By: Rabbi Rodney (Elisha) Weiss  | 

Letter To The Editor: YU and LGBTQ

“A judge ruled on Aug. 23 that Yeshiva University immediately recognize the YU Pride Alliance as an official campus club, rejecting the school’s motion to delay the execution of a previous court order to recognize the club.”

As a very proud alumnus of Yeshiva University (YU), I wanted to share a perspective on this topic. I am also putting out a request to those who are pushing this agenda to seriously reconsider their position and maybe appreciate what YU has truly represented to the Torah world.

In the fall of 1983, I began a journey that has left an indelible mark on my life. It was the day that I came to Yeshiva University High School for Boys (MTA). It was a short time before Rosh Hashana and Rabbi Yitzchak Cohen, my ninth grade rebbe, taught us about Teshuvah and how to connect to Hashem through learning Torah. The journey over the next eleven years was paved with gold as the great Rebbeim that I met taught me and guided me on a permanent journey of Avodas Hashem (service of Hashem), which has included a lifetime commitment to the Rabbanus and Jewish Education. I remember seeing Rabbi Soloveitchik z”l in the street, and although at the time the Rav’s health was failing, the mere presence of the Rav on campus created an atmosphere of Kedusha.

Two more memories: the Chanukah and Purim Chagigot (celebrations), when Rav Dovid Lifshitz would enter the Bais Medrash and come to the middle and sing V’taher Libaynu L’avdicha Bemes, purify our heart to serve You sincerely. This is the Yeshiva University that has touched the lives of countless people. If you look around the country both at the Rabbanim and the Mgidei Shuir and the number of Baal Habatim committed to a life of Torah, you can see the great success of the place that we called our Yeshiva.

For almost twenty years, I had the privilege of being the Baal Tefilla at the YU Bais Medrash on the first night of Selichos. Who can forget the Divrei Chizuk (words of inspiration) of both Rabbi Meir Goldvicht and Rabbi Yosef Blau and then the sounds of the Selichos that reverberated through the room demanding us to achieve higher levels of spirituality. When you davened Selichos at YU, you knew that Hashem’s presence could be felt, and you were moved and inspired by this special evening. I can go on and on, but I wanted to just present a small taste of what Yeshiva University meant to me and many others. It has been a place where we grew and came close to Hashem, a closeness that we took with us as we began our lives outside the Yeshiva.

Recently, there has been an attack on my home in the form of the YU Pride Alliance court case. The YU Pride Alliance sued YU in order to strongarm the Yeshiva to allow them to have an official club on campus. As of recently, the courts are forcing YU to comply.

The question I ask with tears in my eyes is “Why?” As aforementioned, YU has been such a special place of Torah. Why demand that we violate our precious Torah and validate this group's agenda in our community? If someone wants to go to YU, they should be welcomed, but the Ribbono Shel Olam has already spoken about the acceptance of this lifestyle in the Torah, and we cannot change what has already been divinely mandated.

Should we empathize with this group? Should we invite them to come to shul, the Bais Medrash, our smachot? The answer is a resounding yes. But to ask YU to take a position against the Torah is unfair.

I beg the LGBTQ+ community to take a step back and recognize what YU is and drop the fight. We understand what you want, but for a moment reflect on what you are fighting for and realize that what you ask is unattainable under the umbrella of a Yeshiva.

YU must remain the Yeshiva it has always been and continue its mission to produce Bnei and Bnos Torah that will impact the Jewish community for generations to come, through the legacy of its past luminaries and the potential of budding Jewish leaders. As we enter Chodesh Elul, now is the time to reflect on this idea.