Yeshiva College in Washington Heights, which is Yeshiva University’s undergraduate college of liberal arts and sciences for men, has dissolved its Robert M. Beren Department of Jewish Studies, The Commentator, YU’s independent newspaper, reported Sunday (YC Jewish Studies Department Dissolved, Department of Bible, Hebrew, and Near Eastern Studies Formed).
Faculty associated with the Jewish Studies Department will be reassigned to three new, separate departments come the Spring 2021 semester: the Jewish Philosophy, History, and Bible, Hebrew, and Near Eastern Studies Departments.
The YC History Department will feature General History and Jewish History.
The chair of the former Jewish Studies Department, Dr. Joshua Karlip, told The Commentator that the decision “was made by the faculty with the approval of the administration.” Karlip will continue as chair of the Jewish History division of the History Department, alongside Dr. Douglas Burgess who will continue at the helm of General History. Dr. Ari Mermelstein is likely to chair the Department of Bible, Hebrew, and Near Eastern Studies.
University Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Selma Botman told The Commentator the restructuring will place professors of Jewish Philosophy and Jewish History in departments where their “training and research methodologies align with their new colleagues.”
Dr. Aaron Koller, a professor of Near Eastern Studies who previously served as chair of the YC Jewish Studies Department, explained that the YC Jewish Studies Dept. has lost over the past four years Professors Barry Eichler, Shmuel Schneider, Sarah Kasher-Bendet and Mitchell Orlian, who have retired, and Dr. Yaakov Elman who died. Other faculty members, such as Professors JJ Schachter and Jill Katz, are teaching at Stern College for Women, but not at YC.
Koller told The Commentator that “the university administration has made it clear that we will not be allowed to hire anyone new to replace all these losses, so the department has slowly – actually, rapidly – been shrinking.”