By YU Observer Staff
Following Sukkot, the five maariv minyanim which took place every half-hour in the Morgenstern Beit Midrash on the Wilf Campus, between 10:30 p.m. and 12:30 a.m., were moved to the second floor lobby of the Glueck Beit Midrash. After a month at this new location, these minyanim were moved to room 101 of Zysman Hall, the building which houses Yeshiva University High School for Boys and the Lamport Auditorium. These late night minyanim are geared towards the men of the Washington Heights community, providing them a maariv minyan accommodating to their work hours.
The YU administration found the minyanim in the Morgenstern Beit Midrash, located in the same building of a Wilf Campus dormitory, to be a security threat. The minyan took place in the basement Beit Midrash of Morgenstern Hall. Because of the nature of the building layout, the basement has no security surveillance. This is a security concern, as there is almost nothing stopping non-YU students from taking the elevator from the basement up to dorm-room floors. To tighten security, a decision was made to move these minyanim to a location non-YU students are able to access, without compromising on security standards.
Student Organization of Yeshiva President Yoni Broth, YC ’20, expressed, “I’m really glad that YU is taking security matter[s] seriously, as we live in a scary world and tragedy seems to be at every corner. It’s just unfortunate that this creates an inconvenience, specifically for our Morg residents who need to walk out in the cold to attend a maariv, and for the women who daven with us, as there is no mechitza in the new location.”
Many women are frustrated with these changes. The Morgenstern Beit Midrash has a permanent mechitza, making it a popular place for women to daven maariv. While the second floor lobby of Glueck does not have a permanent mechitza, there is a portable one which women who want to daven with the late maariv minyan, can set up to daven.
Hannah Abrams, GPATS ’20, remarked to the YU Observer, “As a regular minyan go-er I really appreciate the YU minyan locations which have permanent mechitzot – thank you for those! However around half of minyanim in YU have only a screen lying around that a woman has to put up herself, or no mechitza at all! It’s very confusing to me why my community does not take basic and easy steps to make me feel welcome.”
Many women are more upset with the switch of these five minyanim to room 101 in Zysman. While the second floor lobby of Glueck provided easy access for a portable mechitza, Zysman doesn’t have one at all. There is a mechitza stored across the hall in the Fischel Beit Midrash that a woman can bring over when needed.
A YU spokesperson offered a statement to the YU Observer regarding the new minyan location: “YU is making minyan options available in non-dorm buildings for those in the community who wish to come and daven. It is important to us that both men and women who would like to come to minyanim have a place to daven and we are in the process of finding other options that work for everyone. We recognize that there may be some additional changes needed and are open to feedback to ensure people are comfortable in the minyanim.”
Photo: Morgenstern Dormitory Hall
Photo Source: The YU Commentator