RESPONSE: In Defense of Yeshiva University Basketball Players

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Dear VIN News:

This is in response to the letter to the editor regarding the YU basketball team not wearing yarmulkas:

As a former student at YU I was extremely disappointed in the nature of this letter to the editor.

YU brands themselves as a modern orthodox university based on Jewish values. Connected to that is Yeshivas Rabbeinu Yitzchak Elchanon (RIETS), which is legally considered an affiliate of YU.

Not all the students at YU are part of this Yeshiva Program. There are many students at YU who are not religious and are part of other Jewish study programs such as the Isaac Breuer College of Hebraic Studies (IBC), and the James Striar School (JSS).

These programs adopt a sense of inclusion and kiruv to these not religious students and enable them to be in an atmosphere of Jewish culture and observance for a portion of their day. The teachers and rabbis in these programs are incredible, and many teach in both these programs and the yeshiva.

All that being said, there are still many students who are not observant and who do not wear yarmulkas during secular classes.

Being an inclusive institution, YU cannot force students to wear yarmulkas, just like Fordham University cannot force the students to wear crosses. Neither can the administration of YU force the students to keep Shabbos or kosher.

The students are well above the age to make those decisions for themselves.

Seeing YU have students who stretch from the ultra orthodox to the non religious should be seen as a major accomplishment on their part.

The fact that they are able to attract students who would otherwise go to NYU or Columbia while at the same time having an affiliated yeshiva with some of best Talmidei Chachamim is a major testament to the success of their model.

Seeing players on the team who are both religious with yarmulkas and non religious without yarmulkas, is a sign of the beauty of the work they do in the thriving of the American Jewish community.

You may disagree with their hashkafah, but that is their hashkafah nonetheless. Instead of focusing on the players without yarmulkas, stress to your children the amazing players who wear yarmulkas (two of the best players on the team wear yarmulkas).

If all you can do seeing this is judge the players because of your personal feeling towards YU, then maybe look more into the structure and philosophy of why YU exists, and the large effect it has on world Jewry and world academia.

The views expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect those of VIN News. 


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