By: The Commentator Editorial Board  | 

Yeshiva-ize the College (Vol. 1, Issue 3)

With the graduation this June of the last of its pioneers, Yeshiva College emerges from its pioneering stage. It has become an accepted, well-established institution. We feel that it is therefore time for the College to take stock of itself, to consider the effect of the wear and tear of its early years on the aims and purposes for which it was established.

In the stress and strain of its efforts to maintain itself financially during the trying period of economic depression, Yeshiva College, we believe, has lost sight of some of its fundamental ideals. Today, with the College in a more favorable financial condition than it has been since its inception, it is appropriate that we pause to turn from the material to a consideration of the ideal. 

A bird’s-eye glance at the College and its curriculum renders apparent the fact that the Jewish aspect of the College has been buffeted considerably during these…[illegible]...  years. It is, in fact, struggling for place in the sun”, or to be exact, for …[illegible]...  place on the curriculum of the college. 

Yeshiva College was founded to effect a synthesis between religions and secular knowledge, to fuse Jewish learning and world culture into an integrated view of life and its problems. 

“Yeshiva College aims at the transformation… and values of Judaism…[illegible]...  and nature fused and…[illegible]...  with the knowledge of the…[illegible]...  the other currents of creative… for the enrichment of the Jewish communities and for the advancement of America”. (Dr. B. Revel, Jewish Daily Bulletin, Feb. 21, 1934.)

It would follow logically from…[illegible]...  ideals that the study of Jud…[illegible]...  and literature…[illegible]...  principles would…[illegible]...  Is it not…[illegible]... that in a college… raison d’etre is the integration of Jewish learning with secular knowledge so few courses in Judaism and Jewish studies are offered the student body? Courses in Jewish History, Jewish Literature, Jewish Philosophy, Zionism, modern Jewish social problems — studies that should form the basis of its program — are conspicuous on the curriculum of the College by their absence. Yeshiva College, we understand, “seeks to…[illegible]...  the millennial wisdom of Israel…[illegible]...  on the perplexities of modern life…[illegible]...  B. Revel, W.J.Z. March 28,…[illegible]...  to reconcile…[illegible]...  medium is…[illegible]...  of the application of…[illegible]...  to modern social and…[illegible]... 

With the exception of the course in Jewish Ethics, the few classes conducted in a haphazard manner or are not required of college students. The weakness of the Hebrew Department of the Yeshiva is proverbial. Its lack of proper organization and. systematic planning tender its value to the school a negligible one. In its present form it offers little toward a solution of the problem existing in the College.

One paradox has always puzzled us. No student can be graduated from Yeshiva College unless he has completed two years of courses in French, Latin or German.. Courses in history, English. Literature and Composition, philosophy, etc., are requisite for a degree. Nevertheless. it is possible for a student to graduate from YESHIVA College — and numerous cases of this can be adduced — without having completed more than an elementary study of the Hebrew language, without having to his credit more than a term of Jewish History and being abyssmally ignorant of Jewish Literature and Jewish Philosophy. If Yeshiva College is to achieve its goal, that of creating a real synthesis in its students, it must obviously consider the Jewish aspect much more seriously than it has done in the past.

Several methods of coping with the problem suggest themselves to us. More courses in the Jewish studies we have mentioned rust be added to the curriculum. We are aware of ‘the difficulties involved in securing competent men to conduct these courses. Nevertheless, we feel that greater efforts than are being made at present can achieve some measure of success. At least, we have a right to expect that every attempt at expansion will be made in this direction. 

The Hebrew Department of the Yeshiva should be incorporated into the college. These courses should be conducted under competent, understanding college administration and during college hours. Jewish studies should be made requisite in every year of college attendance. A specific number of credits in Jewish studies should be required for graduation from college. It would be advantageous for example to incorporate the studies in Jewish history into the History Department of the College, those in Hebrew and Jewish literature into the Language Department and so forth. Above all, a planned and well-organized program of Jewish studies must be formulated lest the College defeat its very purpose. We are prompted in the criticisms by a feeling of deep concern for the furtherance of Yeshiva College and its ideal. Our …[illegible]...  in the earnest that they will be taken to heart by the Administration and acted upon accordingly. We trust that the immediate future will witness the formulation of a program more in consonance than the present one with the principles of Yeshiva College.