Year in Review of Commentator News: 2019
As 2019 winds down, The Commentator has compiled a list of some of the most important and popular stories we reported on this year.
It was announced that Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz would become the Director of Semikha at RIETS beginning this fall. Rabbi Lebowitz is the rabbi of Beis HaKnesses of North Woodmere and a popular educator. He has over 8,000 shiurim uploaded on YUTorah, the most of anyone on the site. Before returning to YU, Rabbi Lebowitz most recently held the role of Senior Magid Shiur at Lander College for Men.
February 16-17 - Uptown Coed Shabbaton Takes Place on Wilf Campus
For the first time in nearly 40 years, a coed Shabbaton took place on the Wilf Campus, despite a statement from Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Eli Baruch Shulman that encouraged male students to leave the campus in protest of the event. In a thorough feature, The Commentator helped clarify the details of what took place and what went on behind the scenes in the planning of the Shabbaton.
Another substantial administrative addition was announced in early 2019. In an email to the student body, President Ari Berman stated that Dr. Noam Wasserman would become the Dean of the Sy Syms School of Business (SSSB) starting in May. Dr. Wasserman has an impressive background in academia that includes serving as a professor at Harvard Business School and publishing two best-selling books. Dean Wasserman is also slated to make a siyum on Shas at this year’s Chanukah concert.
Hundreds of male students received emails from a group of anonymous students called the “Volozhin Yeshiva” asking them to fill out an anonymous form regarding potentially “objective halachic or hashkafik issues found within courses.” The course evaluation form was sent out without any knowledge from the RIETS administration and was met with particular disapproval from the YC Deans.
After New York State passed the Child Victims Act, 38 former students sued YU for allegedly turning a blind eye to sexual abuse that took place at Yeshiva University High School for Boys, between 1955 and 1986.
YU dropped to 97th place in the U.S. News and World Report Annual Rankings of national universities. Last year, YU was ranked 80th. The rating marked a 24 year low for Yeshiva.
September 15 - Students, Allies and Activists March for LGBTQ Equality
A group of over 100 YU students, alumni, LGBTQ allies and activists marched in Washington Heights and in front of the Gottesman Library in support of LGTBQ equality and representation on campus. The march was organized by the YU College Democrats club without official YU approval, together with Eshel and JQY.
YU’s third annual Giving Day raised over $5.7 million from 1156 donors, exceeding its $5 million goal. However, the total number of donors fell 61% from last year’s campaign.
September 26 - Student Council Presidents Reinstate YU College Democrats
The YU College Democrats were originally rejected as an official club for the 2019-2020 academic year by the Yeshiva Student Union (YCU) and Stern College for Women Student Council (SCWSC) student governments, but after a joint statement was issued by all the YU student council presidents, the decision was reversed.
November 29 - Meal Plan Changes Reverted Following Student Backlash
The restructuring of this year’s dining plan was undone after students expressed their displeasure with the changes and the administration admitted their failure at informational meetings on the Beren and Wilf campuses.
The Commentator learned that dozens of building code violations have been issued to YU in the past three years, largely stemming from elevator issues on both the Beren and Wilf Campuses.
Several of the violations are classified by the New York City Dept. of Buildings as “Code 1 — Immediately Hazardous” matters, and a number of the citations are still pending resolution.
Over $5.6 million was raised from the 95th Annual Yeshiva University Hanukkah Dinner and Convocation, which marks a 12% increase from last year’s dinner and the largest sum raised from the dinner in at least seven years. The Azrieli Foundation, honored at the dinner with the inaugural Legacy Award, announced a gift of $18 million to the university to support the Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration and to contribute to undergraduate scholarships.
Cantor Sherwood Goffin, a teacher of Jewish Liturgy and Folk Music since 1987 at Yeshiva University’s Belz School of Jewish Music, died on Wednesday, April 3. He was also the cantor of Lincoln Square Synagogue on Manhattan’s West Side from its founding in 1965 until 2016.
Leah Adler, the Head Librarian of Hebraica and Judaica at Yeshiva University’s Mendel Gottesman Library for over 33 years, died on Saturday, May 4.
Former Sy Syms School of Business Professor Robert “Bob” Tufts died on October 4. A former major league baseball pitcher, Tufts served as a clinical assistant professor in the Strategy and Entrepreneurship Department and was named the Lillian and William Silber Professor of the Year in the 2017-2018 academic year.