Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Meet Your New JSU Board

Tonight the Jewish Student Union held their elections at Hillel, and here are the new board members:

From left to right: Josh Cohen (President), Kelly Oppermann (Treasurer), David Miller (Programming), Corinne Strasser (Vice-President), and Rachel Raphael (Outreach). Not pictured: G-D SQUAD (Possible future Secretary?!)

I mostly only went to the meeting in order to report on it for the JewniProj, but I've been meaning to attend a meeting this whole quarter. In the end, no one ran for a couple of the positions, so in desperation they nominated me for secretary, which I didn't accept for the time being.

So I'm not sure exactly what role the JSU plays on campus. Back in the day when JSU was first getting on its feet, it was supposed to be an umbrella organization for all of the Jewish student groups on campus, but these days it seems like it's not much more than the "social event" arm of Hillel. One of the candidates running in tonight's election noted that the "JSU is not supposed to be religious" in nature, while David Miller expressed his desire for the JSU to be more inclusive of all campus orgs and groups. Students for Peace in the Middle East, for instance, is not represented at all by the JSU, nor is one of the biggest student orgs on campus: the
Chabad Student Center. I applaud David for his far-reaching vision.

I noticed a bit of a double standard at the meeting as well. There were distinctions made between "Judaism" and "JSU programming" that I didn't understand (shouldn't all Jewish student programming be in the spirit of Judaism?). In this usage, "Judaism" meant "religious stuff," while at the same time, the ideological movement
KESHER seemed to be very popular among the meeting attendees, a movement that by it's very nature as an ideological movement, by default excludes a whole bunch of people.

If JSU hopes to be any sort of umbrella organization or unifying factor on campus, I think they'll have to be more welcoming in their approach to all Jews on campus. That was discussed a number of times as well, as Rachel Raphael said she wants a more welcoming and enthusiastic environment. I can't wait to see what the new quarter will bring.

**UPDATE** I am honored that my long-time friend and Birthright homie, Hillel's Administrative and Programming Assistant Jacob Donnelly has posted a comment on the JewniProj for the first time. Here's what he had to say:
After reading Uri's post, I am moved to respond as the former President of the JSU and a current Hillel employee.

First of all, the JSU is NOT the Hillel Board, as described by Uriel. The main purpose of the JSU is to be an umbrella organization for all the orgs, making sure that the Jewish orgs are coordinated and have a public forum for Jewish students to have their voice heard. That meeting happens once a month, with representatives of each of the Jewish student organizations present. Jessica and Shalom have consistently been asking Rabbi Chein to send a representative to the JSU meetings. It frustrates me that Uriel would write that they are not represented, because they have not only had an open invitation, but have even been present at a couple of JSU meetings. As Uriel wrote, he has not been involved with the JSU, and is therefore writing from an underinformed point of view.

The second goal of the JSU is to provide programs that aren't being provided by Hillel, Chabad, or other Jewish student groups, to try to get more people involved on some level. What seems to be lacking on this campus is not holiday events or religious services, but social programs where all Jews feel fully included.

This campus supposedly has 3,000 Jewish students. Even if there are far less, obviously the majority of those Jewish students are not interested in religious programs or they would be attending Shabbat services with Hillel or Chabad every week. Therefore, the JSU Board's programs aim to be socially and culturally oriented, especially since most Jewish students won't come to social programs put on by "religious" organizations like Hillel and Chabad.

As far as SPME goes, Shalom has met with Eitan to actively encourage them to join the JSU. When Isaac founded it last year, he wanted nothing to do with the JSU or Hillel. Since both Hillel and the JSU try to reach out to as many people as possible by being pluralistic, he sadly perceived both organizations as being "weak" on Israel. The JSU coordinates with SCIAC, the pro-peace pro-Israel student group, but are happy to coordinate with SPME if they are interested.

I encourage anyone and everyone to get involved with the Jewish Student Union. Please talk to Joshua Cohen -jdcohen at ucsc.edu, the new JSU President, or me if you have any questions or suggestions about the JSU.

-Jacob from Hillel

Ok, I just typed up a whole response to Jacob's response, but it got deleted, and now I have to go to class. So I'll respond when I get out of class. But until then, I would like to thank you again Jacob for your insightful response, and I want to be clear on the fact that I totally support any effort to unite (Jewnite) the campus Jewish community, which is what the JSU tries to do. I wish the JSU success in the coming quarter, and I hope to be more involved myself.

**UPDATE** Ok, I posted my response in the comments section.

16 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

After reading Uri's post, I am moved to respond as the former President of the JSU and a current Hillel employee.

First of all, the JSU is NOT the Hillel Board, as described by Uriel. The main purpose of the JSU is to be an umbrella organization for all the orgs, making sure that the Jewish orgs are coordinated and have a public forum for Jewish students to have their voice heard. That meeting happens once a month, with representatives of each of the Jewish student organizations present. Jessica and Shalom have consistently been asking Rabbi Chein to send a representative to the JSU meetings. It frustrates me that Uriel would write that they are not represented, because they have not only had an open invitation, but have even been present at a couple of JSU meetings. As Uriel wrote, he has not been involved with the JSU, and is therefore writing from an underinformed point of view.

The second goal of the JSU is to provide programs that aren't being provided by Hillel, Chabad, or other Jewish student groups, to try to get more people involved on some level. What seems to be lacking on this campus is not holiday events or religious services, but social programs where all Jews feel fully included.

This campus supposedly has 3,000 Jewish students. Even if there are far less, obviously the majority of those Jewish students are not interested in religious programs or they would be attending Shabbat services with Hillel or Chabad every week. Therefore, the JSU Board's programs aim to be socially and culturally oriented, especially since most Jewish students won't come to social programs put on by "religious" organizations like Hillel and Chabad.

As far as SPME goes, Shalom has met with Eitan to actively encourage them to join the JSU. When Isaac founded it last year, he wanted nothing to do with the JSU or Hillel. Since both Hillel and the JSU try to reach out to as many people as possible by being pluralistic, he sadly perceived both organizations as being "weak" on Israel. The JSU coordinates with SCIAC, the pro-peace pro-Israel student group, but are happy to coordinate with SPME if they are interested.

I encourage anyone and everyone to get involved with the Jewish Student Union. Please talk to Joshua Cohen -jdcohen at ucsc.edu, the new JSU President, or me if you have any questions or suggestions about the JSU.

-Jacob from Hillel

P.S. I would appreciate a response and possibly a retraction of the original posting. I ask that my response be posted on the front page, and not just in the comment box.

Thu Mar 09, 12:17:00 PM 2006  
Blogger G-D SQUAD said...

Ok, first of all, everything I do is for constructive purposes, even though sometimes it's hard to see in what way something is constructive.

To begin with, sometimes we need to step back to see the forest through the trees. You posit that "the majority of those [3,000] Jewish students [at UCSC] are not interested in religious programs," so the JSU, in order to reach them, initiates more "socially and culturally oriented" programming.

Now if we look in retrospect at the year thus far, what you term "religious" programming is the most successful programming we have had on campus, on a weekly and yearly basis.

The facts: the most attended event this year was Shabbat 200. An average of 80+ students are involved in Shabbat programming on a weekly basis (attendence numbers provided by the JewniProj). This coming Tuesday, the CSC, AEPi, and SigmaAEPi's Purim in the Jungle is expected to be huge. And there's nothing more "religious" than fulfilling the injunction of our Sages of blessed memory "to become intoxicated on Purim." And I can attest to the fact that Shalom's Torah class draws a consistent crowd on campus every week. They come to learn Torah...

On the other hand, "non-religious" events, that you suggest all these "cultural Jews" are lining up to attend en masse, draw small numbers. Examples: Marijuana panel, rock climbing, etc etc, I don't think I need to list them.

To be frank, I was expecting the JSU elections to be well attended, or at least for 20 students to be there. For an umbrella org with ambitions like the JSU, I expected the students that they work for to be interested in who runs things. I was dissapointed.

In the future, we might have to redefine what we mean by "religious." For one org to say "we're not religious, we're cultural, and therefore we represent all those thousands of cultural Jews on campus" is, I believe, short-sighted.

The forest through the trees: We're Jewish. We're united by Judaism, not secularism and not assimilation.

I didn't hear anyone at the elections mention taking more advantage of the internet as a means of engaging students. People spoke of flyering more, of being more welcoming. We're in the age of the internet (I know I've probably brought this point home in our personal correspondence, Jacob). I admire your use of Facebook as a tool for engagement, but sending out messages on Facebook isn't going to make Joe Shmostein show up to an event any more than a flyer will.

Ok, I'm going to get off my soap-box or whatever now. Having 10 or 20 or 100 Jewish organizations doesn't mean much if it's the same 80/3,000 students being involved year after year. What you guys and what we all do as active participants of the community is very important, but it's time for real growth.

I seriously wish success to the JSU and to all the Jewish orgs and groups and individuals on campus. But it's time. (I hate to be all stereotypical G-D SQUAD and end on a faux-revolutionary note, but--) It's time for the revolution.

Thu Mar 09, 04:37:00 PM 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

First and foremost, I'd like to point that the two events you mentioned, namely, the Marijuana panel was co-sponsonsored by Leviathian and Hillel, and had no part on behalf of the JSU. As for the rock-climbing event, it too was not sponsored by the JSU. So those two examples are irrelevant. It should also be noted that the JSU has held successful "non-religious" events such as the JSU Bagel Brunch at College 8, the SuperBowl Party at Hillel (with Chabad representation at the event) and others. The important thing to note, if as you say the purpose of this web blog is, is to unite, then we cannot forego one aspect of Judaism for another. This is not a competition between Religious and non religious, or Chabad vs. Hillel. You are right when you say that what unites us is Judaism, but singling out certain events is also short-sided. In addition, the aim of the JSU, Hillel, Chabad, SCIAC, SPME, AEPi, Sigma AEPi, Leviathian, JAQ, and the Jewish co-op are all one in the same: to promote a healthy and happy, active, successful Jewish student body that reflects a comfortable atmosphere in Santa Cruz, in whatever terms those groups identify. The point is not competetion. Rather, if we are to truly have a revolution, then we must not pick sides, but truly unite. Religious, secular, the bottom line is that we are Jewish and should stick together. The truth of the matter is, is that of the 3,000 some odd Jewish students, we have a myriad of those who identify with Chabad, Hillel, Reform, Cultural, Spriritual, Traditional, Conservadox, etc. and as a project whose aim it is to unite, we need to stand together and be accepting of ALL these members. Perhaps, if our community truly is united, then this revolution can take place. But until we have full support from all of our brothers and sisters in the Jewish community, separation and division will only deter from our common dream of a strong Jewish student body.

Thu Mar 09, 11:06:00 PM 2006  
Blogger G-D SQUAD said...

Why am I making myself so misunderstood? Where do I ever stress division between religious and non-religious or Chabad and Hillel? I have the exact same general vision as the JSU: to see all the groups working together for the greater benefit of the students. And what are our measures for success, by the way?

One of the guiding principles behind the JewniProj (if such a thing exists) is that the student Jewish community transcends labels. Sometimes I feel like I'm the only one around here who really sees that.

It's not even about the JSU, it's not about Hillel or Chabad, or Reform or Gay or Liberal or Hippy or anything; it's about Judaism. Right?

I think I'm one of the only true anti-religious Jewish students on campus. That's right: anti-religious. If you want to see how deep the rabbit-hole goes, come find me Tuesday night at Purim in the Jungle and ask me any question you want. I guarantee if you ask me anything seriously, we'll both come out of the conversation with a new perspective on things.

But to wrap things up, you stated, "Religious, secular, the bottom line is that we are Jewish and should stick together." That's exactly my point.

I'm happy that you guys are so passionate about this that you commented. Yasher koach. I hope you're not dissapointed to find out that we all just agree with each other.

Sorry, and one last thing: good call on criticizing the examples I brought... they were not necessarily related to the topic at hand. My bad. But I think my point still stands that while having 80-100 "regulars" year after year is really really cool,
it's just not enough on a campus of well over 2,000 Jews.

Now, if people really want to respond constructively here and show that they're interested in Jewnity, what are some real ideas for getting those other few thousand Yidden involved (besides flyering, emailing, and tabling)? That's my challenge to you.

Fri Mar 10, 12:59:00 AM 2006  
Blogger Fedora Black said...

I really appreciate the various views that are coming up as a responce to this thread and to the various other threads on this blog. I think we have to keep in mind that Jewish unity does not have to mean that we have to agree on everything. In fact, heated debate and disagreement is part of it. There is the well-known disagreements between bais Hillel (the sage, not the college org) and bais Shamai. One the most interesting issues between them was the laws of leverite marriages. These laws are very complex, and can profound consequences for who people can marry, and what the status of their children would be. The two schools had different views on the matter. Yet despite this, we learn that the two schools intermarried freely, and that there was peace between them.

I don't think that this site is pushing one camp or the other. People who post on this site might be pushing what they believe in, but that is ok. As long as we all get an equal push, we are fine. G-d Squad may be a regular at Chabad and wants to tell people how great that is. On the other hand, we have Netmessia who posted about a shobbos event that has a carpool service and who will write about the conservative movement thinks about homosexual jews. That's great too. Not that I think its right to drive on shabbos, nor do I think that the Torah in any way allows homosexual relationships, regardless of how loving they are. But that is besides the point. The main thing is that people at UCSC and Santa Cruz in general have a Jewish forum where thoughts can be published equally, either via posts or comments.

That being said...

1:

I find it very offensive that a representitive of Hillel, a group that claims to be all inclusive, calls SCIAC "the pro-peace pro-Israel", using the definte article. It strongly implies or suggests that the other group, SPME, is not pro peace. While I do not know the details of what the group stands for under its current leadership, I can tell you that when Isaac was involved the group certainly was pro-peace. The difference was simply what each of the two groups differ in what they believe will bring a healthy peace, and how much one should and can give up to reach it.

2:

Purely social Jewish events are utterly pointless in doing Jewish outreach. They may give an org a few more events to fill the calendar and get a few more heads to count. I am sure that both these things look great when applying for grants and when hitting up donors for money, but they do little to strengthen ones identity as a Jew. And they do even less to increase ones education as a Jew. It may be wonderful that a Jewish student can go through four years of college and has tried snowboarding, kayaking, hockey, and seen the superbowl, but if they come out knowing and caring just as little about Judaism as when they came in, we have failed.

Fri Mar 10, 09:25:00 AM 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think the Hillel rep meant the SPME was a constrast to SCIAC. He only mentioned the two groups in response to the original article. Be offended if you want - the only reason the groups were brought up in contrast was that SCIAC has representation at JSU events and SPME doesn't. Jacob was merely explaining why SPME isn't there.

I also think it's very interesting that everyone has a say on this, yet JSU Meeting attendance is still very low. Where are you people? If you care, don't just blog your thoughts, show up to a meeting and help us change things.

Fri Mar 10, 11:17:00 AM 2006  
Blogger Fedora Black said...

Actually, only two people, me and G-d Squad have voiced opinions on this via the blog. G-d Squad might very well get involved, while I am am a UCSC alumn. So you really only have one person who is blogging but not showing up to the JSU meetings. Now if the JSU wants to have an alumn rep, well that's a whole other matter...

Perhpas the truth is that people are voicing their opinions on the JSU...by voting with their feet!

I agree fully with the g-man that something different needs to be done.

Fri Mar 10, 11:55:00 AM 2006  
Blogger G-D SQUAD said...

anonymous: First of all, be proud! I know you have a name.

Secondly, I have one suggestion for how you might get a couple more people to attend JSU meetings: serve kosher food that everyone can eat, so every Jew feels welcome.

I'm personally really interested in attending meetings, but I wasn't able to this past quarter. But when I went to this meeting on Wednesday night and everyone was chomping down on non-kosher devivery pizza that I couldn't eat, well, it just kind of sucks.

I believe you that you want the JSU to represent all campus Jews, but you guys have to practice what you preach. All Jews should include those who keep kosher.

Just a thought. Shabbat shalom!

Fri Mar 10, 12:56:00 PM 2006  
Blogger G-D SQUAD said...

Oh, and in defense of the JewniProj being a unifying force, we do have contributors who identify with the Reform and Conservative movements, while I guess I represent the Neo-Chassidic stream of thought. Some of our contributors are involved in Hillel, Chabad, Leviathan, SCIAC, 12 Tribes Coop, and SPME. Just to clear things up.

Go team!

Fri Mar 10, 01:03:00 PM 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, it's Jacob again, and I don't have a lot of time, so here's a few responses in a short ramble:

The anonymous commenter(s) had some great points that get at exactly what I'm trying to say. Also, Uriel, I have to correct you and say that the most successful event this year was the Hillel concert in late September featuring Universal Language at Porter that had at least 200 people, while Shabbat 200 had about 160. So, that seems to say that people like secular events.

As far as SCIAC being the pro-peace pro-Israel group, that is their motto, and one that Hillel and the JSU support. Take a look at the facebook group "United Zionist International (UZI)" to see what SPME founders Isaac and Naya think about peace in the Middle East...although I understand that SPME is a different organization this year under Eitan Altshuler, a man I totally respect.

The students that have been coming to the JSU unanimously requested pizza. They're not asking for pork or anything crazy like that. This is another example of how the JSU is trying to reach out to the hundreds of students that aren't going to Shabbat or religious events.

The main thing that I'm hearing from students, and that I want you to consider, is that "jewnification" will not occur through disparaging comments or a lack of balance on the "history" that you're recording. If you're going to constantly report on an organization through a negative lens, just don't report on it at all, and be honest about what the goals of this blog are.

Fri Mar 10, 02:27:00 PM 2006  
Blogger G-D SQUAD said...

Please give me one single example of a disparaging remark I made about any person or organization. In fact, if you look at pretty much any post on here, you see that the JewniProj unabashedly supports Hillel, the JSU, etc etc.

So I asked previously "how do we measure success?" And I see that you measure it only by attendence. How many of the 200 students at Universal Language at Porter were Jewish? And out of those who were Jewish, how many were willing to be more involved in the Jewish community solely because of that concert? We need to be honest with ourselves.

I could have just put a post on here that said "Meet the new JSU Board" and put the picture and ended it there. But I made a decision. I want to see real change on campus, so I was critical, and the fact that you guys are so unaccepting of any criticism reminds of the quote from Shakespeare, "methinks thou dost protest too much."

In fact, other students who you might not expect have confided opinions to me that only confirm what I have said, and really, I don't think I said anything that wasn't actually said by the JSU Board at the JSU elections.

Even if all the students unanimously requested non-kosher pizza, the fact of the matter is, that marginalizes some students who might like to attend meetings (is it about "majority rules" or representing all Jews?).

And Jacob, I don't know exactly what you're insinuating by saying "be honest about what the goals of this blog are." I'm very honest with myself and with my readers, and with you. Let's admit it: You were one of the first people I approached to be a contributor to this blog, and you rejected that opportunity. You didn't believe in my vision for whatever reason. And I totally don't hold that against you.

But let's be honest with ourselves, that sometimes the Old Guard needs change. We can't just always pat ourselves on the back and say "good job." Look how extremely open I have been to your criticizism of the JewniProj. In fact, anonymous, whoever you are, I invite you to be a contributor yourself. If you want to post all the JSU-glorifying, rosy-lensed posts you want, I'll let you! That's how open we are around here.

Jacob, we need to just go get a beer. Call me.

Fri Mar 10, 03:13:00 PM 2006  
Blogger iheartisrael said...

Uriel and Jacob,

I think the true solution to some of these problems can be simply stated:

In order for all Jewish students to feel comfortable and accepted at JSU meetings, we should not have food. This simply clears up a lot of confusion and feeling left out, etc. I was at the meeting and saw that not everyone ate pizza, which I felt uncomfortable about, but the pizza, although an important sidenote, should not be indicative of the way that Chabad students view Hillel(i.e. that we all don't accept more strict Kosher keeping people) That is not the aim of the JSU or Hillel in my opinion.. True, generally more reformed Jewish students identify with Hillel, but that doesn't necessarily have to be the case. Again, I think the point to keep in mind is that Chabad and Hillel are both amazing, wonderful resources that Jewish students should feel invited to attend. With Fedora Black's comments :

"that's great too. Not that I think its right to drive on shabbos, nor do I think that the Torah in any way allows homosexual relationships, regardless of how loving they are. But that is besides the point"

How is anyone supposed to feel welcome at all, certainly if one were to identify him/herself with the GLBT community (as some students do- JAQ for example)or if one drive on Shabbat (as many students do)? To have one's own personal opinions are totally acceptable and I respect those, but to post them in such a way that makes me as a Jewish student interested in getting involved with Chabad makes me feel not only unwelcome but somehow inferior to those "seemingly elitist" comments is unfair..I do not feel that I am a bad Jew because I drive on Shabbat, but comments like this prevent the idea of unification, certainly if my peers are the ones expressing these thoughts. The point is, each of our views are fine, afterall, we are entitled to our own opinions, but with comments like that, we could be turning away students who could help with this "revolution".

In addition, comments like these by G-d Squad also deter people from joining the Jewnification Project:

"If you want to post all the JSU-glorifying, rosy-lensed posts you want, I'll let you! That's how open we are around here".

When I read this, I was offended, and I am friends with both Jacob and Uriel. Afterall, Uriel, you are the one who said that "you guys" (about whom exactly you refer to,I am still unsure) were unaccepting of criticism, which to me as a reader seems also unaccepting. I think for this project to work, we need to respect the views of our Jewish friends and brothers/sisters. While we differ in our approach(es) to Judaism, there is no need to criticize who is more correct in their form of practice. That the co-op chose to provide rides for their Shabbat event is completely valid and a sincere offer, and should not be antagonized by those who disapprove. Disapprove if you want, but to vocally express these opinions as Fedora Black did come off as pretentious and self-righteous, which I am sure is not one of the aims of this Jewnification Project. Rather than butt heads about Chabad, Hillel, and the various ways we choose to express our Judaism, we should be respectful of any and all groups, posters, commenters etc. I'll do my part and post more on this blog to ensure that each voice from the campus community is heard..or at the very least,that my voice be heard..

-Corinne

Fri Mar 10, 11:52:00 PM 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey man, I totally agree about the beer. I was thinking that as I was writing my comment, but i was rushing to get ready for Shabbat. Again, I'm just gonna do this quickly because I don't have a lot of time, but just responding to a couple things:

I don't think you (Uri) made many disparaging comments, but the one Corinne pointed out certainly sounds a little condescending, and Fedora Black certainly did. Not everyone at Shabbat 200 was Jewish either. I know of at least 20 people that came in as I was greeting them that asked if you had to be Jewish to come. So, therefore, I still think that the concert was more successful, because my goals for an event differ from yours (social vs. religious), and that's fine.

Yes, I turned down the invitation to have a regular role posting on here. My role at Hillel is different than anyone that's reading this. I work there 40 hours a week. If I am supposed to write up a review and plug every event that Hillel does (look at our event calendar for Winter Quarter...it's safe to say that it's an average of 4 per week), that would be a significant amount of time that I just don't have. I'm also concerned that this blog won't be continued after you (Uri) graduate. Although I am very impressed with the effort that you're putting into it, and the look of the site, I find it hard to believe that you will find someone so willing and capable to keep up with it after you go. Now, it also seems, whether it was because I declined the invite or not, that the blog seems to have a Hillel/JSU bias. Obviously the anonymous commentors and Corinne feel the same way. I respect your vision, I just suspect that "jewnification" means a different thing to you than it does to me-I think for you it means every Jew at UCSC becoming a Chabadnik, and for me it means everyone finding their niche in Judaism, whether it's going to Chabad, Hillel, joining a Jewish student org, or coming to one Jewish event in their 4 years at school here at the very least.

The JSU has had a very rough year. Their outreach effort was not what it could have been. Therefore, since your blog may be the first time that certain Jewish students are hearing about it, criticism (whether it was fact, fiction, or misguided) isn't what I would have liked to read from someone that used to be a member, let alone a good friend of mine, even if we haven't hung out all that much lately.

I like the Poet and the Patriot or 99 Bottles. Let me know what days are good for you...on the condition that we don't talk about Jewish campus life for at least the first beer.

One final note, that I'm hoping Uri can back me up on, as fellow Psych majors and Jewish community leaders- our agreements are much greater than our disagreements, but disagreements just are just highlighted more in our society (which is how ridiculous books like "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus," get published).

-Jacob

Sat Mar 11, 04:10:00 PM 2006  
Blogger G-D SQUAD said...

I know it's hard to believe because sometimes it's easier to divide the world into easy categories, but I'm not a Chabadnik. I wouldn't even call myself orthodox. I do personally try to live by halacha, which makes it easier for me to attend some events and more difficult for me to attend other ones. I have a vested interest in seeing the whole community bloom and blossom, no doubt about it.

Someone made a very insightful comment to me today: he said, we Jews at UCSC have probably more than 90% in common, yet we spend so much effort focusing on the 10% that we differ on. If we focused our time on coming together on the 90% that unites us, we could get a lot more done.

I'm really sorry if my comments offended or divided, which they were not meant to do. And I still stand by my statement, which I don't feel was offensive, that whoever anonymous is, you're welcome to be a contributor to the JewniProj. There's not much editorial policy, so you really can post whatever you want. I hope you'll take me up on the offer.

Jacob, I called you. We'll get in touch. Shavua tov.

Sat Mar 11, 10:40:00 PM 2006  
Blogger Shlomie & Devorah Leah said...

Shavua Tov to all and “increase the joy”.

The revolution will come form Jewish students on this campus - and you are all doing a great job. Go ahead, pat yourself on the back, and put a feather in your hat. You deserve it. Good, now that we got that taken care of, let’s go out there and continue to spread the love.

I don’t usually post or comment on this blog because I appreciate seeing the wisdom and energy of the youth without the interference of any sort of “establishment”.

That is with regard to opinion. But I must comment with regard to some terms recently used that I believe don’t exist. I searched wikipedia and the Webster dictionary and couldn’t find it in either.

“Chabad students” and “Hillel students” – Say what?!?

Chabad is a House, a crazy Shabbat Dinner, or a philosophy. It is for “a” student, and “all” students. But it itself is not a student, and a student is not it.

I also searched the Torah - the inventor of Judaism and the Jew - and couldn’t find any of the following terms: reform, orthodox, conservative, renewal, chabadnik or jewbu. The only terms I found were: “children of Israel” “treasured People” and “Kingdom of princes”. I was taught that all “children of Israel” are a “treasured People” and “Kingdom of princes”.

My Holy brothers and sisters, I encourage you to continue expressing you differing and diverse opinions. But as your friendly Rabbi I remind you all not to get caught with man-made labels; rather live with the beautiful identity G-d gave each and every one of us.

Whew! It feels good to be a Jew!

Sat Mar 11, 11:43:00 PM 2006  
Blogger Fedora Black said...

It's funny how being of the opinion that some things are right and somethings are wrong is not acceptable in this day and age. In Judaism we have 613 ways to relate to the world, 365 things to abstain from, and 248 things we need to do. These 613 ways define how we see the world as Jews. So when the Talmud says that something can't be done on Shabbos, or that homosexuallity is wrong, then these things are wrong. Period. Zip. Finito. There is nothing elitist about it. Somethings are right, somethings are wrong. Period.

Now how you relate to a person who does something wrong is a whole other matter...

Yes, I think it is wrong for a Jew to drive on Shabbos, but that does not mean that I look down on the person. I myself used to drive on Shabbos. I was wrong, and I think the person in question is wrong. But that does not mean I can't embrace them as a fellow Jew. And it certainly does not mean that I would not want to consider such a person a friend, have them over for Shabbos, or support them in a time of need.

Note that I don't claim to understand why a given law in Judaism is the way it is. I don't personally feel offended by a gay relationship, nor do I think that pork and shrimp are icky. In fact, they are quite tasty. But I beleive that there is a right and wrong that goes beyond simply what I think. My whims don't define how I see the world; instead, the Torah does. Please see a work such Soloveichik's Halachik Man for an exellent introduction to this sort of philosophy.

My views are not condescending. In fact I think the opposite is true. It is condescending when people state that every point is valid and that every view is right. If everything is right, then truthfully nothing is! To openly state ones views and to let others do the same is certainly not condescending. Indeed, I would even call it respectful.

Sun Mar 12, 12:40:00 AM 2006  

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