A glutton for punishment, I recently slogged my way through all 316 online comments attached to a New York Times piece in which two Howard University officials, Brandon Hogan and Jacoby Adeshei Carter, defended themselves against the accusation by Cornel West and Jeremy Tate in The Washington Post that their decision to eliminate Howard University’s classics department to save money was a “spiritual catastrophe.”
The university context is special, because students have a status that allows the university to regulate them qua students—which is very different from the relationship between a citizen and the state.
Not only does the university not have the right, or the power, to educate students in what it thinks is civil or not civil; doing so is contrary to the goal of a liberal arts education.
The year 2017 was another rocky one in the relationship between Israel and many American Jews, punctuated by conflict over matters once considered common ground. Some controversies—including a backlash over comments about American Jews’ military service by Israeli deputy foreign minister Tzipi Hotovely—suggest a level of misunderstanding that could end up harming both sides.
Interview | Lisa Pleskow Kassow: Director, Trinity College Hillel and Senior Associate Chaplain for Jewish Life
It’s the 70th anniversary of Trinity College Hillel. How has the college changed since you started almost 17 years ago?
How should Jewish schools weigh the need for autonomy against the lure of state subsidies? Some day schools, mostly non-Orthodox and in smaller Jewish communities, are already happily educating many children who do not identify as Jewish. Hebrew-language charter schools in cities like New York and Los Angeles straddle the boundary between public school and day school, with majority non-Jewish student bodies and a focus on language and culture rather than religion.
Students in each system have almost no contact each other. Thirty-five percent of Jewish students and 27 percent of Arabs said they have never interacted with peers from the other group.
When I was a teenager, there was a legend repeated in the Jewish schools of my hometown. If you somehow manage to get into godless Harvard, don’t go. But if, against your rosh yeshiva and rebbe’s advice, you actually go, whatever you do, don’t take biblical scholar James Kugel’s class. If you do, you’ll walk into Introduction to the Bible, see that the professor is wearing a yarmulke and assume the course is kosher. And, the story goes, you’ll walk out a heretic.