Yeshiva University this week announced a new initiative to “support its LGBTQ undergraduates.”
The initiative, “grounded on Halacha and Torah values,” includes support for a new student club which it says is “an approved traditional Orthodox alternative” to the YU Pride Alliance organization that hoped to establish a branch at the school.
In addition, YU said it would beef up its campus support services for LGBTQ students.
“Yeshiva, since its inception, has been and remains a faith community dedicated to fostering and disseminating the principles, values, and dicta of the Torah in today’s world,” the school said in a statement.
“Yeshiva’s religio-educational efforts are animated by a personalized love for all its students and a profound sense of responsibility for their spiritual and mental wellbeing.”
As a result, the university said it is establishing the Kol Yisrael Areivim Club “for LGBTQ students striving to live authentic Torah lives.”
The newly founded undergraduate student club was approved by the university’s administration in partnership with lay leadership, and endorsed by senior yeshiva heads.
The new club “reflects input and perspectives from conversations between Yeshiva’s rabbis, educators, and current and past undergraduate LGBTQ students,” the school said in its statement, adding that it will “provide students with space to grow in their personal journeys, navigating the formidable challenges that they face in living a fully committed, uncompromisingly authentic halachic life within Orthodox communities.
“Within this association students may gather, share their experiences, host events, and support one another while benefiting from the full resources of the Yeshiva community – all within the framework of Halacha – as all other student clubs,” the school said.
“Yeshiva continues to be committed to working with its students to identify additional ways in which it can strengthen its support systems.”
The school is already providing sensitivity training for faculty and staff; specialized consultations through the counseling center; anti-harassment, anti-bullying and anti-discrimination policies; an ongoing LGBTQ support group; and
educational sessions for incoming students during orientation.
“We are eager to support and facilitate the religious growth and personal life journeys of all of our students to lead authentic Torah lives, and we hope that this Torah based initiative with a new student club tailored to Yeshiva’s undergraduate LGBTQ students will provide them with meaningful support to do so,” said Rabbi Dr. Ari Berman, president of the university.
“I add my blessing to this initiative and new student club, which we hope deepens our students’ commitment to the Torah and leads to harmony in our Yeshiva University community,” added Rabbi Hershel Schachter, Rosh Yeshiva of the university.
Yeshiva’s undergraduate curriculum and campus life include two single-sex campuses, multiple prayer services throughout the day, Shabbat regulations, kashrut observance and a daily schedule requiring hours of Torah study.
“Every undergraduate student who makes the personal choice to come to Yeshiva is choosing this religiously driven environment and curriculum, instead of other college experiences,” the school pointed out.
“To protect its ability to fulfill its mission and operate its undergraduate program consistent with Torah values, Yeshiva will continue to defend itself in the lawsuit that was brought against it by the YU Pride Alliance based on the claim that Yeshiva is not a religious institution.”