Thursday, February 17, 2005

Alma Mater

This story in today's Forward made me a bit upset. Why is it that every story out of YU has to be turned into a "left vs. right" thing? Granted, Joel may just be making excuses so as not to attend the Edah conference. (I will say, some of their sessions look quite interesting, but I doubt I can make it.) But perhaps there are simply more prosaic reasons he's not going: Before his mind started spinning "appeasement of the right" fantasies, didn't it occur to Mr. Eden that Joel may simply not want to publicly support what has become a competitor (of sorts) for him? Or try this one on, to blow your mind: Perhaps the very fact that he's pushing for Modern Orthodoxy on his own campus- which is, after all, the whole point of the article- leads Joel to believe that he will one day make Edah superfluous.

In any event, all we get here are dated depictions of how the "right" can't stand Joel (he even mentions the Tehillim rally), on the one hand, and how Joel (and Lamm!) are too weak to enforce modernity, on the other. Not only are those two ideas contradictory, neither is true, at least any longer (and not just for the crass monetary reasons the article suggests). Granted, God on the Quad makes similar claims- but that's a book, with greater lead time and based on older articles. For the Forward to lapse into these cliches is inexcusable.


Anonymous said...

Brother Bob:
Why does that surprise you?

When did the Forward ever not lapse into cliches when talking about Orthodoxy?

Just because you are smarter, does not mean that they are.

Anonymous said...

BB --
"When did the Forward ever not lapse into cliches when talking about Orthodoxy?"

When I wrote for them!

Nachum -- I don't get your point re: contradictory arguments. Could you explain how that's so?

keep it good,
Steven I. Weiss

Nachum said...


If he's not enforcing Modern Orthodoxy, he can't be offending the Right that much, and vice versa. OK, that's not a watertight argument: They may be unhappy with other aspects of his history, his program etc., on the one hand, or, on the other, he may be so much in the middle he makes no one happy- but prima facie it's not a solid point.

My basic point is this: The tensions with the Roshei Yeshiva were resolved even before he was invested, hence their presence. So why keep bringing up the Tehillim rally, for instance, bad as it might have been?

Anonymous said...

Brother Bob:
If they are bringing up the Tehillim Rally now, it means that Joel is having excellent relations with the RY, b/c the Forward could not find anything else to bring as a rayah.

As Joel's issue is not academics, but Jewish activism & identity, the RY really don't have any complaints, because under Lamm it was Torah vs. Madda. Here its activism which has nothing to do with either Torah or Madda.