Come and Experience a Golden Age
Our time at Yeshiva University is jam-packed and passes quickly. In fact, Professor Judah Diament’s article in a recently published guide to getting the most of the Yeshiva University bemoans the tendency of many Yeshiva students to attempt to complete their undergraduate years in as few years as possible, with an overloaded schedule.
There are (as, to be clear, Professor Diament acknowledges) understandable financial pressures that impact how much time most of us spend here and how we spend that time. However, it would be a shame not to appreciate the opportunities this place offers while we are here. As we embark on a new year at The Commentator, we are mindful of the tremendous opportunity we have to chronicle life at YU—from debates over the big ideas of the day to the rhythms of daily life at the flagship Jewish institution in North America. The more time I spend at YU, my fascination with, and appreciation for, what is occurring in a small section of Washington Heights grows. Students who realize these opportunities will have an easier time getting out of bed after a lackluster YU night of sleep (and we all know what that feels like).
This place is rich with culture, academic and spiritual opportunities and provides an opportunity to identify and analyze sociological trends in a particular segment of the Jewish community that will surely someday be part of history books. There is a strong Yeshiva culture that dominates the life of many male YU students. These students take advantage of tremendous opportunities to learn from the tremendous Talmidei Chachamim whose Torah will live on forever. There are YU and Stern students who are vocally uncomfortable with this more pervasive black and white (pun intended) view and whose university experience is not formed or shaped by this more Yeshiva-style world. There are also less weighty cultural trends that are worthy of attention, whether it is the fact that hundreds of guys wear the same Charles Tyrwhitt shirts, stretchy pants, and Cole Haan shoes, or the fact that some students feel that night seder is inviolate for almost any reason, while others look for a different balance and spend their nights focusing on different clubs and extracurriculars. Many YU students spend every minute they can in Washington Heights or Midtown while others don’t even bother unpacking the suitcase they packed on Monday morning to last them until Thursday night.
We of course expect to cover important and controversial developments such as the recent lawsuits. At the same time, we hope to address the impact of these issues on students' daily lives. Yeshiva University offers a microcosm for exploring important issues related to the tensions between traditional Orthodox values and modernity, and we will aim to cover all stories fully and promptly, and hopefully in a manner that offers a platform to a diversity of viewpoints.
And this is all happening while the school is expanding and improving. Undergraduate enrollment numbers are higher than ever before. Many new initiatives have been started over the past few years including the launch of the Sacks-Herenstein Center, the Torat Tziyon program and even chesed relief missions in Europe. In my opinion, this is the best time to ever be a YU student as the institution, while not without its flaws, stands tall and strong and is (hopefully) entering a post-pandemic phase.
No part of daily life at YU should pass in the blink of an eye. YU is going through a golden age filled with growth, advancement and tensions that must become a history textbook.
It is our job to write this textbook. First and foremost, it is The Commentator’s job to record the history. Ultimately, I do not view Volume 88.1 of The Commentator as a newspaper. Of course, we will report on all the news promptly and objectively. Of course, there will be opinion articles that are more relevant to the current political climate in America than they are to YU. That being said, this year’s Commentator will aim to be the most fantastic time capsule and primary source ever created to understand the questions and atmosphere of YU and the Orthodox world in 2022 and 2023.
So, we should all start our years and journeys appreciating where we are and how special this place is—it is our job to write the history book. Yeshiva University is shining; will you be a part of the Golden Age?
Photo Caption: Yeshiva University
Photo Credit: Wikipedia