The Real Information Behind GPATS Changes

By: Hannah Dreyfus  |  May 25, 2014

The recent Commentator article entitled New Proposed Changes to GPATS Threaten Women’s Learning at Yeshiva University created quite a stir in the YU community and beyond. However, the article failed to include any authoritative sources on the matter. No GPATS faculty member was consulted before the article was published. The article was based on a preliminary document never intended for official use. The correct information, confirmed by program leaders Rabbi Brander and Rabbi J.J. Schacter, is as follows.

No “complete overhaul” of the GPATS curriculum will be taking place. Learning gemara be-iyyun will continue. Yoreh De’ah will not be cut from the curriculum. The curriculum will continue as a dual halakhah and gemara curriculum for both years of the program.

The pedagogical aspect of the program (which has been taking place for the past 2 years during lunch), intended to better prepare women for future careers in education and community leadership, will “absolutely not be replacing afternoon seder.” “Additional time will have to be found for this dimension of the program,” said Brander. “But detracting from the intensity of the learning is not an option.”

The Commentator’s article additionally inaccurately stated that stipends for students will be “discontinued.” As previously reported, stipends will be reduced to ensure the program’s sustainability, but stipends will not be discontinued. The amount of the new stipend is still being negotiated. Furthermore, students who do not intend on careers in Jewish communal work will not be required to pay $15,000 per year as the Commentator reported.

In a recent letter to the GPATS students, professor and rebbe of GPATS Rabbi Gedalyah Berger assured participants that the five faculty members, Rabbis Kahn, Nachbar, Brander, Schacter and himself, have been engaged in “productive” dialogue about the program’s future. “The five of us are in broad agreement about certain fundamentals regarding the substance, rigor, and schedule of sedarim in the GPATS program, and expect to continue engaging in constructive, collaborative conversation during the coming months,” wrote Berger.

Stressed Brander, “We intend to keep the educational rigor the same.”