Forgotten Men (Vol. 2, Issue 6)
Ever since its inception, the Commentator has consistently fought for the realization of one major principle in Yeshiva College. It has always accepted it as an unquestioned fact that the attainment of a fusion of Jewish learning and secular knowledge was the sole raison d'etre of the college.
For this reason, it has always been the Commentator’s stand that no student be admitted to the college unless he qualifies as a regularly enrolled student of one of the Hebrew departments.
Yet, to be uncompromisingly rigid in this respect is to fall into as great an evil as laxness in the requirement, for this reason:
While we insist upon the demand that no student be allowed to register in the College if he does not attend the Yeshiva or the Teachers, we are not ready to define Yeshiva College as being merely a training school, for spiritual leaders alone.
Properly trained mentors are not enough. The backbone of future Jewry will always be a better educated, intellectually trained body of laymen, able to assume social responsibilities in an intelligent fashion. They, and not rabbis alone, will carry the burdens of the future.
Does Yeshiva College, in the present arrangement of its Hebrew departments, offer the possibility for such training on a sufficiently wide scale? In a very small measure, at best. We are not so much concerned with those students who are capable of regular work Jewish studies. Our primary concern is for a class of students, having great potentialities, who are being wasted by the present curriculum deficiencies.
This class is composed of students with a meagre Jewish background, or with insufficiencies in training which do not qualify them for regular Hebrew work. They are being given a minimum of Jewish studies, a minimum which is by' all accounts entirely too little to contain anything of permanent value.
These classes have not the slightest possibility, in their present scope, of performing a service such as we have outlined. It is clear that they are becoming with the course of time a mere formality devoid of lasting worth. The classes do little more than intimate what may be done in this direction.
The special classes can become of value if, and only if, the following be carried out:
Firstly, the courses must cease to be regarded as something “special.” They can be as properly a part of Jewish studies as the established departments.
Secondly, they must be extended to provide an intensive period of training, with hours not less than those required in the Yeshiva and the Teachers Institute.
Thirdly, the classes must serve not as courses per se, but as preparation for entrance to one of the regular departments.
We do not see the advisability of admitting students who do not intend to take regular Hebrew studies. Further, we do not see the advisability of spending useless hours on superficial studies. We do see the great advisability of making it possible for a tremendous number of otherwise unqualified students to receive an intensive period of training qualifying them, within a year or two, for that would else be entirely beyond them.
Patently, the present courses are ridiculously inadequate for a function such as this. We are firmly convinced, however, that a properly organized department with full-time morning classes could prepare these students for the full course of Yeshiva training.