I graduated from Yeshiva College this past May and I can personally attest to the fact that plenty, if not most, YU students do not share Rabbi Mordechai Willig’s perspective on Jewish life (“YU Rabbi Questions Women’s Talmud Study,” Aug. 21).
In early 2015, a recording surfaced of a talk given by Rabbi Willig in which he also questions women’s Torah learning and spends considerable time bashing and joking about LGBT Jews. Many students were personally outraged and as a senior editor for The Commentator, YC’s official undergraduate newspaper, I wrote an article responding to Rabbi Willig’s hurtful claims (entitled “Creating a Community of Support”). I made a point of calling him out by name, despite potential harm that could do to my career since I am now beginning rabbinical school.
Thankfully all the feedback I got was positive, as I had no desire to disrespect him, only to object to his claims. I have found that there is plenty of room in our community for respectful dissent if people can only get over their fears of speaking up. The message we need to give people is that it is ok to disagree with our rabbis. Disagreeing with our rabbis does not disrespect them but rather shows that we value their opinions enough to warrant a respectful response.