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Friday, Juae 2 1 , 1940

THE JEWISH PRESS

Training School For Leadership By Roman Slobodin

L

American Jewry has been the object of a wry and backhanded compliment in recent months. It has become commonplace """to point out that destruction of Jewish life in Central and Eastern Europe, culminated by the ruthless crushing of Polish Jewry by the Nazis, has left this country and Palestine in positions of unprecedented world leadership in carrying on the Jewish tradition. This is a negative form of statement usually used by those who appeal to American Jews to awaken more fully to their responsibilities. It does not do full justice to the actual capacity for carrying on Jewish religious and cultural life which exists in this country. Long before the strength end quality of American Jewish institutions became a matter of immediate life and death importance/American Jews were making distinctive contributions to Jewish learning, • One of the most important and characteristic American developments was the movement for synthesis of traditional Jewish scholarship and* modern secular study. Two institutions, both founded by American Jews have long been the outstanding leaders in this Held. One is the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. The other is [Yeshlva College in New York City. Of the two, the university in the Holy City has attracted wider general notice and has been the object of more pointing with pride by American Jews. The uni. que and remarkable achievements of the institution on Washington Heights.. have, comparatively, been overlokoed. Double.BarreUcd Education • Yeshiva College, a unit of the Yesbiva, Rabbi Isaac Elchanan . Theological Seminary, is an educational institution without a counterpart anywhere on earth. yrith its affiliated secondary school, it gives its students a double-barreled education, in Jewish subjects on the one hand and liberal arts and sciences on the other. In the morning the visitor may see the students as typical YeshIva-bochurim, standing at oldfashioned lecterns poring over the frayed and yellowed pages of their Talmuds under the guidance of grey-bearded .elders. In the. afternoon the same youths are to be found conjugating French or Latin verbs, discussing the' history of ancient Greece or i odern - Europe in classrooms and working over test-tubes and bunsen burners or dissecting frogs in the laboratories. Whether in the Talmud study or the laboratory, however, every Yeshlva student wears his "yarmelke,.". The orthodox Jewish custom of keeping the head covered is rigidly observed. Nevertheless, 'One variation has been introduce!, Some of 'the! students' yarmelkesj instead of being the usual black or other sombre hue, are made in red or other bright colors.'

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ust Washington Heights sees the quaint spectacle of Irish and Negro youngsters wearing the headgear generally associated in the public mind with the ghetto. Exceptions The only exceptions to the yarmelke rule are some of the Christian instructors at the college. A number of prominent Christian professors of, other institutions in the city serve Yeshiva part time in various secuiaf subjects, The college, with its limited resources, would not be able to employ men of their calibre full time, but they are interested and enthusiastic supporters of the institution and gladly serve for several hours weekly. Dr. Nelson P. Meade, acting president of the College of the City of New York, taught at Yeshiva in the afternoons for ten years until his elevation to his present post. Professor Charles F. Home of the City College English department not only taught at Yeshiva for many years—he wore the biggest yarmelke of any member/of the faculty. Lately the college faculty has been enriched by hte arrival of a number of refugee professors, some of them men of great renown. Of one, Dr. Bruno Z. Klsch, formerly, professor of biochemistry and experimental pathology at the University of Cologne, now professor of chemistry at Yeshiva, his collegues relate that he had to take the New York State examination for license to practice medicine, although his medical dictionary is used by physicians throughout America. Even a brief visit to Yeshiva affords compelling evidence of the vitality of the Jewish tradition in this country despite all the distractions of American life and the centrifugal forces supposedly operating iii American Jewry. The course in the college and high school is just about twice as difficult as in most other institutions qt their rank,' because of the double burden of Jewish and secular studies. The class day is seven to nine hours long, and sometimes more. Starting at nine o'clock in" the morning with Talmud, Hebrew, Jewsih history or other Jewish subjects, the students sometimes do not finish until eight o'clock

in the evening in the chemistry or physics laboratory. . School for Genius Yet so great is the demand for admission that the college is able to pick and choose among prospective students by standards more exacting than almost any institution in the country. There are 214 students in the college, 275 in the high school. Graduates of 'the extraordinarily difficult high school course must show a 75 per cent average for admission to the college. Graduates of other high schools must have, an average of 80 per cent or better. Students in the college must maintain at least a "B" grade in their heavy schedules in order to remain. Yet few fail to make the grade even in the freshman year. Of the entering classes of about 60, not more than five or six drop out — and these, going to other colleges generally make brilliant records. One is tempted to call Yeshiva a college of geniuses. It is not quite that but the exceptional brilliance of the student body is shown clearly by the results of standardized intelligence tests"of the American Council on Education. In 1938, Yeshiva freshmen made a median score of 102, compared with the 89.38 average for men college students throughout the ocuntry who took the test. Results in ther years have been about the same. Yet the undergraduates are in most respects a typical American college assortment — except that they are all Jews. They come from twenty-nine states and half a dozen foreign countries. So far aa their exacting studies permit* they indulge in all the usual extracurricular activities from chess and politics through basketball and horseplay. A large proportion of them have their dormitory rooms rigged ut with college banners, "No Parking" signs ani other standard undergraduate paraphernalia. While a considerable proportion go on to rabbinical study and training for Jewish education, many go into other professions and business. It is not the object of Yeshlva to train rabbis and Jewish teachers only, but citizens who have the fullest benefit from the dual heritage of Jewish and western culture. ' •.

- 1215 So. 13th Sft.

JAI872

A limited number of tickets for each convention function are now. on sale for the members of Omaha lodge and tlieir families. The tickets, can be procured by reservation at the B'nai B'rith ticket office at the Jewish Community Center, JA 1366. Tickets for the convention banquet at which Eddie Cantor is to speak are $2.50 per plate. About 500 tickets are available for the local membership. Tickets for the Highland Day dinner are $1.00 per plate. Tickets to the convention luncheon are also $1.00 per plate, but only 100 tickets are available. Ticket sales will close when available tickets have been sold.

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Profile for Jewish Press

June 28, 1940  

Jewish Press

June 28, 1940  

Jewish Press