Psychology

More than 1,600 students, alumni and faculty sign letter against Yeshiva University’s attitude towards LGBTQ students

More than 1,600 students, alumni and faculty sign letter against Yeshiva University’s attitude towards LGBTQ students
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More than 1,600 students, alumni, and faculty from Yeshiva University signed an open letter to YU’s leadership expressing disappointment at the university’s decisions and calling on the university to change its approach to its LGBTQ students. The petition hopes to highlight support for LGBTQ students in YU and in the wider Jewish community.

The letter, titled “A Call from the Heart of the YU Community,” was composed by Netanel Zellis-Paley (YC ’18), Malka Svei and two others requesting anonymity, and spread on social media from Saturday night, a day after YU announced a temporary cessation of student club activities.

“YU’s refusal to sanction the club insinuated that such a simple statement of identity would violate Torah values.” is in the letter. “We are concerned that if this conflict continues, the message these students were trying to dispel will only be reaffirmed. We worry that our LGBTQ+ siblings will continue to be stigmatized as born sinners, when in reality sin is a fact that every Jew struggles with.

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“Most seriously, we fear that LGBTQ+ Jews will come to believe that their only choice is to suffer in silence or leave our communities altogether.”

Zellis-Paley told The Commentator that the purpose of the petition is to highlight LGBTQ people in YU and the Jewish community that there are many people who support them.

“YU’s actions implicitly assume that there is a silent majority who do not want LGBTQ+ people in their community,” he said. “Even if we don’t have a majority, we felt an obligation to make sure LGBTQ+ Jews heard our voice and know we’re here for them.”

In addition, Zellis-Paley said that while he acknowledges the complexity of the decisions for rabbis and community leaders, he does not believe an adequate response has been given.

“LGBTQ+ Jews do not deserve – and can no longer afford – to wait as rabbis and community leaders continue to question and postpone the decision to future generations rather than face it fully in all its complexities, including deep and far-reaching questions of theology and faith,” he said. “LGBTQ+ Jews now deserve strong and loud leadership, and all they got was silence. So we took it upon ourselves.”

All signatories to the letter were asked to use their real names and sign only if they were a current or former student, an employee of one of the YU schools, a trustee or a donor. The majority of the letter’s signatories are not current students.

The letter comes amid multiple internal responses to YU from faculties in their graduate schools, condemning YU’s decision to block the YU Pride Alliance and support YU’s LGBTQ students.

Faculties of Cardozo School of Law, Wurzweiler School of Social Work, Ferkauf School of Psychology, as well as Albert Einstein College of Medicine and the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Montefiore Medical Center have released similar statements in support of LGBTQ students and condemn YU’s position.

On September 20, the undergraduate faculty of Yeshiva College, Stern College and Sy Syms School of Business submitted a similar open letter to The Commentator with 73 signatures, some of them anonymously.

On Wednesday, there were strikes at Cardozo School of Law, Ferkauf School of Psychology and Wurzweiler School of Social Work in support of LGBTQ students.

In a statement sent to The Commentator on Wednesday, YU expressed interest in reopening the dialogue to support its LGBTQ students, the activity saying it was “stopped by the lawsuit”. release stated, “We remain committed to a meaningful dialogue about how best to ensure an inclusive campus for all students in line with our religious beliefs.”

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