Two Wilf Hebrew Professors Resign as YU Ends In-Person Hebrew Program Next Year
Wilf Hebrew Professors Lori Linzer and Aliza Schachter resigned this summer due to the university’s decision to end its in-person Hebrew program beginning in Fall 2022, The Commentator has learned. The new program will instead operate online — in an asynchronous format — and does not require the re-hiring of Hebrew professors.
Linzer and Schachter were set to teach three and four courses in the fall semester, respectively, and both professors are still listed to teach those classes on the MyYU student portal, which is used for course registration. As of publication, students enrolled in their courses were not notified by YU about either professor’s resignation or about the university’s plans going forward.
Dean of the Undergraduate Faculty of Arts and Sciences Karen Bacon told The Commentator that students will be contacted once the university “finalize[s] faculty assignments.”
“Although it will not be possible to replace Professor Schachter or Professor Linzer in any real way,” explained Prof. Aaron Koller, coordinator of the Wilf Campus Hebrew Language Program, “there are a good number of competent Hebrew instructors in the New York metropolitan area, and we are in discussions with a few of particularly high quality to staff the courses for this coming year.”
All Beren Hebrew professors listed for courses on MyYU are expected to teach in the fall, according to Director of Hebrew Language and Literature Prof. Zafrira Lidovsky-Cohen. She also told The Commentator that she will be working this semester to "lead the efforts to move the Hebrew program online" and will not be teaching Hebrew this fall.
Linzer and Schachter credited their resignations to the university’s plan of ending the in-person Hebrew program.
“I was fully planning to return to YU in the fall,” Linzer said, “but one of the principals in Bergen County reached out to me unexpectedly [in early June], offering a Tanach position. YU has told its Hebrew teachers they will not be needed after spring 2022, so it made sense to pursue this opportunity, especially because Tanach is my passion.” Linzer taught Hebrew at YU for over eight years.
Schachter, who taught at YU since 2010, was motivated by the same reason. “I decided not to return when I learned that YU was getting rid of all but one Hebrew teacher and replacing us with asynchronous videos starting Fall 2022,” she explained. “Knowing that I would no longer have a future teaching Hebrew at YU made it very difficult to stay.”
Next year, Schachter is working at GETIDA, a technology solutions company specializing in auditing Amazon sellers for financial discrepancies. “While I will miss being in the classroom,” she said, “I am excited for this new challenge.”
Some students registered for either professor’s class were frustrated about the situation. “As a student, I research each professor prior to registration and I heard great things about Professor Linzer,” Zach Wild (SSSB ‘23) told The Commentator. He explained that he and other students are put “in an awkward position not knowing who will be teaching us next semester and whether or not that professor will even be a good teacher at all.”
Wild added, “Obviously you can’t blame Professor Linzer for leaving YU because long-term job security is imperative.”
Ozzie Jeselsohn (YC ‘23) felt disappointed about the news and felt YU should have communicated this to him. “I’ve been signed up for Professor Schachter’s class for a while now and am upset that YU never told me about this,” he said. “I had Professor Schachter last semester, and she was amazing — I was looking forward to taking her again next semester.”
Some Wilf students who were previously in Linzer and Schachter’s classes felt their departure was a significant loss for YU.
“I think I speak for many when I say that Professor Schachter has always exemplified the values that make a great professor: respect for her students and commitment to their success,” said Liav Garbuz (SSSB ‘22), who took Schachter for two of his Hebrew courses. “I certainly wish her well in all of her future endeavors and know that YU will be lacking without her presence.”
Alex Friedman (YC ‘22) was in two of Linzer’s courses and expressed a similar sentiment about her departure. “Professor Linzer was one of the most caring and engaging professors I have had at YU,” he said. “She made an otherwise difficult subject of learning Hebrew fun and exciting. It's a shame future YU students won't have the opportunity to take her.”
Bacon told The Commentator that, currently, Wilf and Beren students have “very different requirements and course sequences.” She explained that the university’s plan is to have a single program for both campuses so all students “will have the same course offerings and competency expectations.”
Over the years, YU has reconfigured and changed the Wilf Hebrew program several different times. YU’s most recently redesigned Hebrew program for Wilf students began in Fall 2020 and began its first year operating online via Zoom due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Koller, an asynchronous model is “not any less expensive” to run than an in-person one. He explained that the people-power needed to return feedback on assignments for “the hundreds of students we [will] teach each semester is not cheap.”
“The goal here is not to save money,” Koller said, “but to create a program that provides more options for students in terms of scheduling and learning.”
“All in all, I am sad that an asynchronous Hebrew program is what YU has chosen for its students,” Linzer said. “So many of the students want to improve their Hebrew conversational skills and this is nearly impossible to do without human interactions.”
She added, “As I told the Dean and the Provost, it has been a pleasure and privilege to teach Yeshiva College’s students. I feel fortunate to have met and worked with so many wonderful students, and I look forward to hearing about their many successes in years to come.”
Photo Caption: Linzer and Schachter were set to teach three and two courses this fall, respectively.
Photo Credit: The Commentator
Editor's Note: This article was updated on July 13 to include why Prof. Lidovsky-Cohen will not be teaching Hebrew next fall.