Yeshiva University Suspends Club Activities After Supreme Court Says It Must Recognize LGBT Group

By Rita Li
Rita Li
Rita Li
Rita Li is a reporter with The Epoch Times, focusing on U.S. and China-related topics. She began writing for the Chinese-language edition in 2018.
September 19, 2022 Updated: September 20, 2022

Yeshiva University announced it will suspend all campus club activities in its latest attempt to resist a Sept. 14 Supreme Court ruling that lifted an order that had allowed the university in New York to refuse to accept an LGBT group based on the school’s religious beliefs.

The temporary freeze came ahead of the Jewish High Holidays that start on the evening of Sept. 25, the school’s independent student newspaper The Commentator reported on Sept. 16, citing a university email to students. Founded in 1897, the Orthodox Jewish university describes itself in court documents as “the world’s premier Torah-based institution of higher education.”

“Considering the upcoming Chagim [holiday],” reads the letter that was sent via an unattributed student activities university email account. “The university will hold off on all undergraduate club activities while it immediately takes steps to follow the roadmap provided by the U.S. Supreme Court to protect [Yeshiva University’s] religious freedom.”

The move came after the Supreme Court’s 5–4 decision on Sept. 14, declining to issue the Jewish university a stay on an order to recognize the LGBT student organization on campus, known as YU Pride Alliance. It stemmed from a June court decision that ordered Yeshiva to fully recognize the group, which the religious institution rebuked, arguing it would go against its teachings.

According to the newspaper, the letter didn’t specify who made the decision or how long the suspension of activities would be in effect. The holidays begin with the Jewish New Year on Sept. 25 and continue through Simchat Torah on Oct. 18.

Yeshiva University officials didn’t respond by press time to a request by The Epoch Times for comment.

University President Rabbi Ari Berman issued a statement on Sept. 15, expressing his hope to work with the LGBT community while seeking “that same right of self-determination” to follow its religious mission without being forced.

“Every faith-based university in the country has the right to work with its students, including its LGBTQ students, to establish the clubs, places, and spaces that fit within its faith tradition,” Berman said.

“At the same time, as our commitment to and love for our LGBTQ students are unshakable, we continue to extend our hand in invitation to work together to create a more inclusive campus life consistent with our Torah values,” the president added.

The latest club ban has drawn condemnation from student leaders including Student Union President Baruch Lerman, who vowed to have students’ activity fees, which are part of their tuition, refunded for the extent of the time that student activities are suspended, the Commentator reported.

Rita Li
Rita Li is a reporter with The Epoch Times, focusing on U.S. and China-related topics. She began writing for the Chinese-language edition in 2018.