By: Sruli Fruchter and Yosef Lemel  | 

April 2021 News Briefs: Bagpipes, Elevator Malfunctions, Gottesman Pool and More

YU Alum Recuses Himself From LGBTQ Discrimination Lawsuit

Hon. Shlomo Hagler, a 1988 graduate of Yeshiva University, recused himself from presiding over the LGBTQ discrimination lawsuit against the university on April 29 to “avoid the appearance of impropriety.” Hon. Lynn Kotler will serve as his replacement.

A 1991 graduate of the City University of New York’s School of Law, Hagler was elected to the Supreme Court Bench in 2013 and has served on the New York County Supreme Court since then. He is also a member of the Association of the Bar of New York and the Jewish Lawyers Guild.

The Return of ‘Bagpipe Guy’ 

After a long hiatus, Jerry Dixon, commonly known by students as “Bagpipe Guy,” returned to the Wilf Campus on Tuesday, April 27. 

The last time Dixon was seen on campus was in February 2020, prior to the closure of the Wilf and Beren campuses due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “I was very busy,” he explained. Dixon told The Commentator that during the pandemic he was performing in locations such as Crown Heights and Flatbush. 

The day before Dixon’s return, Baruch Lerman (YC ‘23), the Yeshiva Student Union vice-president elect of clubs, reposted a 2017 Commentator article on Facebook about Jerry with a caption saying “Come back Jerry!!! - We miss you!!” After seeing Lerman’s Facebook post, Akiva Lipschitz (YC ‘22) reached out to Dixon and asked him to return to campus, which he did the next day. Many students, including Lerman, were able to listen to Jerry’s tunes from around 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. on April 27. Dixon returned on the following day, April 28, to continue performing for onlookers. 

“I’m so happy that I was able to get ‘Bagpipe Guy’ to come back to campus,” expressed Lerman in an official statement to The Commentator. “I would like to give a special thanks to ‘Bagpipe Guy’ for showing up.” 

Five Beren Students Stuck In Elevator for Over Two Hours 

Five Beren students were stuck in an elevator in Stanton Hall, located on 245 Lexington Avenue, between approximately 1:00 p.m. and 3:25 p.m. on Monday, April 26. 

The elevator was stuck on the fifth floor for over two hours. Its outer doors closed while the inner ones remained open.

Eventually, the Fire Department of New York pried open the doors to rescue the students. According to Jacqueline Rabih (Katz ‘24), a student who was stuck in the elevator, the university has not yet contacted the students involved in the incident.

Rabih told The Commentator that the students passed the time getting to know each other, even singing “happy birthday” to a student who turned 20 that day. “[We] tried to laugh it off as much as we could,” she said. Rabih also stated that some of the stuck students were nervous that the elevator would freefall. 

On April 11, as The Commentator previously reported, an elevator in Brookdale Residence Hall fell five floors with a student inside. These incidents follow many other elevator malfunctions over 2019 and 2020. The Commentator previously found that Yeshiva University was fined thousands of dollars for building code violations, mostly relating to elevator hazards. 

“We take safety very seriously, and continuously maintain our elevators,” said Randy Apfelbaum, chief facilities & administrative officer. “We plan to commence even more extensive maintenance on all the elevators this summer, and planning is also underway for a major project to replace many of the older elevators.”

Two Gov. Cuomo Banners Removed from Wilf Campus in ‘Periodic Update’ as Investigation of Sexual Harassment is Underway

Two banners featuring New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo — who is currently under investigation by the state attorney general for mounting allegations of sexual harassment — were removed from two different areas on Wilf Campus on April 6. Other banners in the same rows were also removed and replaced with new banners.

When sexual harassment allegations against Cuomo began emerging in March 2021, The Commentator reached out to the university regarding the status of his banners. A YU spokesperson said at the time, “We periodically update our on-campus banners and signage. In light of Covid that process has been somewhat delayed but we expect to refresh our signage in the coming months.”

The university did not respond to The Commentator’s follow-up inquiries about the banners’ removal.

One banner was on an exterior wall of Furst Hall, and the other was in the Furst Hall lobby. The one outdoors was replaced by a generic picture of students in the Wilf Campus plaza with the slogan, “Building Tomorrow Today,” while the lobby banner was not replaced, leaving a blank space on the wall. 

MTA Construction

Zysman Hall, Yeshiva University’s oldest building located on the Wilf Campus, is undergoing renovations to its outer facade. The construction first began in the middle of March. 

According to Chief Facilities & Administrative Officer Randy Apfelbaum, the “building exterior is undergoing a complete restoration which will include restoring the roof turrets and dome.” He stressed that the “project is very complex and weather dependent” and will likely continue through the summer of 2022. 

Tenzer Garden Planned to Reopen In the Coming Months 

Tenzer Garden, a lot that was previously filled with artificial grass on the Wilf Campus, has been closed for over two years. The field was historically used by students for sports games, barbecues and other events. 

Randy Apfelbaum, chief facilities & administrative officer, explained to The Commentator that the area “is actually a roof over storage rooms, part of the kitchen area and the loading dock.” An effort by Con Edison to convert the facilities in Belfer Hall to “high pressure gas,” which is part of an “overall campus wide conversion from oil to gas … required trenching both the street and part of the Tenzer area,” he explained. Apfelbaum stated that the university hopes to reopen the area “in the coming months.” 

Gottesman Pool Remains Closed Despite Plans To Reopen Before Pesach

The Gottesman Pool on the Wilf Campus is still closed. The Commentator previously reported, based on information it received from members of the administration, that the pool would reopen before Pesach. 

Joe Bednarsh, director of athletics and recreation, told The Commentator that the university “had every intention of opening the pool several weeks ago,” but wasn’t able to do so due to “unforeseen mechanical issues.” Bednarsh stated that the university’s Facilities Services have given Athletics “a reopening timeline of the first week in May.”


Photo Credit:  The Commentator 

Photo Caption: Left to right: Bagpipe guy, elevator malfunction and construction by Zysman Hall