web analytics
December 27, 2014 / 5 Tevet, 5775
 
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘campus’

Touching the Opposite Sex

Monday, December 3rd, 2012

I hate the term and have no clue how that term came into being. I don’t think it is even used in Charedi circles at all. Shomer Negiah – meaning guarding against touching the opposite sex – implies that physical contact between the sexes is some sort of Chumra. That according to the strict letter of the law, it is completely permitted.

That is not true. With the exception of parents (and according to many opinions siblings), it is against Halacha for men and women to have any physical contact with each other unless they are married. While there are Halachic opinions about whether platonic contact is permitted, certainly any contact that is sexual in nature is not permitted by anyone.

When young people say they are Shomer Negiah they usually mean that they do not touch members of the opposite sex in the context of dating – where holding hands for example is a lot more than platonic touching. And certainly it applies to things like kissing and more aggressive forms of touching that are completely sexual in nature.

The thing is that being Shomer Negiah really means that one is following Halacha. It is just as Assur to hold hands with your girlfriend as it is having a glass of milk with your roast chicken. And yet there are Orthodox students who will casually say that they are not Shomer Negiah as though they are saying that they are not Machmir on something like Chalav Yisroel.

I think most religious high school students realize that. And yet this is how Shomer Negiah is treated. Like a Chumra that many do not observe.

Bearing all this in mind I found an article in the Forward about being Shomer Negiah on college campuses very intriguing. I was very happy to see that there are many Orthodox Jewish students  who attend secular universities that are very careful about these things. It was also gratifying to see that many non Jews or secular Jews are very understanding and supportive of them.

On the other hand I also found that some students who were Shomer Negiah gave it up as they made their way through the four years of college. And there are also many people who ridicule such strictures in 21st century America. After all non marital sex is about as common and as American as apple pie.

What is interesting for me is that even those who are meticulous about keeping this Halacha, acknowledge the difficulty in doing so in a culture that glorifies ‘hooking up’. That is indeed one of the ‘highlights’ of the campus life in an ‘away from home’ university.

Human nature is what it is. For the majority of mankind the libido (sex drive) is a very powerful force. Temptations to satisfy that drive are often very difficult to overcome. Being in an environment where both sexes interact socially and encourages sexual freedom is no place to be if one wants to guard themselves from temptation.

That said, of course it can be done. And is. Which is to the credit of those who do. Like Chana Lavaddin, a sophomore at the University of Pennsylvania. Of course it helps to have a support system like the one at Penn where I am told there are many Orthodox students who for the most part have an on campus Orthodox social structure  complete with a Rabbi, Minyanim and Sedorim for Torah study.

But even with that resisting temptation is not easy when one considers that one will inevitably be involved with others (both teacher and students) who do not understand our religious values and often challenge them. Or even ridicule them. Which means that in some cases Orthodox students go in observant of these Halachos and come out not observant of them.  As was the case with another student, Jordan Katz. She called it evolving. And explained her reasons in the Forward article.

The fact is that the sex drive is hard to control even under the best of circumstances. Even in sex segregated environments like YU and Stern.  Not only that but even the most religious people in the world can succumb to temptation as did one Rosh HaYeshiva that I know about in Israel who ended up having an affair with a married woman.

Even if we go back to the era of the sages – the Gemarah tells us time and again about how certain sages were tempted and how difficult it was for them to overcome those temptations.If I recall correctly there is a Gemarah that says something to the effect that the greater the individual – the greater the temptation and the harder it is to resist.

Which is why the Gemarah also says “Ain Apitropus L’Arayos”. There is no real way to guard against sexual temptation. I think this is why Chazal built so many safeguards into our daily lives. It was to try and minimize temptation as much as possible.

That said, one can go too far with anything and there are certain segments of society that take these laws and extend them way beyond all reason. To the point where it becomes counterproductive.  It’s all about balance. Not extremes.

The concept of Ain Apitropus L’Arayos is real, however, and does not go away just because some people misuse it in the extreme.

Which is why I am opposed to co-ed high schools as a rule. (Although I admit that there is a place for such schools in some circumstances.) And why I support Yeshiva University and Stern as the best way to be balanced about these things. That is not to say that there aren’t problems there too. Every approach has problems attached to it.  The point is that in an ideal world one must neither be isolated from – nor blindly immersed in our sexually permissive culture.

In any case, the Forward article gives us some valuable insight as to what campus life is really like from the perspective of Orthodox students and is well worth reading.

Visit Emes Ve-Emunah.

Chabad Emissaries Gathered in New York

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

Some 4,000 Chabad-Lubavitch emissaries and communal leaders from more than 75 countries gathered in New York for their 29th international conference.

Many of the rabbis attending the conference over the weekend brought relief supplies and funds from their communities around the world to help victims of Hurricane Sandy, and volunteered their time for relief efforts.

Highlights of the conference included a visit to the gravesite of the last Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson; a group picture in front of the Chabad-Lubavitch worldwide headquarters in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn; and the annual banquet featuring an international roll call.

Conference workshops included topics such as helping people through the global economic crisis; expanding the horizons of college campus outreach; and multi-sensory approaches to Jewish education.

RASG Hebrew Academy Breaks Ground For New Gym

Sunday, October 14th, 2012

The Rabbi Alexander S. Gross Hebrew Academy held a groundbreaking for a new, regulation-sized indoor gymnasium on Friday, September 21. The ceremony was held at the school’s west campus field, located at 2400 Pine Tree Drive in Miami Beach.

Hebrew Academy board member and gymnasium donor Robert Danial (left) receives proclamation from Miami Beach Commissioners Tobin (center) and Exposito (right) during the school’s recent gymnasium groundbreaking ceremony.

The Hebrew Academy’s dream of a gymnasium is coming to fruition thanks to the generosity of community donors. Miami Beach Commissioner Ed Tobin, Founder’s Club members, Builder’s Club members, all gymnasium donors, Hebrew Academy faculty, students, staff and many community members attended the event. During the ceremony, a proclamation from Miami Beach Mayor Matti Herrera Bower was bestowed upon the donors who made the construction of the gymnasium possible.

Following the groundbreaking, students in grades 6-12 moved to the west campus auditorium to participate in the annual Chesed Assembly and Fair. This meaningful event set the tone for student service for the school year. The fair presented 20 non-profit organizations that were on hand to provide information about their organizations and the opportunity for student to sign up as volunteers. This year the significance of giving back to the community is even greater, as students are being provided a gymnasium due to community philanthropy. The fair brought the idea of community giving and philanthropy full-circle.

The Rabbi Alexander S. Gross Hebrew Academy is an Orthodox Jewish college and yeshiva preparatory school, serving students through grade 12, that inspires and equips students to reach their fullest potential both academically and spiritually by focusing on their individual attributes and instilling eternal Torah values in a changing world.

U.S. Graduates Seek Work in Israel

Monday, September 24th, 2012

When Joanna Lieberman was preparing for graduation from Cornell University five years ago, her career options were unsettling. Dreaming of a job in the hospitality industry but lacking a degree in the field, she realized she needed hands-on work experience before pursuing a full-time position. Lieberman, along with thousands of other American college graduates, turned to Israel’s growing employment market for an answer.

“People are realizing the opportunities in Israel to get hands-on career experience in industries that are doing cutting-edge work,” she said. “Israel is known for its booming tourism industry and it seemed like the perfect place for me to test out working in the field.”

Lieberman’s hands-on work experience came from working with Career Israel, Masa Israel Journey’s five-month professional internship program that allows college graduates to explore their fields of interest. In addition to a life spent embracing her Jewish heritage, she points to her involvement with Israel-on-campus activities as a driving factor behind moving to Israel after she graduated. Participating in her Hillel’s Israel activities, she said, kept her feeling connected to the country.

Lieberman’s story is far from uncommon; since 2008, more than 2,600 graduates have taken internship positions in Israel with Masa Israel’s rapidly growing program. It’s no surprise that students are looking to Israel for career opportunities, in light of the ongoing weak domestic job market in the US. A recent Associated Press report found that more than half of America’s recent college graduates are unemployed or working in jobs that do not use their skills.

“As students and recent graduates continue to face a difficult job market, they are looking for ways to continue developing their career and also to stand out,” Masa Israel Director of Communications Miranda Bogen said. “Coming to Israel on internship and even volunteer programs offers them international professional experiences that are usually much more substantial than entry-level positions in the US.”

Between the underwhelming number of job opportunities at home and a love for Israel, the decision to work in Israel has been easy for some recent college graduates, including University of Florida graduate Robert Yanks.

Yanks was bitten by the Israel bug after he went on a Taglit-Birthright Israel trip organized by his school’s Hillel. Being surrounded by his classmates in Israel not only solidified his love for the country, but also landed him a job offer in Israel. A friend Yanks met on Birthright put him in contact with internet-startup company Moolta, and soon after he was hired as its regional marketing director.

“I wanted to choose a job in Israel to experience a different way of living and to travel before life became too hectic,” he said. “I think it’s amazing what the country has accomplished; it’s almost a miracle in the middle of a desert. Just being able to support the country by living here may have made my decision to come a little easier.”

Yanks is three months deep into his Israel stay and will return to the U.S. in November to launch domestic marketing initiatives for the company. He says his work in Israel has broadened his professional knowledge while simultaneously allowing him a living experience unlike any other.

“There’s a different feeling here unlike any other country I’ve been to and that’s what makes Israel so appealing to the American student,” Yanks said. “I think the main reason why students take jobs in Israel after college is because it’s so easy to fall in love with the country and its people. Life moves at a different pace here. People of Israel know how to truly appreciate everything around them, and they all realize that nothing is simply given.”

Unlike Yanks, who realized his interest in Israel toward the end of college, Illinois State University graduate Tess Sevelow-Lee made her Israel decision early on during her extensive Israel-on-campus involvement.

An active StandWithUs campus leader, Sevelow-Lee spent her college career creating and distributing an ‘Israel 101’ presentation which teachers and faculty used to introduce Israel to Jewish and non-Jewish students.

“My involvement in college was the catalyst for my move,” she said. “I realized that while I was in the States, just talking about my love for this country wasn’t enough, I needed to be here.”

To Protect Jewish Students, California University Committee Recommends Ban on Hate Speech

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

Each year at many California universities, pro-Israel students dread the inevitable arrival of “The Wall,”—the centerpiece of Israel Apartheid Week. These programs, sometimes known as Justice in Palestine Week or Palestinian Awareness Week, usually take place sometime between late-winter and spring and focus on charges that Israel is an Apartheid state that illegally occupies Palestinian territories.

But what if the wall wasn’t allowed to go up?

Speculation on the future of anti-Israel demonstrations on University of California (UC) campuses has increased in recent weeks after a mid-July report compiled by the UC President’s Advisory Council on Campus Climate recommended that UC consider banning all hate speech from its nine campuses.

Between October 2011 and May 2012, a group of professionals handpicked by UC President Mark Yudof travelled to six UC campuses (Santa Cruz, Davis, Irvine, Berkeley, Los Angeles, and San Diego) to assess the social conditions of Jewish students as well as Arab and Muslim students.

Jewish student leaders on the campuses were interviewed by the council, which evaluated the students’ biggest concerns as Jews on campus.

A separate report, providing background and recommendations on behalf of Arab and Muslim students was also released in mid-July.

Ultimately, the council recommended that hate speech, particularly anti-Israel demonstrations, be banned because of the unsafe and uncomfortable environment that can ensue on campus.

“UC does not have a hate-free policy that allows the campus to prevent well-known bigoted and hate organizations from speaking on campus such as the KKK,” the council wrote in the report. “UC should push its current harassment and nondiscrimination provisions further, clearly define hate speech in its guidelines, and seek opportunities to prohibit hate speech on campus.”

The council recognized that such a ban, if put in place, almost certainly would lead to legal action challenging it. Already, a petition asking Yudof to table the recommendations has gathered over 2,300 signatures.

Opponents of the recommendation claim that the report, released July 9, does not consider all viewpoints of Jewish students on campuses—particularly those of Jews who are critical of Israel.

In response, StandWithUs started a counter-petition urging the UC Office of the President (UCOP) to accept and implement the recommendations outlined in the report. While the first petition targets the hate speech ban proposal, the StandWithUs petition focuses on implementation of the entire report’s recommendations which include ensuring that kosher food options be available on UC campuses and that anti-Semitism be clearly defined and banned.

The advisory council also recommended that UC staff members receive cultural competency training and that accurate data be kept on Jewish students to better evaluate their needs.

There has been mixed reaction to the report in the pro-Israel community. Sharona Asraf, a StandWithUs Emerson Fellow and board member of Tritons for Israel at UC San Diego, created a Facebook event promoting the petition and said she supports the Council’s recommendation to ban hate speech.

“This will verbalize protocol and will elaborate what the consequences are for hate speech,” Asraf said.

However, Daniel Narvy, President of Movement for Peace in the Middle East at UC Irvine, said that while he thinks hate speech should not exist, banning it on UC campuses could actually make life more difficult for pro-Israel students.

“I can promise that SJP will claim the university is Islamaphobic and complain until they get their way,” Narvy said. “Do I think the hate speech, which it clearly is, should be there? No, but the university cannot use prior restraint and just censor a club just because [some members of the club] are obnoxious .” Richard Barton, who is the national education chair for the Anti-Defamation League, co-wrote the report with Alice Huffman, president of the California NAACP. Barton defended the report in an Aug. 23 op-ed in the San Francisco Gate.

“By including an examination of the climate for Jewish students, the Campus Climate Council has truly advanced the notion of honest and critical examination that lie at the heart of the UC’s core values,” Barton wrote.

Though UCOP is not expected to finish evaluating both the Jewish and the Arab and Muslim reports until late October, Yudof noted that ensuring a right to free speech would remain a priority.

“The Council will continue to address issues for a broad range of campus community members,” Yudof said in an August 8 open letter to the UC system. “None of this is designed to stifle free speech, but rather to ensure that our campuses are welcoming to a broad diversity of students, faculty and staff.”

New Kids on Campus: Young Jewish Conservatives Are Staking Out Ground

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

Last weekend a core group of conservatives got together to learn, strategize and drum up the vote for their political candidate in the swing state of Pennsylvania.  But two characteristics of this group stick out – they are Jewish!  And they are young!

The twenty-somethings were holed up in a hotel outside Philadelphia, spending a traditional Shabbat – new for some of them – and talking about conservative politics – not new for any of them.  The attendees were all members of the appropriately-named Young Jewish Conservatives (YJC), who have come together to promote conservative causes in the United States, infused with Jewish values and in defense of Israel.

YJC was conceived of by two American, Jewishly observant Zionists who deal with college-age Jews: Ben Packer and Yitzchok Tendler.  Packer was a rabbi with Jewish Experience Movement of the South on the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill campus, and at Duke University.  Tendler worked with Jerusalem Fellowships, taking Jewish college students to Israel.  Both recognized something was missing on the campuses: there was nothing available for Jewish students who are politically conservative.

As Packer told The Jewish Press, “we noticed three things: one, politically conservative Jewish students on campus were being treated like outcasts, even within the traditional Jewish campus organizations; two, the trend in the Democratic party was going against Israel, with President Obama being an extreme example; and three, politically conservative college students have the values that are closest to Jewish values.”  The two decided to join forces and create an organization to fill the obvious need.

The first organized effort by YJC was the Yameena Fellowship trip to Israel over last winter break.  There was a second Yameena Fellowship trip this summer.  There were about 30 participants on each trip.  As Packer explained, “when we say young Jewish conservatives, not all of our members are equally, or even especially, conservative on all issues, and religiously they come from across the spectrum, but the single thread that pulls us all together is the pro-Israel focus, that is what solidifies the group.”

A rising star in the YJC is David Milstein.  A Dickinson College senior who hails from Virginia, Milstein learned about YJC when he saw an ad for a free trip to Israel for politically conservative American Jews.  The last time Milstein was in Israel was when Milstein was 13, and he was eager to go back.  He was especially excited about the idea of having a trip geared to someone with his interests, rather than the typical Birthright trip which doesn’t venture into Judea and Samaria, and which is frequently centrist to liberal, politically.

Milstein could barely contain himself as he described to The Jewish Press the YJC Israel trips.  “We went to the border towns, we went all the way up in the Golan, we had briefings in the Knesset, and we were treated to lessons on diplomacy and Israeli history by members of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs.”  One of the highlights was a special meeting between the YJC members and former Soviet refusenik and current head of the Jewish Agency for Israel, Natan Sharansky.

According to Milstein, everyone who has gone on the YJC Israel trips was already interested and maybe already somewhat active.  “But what they leave the trip with is the clear confidence to go back to the campuses and advocate – really stand up for – Israel.”  Milstein finishes: “There’s a real transformation.”

Milstein went on both YJC Israel trips.  The first time, last winter, he went as a regular participant.  This summer, after he was elected student president of the organization, Milstein went as a staff member.

Barely a year into its existence, YJC already boasts members from colleges across the country, including American University, UCLA, Hofstra University, Wellesley College, Brandeis University, Rutgers University, Harvard University, Pittsburgh University, Temple University and more than a dozen others.

In addition to the trips to Israel and this month’s shabbaton in the Philadelphia suburbs, YJC members also participated in two political conventions in Washington, D.C. over the past year.  The first was at the Conservative Political Action Committee which took place in February, the second was at the Faith and Freedom Conference which took place in June.

Dovi Meles is from Philadelphia and he was back this summer.  In the past he has been informally involved with the Republican Jewish Coalition, and was asked by that leadership to help put together a shabbaton for YJC members who might stay and work with the RJC on their swing state focus in Pennsylvania this week.

“They wanted to have interesting content and since I’m from the area I knew who might be available,” Meles said.

The programming Meles put together was heavy both on political content and on Jewish observance and networking.   One presentation was made by a former high-level Pentagon official talking about Iran, another was by Susan Kone, a Dartmouth College and University of Pennsylvania Law School grad who ran against Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) for US Congress.  The YJC members heard from a tea party strategist, a Zionist organization founder and leader, and a Jewish social media guru.

The goal of YJC, according to Packer, “is to make Jewish politically conservative students: better conservatives, better Jews and better pro-Israel activists.”

While David Milstein was already a committed conservative, he grew up in a Reform home and was not especially engaged with Jewish practices.  Due to his involvement with YJC, “where all official events incorporate Jewish traditions such as Shabbat observance and kosher meals,” Milstein told The Jewish Press,” I now try to observe Shabbat regularly, whether or not I am with the YJC, and I certainly will attend synagogue services for the high holidays.”  “This experience,” he says, “is having an impact on my understanding of the importance of my faith.”

Michigan St. Jewish Student, Police Differ on Whether Attack Was Hate Crime

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012

A Jewish student at Michigan State University said he was attacked at an off-campus party in what he is calling a hate crime.

But the East Lansing Police Department said Tuesday that a preliminary investigation has determined that the incident two days earlier likely was not a hate crime, The State News reported. The police reportedly spoke with two witnesses and have identified a potential suspect who does not live in the area.

Zach Tennen, 19, said that just before Sunday’s assault, his attackers asked him if he was Jewish and that he answered in the affirmative, according to reports. Tennen, a resident of suburban Detroit and a sophomore at the university, told WDIV-TV in Detroit that his attackers also “were making Nazi and Hitler symbols and they said they were part of the KKK.”

Tennen, whose jaw was broken in the attack near MSU’s East Lansing campus, was knocked unconscious. The assailants stapled his mouth shut through his gums.

Others at the party watched as Tennen called a taxi to take him to the hospital. His mouth was surgically wired shut.

His family has called the Anti-Defamation League regarding the assault. Tennen plans to return to classes in a week.

The university in an email statement referred all questions about the police investigation to East Lansing Police, as the incident occurred off campus.

“Michigan State University’s Student Affairs and Services office has reached out to the family of the student who said he was assaulted in East Lansing to provide the academic and other support the student needs,” the statement also said.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/michigan-st-jewish-student-police-differ-on-whether-attack-was-hate-crime/2012/08/29/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: