purpose among our students.
While unity is an important goal to strive for, I would like to suggest that an acceptance of diversity would add a dimension to our school that would only serve to strengthen it. Unity can sometimes suggest conformity, and perhaps justifiably so. Very often in order to attain unity, people must conform to some standards, some norms. And while unity should be and is an important goal of our institution, an acceptance of diversity — more specifically, religious diversity — will be the test of our school’s greatness as a premier Jewish institution in the 21st century.
Our community includes students some of whom are outwardly observant, some of whom practice their Judaism more privately and some who are less and even not observant. It is my firm belief that such religious diversity should be encouraged and cultivated at our institution, precisely because it is an indicator of our students’ ability to be thoughtful and independent thinkers. Religious difference is not something to be met with alarm or suspicion, but rather should be an opportunity for students to engage in an exchange of ideas. We are not compromised as a university by our religious diversity, nor is our impact as a Jewish institution lessened by it. Rather, we are strengthened and enhanced by every student who makes the conscious decision to live out their personal convictions, religious or otherwise.
Our university has prided itself in its 132-year history as being a place of intellectual rigor and a place where those who were daring enough to be bold thinkers could find kindred spirits. In my interactions with YU students, I have found that this is still the case. We are a university abound with people dedicated to exploring their Judaism and how it relates to the world around them. Let us commit ourselves to remember that which unites us while respecting and celebrating our diversity.
Photo caption: Celebrate Israel Parade in June 2018 in midtown Manhattan
Photo credit: Yeshiva University