Yeshiva University announced that they have approved the establishment of a new campus LGBTQ organization, as they are in the middle of a legal battle waged by a former group that the school would not fund.
YU has maintained during the lawsuit brought by YU Pride Alliance that they are within their rights to decide against supporting student groups that do not comport with Jewish values. The new group, they said, would be “an approved traditional Orthodox alternative to YU Pride Alliance” that abides by halacha, or Jewish law.
“The club 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,” YU said in a press release.
The university said the group will provide a forum for students to “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.”
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The group will be known as Kol Yisrael Areivim, a Hebrew phrase taken from the Jewish idea that all Jews are responsible for each other.
The school said they will also improve their on-campus services for LGBTQ students, which they said currently includes an LGBTQ support group, sensitivity training for faculty and staff, and educational sessions during new student 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,” YU President Rabbi Dr. Ari Berman said in a statement.
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YU Pride Alliance called the new group a “sham” in a statement following the school’s announcement, claiming that it was not formed or led by students and that it does not have any members.
“This is a desperate stunt by Yeshiva University to distract from the growing calls from its donors, alumni, faculty, policymakers, and the business community, who have stood alongside the YU Pride Alliance, as we continue to fight for our rights,” the group said, adding that “it is a feeble attempt by YU to continue denying LGBTQ students equal treatment as full members of the YU student community.”
The lawsuit YU Pride Alliance brought against YU went to the U.S. Supreme Court after a state court ruled that the school must support Pride Alliance because it is an educational institution, not a religious one. The high court sent the case back down, saying that the school had not exhausted its options in state court.
As the case continues, both sides agreed to a stay of the New York state court ruling after YU said they were temporarily suspending all student groups on campus. The school lifted the suspension after agreeing to the stay.
YU rejects the idea that they are not a religious institution.
“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’s press release announcing the new LGBTQ group said, adding that they “will continue to defend itself” in the Pride Alliance case.