The Good Press Stern Deserves
The recent saga concerning Talmud classes at Stern presented an opportunity for those who seem to enjoy bashing YU to do exactly that. The disparaging comments I have seen online regarding this issue and the YU employees involved have been vile, to say the least. I’m extremely concerned if this is how our community engages in discourse. As an undergraduate student, someone who’s actually on the ground, I would like to contribute a voice to this conversation.
I am in the Advanced Gemara shiur at Stern. As one of Rav Kahn’s zt”l last talmidot, I mourn his passing every single day. Was I confused by the decision to cut the Intro and Intermediate Talmud classes? Yes. Did I believe the decision needed to be reversed? Yes. Did I ever think that bashing YU and shaming those involved in the decision was part of the solution? Absolutely not.
A careful examination of the situation at Stern actually paints a different picture of the administration. Dean Shoshana Schechter has spearheaded tremendous change at Stern and has taken Torah learning and programming to new heights, even though she has little staff in her department and is given a minuscule budget. Professor Nechama Price has been keeping GPATS alive and growing for over eight years as director despite the immense difficulty of that task. Under her auspices, GPATS has a recorded number of students and introduced a shana-gimmel track for the first time. Dr. Deena Rabinovich is leading a movement of female educators that is vital for keeping our community alive. These women have a glass ceiling above their heads, yet they have accomplished so much for women’s learning.
In my two years at Stern, I have gained enough to last me a lifetime. I’ve had the opportunity to learn with some of the greatest Jewish minds of our generation, like Rabbi Mordechai Cohen, Rabbi Saul Berman, Dr. Michelle Levine and many more. My thesis mentor is one of the poskei hador, Rabbi Kenneth Auman (how many other university students get to say that!). The relationships I’ve gained here have changed my life. Our new campus couples, the Fines and the Schonbruns, are people I turn to on a daily basis and have become family to me. Rabbi Yosef Blau shlita has become my rebbe, which as a woman is not easy to come by. Shoshana Schechter and Nechama Price are my mentors and inspire me as female role models.
How many other university students have these opportunities?
I acknowledge that there are changes to be made. I hope that as decisions unfold, some of those changes will begin to come to fruition. However, many of the comments and reactions I’ve been hearing and seeing are unwarranted and, quite frankly, embarrassing.
To those of you who believe that such comments will help further positive change for women’s learning at YU, that is not the case. It makes it much harder for those of us who are working hard to make those changes accomplish anything.
While there is much room for introspection with the current predicament at Stern, there is also much reason for hakarat hatov for what we do have, and it is only with this in mind that we can truly enact positive change going forward.
YU means so much to me and so many others, and I’m forever grateful for all it has given me.
Photo Caption: Stern College for Women
Photo Credit: Yeshiva University