As my junior year of high school comes to a close, the college selection process, and the stress that comes with it, has begun to weigh heavily on my mind. Do I want to go to a school close to home or venture out of my geographic comfort zone? Are my grades good enough? Have I racked up enough worthy extracurriculars? What educational programs am I looking for? These are just some of the thoughts that I, and I can only assume other students, have on a daily basis — weighing all of the factors again and again, trying to figure out where the next phase in my life will unfold.
Now, grades and vocational interests are critical aspects to consider when deciding to which colleges I will apply and ultimately attend. However, there is another aspect that is equally critical to me as I evaluate various universities — the anti-Jewish and anti-Israel sentiment that pervades too many of our universities.
I can speak only for myself, but growing up in an Orthodox community and attending religious Zionist schools and summer camps has left me in “the bubble,” as many refer to it. I’ve always been surrounded by Jews and really never have been in a personal situation where I felt unsafe or attacked because of my religion. On a college campus, however, most probably that will change. I frequently read stories about how BDS movements are gaining traction on college campuses, how blatant anti-Israel bias colors the lectures of prominent faculty, and how resolutions are being passed that demand divestiture from companies conducting business with Israel. This hostile environment leaves Jewish and non-Jewish pro-Israel students feeling alienated and threatened. Now, I face the very real possibility that the stories I have only read about will become my reality.
What am I to do? Am I to attend a Jewish university and stay in the safety of the bubble a bit longer, or should I go elsewhere and face the threat head-on? I’m not necessarily intimating that I should go off and become a BDS-fighting superhero, although I know my parents would be proud (and scared). All I’m saying is that I know that I need to take the time to get comfortable and well-prepared for the situation that I may someday face.
Anti-Semitism is getting worse every day and is attacking from new and unexpected directions. College campuses provide for a concentrated environment in which anti-Israel and anti-Jewish rhetoric is not only allowed, but encouraged by faculty. This is a very real issue facing today’s young Jewish high-school and college students.
I am fortunate to attend the Frisch School, where Israel advocacy training is part of the standard curriculum. This training is specifically designed to provide college-bound students with the tools they need to deal with anti-Israel and anti-Jewish sentiment on college campuses. I urge all Jewish high-schools to include these programs in their standard curriculum. This will better prepare their students for the challenges they may face at secular universities and, sadly, for the rest of their lives.
He wasn’t a unicorn
I think Tony’s answer to your headline question (“Is it Tony or Ozer” April 10) would’ve been either “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet” (Romeo and Juliet 2:1) or “Don’t look at the flask but what is in it” (Avot 4:27) depending on what he thought would best resonate with the questioner. The answer is the same from a holistic Torah personality, but expresses itself based on the facts and circumstances.
I knew (to the extent one can know someone) R’Ozer Yeshaya Hacohain Glickman Z”L for 40 years. In the early years we learned together regularly, and though he was certainly far more able than I, he generously gave of his time and knowledge. I think there’s an important point to be made regarding what might be a misconception that a reader might draw from much of what has been written about this “ish eshkolot” (renaissance man).
I don’t think R’ Ozer would be happy being held up as a unicorn, even though his blending of both worlds was the reason he felt the Yeshiva asked him to be “on the road” so much. I believe he felt that anyone could do what he did at their own level. The question the Yeshiva (and our community) needs to ask itself is have they encouraged (or perhaps should they? — my uninformed sense is that RIETS looks at the separate mountain approach as a vision — a la Rav Soloveitchik’s famous metaphor) broad lives (a la R’Hutner’s metaphor) in any of their best and brightest? Do they regularly seek out role models of that nature or only exceptional examples in specific accomplishments (e.g. big talmid chacham or big financial success but not a balancer)? Balancing priorities is a big challenge in life, if one wants to honor R’OYG Z”L imho one might start with some cheshbon hanefesh looking at his balance and its message for us. (No two of us will likely reach the same conclusions but that’s what is to be expected — it’s the process not the results).
Another way to honor his memory would be to think of something he would say to his shiur along the lines of “If you want to show kavod to me, don’t stand when I come in but be prepared for my shiur.” Are we preparing properly?
Yhi zichro baruch
(or as R’OYG Z”L would say, “The Vilna of Essex County)
What would Hertzberg say?
I read Joanne Palmer’s editorial in last week’s Jewish Standard with great interest (“Competing truths,” May 18).
I never met Rabbi Hertzberg. He was her teacher, so of course she knew him well.
I fully acknowledge that he was a great man. I fervently wish that he was alive today, to reply directly to her implication that he was a pluralist (a believer in the concept of multiple equally valid but opposing “truths”).
Perhaps he was. Like I said, she knew him well.
I do not hold with the concept of multiple truths. For me only our Torah imparts absolute truth. The Torah is absolutely clear that the Jewish People alone own Eretz Israel. Muslim Jihadist clerics emphatically state that the land belongs to Islam. These theological assertions are diametrically opposed and irreconcilable. I hold that Torah is true and Jihadist Islamism is false (in regard to the Promised Land).
However, the question of how we Jews should deal with this conundrum is extremely complicated. We must be guided in our decisions by great rabbis and statesmen. As I stated above, I wish that Rabbi Hertzberg (who admirably fit in both categories) was here to advise us. Regardless of our decisions, there is only one truth. That is the truth of Torah. Eretz Israel belongs to the Jews!
More on refugees
A letter lamenting the Palestinian refugee problem, although well-meaning, is woefully incorrect.
In 1948, as the State of Israel was created by United Nations Mandate and supported by a majority of members, the soon-to-be Israelis urged the Arab residents of the new country to remain and build a nation with them.
At the same time Arab leaders urged them to leave so the attack could begin and they would have the entire country free of Jews. This push was led by the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, an ally of the late and unlamented (except in Arab circles) Adolph Hitler.
The British, holders of the expiring mandate, began to withdraw but did so on a schedule that permitted the Arabs to move in behind them occupying fortified positions and taking control of huge weapons supplies. To the shock of everyone and the dismay of some, the Jews won and the nation of Israel was born.
The so-called Palestinian refugees sought succor in neighboring countries. To this day, almost 70 years later they are still refugees. Not one Arab nation has admitted them as residents/citizens. They are confined to tent camps and other terrible conditions. Why have their brethren not brought them in as full citizens? Simple. So long as they have this dust in the eye, they can use them politically.
While Israel has been pushed to make concessions over the decades, nothing has been asked of them. Not a single concession. The Palestinian charter calls for the destruction of Israel. Residents of Paterson celebrate “Nakbah Day.”
In one sector, greenhouses built by Israelis, that provided bountiful produce, were destroyed within hours after they departed and turned them over to the so-called Palestinians. They could have kept them in the pristine condition in which they were found and provided food for their people. Instead they were totally destroyed.
Every time Israel has extended a hand, it has been bitten. How can you deal with a people whose main goal in life is to destroy you? It’s time the world realizes that these people are pawns on the terrorist leaders and stopped blaming Israel for everything. There are no demonstrations when rockets are fired into civilian Israeli territory, but many take to the streets when Israel defends itself. No demonstrations when an Israeli child care center is destroyed or a terrorist sneaks into the home of a sleeping family and murders them all—men, women and children, but if Israel has the temerity to respond, the world comes to life in condemnation.
It’s well past time that the press and world began to have an equal hand in the mid-East situation.