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Joel Elected YU President
Editor and Publisher
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In a move widely seen as a victory for the centrist element of Modern Orthodoxy, and despite rabbinic opposition, Richard Joel, 52, was elected president of Yeshiva University late Thursday night, Dec. 5. In the spring he will succeed Dr. Norman Lamm, who has led the flagship institution of the movement since 1976. For the last 14 years Joel was president and international director of Hillel, the Jewish campus organization, and is widely viewed as one of the most dynamic leaders in American Jewry for resuscitating Hillel and making it a major presence on college campuses. Joel will become the fourth president in YU history and the first who is neither a rabbinic nor academic scholar. His lack of rabbinic authority was a major point of contention with the faculty of the rabbinic school, the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS), under whose influence YU has moved to the religious right in recent years. Two of the rabbis, Michael Rosensweig and Mayer Twersky, were invited by RIETS chairman Julius Berman to address the board, made up of more than 40 people, before the vote Thursday evening. The rabbis offered impassioned speeches as to why Yeshiva should be led by a rabbinic scholar, and voiced concern that YU could become a more secular school, like Brandeis University or Bar-Ilan in Israel. But after three hours of discussion, Joel was elected president of RIETS, a title he will hold in addition to president of Yeshiva University, the post to which he had been elected earlier in the evening by a wide margin. Rabbi Lamm will maintain his current position as rosh yeshiva, or dean, of RIETS for the near future. Joel is expected to be introduced at YU’s annual major dinner and Chanukah convocation on Sunday evening at the Waldorf-Astoria. For a more detailed story on the background and context of the Joel election, see “Back To The Center For YU?” on this week’s Home Page at

Last Update:

03/06/2012 - 23:37
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