To discuss issues relevant to the large and growing world of young Frum families and singles who are fully engaged in the Olam HaTorah and Olam HaZeh. You take your career, learning, family (or dating) and play seriously (not necessarily in that order.) You are nervous about the anti-intellectual trends that you see in your community while being proud of being part of the Torah renaissance in our generation.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

YU - Reconciling Institutional Divides

There is very interesting article in the new issue of YU's The Commentator .

It recaps a moderated discussion between Rav Herschel Schechter and a Dean of Yeshiva College, Dr. David Srolovitz. They clearly have very different views about what YU should be like - particularly its academic programs.

To deal with the divide, I have the following proposal. But first, a recap of the problem.

The University at YU wants to maintain an educational institution of the highest caliber. This will attract Jewish students who might otherwise go to Ivy League colleges. That is an admirable goal.

The Roshei Yeshiva at YU want to maintain a Yeshiva atmosphere of the highest levels of Yirat Shamayim and shmirat haMitzvot so that 'the best and brightest' across the Orthodox spectrum will feel comfortable learning at YU and all the bochurim will benefit in their Avodat Hashem. That too is an admirable goal.

To make everyone happy, maybe YU should start an evening program on campus which will be more 'parnasa-training' oriented, ala Touro. It would be a separate division, so its more limited (and censored) courses would not detract from YU's overall academic standings. For the 'serious' bochur who is more into "Torah u'Parnasa" (as RHS coined it) than "Torah u'Mada", they would be able to learn for two Sedarim (morning and afternoon) and take college courses and study at night. They would receive credits for their learning so that they could focus exclusively on their majors. This would be a similar program to what we had at Ner Yisroel (and still have.. just barely.. stay tuned to see if the new NIRC RY (Rav Aharon Feldman) shuts down the college option). Boys in the 'night college' program would be able to take a course or two in the day program on an exceptional case-by-case basis. The program should be open for summer school as well, to help the guys finish their degree in a reasonable time frame.

This idea would make everyone happy. The only danger would be in opening the schisms between the varied and diverse student body more than it already is. But from a relative of mine who attended YU recently it seems that the student body is already self-segregated along 'religious' lines.