OSL Pulls the Plug on Kol Hamevaser Talk By Rabbi Aryeh Klapper

By: Mindy Schwartz  |  December 18, 2017

This Wednesday, December 20th Kol Hamevaser (KHM), Yeshiva University’s Journal of Jewish Thought, was set to host guest speaker Rabbi Aryeh Klapper. Rabbi Klapper was supposed to speak about “Retzon Hashem, Human Experience, and Lomdus: A Philosophical Agenda for the Beis Medrash.”

The event was was approved on December 4th, however this Monday, December 18th, the Office of Student Life informed KHM event planners that they were pulling the plug. Rabbi Weisberg, head of OSL, told the event planners that their event was only initially approved due to a bureaucratic “glitch” and because of that confusion he was not made aware of it until last week. Because of the late notice, OSL claimed that the proper preparations, which require a great deal of “sensitivity and thought,” for Rabbi Klapper coming to campus could not be put into place in such a short period of time.

The preparations were necessary, according to OSL, because of the controversy around a speech Rabbi Klapper gave in Rubin Shul on the Wilf campus last year. Rabbi Klapper is the Dean of the Center for Modern Torah Leadership and Rosh Beit Midrash of The Summer Beit Midrash Program in Sharon, Massachusetts.

Revel Graduate School hosted Rabbi Klapper less than two weeks ago on December 6th, where he spoke about “The Nature of the Halakhah in Halakhic Man.” Rabbi Klapper is also set to be a guest on the Beren campus next Shabbat, an arrangement which was approved by OSL in November. The theme of the Shabbat will be “Ethical Challenges in Modern Orthodoxy.”

While OSL told KHM that the Wednesday event has to be cancelled, they also encouraged the event planners to host an event with Rabbi Klapper next semester.

One of the event planners, Doniel Weinreich, told The Observer that he tried to send out sstuds and ystuds to publicize the event last week on Wednesday and Thursday but none of his emails were going through. When he went to print flyers for the event on Thursday afternoon he was told that they could not be printed because of a possible problem with the speaker form they had filled out before their December 4th approval. Weinreich was told that OSL would contact him shortly to update him on the status of the event, and he was asked on Sunday night if he could discuss the situation with OSL on Monday.

Weinrich said that “anticipating what was likely to happen [in the meeting], I decided to share the flyer [for the event] in YU Marketplace so it would be public before anything was pulled.” Alongside his post he wrote, “OSL won’t let us print out this flyer or send any ystuds/sstuds, but this is still a real event and you can come on Wednesday.” The comment garnered a number comments of students expressing frustration at the event’s cancellation.

One commented, “Sincerely upset this event was cancelled. Whoever was responsible has some ‘splainin to do.” While one commenter suggested that Rabbi Klapper still come, just not as an “official event,” others noted that this would “probably not be the best idea.”

Another commenter questioned the ability of OSL to override an event that has been sponsored by SOY and TAC and that “the relevant parties should fight back if [an] approved event is censored.” However due to the “glitch” in the system it is possible that TAC and SOY never actually approved the event.

Weinreich told The Observer that while “we haven’t determined our exact recourse, KHM is not going to flout OSL.” After meeting with OSL, he updated his original post on YU Marketplace, writing “Update: this event has been cancelled.”