As the first rabbi ever to be ordained on the Harvard campus (my bet din was held this past April before more than 100 witnesses in an event room at Harvard Divinity School, where I took my M.Div. degree in June) — Harvard was a wonderful place to be Jewish. The campus certainly is liberal; we’re guilty as charged on that. And The Algemeiner certainly is conservative, so it’s unsurprising that they don’t like us. Because they haven’t shared their methodology, we are left to guess at what led them to their conclusions, and my guess is The Algemeiner is once again conflating Judaism with whatever the Likud Party has to say, so that anytime anyone suggests, for instance, that settlement construction is a bad idea, The Algemeiner feels unwelcome.
Well, I’ve got some news as a recent M.Div. graduate of Harvard Divinity School and as a proud Israeli citizen and registered member of the Avoda (Labor) Party. Harvard stood behind me in every possible way, bending over backward to make my rabbinical studies possible, and even paying for my year in Israel as a Frederick Sheldon Traveling Fellow. The resources for Jewish students at Harvard are unparalleled, from a bustling Hillel to a library chock full of rare, centuries-old Hebrew books that students can just open and read. And Harvard is a place where we welcome all ideas, even those we may disagree with, as long as they are substantiated by evidence, methodologically ethical as well as clear, and take previous scholarship into account. By those measures, The Algemeiner’s article would have been unwelcome indeed at Harvard. It would have received a failing grade if turned in as a first-year undergraduate assignment. Maybe that’s what has got The Algemeiner’s feathers in a ruffle.