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April 24, 2014 / 24 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Brooklyn College’

Brooklyn College Students Explain Academic Freedom to BC Profs, Admin.

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

Yesterday The Jewish Press ran a story about an upcoming anti-Israel event that will take place on the Brooklyn College Campus next week.  The article explained that while the university administration has not endorsed the event, it supports its political science department which has both endorsed and is co-sponsoring the event, the goal of which is to encourage everyone to embrace the movement to Boycott, Divest from and employ Sanctions against the State of Israel. It is a means of “economic warfare” employed by the enemies of the Jewish State to punish Israel.

In particular, the article noted, BDS seeks to bar Israeli academics from participation in journals, research, public lectures and teaching, yet the Brooklyn College political science department is not only a co-sponsor but has officially endorsed the event, all in the name of “academic freedom.”

Today the president of Brooklyn College’s Assembly (the undergraduate government), Abraham Esses, released the following statement:

“Dear students, faculty members, and administrators,

Over the past few days, there has been much confusion as to exactly why students are upset about the upcoming BDS event on campus. Although the controversy first became public last week, each of Brooklyn College’s student governments have not been directly involved until the past few days. The reason for CLAS’s involvement, accordingly, has nothing to do with the event itself, but instead the recklessness in which faculty members and administrators have approached the event.

The department’s approach to the issue is far from constructive; knowing well in advance that such sponsorship would insult and isolate a large portion of its students, it chose to express its own opinions through a venue that inhibits open dialogue and honest debate. Far from being receptive to students’ concerns, I regret to inform you that they have repeatedly turned down students’ requests to meet and discuss the issue further. Student leaders with questions about the intent of the sponsorship were repeatedly denied meetings, which does worry me as to their original intent. The consequences of these decisions are clear; a growing number of students on campus feel isolated from the very professors whom they once looked to for guidance, and unnecessarily divided against a large portion of the student body. What’s worse, the cause of this rift stems from administrative and faculty bodies who have, throughout the years, frequently stressed the importance of cultivating campus unity.

Along with their right to promote certain opinions comes the responsibility to convey these opinions in a proper manner. This is not an opinion of mine, but rather that of the AAUP, a body responsible for defining what exactly academic freedom rights entail. Professors, according to the AAUP, “should exercise appropriate restraint” when speaking about controversial matters, and “should show respect for the opinions of others”. In endorsing a divisive, controversial event while failing to do so in a way that allows our students and faculty to engage in constructive dialogue, the Political Science Department has failed its students miserably. Like the right to free speech, academic freedom rights are not unbounded; the department has basically yelled “fire” on campus, and locked the doors to their department after doing so. By doing so, it has failed to accomplish one of the main benefits of academic freedom rights, that is, the approach of all ideas and issues with an open mind. Such a failure constitutes as a gross abuse of such rights.

Moreover, I find the administration’s slow, halfhearted response to the issue to be appalling. Without any support or sympathy for students’ complaints, the administration seems complacent in a department’s clear abuse of its rights and responsibilities. Furthermore, the administration has failed to consult any student group before issuing its statement in support of the Political Science’s sponsorship decision. I believe this approach to be indicative of the respect, or lack thereof, which they have for students on campus. Whereas I understand its hesitation, the administration has clearly failed to represent and act for its own constituents.

While fully cognizant of the academic freedom rights enumerated to Brooklyn College faculty members, I truly regret the divisive attitude with which both the Political Science Department and the Administration have approached the department’s recent decision to sponsor a BDS event. I sincerely hope that, should a similar scenario occur in the future, the administration act in a more responsible, sensible manner. Regardless of those involved, more respect is due to the students of Brooklyn College.

Brooklyn College Poli-Sci Supporting Academic Boycotts of Israel

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

SEE UPDATE AT BOTTOM OF ARTICLE

The Brooklyn College political science department is officially and emphatically endorsing an on-campus Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) anti-Israel program at which Brooklyn College students and the public will be forcefully encouraged to endorse and promote BDS against the state of Israel.

BC BDS flyerThe featured speakers at the February 7 event will be Omar Barghouti, the co-founder of the global BDS movement who falsely claims that Israel is an Apartheid State with a “separate legal system for non-Jewish citizens,” and Judith Butler, a virulently anti-Israel academic who speaks sympathetically of the terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah.

One focus of the BDS movement is the boycott of Israeli academics.  It seeks to bar Israeli academics from participation in journals, research, public lectures and teaching.  Yet Brooklyn College’s political science department is supporting this event without any qualifications.  In fact, other than BC’s Students for Justice in Palestine, the political science department is the only endorsing organization officially affiliated with Brooklyn College.

Ironically, given its promotion of an event that would silence academics, BC’s Poli-Sci department is defending its involvement in the event by invoking “academic freedom.”

There are two problems with this: first, the contradictory juxtaposition of academic freedom and a ban on professors because of their national origin; and second, a point repeatedly mentioned by the student leaders, the fact that the event has nothing to do with the free exchange of ideas.  Instead, it is a heavy-handed promotion of only one side of an extremely divisive issue.

According to Jeremy Thompson, the school’s official spokesperson, the Brooklyn College administration supports the political science department’s decision to engage in this event as it supports the right of “every department, faculty member and student group to choose what events they want to be associated with.” However, Thompson said, the school itself is not endorsing the event.  Thompson explained that the school’s official position is not to endorse the views of any speaker at a school event.  When pressed, Thompson agreed that even if President Obama were speaking at a BC event, the administration would not support or endorse that event.

In contrast, the political science department is not only sponsoring the event, it has publicly and officially endorsed the views of the speakers.  Thompson was quoted in the New York Post on Sunday, saying that just because the political science department is sponsoring the event, it does not necessarily mean it is endorsing the event.  But the day after that article aired, Thompson told The Jewish Press, all the flyers and notices for the event were changed to reflect those who had been previously listed as “sponsors” to being listed as “endorsers.”  Got it.

From the time the story of the Brooklyn College pro-BDS event broke, most of those quoted or publicly speaking out have been trustees or professors or pro-Israel professionals.  By and large, the focus of those outside of the student world is that the BDS event should not be held at Brooklyn College at all.  Most agree that the BDS movement, and in particular the two speakers, Barghouti and Butler, are not content with merely criticizing Israel, but rather want Israel to disappear as a Jewish State.

Jeffrey Wiesenfeld, a trustee of the City Univerity of New York system, of which Brooklyn College is a part, penned a scorching opinion piece in the Algemeiner.  It’s headline: “Taxpayer Funded BDS at CUNY is Illegitimate, Racist and Anti-Semitic.”

And Carrie Idler — an adjunct professor in the BC speech and communications department, who attended Brooklyn College, as did her husband, three of her four siblings, as well as her children — took exception to the idea that hosting the event at Brooklyn College is appropriate because it embodies ‘freedom of speech.’”

Idler told The Jewish Press, “boycotting academics is the opposite of free speech.  It symbolizes the silencing of people based on their race and religion.”  What’s more, she added, “it smacks frightfully of the same intolerance that Jewish Academics met in the early to mid-nineteen thirties throughout Europe as the Nazis rose to power.  No one spoke up then, and we know how badly that turned out.  I, therefore, know that if I do not speak up now I will be complicit.”

A Small Dose Of Prevention Goes A Long Way

Monday, June 11th, 2012

Summer is just about upon us, and with it comes the hustle and bustle of preparing for camp and family getaways. This is such a wonderful time, full of new experiences and memory building for the whole family. One memory the summer shouldn’t create, however, is that of the house being infested with bedbugs.

Bedbugs are a difficult topic to talk about, one that tends to induce feelings of disgust and horror. Yet, ignorance is not bliss. In a recent article in The Jewish Press, it was mentioned that according to a 2011 study, the occurrence of bedbugs has gone up four percent since 2010. While in the past bedbugs were an almost exclusive problem of those living in poverty, nowadays those pesky little bugs don’t discriminate, and can be found in the most lavish of homes and hotels, as well as theaters, nursing homes and even libraries.

Getting rid of bedbugs is an expensive, exhausting, and emotionally devastating process. Putting in some basic preventive procedures that everyone in your home follows is well worth the couple of extra minutes. This way, even if you do G-d forbid, come into contact with bedbugs, you will avoid infestation.

1. Anytime you are staying overnight at either a hotel or someone’s home, regardless of who’s home it may be, never put your suitcase and clothes on the bed. Don’t assume if you can’t see the bugs they aren’t there. Bedbugs are notoriously difficult to spot. Leave your suitcase and clothes on a chair, or if you’re in a hotel, on a suitcase stand in the bathroom. All pajamas and worn clothes should be placed in a sealed bag, and washed immediately upon your return home. I like to put the clothes that weren’t worn in a sealed bag as well, to limit any possible cross-contamination.

2. When you have overnight guests in your home, be it your mother, sister or best friend, wash all linen immediately upon their departure and vacuum thoroughly around their room.

3. Consider buying mattress protectors. Although they will not prevent bedbugs from living on top of the protectors, they make the bugs easier to spot and remove. 4. As a general rule, bedbugs are found predominantly on and around the bed, so avoid walking around the house in pajamas to minimize the risk from spreading. Wash all linen, blankets, teddy bears, etc. at least once a week.

5. Avoid the temptation to put clothes that were worn only for a short time back in the drawer or closet. This limits the spread of potential infestation to the others clothes in those places.

6. It’s easy to excuse bedbug bites as a rash or misquotes bites. However, if you notice a group of bites, or if only one person in the home is getting bitten, or it’s not the season for mosquitoes, don’t wait. Call an exterminator immediately. Have him spray down the bed, the dressers, behind the walls especially all the moldings, and couches. Schedule a follow up in two weeks to ensure there aren’t any remaining bugs. Don’t despair if you need a few follow up visits; this is normal. It is very difficult to completely eradicate all the bugs in one shot.

Meanwhile, with the help of a cleaning lady, vacuum and wipe down all the bedrooms and any other room in which the bugs were spotted by the exterminator. If all the above preventive procedures were followed, only the laundry in the hamper and the linens on the beds need to be washed. However, if you were not careful, everything, and I mean everything, must be washed or dry-cleaned. This is not the time for martyrdom. Use the nearest full service Laundromat. For sixty cents per pound, they will wash and fold the laundry for you. Quilts and pillows can be put in the dryer for a minimum of twenty minutes. After vacuuming, be careful to empty out the vacuum bag outside the house. Don’t think that you can eliminate all this work by throwing out the beds because the bugs do not live exclusively on them and they will more then likely just hop onto your new beds. However, if you do decide to throw out the beds, a New York City law stipulates that the sanitation department will not remove them if the mattresses are not wrapped in plastic. Remember to put mattress protectors on your new beds.

A Daily Dose Of Glam To Keep The Blahs Away

Friday, May 11th, 2012

It’s tough to catch some glam in an otherwise pretty non-glamorous life. In the 21st century, who isn’t overstressed, overwhelmed and overbooked? The roles of today’s women today has multiplied to the point where even the strongest of us has stretched her limits, leaving her without any time or energy for herself. Which woman hasn’t been guilty of eating her children’s leftover cereal and calling it breakfast? Who hasn’t thrown the nearest shmatta over her head and a long coat to cover the old clothes she’s wearing on a trip to the store?

I’ve experienced this syndrome myself, saying I’m too tired to dress nicely or too busy to sit down to a balanced meal. The end result was that I was tired, lethargic, lost patience with my kids, was sloppy with my work…take it from me, it was a bad day. The truth is, no one can run on full throttle, all the time, without something giving. Without investing a few moments during the day for ourselves, we will run out of speed too soon, and have nothing left over to give all the other important people in our lives.

So, in the interest of working not just harder but also smarter, I resolve to:

1. Stand up straight. It doesn’t take any extra time, makes me look ten pounds thinner, saves my back and helps me breathe better.

2. Enjoy my clothing. It takes just as much time to put on a nice skirt and fitted top as it does to put on the same long jean skirt and black t-shirt I’ve been wearing since 2001. And really, what am I saving my expensive dresses for? While I’m at it, I will invest in a few nice pairs of pajamas instead of wearing my husband’s old t-shirts.

3. I will moisturize everyday. I will also use makeup daily, taking a few seconds to apply some quick dabs of concealer, bronzer and mascara for the days that I’m just doing errands on the avenue. For insta-glam, I will utilize a pair of big sunglasses (my favorites are aviators) that I can just plop on my face to hide the effects of last night’s all-nighter with the baby.

4. I’ll admit, I love getting manicures, but being a working mom with three children, I tend to use my hands a lot, and the manicures don’t last. Therefore, I will limit my manicures, but have my eyebrows professionally shaped. This is a cheaper option, as it’s only needed every three weeks or so, and does a tremendous amount in defining the face.

5. I will eat at the table. Mealtimes will be a break from the hustle and bustle of the day, a time to eat meditatively and focus on the delicious tastes and textures of the food. I will eat at the table, with a real plate and utensils, and drink with a straw to prevent discoloration of my teeth.

I will avoid overeating to prevent feeling lethargic and sluggish, though indulging in a delectable piece of chocolate in moderation is an easy way to get some endorphins to the brain.

6. My bedroom will be a sanctuary. I will banish all toys and children from my room every night, prepare a delicious cup of tea or a soothing glass of wine, light some candles, dim the lights and just relax!

7. I will pay attention to and remark on the beautiful things around me. I will open the shades in my home and office to let in the natural light. I will have flowers on the table so that our dinners can be brightened by their vibrant colors. I will kiss and caress my children’s beautiful faces and thank G-d for giving them to me.

By incorporate those few simple tactics, my day will be more joyful, pleasurable and glamorous. I owe this not just to myself, but also to all those around me. I can only give as much as I have, and when I run out of steam, it affects all my relationships. So in the interest of being the best me I can be, I’ll also be the best maintained me I can be.

Pnina Baim holds a B.S. in Health and Nutrition from Brooklyn College and a MS.edu from Yeshiva University’s Azrieli Program. She works as a nutritionist and a freelance writer. Contact Pnina at pninabaim@gmail.com.

How To Make Pesach Cleaning Stress Free!

Friday, March 9th, 2012

I think if we can be honest with ourselves, most women will admit to enjoying Pesach cleaning – and perhaps to even looking forward to it all year long. What better opportunity is there to start digging through closets and drawers and clearing them out, giving both the house and yourself a physical and emotional purging? When else would you tackle the dusty corners on top of cabinets and vacuum behind heavy furniture?

None of the above has anything to do with chometz, of course. As Rabbi Dovid Orlovsky said, “If men made Pesach and women built the sukkah, both would start on erev Pesach.” So just in case circumstances are completely out of control and you have no time to do much, here is what you must do for Pesach cleaning: Sweep the floor, clear off the table, empty out the fridge, and close the kitchen cabinets. Buy some paper goods and ready-to-eat Pesach products, sell your chometz to the local rabbi and you are done.

But for most of us that won’t work. For the vast majority of us, Pesach cleaning is synonymous with spring-cleaning, and why not? If you’re not going to tackle those tasks for Pesach, when will you?

There are two schools of thought regarding when to first pick up that duster and spray: You can start months in advance and eliminate the stress of 20-hour cleaning days, or you can start as close to Pesach as possible and eliminate the stress of constantly reminding everyone not to walk around with chometz. For me, the decision is a no-brainer; everyone should only be eating at the table anyways.

To make Pesach a success, it is best to start from the year before – last Pesach. I like to keep the receipts of the items I bought. Once the holiday is over, I write up a list of things I actually used and the amounts I needed. Pesach is expensive enough without buying excessive products. I keep the list with my Pesach dishes, but accessible so I can go shopping before its time to bring down the boxes. In addition to last year’s list, it’s a good idea to plan the menu for the entire holiday in advance so you can add the corresponding ingredients to the list. Don’t forget breakfast and snacks. Oh, and please, as a personal favor to me, stay away from any packaged cakes and cookies. No 5×7 cake is good enough to cost ten dollars. You can make Pesach munchies yourself for a quarter of the price and they will be twice as tasty.

To clean your house, I recommend sitting down at a desk or table and writing down all the tasks for each room in the house. Take a calendar and schedule when each task should be done. Remember, unless you are the only person living in the house, you should not be the only person cleaning up. Figure out when you have the most physical energy and try to plan chores for that time. Blast some music and consider the scrubbing a cardio work-out! When organizing cabinets and closets, remember everything has a limited shelf life. If you can’t articulate why you want to keep it, then it’s time to chuck it. If your spouse has a hard time throwing things out, then consider doing it when he or she is not home.

Here’s a sample To-Do list that can be modified as necessary:

1. Bathrooms: vanities, medicine cabinets, high shelves, linen closets.

2. Bedrooms: Closets, dressers, under beds, wipe down blinds, behind radiators. carpet clean, wipe down toys, machine wash stuffed animals, purge old and broken toys.

3. Basement: Organize and purge miscellanea. If you have an extra fridge there, clean and line it first so you can start buying and preparing Pesach products.

4. Den: Clean behind and inside couch. Organize and purge files, purge old toys, dvds and whatever clutter is stashed there.

5. Living Room: Clean behind and inside couch. Wipe down bookcase, purge old books, clean out fireplace, wipe behind picture frames, shellac wooden floors.

6. Dining room: Clean behind, inside and the top of china closet. Wipe down chairs and table. If it’s your custom, line the table and any other surface that will hold food.

7. Kitchen: Move chometz dishes out, organize, purge, clean and line cabinets and drawers, wipe and line fridge, wipe down walls, wipe down garbage can. Different halachot apply with cleaning the stove, so consult your local rabbi. Remove any appliances from counter and line them.

8. Vacuum and scrub the car and strollers, machine wash backpacks and dry clean coats! I know this list is extensive. That’s why you need to start in advance. For working moms, I always recommend Tu B’Shevat as an optimal start date to get everything done on a reasonable schedule. (I know its Adar, don’t panic, just adjust the list to fit the amount of time you have.)

Title: Everyone’s Got a Story

Wednesday, May 28th, 2008

Title: Everyone’s Got a Story


Author: Ruchama Feuerman


Publisher: Judaica Press


 


 


         Who doesn’t love a good story? And who hasn’t said to themselves, “I wish I could write this one down”? Here’s a book for all of us who delight in storytelling and who rejoice in a great tale. For those of us who possess a yen for writing or would like to possess one, the literary lessons included in this book are instrumental, practical and writer-friendly.

 

         Everyone’s Got a Story is an anthology of short stories written by Ruchama Feuerman’s writing students and edited by her. Mrs. Feuerman has had her own stories widely published in newspapers, magazines and journals. Her novel, Seven Blessings has met with international acclaim and she has been teaching the art of writing for 15 years, inspiring and guiding countless writers, many of whom have gone on to have their own works published elsewhere.

 

         When she first began teaching writing in 1993, Mrs. Feuerman, then Ruchama King, had just received her Master of Fine Arts from Brooklyn College. The response to her classes was overwhelming. “Women came from all over – they were hungry for this,” she recalls. “I loved what was coming out of my students. Many were quite accomplished to begin with. A few seemed very simple to me and self-effacing, the kind of people life tends to overlook. But to read their stories was to see a wealth of an inner world. They had so much to give, to say. …Over the years a dream took root. I wanted to gather my students all together in a book.”

 

         This dream became a reality, and Feuerman’s professional discipline and coaching are translated into the many creative pieces presented in this anthology. And the diversity of the topics covered in this anthology is testament to this teacher’s appeal.

 

         Ruchama’s students come from around the globe and from your own backyard. Some have doctorates and some have high school diplomas. Not all are women. Yet the common thread binding them is Mrs. Feuerman’s nurturing. A New Jersey resident who took Mrs. Feuerman’s workshops several times attests to the success of the class. “The more you write – and rewrite – the better you get,” she affirms. “You have the opportunity to obtain lots of feedback from lots of different people. That was really helpful.”

 

         The backgrounds of the writers are as diverse as their offerings. We are presented with insights from a ba’al teshuvah and musings of a chassid. There is a story written by a new mother and another by a grandmother. The anguish described by a child of Holocaust survivors follows a most humorous depiction of a droll uncle. One story details a racecar driver’s odyssey towards Yiddishkeit, and another portrays the intricate work of a scribe. With over 40 offerings, there is a selection for even the discriminating and the finicky.

 

         I was as much intrigued by the stories as by the array of genres that were offered. Divided into categories focusing on fiction, character, humor and other topics, the stories run the gamut from serious to funny, from solemn to whimsical. Each student’s written words find their home in this anthology. The quality of the writing varies from story to story, though most of them belie their authors’ rank as students. There were very few stories that bored or irritated. Some reflect more obviously honed guidance, yet others are penned by authors whose stories I truly relish and would love to see anthologies of their own.

 

         Before each category of selected stories, Feuerman defines the genre of that category and offers writing instruction in that specific style. For me, these invaluable writing tips and tools were even more engaging than the stories themselves. Offered with wit and humor, even a seasoned writer would benefit from her virtual writing manual and her generous sharing of secrets of the trade.

 

         Feuerman details her intention for including instruction in this anthology. “I wanted to showcase my students in this book,” she says, “More than that, though, I wanted to give tools to others – how do you evoke setting, create a compelling character, make a reader want to turn the page? How do you find the story that has urgency for you; that you must tell? My goal is to provide the skills to the point where my students can take off, on their own.”

 

         Reading her instruction is almost like reading a recipe for a favorite cake. We’re in essence told how to find the best ingredients, what amounts to put in, and how to shape it. But with any recipe, the final product varies from one baker to another. The creative aspect is the special domain of each writer.

 

         Neither your typical anthology nor your typical handbook, Everyone’s Got a Story settles both accounts in a satisfying manner. It is for anyone who enjoys a good story or anyone who would love to write a good story.

Brooklyn College, NY

Wednesday, June 20th, 2007
Question: Did Judaism influence your choice of college major, and do you see yourself utilizing your education to help the Jewish community?

 

 

 


My major will be Law. I think learning Talmud in yeshiva helped me gain an appreciation for law since it deals with arguments and intricate details and debates and that is what I love about it. I am fascinated by the fact that in law anything can be worded and interpreted to be true. I would like to focus on international law and help people make aliyah.


- Yacov Scheiner, student

 

 


My major will be Pharmacy. I want to help people by opening my own pharmacy in a Jewish community. I’ll be there to help people understand their doctors’ instructions and how to use their medicine. This is a service especially needed by senior citizens who are often alone and are timid in asking their physicians for help.


- Henry Shalough, president, student government


 

 

 


My major is Business Management. I give charity to organizations like Bikur Cholim, but I would like to be able to finance more Jewish causes, especially in Israel and those devoted to finding medical cures. I want to donate a percentage of my earnings to Israel in the future and assist Jewish not-for profit organizations.


- Ted Chattall, student

Brooklyn College

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2007

Question: Anti-Israel activism has become all too common on college campuses across the country. Have you experienced any of that?


 

 

 


Personally, I have never experienced any anti-Israel activity on campus. I think, however, that it is important for college campuses to provide an open forum for students and faculty to express their views no matter what they happen to be. Discussion cannot be one-sided.


- Shelley Gerber, student

 

 

 

 






No. This place is very pro-Israel. I’ve taken political science courses and class discussions were never anti-Zionist when the subject of the Middle East came up. The only issue we do face on campus is that all ethnic groups are segregated; people don’t engage with other groups as much as they should.


- Mooby Randals, student

 



No. I’ve heard about this happening at other colleges like Columbia, but I think it’s more a reflection of the professors’ attitudes toward Israel than the students’. There needs to be an open dialogue on campus. People need to know they can express their feelings. Because Brooklyn has a large Jewish presence, anti-Zionist rallies aren’t that common here.


- Greg Scott, student



 

 




This is not an issue on our campus. I think anti-Zionist rallies and demonstrations are more prevalent outside New York. I have friends in Concordia College in Montreal, which has a large Muslim population, and there has been some anti-Jewish behavior there. A friend from the University of Connecticut once reported seeing some anti-Jewish graffiti.


- Pinchas Madnick, student

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/potpourri/brooklyn-college/2007/05/22/

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