By Ilana Rindsberg
Yeshiva University likes to pride itself on promoting religious diversity, but the Chalav Yisrael options in the Stern College cafeterias is just another example of its failure to accommodate the religious diversity it tries to endorse.
Yeshiva University advertises to all different types of Jews, as seen by its billboard on Route 4 in New Jersey, its promotion in The Wall Street Journal, and its Office of International Students and Scholars, which promotes Yeshiva as the home for more than 500 international students from 50 different countries. In addition to YU’s catering to all different types of Jews, the current YSU president, Nolan Edmonson, recently stated in a Commentator article that “it is my firm belief that such religious diversity should be encouraged and cultivated at our institution, precisely because it is an indicator of our students’ ability to be thoughtful and independent thinkers.” YU has established a clear pattern of promoting its institution to everyone from all cultures, sects, and countries.
Although YU advertises to all different communities, it fails to convenience the students that come from these communities. Stern itself lacks a kosher food selection for the Chalav Yisrael individuals that attend the university. In both Stern cafeterias, there is a wide range of yogurt brands like Chobani and Fage, offered in different flavors, fat contents, and sizes. In contrast, Stern has only one choice of yogurt for the Chalav Yisrael observant population. Itta Goldenberg, SCW ’21, validates this reality, saying, “I wanted a yogurt for breakfast and I searched through the entire fridge where I found only one flavor of a fat-free yogurt I could eat. I was very disappointed at the selection.” Not only is the yogurt selection small, but a sign on the coffee machines in the 245 Lexington Avenue cafeteria reads, “Not Chalav Yisrael.”
The problem does not stop in the cafeterias, but extends to all food services YU affords to its students. Recently, a Schottenstein building party offered an ice-cream truck. This truck was, indeed, not Chalav Yisrael. They offered popsicles as the pareve option, but several Chalav Yisrael individuals expressed their disappointment at the limited and unsavory Chalav Yisrael alternative. Rachel Mauda, SCW ’21, expresses her disappointment with the options, saying that “we must cater to the non-Chalav Yisrael community, however, we also must give the Chalav Yisrael community a viable, fair, and just option just as competent as non-Chalav Yisrael options, especially because we are YESHIVA University.״ At many YU events, there is not even one Chalav Yisrael option available, which would be easy to fix. For example, if an event includes ice-cream, the coordinator could easily go to Trader Joe’s and pick up some vegan ice cream, too.
Everyone should be able to participate in a big event on campus. It is fine to have differences and discrepancies within the Halacha, but a Modern Orthodox university should cater to these differences, as YU advertises to all types of Jewish communities.
Stern College is a Modern Orthodox institution, where many of its students keep the laws of Chalav Yisrael. In fact, last year, three of my roommates observed Chalav Yisrael. Therefore, I believe the university needs to be more forthcoming in its options for this crowd of people, as it is unfair to limit them due to their higher standards of kashrut.