Religion is a beautiful thing. It can bring people together, create communities, and ensure that traditions are passed on to the next generation. It can also be used as an excuse to exclude, murder, and destroy people and ideas seen as “other”.
Earlier this month, the Supreme Court ruled that in the Yeshiva University v. YU Pride Alliance case that in the short term, the university does not have to recognize its LGBTQ student organization. While the school was waiting for the decision to come down, the administration chose to suspend all student-led clubs.
According to a survey released last year, only 22% of Americans attend religious services of any kind. In this same survey, 31% have never prayed in a formal setting.
It goes without saying that the institution’s cultural and academic foundation is based on traditional Jewish values and teachings. If a particular student is not happy, they are free to continue their education elsewhere.
I disagree with the resolution (Unorthodox podcast talks about it at 20:07). Religion is well and good. But if it is so stuck in the past that modernity and the march toward equality are ignored, that is a problem. If faith leaders want to increase attendance in the various houses of worship, they cannot bury their heads in the sand. This is why people walk away from organized religion. They feel disrespected, ignored, or both.
It’s akin to throwing out the baby with the bathwater. I don’t get it.
I have not attended Saturday morning Shabbat services in more than twenty years. When I do go to services (which are mostly on the high holidays at my parent’s temple), I am turned off by the lack of acknowledgment of women within the prayer book. I know there are other synagogues that are more egalitarian. But, in this case, I wish that I was seen and respected within the liturgy.
Inclusion and respect is the only way to increase participation in formal religious practice and live up to the ideals set up by our founders. I think it would behoove Yeshiva University administrators to rethink the choice they have made.
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