March 13, 2009

Letters

Published March 04, 2009, issue of March 13, 2009.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Hebrew College Serves Entire Community

Your February 27 article “Hebrew College’s Big Plans Yield Big Debts” noted some of the challenges facing Hebrew College and other Jewish colleges.

It is true that the academic landscape has changed, as secular universities have increased their Jewish studies offerings. But while some conclude that we have become an anachronism, nothing could be further from the truth.

Make no mistake about it. The Jewish people’s greatest resource is our tradition of learning. Without study and teaching, Jewish identity grows thin, and assimilation becomes inevitable. For the Diaspora, Jewish survival and Jewish education are one and the same.

Hebrew College is a hothouse of innovation for Jewish education and leadership — it cannot be allowed to fail. We have pioneered serious adult Jewish learning, pluralistic rabbinical and cantorial training, and Jewish high school education. We are breaking new ground in Jewish special education and interfaith dialogue as a cornerstone of clergy training.

We have always accepted a wide range of students, from Orthodox to secular — a pluralistic legacy that dovetails with the growing demand for leaders of inclusive Jewish communities.

This academic environment cannot be replicated in a university Jewish studies department. Universities are committed, above all, to critical, objective study of cultural materials. When it comes to religion, they must set firm boundaries. By contrast, a Jewish institution’s first commitment is to the Jewish future. A Jewish institution lives by the Jewish calendar, celebrates Jewish creativity and values. We study the Jewish past in order to build a rich, contemporary Jewish life, one that will be attractive to the next generation, one they will want to carry forward.

Hebrew College is implementing a sustainable business model, having learned from past mistakes. As an institution serving the entire Jewish people, we need broader national support. We ask the great family foundations and Jewish philanthropists, even in the face of their own losses, to help in this critical venture.

Who needs Hebrew College? We, the Jewish people, do.

Rabbi Arthur Green
Rector
Rabbinical School of Hebrew College
Newton, Mass.


For Chavez, Ideology Trumps Practicality

Regarding your February 27 editorial “Chavez and the Jews,” Venezuela is nowhere near Israel and has no quarrel with it. President Hugo Chavez, however, is a Marxist and therefore a member of the de facto Marxist-Islamic alliance. The alliance makes no sense, since Marxists and Islamists agree on nothing at all — nothing, that is, except their opposition to Israel’s existence. Chavez and Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have visited each other’s countries and have become the greatest of friends. One would think that politicians are practical, but practicality takes a back seat to anti-Zionism. And, as so often happens, anti-Zionism in Venezuela and much of the rest of the world has led to open antisemitism.

Venezuela is an oil-rich country. Nevertheless, if Chavez remains in power, his country will surely be threatened by famine. Marxism has always meant famine. Stalin deliberately engineered a famine as part of his struggle against the kulaks. Between the years of 1959 and 1961 tens of millions of Chinese died from famine as a result of Mao’s Great Leap Forward campaign. It was the worst famine in recorded history. During the famine, China continued to export grain to the Soviet Union.

If practicality took a back seat to ideology in the days of Mao, we shouldn’t be surprised that Venezuela is engaging in pointless anti-Zionism and antisemitism. Ideology typically triumphs over all else.

George Jochnowitz
New York, N.Y.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • British Jews are having their 'Open Hillel' moment. Do you think Israel advocacy on campus runs the risk of excluding some Jewish students?
  • "What I didn’t realize before my trip was that I would leave Uganda with a powerful mandate on my shoulders — almost as if I had personally left Egypt."
  • Is it better to have a young, fresh rabbi, or a rabbi who stays with the same congregation for a long time? What do you think?
  • Why does the leader of Israel's social protest movement now work in a beauty parlor instead of the Knesset?
  • What's it like to be Chagall's granddaughter?
  • Is pot kosher for Passover. The rabbis say no, especially for Ashkenazi Jews. And it doesn't matter if its the unofficial Pot Day of April 20.
  • A Ukrainian rabbi says he thinks the leaflets ordering Jews in restive Donetsk to 'register' were a hoax. But the disturbing story still won't die.
  • Some snacks to help you get through the second half of Passover.
  • You wouldn't think that a Soviet-Jewish immigrant would find much in common with Gabriel Garcia Marquez. But the famed novelist once helped one man find his first love. http://jd.fo/f3JiS
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.