Last night I attended a Young Alumni meeting at Yeshiva University. I learned the following things:
-Yeshiva University is currently running on a 22 million dollar structured deficit; the prediction is that President Joel runs out of cash (not endowment funds, but cash) next year
-Due to this, the plan is to cut 12 million from the budget by next year. That way, President Joel will have cash to play with for four years.
For anyone who is interested in more information about these numbers, why it is this way and what you can do about it, email Barbara Birch at the Office of Alumni Affairs at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There was one point that President Joel made that particularly resonated with me. He asked us to image a world without YU. What would Judaism look like without YU? That's when it started to hit me- you'd have Boro Park and liberal Judaism, perhaps a few Jews drifting somewhere in the middle because they're graduates of Touro or TI-and nothing in between. Imagine a world totally untouched by YU: no college, no university, no RIETS Semikha program, no YU Rabbis, no YU Kollels, no Center for the Jewish Future programming, no Azrieli teachers in Jewish day schools, no doctors from Einstein, no psychologists from Ferkauf, no business majors from Sy Syms. Basically, imagine YU didn't exist at all.
If you're part of the circles in which I move, such a thing is almost impossible. Your everyday interactions revolve around some sort of Yeshiva University connection, whether it's a rabbi you respect, the fact that you were once a student there, the psychologist you see weekly, the doctor who gives you a check-up, the kid who donated bone marrow to you and swabbed at a YU Gift of Life event. Whether you realize it or not, you have been changed for the better because of something to do with YU.
What we have to realize is that the burden of supporting this institution falls upon our shoulders. It may not be everything that we envisioned and it cannot be all things to all people. But it holds a place of supreme importance in the Jewish world. And a Jewish world without YU and everything it entails is a scary prospect.
We give money all the time because we don't want to live in a world without the State of Israel. I'm not saying it's the same thing, because it's not (for one thing, because YU isn't a country) but it's still pretty important. Imagine America without Yeshiva University and you have dealt a death blow to committed, relevant Orthodox Judaism in the States. Whether or not you were a student at YU yourself, in some way, you've benefited from the institution. It's just good practice to say thanks.