Kudos to the editorial staff of The Jewish Link for imploring our community to support Rabbi Dr. Ari Berman, the President-elect of Yeshiva University (“Support for YU’s New President,” November 17, 2016). While much attention has understandably been directed toward the President-elect of the United States these last few weeks, I would argue that for those of us who care deeply about the future of American Jewry, the appointment of Rabbi Dr. Berman is of greater consequence. A new administration in Washington will invariably impact our community positively in some respects and negatively in others but history has taught us that, in the US political realm, change is often incremental.
YU, however, is at an inflection point in its history (both financially and ideologically) and what happens on its campus and, perhaps more importantly, to its message, over the coming years will not only dictate its ability to prosper as a first-rate institution of higher learning but determine whether the Modern Orthodox ethos will continue to have a champion. For those of us who value a lifestyle that fuses Torah with modernity, YU’s continued ability to uphold this creed and serve as a bridge between increasingly disparate factions within the Jewish community is imperative, irrespective of whether we are alumni of the institution or have any plans to attend.
Having known Rabbi Dr. Berman for over 30 years, including for more than a decade as a congregant, I can attest that there is no one better suited to assume the mantle of leadership at this vital institution. His scholarship, dynamism and passion for the cause will afford YU its best chance to meet its challenges and offer Modern Orthodoxy its best hope for invigoration. It is now incumbent upon us, the broader constituency, to step forward and rally around this great leader.