By Fruma Landa, Editor in Chief
Senior Vice President Rabbi Dr. Josh Joseph of Yeshiva University has been appointed executive vice president (EVP) and chief operating officer (COO) of the Orthodox Union (OU).
At the time of publication, the YU Observer does not know who will take over Joseph’s position as senior vice president of YU.
“Earlier this week, the board of the Orthodox Union voted me in as the organization’s new [e]xecutive [v]ice [p]resident and [c]hief [o]perating [o]fficer (COO). This is a bittersweet moment for me. While I’m leaving the Yeshiva University family that I’ve been a part of for the last 16 years, I’m truly excited to be heading to a place that shares deeply rooted values for Jewish community and leadership,” shared Joseph with the YU Observer.
The Orthodox Union has expressed that they feel that Joseph is a welcome addition in a particularly busy time. “Rabbi Dr. Joseph’s reputation as a consummate professional and mensch precedes him and I’m very excited about working in partnership with him as we look to further strengthen our OU family internally and our services and offerings to the broader Jewish community,” shared Executive Vice President Rabbi Moshe Hauer of the OU. Joseph, after beginning his new job on September 1, will work in tandem with Hauer, the OU explained. “The OU has an ambitious agenda at a trying time. Coronavirus, anti-Semitism and racial strife present communal, spiritual and emotional challenges and opportunities that we must be prepared to meet. Rabbi Dr. Joseph will be a terrific partner to work with on these and other priorities.”
Meanwhile, his new position with the OU means stepping down from his position at Yeshiva University. President Dr. Rabbi Ari Berman expressed to the YU Observer, “Rabbi Dr. Josh Joseph is an exceptional individual and a dear friend. He has served Yeshiva University with great distinction under two administrations, first with Richard Joel and then as a senior member of my leadership team. Throughout his 16 year tenure, Josh played an integral leadership role at YU, serving in a number of influential positions impacting the lives of our students, faculty, staff, alumni and community at large.”
Dean Karen Bacon, who has worked closely with Joseph in the past, shared that “[i]t has been a pleasure and an honor to work with Josh Joseph. As a strong advocate for students and for academic standards, he brought passion and wisdom to every policy discussion. This is a mighty combination in an administrator, and I will miss his voice at the table.”
For the past few years, Joseph has met with many student leaders and LGBTQ rights activists with the goal of furthering LGBTQ students’ inclusion on campus. On behalf of the YU Pride Alliance 2020-2021 board, Vice President Chana Weiss shared how this impacts the board’s plans to advocate for LGBTQ rights on campus to the YU Observer:
“Vice President Josh Joseph was appointed in 2019 to spearhead a committee established by President Rabbi Dr. Berman to address calls from the student body regarding the LGBTQ+ community at YU. In attempting to accomplish our goal of creating a club on campus that directly serves the LGBTQ+ community, the Pride Alliance board has continuously met and worked with VP Joseph. As the year has ended, there has been little to no significant change to the status quo, however, the Pride Alliance is motivated to continue working with the administration and whoever is appointed to head the committee to create lasting and impactful change for the YU LGBTQ+ community.”
Joseph assured the YU Observer that action will be taken to provide a smooth transition out of his current position. “The next few weeks will provide me time I need to work on my transition plan at YU. I will be working with both Rabbi Berman and the many talented professionals with whom I’ve partnered over the years to ensure that every function, project, and team under my purview moves forward seamlessly.”
While Joseph’s leaving may be difficult, Berman expressed his pride in Joseph’s new position and confidence in his ability to use his position to better the Jewish communities. “I will miss Josh’s leadership and partnership, as well as the engaging and thoughtful way in which he approached each situation. I am also very proud that Josh will assume this prestigious and important position at the OU. I am confident that in his new role, he will continue to apply his prodigious skills and talents for the betterment of our community and broader society. Josh will be helping us seamlessly transition to our next stage throughout the month of July,” Berman explained.
Reflecting on his time at YU, Joseph commented: “During my time at YU, I’ve learned so much from our professional and lay leaders, engaged with our faculty and rabbis, and partnered with professionals at every level and in every area of our broad ecosystem — and I will miss them all. Most of all, however, I will miss our students whether they are in student government or club leaders, athletes, students in my classes and lectures, or those of you who just stopped by for a cup of coffee or gave me a friendly nod in the elevator.”
Rabbi Yaakov Glasser, The David Mitzner Dean of Yeshiva University’s Center for the Jewish Future expressed his admiration for Joseph. “Josh is not only a master manager and administrator, but he took a deep interest in the professional and personal growth of all his colleagues and employees. Josh’s legacy at YU is not only perpetuated through his incredible accomplishments related to the departments that he supervised, but through the reverberating impact of his mentorship, guidance, and friendship to countless members of the YU family.”
“I feel like I have given a lot of myself to YU over my tenure here,” concluded Joseph, “but it doesn’t come close to what I have gained from YU – enriched with deeper skill sets, blessed by enduring relationships and more committed than ever before to improve the Jewish world around me.”