By: Shlomit Ebbin  | 

Wilf Students Approve New Vice President of Chesed Position in SOY Vote

Student Organization of Yeshiva (SOY) will replace its public relations secretary position with a new role of vice president of chesed after 208 Wilf students voted to approve the move in an emergency amendment on Thursday, April 7. 

Yeshiva Student Union President Elazar Abrahams (YC ‘22) emailed Wilf students about the vote the day prior. He explained that the constitutional amendments to make that change — which he linked to the email — were approved by two-thirds of the Amendments Committee and four-fifths of the General Assembly, so all that was left was a student vote. 

Students had from 7 a.m. Thursday morning until 11 p.m. that night to vote. 238 students voted, with 207 voting “yea,” 30 voting “nay,” and five abstaining. The threshold to pass the vote was 80%.

The amendment is: “The SOY Vice President of Chesed must be a student in good standing and belong to a Judaic studies morning program, and can be from any class. The VP of Chesed will oversee chesed initiatives on the Wilf campus, both generating and organizing ideas, as well as being the point of contact for the student body when they have a chesed opportunity. He will also handle PR for SOY.”

VP of chesed is a position that exists on Beren Campus as part of the Torah Activities Council (TAC), but it does not exist on Wilf. Part of the role of this newly elected position is to be the point person for all chesed activities, as well as the contact for male undergraduate students with chesed initiative ideas. Additionally, the VP of Chesed will also be responsible for PR for SOY.

“We're excited to have someone on the SOY student council fully dedicated to enabling chesed opportunities and emphasizing its importance,” said SOY President Yoni Laub (YC ‘22). “It's a true testament to one of our yeshiva's core Torah values — Torat Chesed.”

The amendment was inspired by the YU Ukrainian refugee relief mission in Vienna. “Our mission aiding Ukrainian refugees in Vienna over Purim has all student leaders thinking about how we can increase chesed opportunities at Yeshiva University,” the email stated. “Creating a dedicated VP of Chesed position will allow us to streamline all chesed initiatives through one channel.” 

Vice Provost of Values and Leadership and Sacks-Herenstein Center Director Erica Brown, who played a major role in taking students to Vienna, was a big part of the inspiration for this new position. “On our trip to Vienna, Dr. Erica Brown discussed what she called "the feminization of chesed" — this growing sentiment that chesed is something only for women and that men should be spending all their time in beit midrash,” shared Abrahams. “It got me thinking about what we can do to combat that, and it starts with making this dedicated student council position.”

“I'm delighted that SOY will now have a VP of Chesed,” shared Brown. “It's long overdue since it is one of Judaism's foundational values and central to the ethos of the religious persona. It is the glue that creates and sustains community.”

Sruli Fruchter contributed to this story.

Photo Caption: 237 students voted on the emergency amendment.

Photo Credit: Yeshiva University