May 23, 2006

Too Jewish?

The Boston Globe ran a story over the weekend- one that was sent to me by multiple people- on the question of whether Brandeis University is "too Jewish." It's certainly a question that the university has wrestled with for much of its 58-year history, one that returned to the forefront last month when Matt Brown, a writer for my old student paper The Justice, wrote an article accusing the school of being "too Jewish."

My take? The level of Brandeis' Jewishness is in the eye of beholder. I can certainly understand how non-Jews could feel uncomfortable in an environment with a Jewish majority, at an historically Jewish institution, at which most people assume classmates are Jewish unless they know otherwise. Then again, there were certainly various levels and cliques of Jews at the school, from Orthodox, to Reform, to Israeli expats, to secular Zionists, to unaffiliated.

The truth is, everyone choosing to attend Brandeis knows when they arrive that the school has a Jewish majority. True, it sometimes bothered me that campus all but shut down on Friday nights, and yes, I often found the "Jewish supremacy" among some of my classmates troubling.

But that didn't bother me nearly as much in my college days as the culture of political correctness (or, for that matter, the culture of JAPpiness) that I was surrounded with at all times. The PC/"social justice" crowd, I thought, contributed a lot more to prevalent anti-fun vibe that was around campus my entire four years than any form of excessive Jewishness.

The "How Jewish should Brandeis be?" question is one that will likely always be with us, and it probably always will be. Let's let future generations decide the answer.

Posted by Stephen Silver at May 23, 2006 12:07 AM
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