web analytics
August 1, 2015 / 16 Av, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


A Landscape Transformed Orthodoxy and America’s Elite Universities


Princeton University

Princeton University

Some administrators in the 1950s thought the new cohort of students should be thankful that the quota system excluding Jews was being eased; they saw no reason to consider religious observance. Those who looked to the future realized yeshiva graduates could be a positive force on campus; they were serious about learning, were used to a double schedule of classes, and usually completed their degrees within four years of entering college.

* * * * *

Princeton, which had been a bastion of exclusion, accepted several observant Jewish students, among them Daniel Greer (now Rabbi Daniel Greer, rosh yeshiva of the Yeshiva of New Haven) and Abe Kaufman.

They formed a chapter of Yavneh, the National Religious Jewish Students Association. They decided to provide kosher food at Princeton, where social life revolves around eating clubs. They aimed for an opening at the beginning of the Autumn Term in 1960, but encountered obstacles: landlords did not want to rent to a student group; the Hillel rabbi opposed them; parents felt they were paying tuition and did not want to cover the expense of setting up a kitchen, buying appliances, furnishing a dining-room, and paying a cook.

Abe and Daniel knew how lonely it was to subsist on sandwiches eaten alone in a dorm room, with occasional meals together supplied by Mrs. Greer, but the parents of other students did not want the financial responsibility.

My father, Rabbi Teitz, was on Yavneh’s National Advisory Board. When he heard about the difficulties Daniel and Abe were facing, he told me he knew the person who would help them make kosher dining at Princeton a reality. He called Milton Levy, a”h, a member of the Elizabeth community who owned Levy Brothers, the largest department store in town.

Rabbi Teitz knew about Mr. Levy’s experience years earlier as a freshman at the University of Pennsylvania. Twelve students had signed up to eat kosher dinners at the home of a woman who would cook for them. On the second night only two students came, and at the end of the year Mr. Levy was eating by himself. He transferred to NYU, but decided that whenever students would want kosher food on campus, he would help.

He and several friends committed themselves to work without fanfare for Jewish values; they wore small gold pins in their lapels that said “441,” the numerical equivalent of the Hebrew word for “truth.” They financed the kosher kitchen at Cornell. Mr. Levy also underwrote the kosher facility at Stevens Institute of Technology.

He was happy to help the students at Princeton found the Yavneh House. At a meeting with parents at the Greers’ home in Manhattan, he did not have to persuade the hosts or the Kaufmans, but he could not get the other parents to pledge adequate sums. When he drove me home to Elizabeth that night he told me he was not discouraged; he thought these parents did not realize how important it was to have a place where their sons could eat together with other observant students.

He told me to consult with my mother in making up a list of everything that would be necessary for a kosher home and to bring the list to his store. When I came to his office, he handed me his charge plate and told me to go through the store and order everything on the list.

Where would it be delivered? Abe had found a house at 21 Olden Street, but the owner would not accept a student’s signature on the lease. My father signed it.

The house had bedrooms on the second floor that could be rented out. Mr. Levy supplied the furniture, in addition to the dining room table, chairs, refrigerator, freezer, dishes, silverware, pots and pans.

My father provided the Torah scroll, prayer books, chumashim, and everything else necessary for praying together. He arranged delivery of meat from a kosher slaughterhouse he supervised; when the students didn’t pay on time for the meat they were getting at a wholesale price, he paid the bill. He was involved in every detail, including talking to college administrators, hiring the cook, and arranging shiurim.

Daniel and his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Moses Greer, a”h, were the dynamic initiators. Abe, who was in charge at the Princeton site, learned Yiddish in order to communicate with Mrs. Fleischer, the cook who came each weekday from Trenton. Abe was the menu-planner, residence manager, accountant, chief operating officer – it’s a tribute to his organizational abilities that he completed the school year. My brother, Rabbi Elazar Mayer Teitz, and my husband, Rabbi Yosef Blau, drove to Princeton to study Talmud with the Yavneh chapter.

Milton Levy supported the Yavneh House until he passed away. After the funeral, Leonard Diener, a”h, another member of the community who felt a responsibility for all students who wanted to keep kosher, told my father, “I know what Milton has been doing; I’ll take responsibility for Princeton now.”

About the Author: Dr. Rivkah Blau is the author of “Learn Torah, Love Torah, Live Torah,” a biography of Rav Mordechai Pinchas Teitz; the Hebrew translation is entitled “V’Samachta B’Chayekha."


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

One Response to “A Landscape Transformed Orthodoxy and America’s Elite Universities”

  1. Dr. S. Perry Brickman says:

    I really enjoyed the article. I am currently researching a related subject. How can I communicate with Dr. Blau?

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Matt Lee of the Associated Press at the State Department press briefing.
ObameDeal Exposed: It’s not ‘Secret’ from Congress but not in Writing
Latest Indepth Stories
Silhouette of "hilltop settler."

“Yesha” and Binyamin Regional Council leaders said the attack “is not the path of Jews in Judea and Samaria.”

Schwartz-073115

The occasion? The rarely performed mitzvah of pidyon peter chamor: Redemption of a firstborn donkey.

Rabbi YY Rubinstein

American leftists have a pathological self-inflicted blindness to the dangers of political Islam

Tobin-073115

Hillary should THANK Trump; By dominating the news he’s overshadowed the implosion of her campaign

Hard to remember when Jewish youth were so hostile to their heritage as they are on campuses today.

Names of the enablers of Iran’s Nuclear weapons will be added next to Hitler’s on the list of infamy

By most accounts, the one person with the political muscle to swing enough Democratic votes to override a veto is Sen. Schumer.

The next day, in a speech in New York to the Council on Foreign Relations, Mr. Kerry substantially upped the ante.

In Israel, the judiciary has established itself as superior to ALL other branches of the government.

The Fifteenth Day of the month of Av became a day of national rejoicing. The moment that had seemed hopeless became the moment of Redemption.

I think the melodies in our religious services have a haunting sound to them that just permeates your guts and gets into your soul. If you have any musical inclination, I think they inspire you to compose.

Cavalier analogies to the Holocaust are unacceptable, but Huckabee’s analogy was very appropriate.

Pollard was a Jewish-head-on-a-pike for all American Jews to see and to learn the explicit lesson.

If the Iran deal passes, Obama’s WH becomes world’s leading financier of terrorism against Americans

More Articles from Dr. Rivkah Blau
Rav Yosef Rosen, the Rogatchover Gaon

His phenomenal memory encompassed the Written Torah, the Babylonian and Jerusalem Talmud, and all the major commentaries.

book-diversity-divine

For each weekly reading, Rabbi Grysman begins with a synopsis of the Torah portion, followed by a focus on a major issue.

Of course it is disingenuous to tell a person from a non-rabbinic, non-rosh yeshiva home to make an effort.

When I give this book, the parents look at the gold Caldecott Medal on the front cover and smile, but look up quizzically – a book for a newborn?

Determination is now being studied by educators and psychologists who want to understand why some people born with every gift do not achieve a meaningful adulthood, while others born into a challenging existence rise above their beginnings to enjoy accomplished lives.

I had heard singing from across the street several times at the end of Shabbos but hadn’t realized the singing was a prelude to Havdalah.

“Radical,” from the Latin word for “root,” means going to the foundation. The foundation is what we have to think about when celebrating a simcha. Instead of peripheral concerns – photographing the proceedings, for example – we should attend to the meaning of the event.

You can tell Rabbi Yossy Goldman’s book From Where I Stand: Life Messages from the Weekly Torah Reading by its covers. The front cover is a photograph of a rabbi in a shul that is full of light.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/front-page/a-landscape-transformed-orthodoxy-and-americas-elite-universities/2012/02/22/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: