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April 19, 2014 / 19 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘education’

Alvin Schiff, Jewish Education Pioneer, Dies

Monday, July 8th, 2013

Alvin Schiff, a pioneer in Jewish education and a prolific author, died of unknown causes, Yeshiva University announced Monday. He was in his mid-80s.

He established and directed the Graduate School of Jewish Education at YU in 1959, before it was later renamed the Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration.

Schiff authored more than a dozen books, as well as several hundred articles and research papers on the status of Jewish education.

He was a founder of such Jewish education projects as March of the Living, along with the New York parade for Israel now known as Celebrate Israel.

Herbert Dobrinsky, vice president of Yeshiva University affairs and a former student of Schiff, told JTA, ”I can’t say he was the greatest educator in the world, but he came close to it.”

Schiff received his bachelor’s degree from Yeshiva College and his doctorate from YU’s Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology, as well as an honorary degree from YU in 1977.

Yair Lapid Sets Aside Money for Ariel University

Sunday, May 26th, 2013

Israeli Finance Minister Yair Lapid will grant nearly $14 million in aid to Ariel University.

The money, which was pledged by the previous finance minister, Yuval Steinitz, will be transferred in two stages, Haaretz reported Sunday.

Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein earlier this year blocked the transfer of the money, which had been approved during the election campaign.

About 40 percent of the money will be transferred in August following passage of the new budget, according to the newspaper, and the rest after the start of 2014.

Ariel University Center was recognized by Israel’s Cabinet as an accredited university in September 2012 when it became Israel’s eighth university.

In July, the Ariel center was recognized as a full university by the Council for Higher Education in Judea and Samaria, which was established in 1997 after the Council for Higher Education refused to discuss academic issues concerning Judea and Samaria.

The Judea and Samaria council’s 11-2 vote came despite a recommendation against approval by the planning and budget committee of the Council for Higher Education, as well as opposition from the country’s other seven universities and public figures who objected to upgrading a college in Judea and Samaria.

In Hebrew: ‘Background’

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013

רֶקַע The word background in English might refer to the visual background of an image or the conceptual background of someone’s past.

So too in Hebrew.

The Hebrew word for background is רֶקַע.

For example:

כְּכָל הַנִּרְאֶה, נַחַל עוֹבֵר בָּרֶקַע שֶׁל הַמּוֹנָה לִיזָה. It appears that a riverbed passes through the background of the Mona Lisa. and

הִיא בָּאָה מֵרֶקַע דָּתִי. She comes from a religious background. רקע comes from the Biblical active-simple פָּעַל verb לִרְקֹעַ, meaning to stamp out or to spread out. It’s related to the word for firmamentרָקִיעַ.

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In Hebrew: ‘Disturbance’

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

הַפְרָעָה If you already know some Hebrew, you may be familiar with the word for to disturb -לְהַפְרִיעַ, an active-causative הִפְעִיל verb.

For example:

מוֹרֶה: לֹא לְהַפְרִיעַ בַּשִּׁעוּר! Teacher (a male): Do not disturb (during the) class! The noun form of להפריע, a disturbance, is הַפְרָעָה. And הפרעה is also the word for disorder, such as in the Hebrew term for ADHD (Attention Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder)הַפְרַעַת קֶשֶׁב וְרִכּוּז (literally, Disorder of Attention and Concentration).

To call someone disturbed, you’d use מֻפְרָעfor a male and מֻפְרַעַתfor a female. מופרע and מופרעת derive from the passive-causative הֻפְעַל verb form.

For example:

מְבַצֵּעַ הַטֶּבַח בַּבַּנְק בִּבְאֵר שֶׁבַע הָיָה אָדָם מֻפְרָע.
The perpetrator of the massacre at the bank in Beer Sheba was a disturbed person.
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In Hebrew: ‘Focus’

Monday, May 20th, 2013

לְהִתְרַכֵּז

I learned today from a LinkedIn article that it’s important for a business leader to focus in order to succeed. The truth is, focusing – putting our energy into something – is what makes things move in the world.

The Hebrew word for to focus or to concentrate is לְהִתְרַכֵּז. The root of this reflexive-intensive הִתְפַּעֵל verb is ר.כ.ז (r.k.z). It’s the same root as the word for centerמֶרְכָּז.

An example:

הִיא מִתְרַכֶּזֶת כְּשֶׁהִיא עוֹבֶדֶת.
She focuses when she works.

Concentration or focus is רִכּוּז, while focused is מְרֻכָּזin the masculine and מְרֻכֶּזֶתin the feminine.

For example:

בְּרֶגַע זֶה אֲנִי לֹא מְרֻכָּז, אָבָל אֲנִי בְּאֶמֶת רוֹצֶה לְהַקְשִׁיב לָךְ.
At this moment I’m not focused, but I really do want to listen to you (a female).

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In Hebrew: ‘To Bless’

Sunday, May 19th, 2013

לְבָרֵךְ

Filmed Friday, May 17, 2013. Visit Ktzat Ivrit.

Ner Israel Rosh Yeshiva: Yesh Atid MK Rabbi Dov Lipman ‘Wicked’

Thursday, May 9th, 2013

I recently had the unfortunate experience of listening to Ner Israel Rabbinical College dean Rav Aharon Feldman’s condemnation of Rabbi Dov Lipman. Rabbi Lipman received his rabbinic ordination from Ner Israel in Baltimore, the Yeshiva which R’ Feldman now heads.

I was terribly pained by what I heard since I consider Rabbi Lipman a courageous man – a hero who as a self described Haredi – nevertheless stood up for a little girl from a Dati Leumi/Religious Zionist family in Israel that was spat upon and called a whore by extremist Meah Shearim type residents of Beit Shemesh.

This did not go unnoticed by the media – and more importantly by an upstart politician by the name of Yair Lapid. He asked Rabbi Lipman to join his newly formed party, Yesh Atid. Rabbi Lipman accepted. He is now a member of the Israeli Knesset.

What is Rabbi Lipman’s sin? It is his position on limudei hol (secular studies) for Haredim. He said in an interview that if it were up to him, he would close down any Haredi school that does not offer a basic core curriculum of secular studies.* [It turns out he only said the government should not fund such schools, not necessarily close them down, see below -.ed]

If one listens to Rav Feldman’s recorded words (available below) one can hear the pain in his voice. I can understand why someone so married to the system of Haredi education in Israel might feel pain about this. Many Haredim do not believe in providing secular education of any kind in their schools for their male students beyond 8th grade. Even in elementary schools the only secular education students get is basic arithmetic and Hebrew grammar.

What I do not understand is the harshness of his condemnation. Disagreement? Yes. But condemnation??!

It isn’t only that he was condemned. The words used by R’ Feldman are among the most hurtful a religious Jew educated in a yeshiva could hear. He called Rabbi Lipman a “shana u’porush”! This epithet is usually reserved for people who have learned Torah, understand it, but nevertheless reject its teachings. He also called him a “rasha,” a word usually reserved for people who try to destroy Judaism. As in Haman HaRasha in the Book of Esther.

Coming from a man who heads a Yeshiva that facilitates their students to go to college while attending their school – it is a bit surprising to hear this. But not entirely.

A few years ago, I think it was at a Torah U’Mesorah convention, Rav Feldman was challenged to defend his Yeshiva’s policy of having a secular studies program and having all kinds of relationships with local universities so that Ner Israel students can attend them and get legitimate degrees efficiently.

Rav Feldman defended his yeshiva. But in the process he lamented the fact that Yeshivos in the United States do not have a track that allows exceptional students to skip all secular studies. He pointed to his own grandson in Israel who in high school mastered all of the tosophos (one of the commentaries) in meseches kesuvos (a tractate of talmud) learning them by heart at age 16. He ended by claiming it is therefore unlikely for America to produce someone like his grandson in high school.

Rav Feldman had made Aliyah many years ago and his years in Israel surely influenced him. He has obviously adopted the Israeli Haredi paradigm of high school education as the optimum one. This – even though he presides over a Yeshiva with a reputation of excellence in secular studies, and the fact that he was himself an exceptional student of limudei hol growing up in Baltimore. (I wonder if he now regrets the time ‘wasted’ on limudei hol? I doubt it).

To his credit, Telshe Rosh HaYeshiva, Rav A.C. Levine, responded to him and stood up for secular studies in high school. Telshe, he said, has always had a policy of including secular studies all the way back to its founding in Europe. He then challenged anyone to say that his bachurim (boys) in Telshe were any less talmidei hachamim (Torah scholars) because they studied limudei hol in high school.

I doubt that R’ Feldman would call R’ Levine a “shana u’porush” or “rasha” even though his yeshiva, Telshe, is exactly the paradigm Rabbi Lipman has called for in Israel. This is something I have called for too. (I guess that makes me a rasha too.)

That said, I would not close down yeshivos if they did not offer any secular studies. But I would not necessarily fund them with taxpayer money either. The point is that not only is Rabbi Lipman not a shana u’porush and rasha, he is a man who is consistent in his views that the Haredi educational paradigm must change for the good of the country and the good of the Haredi world in Israel.

Rabbi Lipman is l’shma (he has no ulterior motives). There is no doubt about that in my mind. This is a man of character who is now being vilified for his beliefs. Beliefs based on the very same Torah R’ Feldman believes in. Rabbi Lipman does not want to destroy the Torah community. He wants to save it! Does he deserve to be called a Rasha for that – even if Rav Feldman believes he is wrong? It continues to be difficult for me to understand the level of animosity toward those who suggest even the slightest implementation of secular studies into the Haredi school curriculum.

As if to add insult to injury, the American Agudah has called for a day of prayer – protesting any change in the curriculum of the Haredi schools in Israel; and protesting the proposed budget cuts to the Haredi world. The American Agudah is comprised of many Roshei Yeshiva that have the very same curricula that they protest being added to Haredi schools in Israel!

I can understand that they sympathize with Israeli rabbinic leadership on this issue – even if they do not abide by that standard for themselves. But to pray that their own educational system not be implemented is praying against something they believe in! Would not Rav A.C. Levin not make the same argument for students in Israel that he made for his own students?

One might answer that Israel has its own standards and that asking them to reduce the time they spend on limudei kodesh (holy studies) is ultimately wrong in a world where ‘Torah Only’ is touted as the best way for a Jew to live. As legitimate as limudei chol is, it should never replace Torah study already in place. But if that is true, then Telshe should have as its goal to eventually wean their students entirely off any secular subjects. I do not think that is going to happen.

Rav Feldman says that Rabbi Lipman’s claim that he learned his hashkafos (outlook) in Ner Yisroel from the Rosh HaYeshiva, Rav Yaakov Weinberg – is false. That R’ Weinberg would have never approved of someone threatening to close down a Haredi school in Israel. I’m sure that’s true. But I also doubt that R’ Feldman’s hashkafos are the same as R’ Weinberg’s.

That Rabbi Lipman advocated not funding certain schools* is just an extension of beliefs learned in a Yeshiva that values secular education. He did not depart from the Torah’s ways and he is not a rasha for trying to implement educational policies based on his hashkafos. I only wish Rav Feldman would recognize that.
Click here for download of audio (From Matzav – approximately 4 minutes)

The Kolko Case: A Stain on Lakewood

Wednesday, May 8th, 2013

The trial of Yosef Kolko is about to begin. Rabbi Kolko has been accused of child molestation. According to Rabbi Daniel Eidensohn, “Kolko has already confessed to the social worker who will be required to testify.” The social worker was hired at the behest of the Lakewood rabbis investigating the charges. This fellow allegedly committed sex crimes multiple times on a young boy in his charge while in a religious summer camp.

Rabbi Kolko has plead not guilty. Not sure how he can do that now if a social worker will indeed testify in court that he admitted the abuse actually took place. Rabbi Kolko faces up to 60 years in prison if found guilty.

Lakewood’s rabbinic leadership has responded to this by coming out full force in defense of Rabbi Kolko – insisting on his innocence and claiming to have proof that he did not do this. They have made all kinds of threats to his accuser using the Shulchan Aruch’s language about mesirah (informing) as a hammer. Language that says that informing on a fellow Jew to secular authorities means losing your chelek in olam habah – your place in the world to come! (Although many Poskim say that Mesirah does not apply in a country like ours that has a fair system of justice.)

They have enlisted the aid of two rabbinic figures of great stature – one in Israel and one here – to weigh in on this matter. Based on what these leaders were told, they have come out with very harsh condemnations of the victim’s father… claiming that he violated Halachah by not dealing with this “in-house.” They said he should have gone to a beis din (religious court). They are the ones who are equipped to handle these things Halachicly.

It’s nice that these rabbinic leaders have so much compassion for the accused. But what about the victim? And how have they expressed their compassion to his father- the accuser?

The victim’s his father is not your average ba’al habos. I don’t know his identity. But I am told by people who do, that if his identity were made known to me, I would recognize the name since he is originally from Chicago.

According to my sources the father is a major talmid hacham (Torah scholar)who until this happened was a respected figure in the Lakewood community. No one can say that he has no ne’emanus (faith) and dismiss the case out of hand. He has also secured the support of another posek (jurist of Jewish law) outside of the Lakewood community that has much respect in the Haredi world. It is also not clear to me whether he did not attempt to go to a beis din first. There are conflicting stories about that depending on which source you believe.

It is particularly galling to me is how this has been handled. Everything I have read about it tells me that Lakewood’s rabbinic establishment has no concern for the victim at all. And that they do not believe him or his father. They are concerned only for the welfare of the accused. The war waged against the victim’s father is relentless and harsh. Here is just one example written in a letter written by a prominent Rav which has been made public:

After conducting a thorough investigation I am absolutely certain that R’ Y.K.[Yosef Kolko],may his light shine, is perfectly innocent of any wrongdoing of any nature whatsoever. And not only is he innocent but it is also as clear to me that all these allegations are fabrications made by [REDACTED].

Further, all the reports made to the secular authorities were only for the express purpose of casting blame for their[the victim's family] own shameful and cursed existence on others. And the truth is that the allegations they make against others are crimes they themselves are in fact guilty of and they seek to cleanse their reputation by blaming an innocent man for their own deeds.

There have been equally harsh words published by anonymous “askanim” (dealers) in Lakewood along these lines. Not to mention the letter from a respected rabbinic leader in Israel saying that what the accuser was doing is forbidden by Torah law and that he should bring the matter first to a religious court.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/haemtza/the-kolko-case-a-stain-on-lakewood/2013/05/08/

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