In 1997, I graduated from Yale College. One of my proudest accomplishments during my time at Yale was helping to found the organization known today as Shabtai. Since graduating, I have remained an active member, and currently serve as President and a Trustee of the organization.
Anyone who has come through our doors knows that Shabtai is a special and truly unique organization, defying any one definition. It is a company of scholars. It is a society of friends. It is an intellectual space where all opinions are heard. Shabtai is diverse in its founding members, in its current members and in the broad array of ideas we hold dear. Shabtai has no politics. Shabtai has no business interests. Rather, it is a sacred space both on and off campus. And most importantly, in my opinion, Shabtai is the only place at Yale at which each and every Yalie can feel at home.
Unfortunately, however, a recent opinion article in the News misrepresented and maligned Shabtai, its members and its purpose. This article is particularly unfortunate because it contains factual inaccuracies and omissions about the organization that could have, and should have, been avoided if the author had cared to investigate the facts or simply included the facts that we had provided to the author prior to the publication.
So, to correct the record, let me publicly state the following. Saifullah Khan is no longer a member of Shabtai. His membership was revoked in 2017. Shabtai does not and never has tolerated harassment of any kind. Pike International has no financial interest, or any other interest, in Shabtai. Pike’s legal proceedings have no bearing on the affairs of Shabtai. These are all facts that were ignored or disregarded, suggesting that the author’s intent in publishing the article at issue was not to pursue the truth, but rather to pursue an agenda against the organization and our rabbinical advisor, Shmully Hecht.
On behalf of the membership of Shabtai, we express our sincere hope that the media can focus on the facts — namely, that Shabtai is a special society that has inspired the lives of thousands of Jewish students, non-Jewish students, faculty, alumni and hundreds of diverse guests for over two decades. Our members continue to work hard to carry on this mission for many more decades to come.
Our organization and members are not perfect. We stand ready to be criticized and defend our often divergent views. But we humbly ask that those who do criticize us first seek to understand and report the facts.
Shaya Rochester graduated from Yale College in 1997. He is both the president and a trustee of Shabtai. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.