By: The Commentator Editorial Board  | 

Wanted—A Change (Vol. 1, Issue 11)

Semicha exams, colloquially speaking, never were a cinch. From an academic point of view, the amount and degree of preparation involved is more nerve-racking than the most difficult of doctorate tests. 

Yet instead of finding the Administration appreciative of the difficulties involved, the exact opposite seems to be the case. For as long as can be remembered, charges of unfairness, unnecessary autocracy, and rank inconsideration have been thrown at the Administration by each and every student applying for such examinations.

Sadly enough, these complaints have always been confined to indignant whispers and grumblings in the student body.

The issue has never been brought into the open by a delegation of Yeshiva student spokesmen to the Administration, because the leaders themselves are candidates for Semicha. Cynical as to the possible achievements of such a delegation, they are, on the other hand, quite positive of the repercussions when their turn to apply for Semicha arrives. 

But by far the most discouraging aspect of the whole issue is the pettiness and callousness of the Administration’s attitude. Well does it realize that the grind of the final year every student must undergo in order to prepare adequately for Semicha is of such a strenuous nature, that many an applicant for the final examinations has been on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

At this moment of highest emotional tension and actual rundown condition physically, the student usually applies for a definite date of examination. A time is set, while the applicant returns to his Yoreh Deah to literally burn the midnight oil until “der Tag” arrives.

And then the merry-go-round begins. To his amazement the distraught student discovers that appointments do not necessarily have to be kept, that on the slightest whim of any of the three examiners the date may be postponed for weeks. Each applicant finds that just at the time of his request for an examination a new system has been ...[illegible]... calling for wholesale tests ...[illegible]... a year, meaning additional waste of time till the idea is again dropped. 

Appeals to the various members of the examining board on the grounds of tremendous nervous strain or fear of staleness are of no avail, except that a too righteously indignant student may offend the temperament of any one of the examiners and find his date postponed indefinitely.

Were these statements not continually substantiated by facts, they would be well nigh incredible. How such a situation could be possible is merely a futile cry. Such is the case and we place it solidly in the lap of the Administration.

As students, we never have, and still cannot, understand such inconsideration towards the most respected and advanced students of the Yeshiva. No reason at all, to our minds, can justify the continual postponements of weeks, and many times months, that practically every student must patiently endure even though it outrages all sense of fairness.

The three members of the examination board are in the institution every single day. To ask them to assemble formally at a day’s—surely a week’s—notice and to expect the appointment to be rigidly kept seems to us to be only the fulfillment of the duties of an examination board. Surely the present custom of making it the applicant's responsibility to search for each member of the board and bring them together from every corner of the building or the city is completely out of order. 

If the Administration has been unaware of these flagrant abuses of authoritative prerogatives, we look forward to an immediate attempt by the “powers that be” to rectify any evil that has too long plagued the student body and caused a totally unnecessary strain in the relations between the Yeshiva: student and his superiors.