The University of California at Nuremberg
Picture it: a student government meeting during which a discussion ensues regarding the suitability of Jews, (or heaven forbid Zionists) serving as members of that august body. Imagine a bright, articulate Jewish student being grilled for her beliefs that Israel has a right to exist. The scene to which I refer, is not pulled from the minutes of a 1935 meeting at the University of Heidelberg, nor is it from an Elia Kazan film documenting the stains of anti-Semitism. Rather, it is the recounting of a recent meeting at UCLA in 2015.
This story has been floating around since the incident took place on February 10. But somehow, when the Huffington Post published a 47 minute video of the proceedings on the internet, it became even more real and more frightening. The fact that Jewish students have to face such antiquated, racist sentiment in today's world is something we simply cannot ignore. And the fact that a faculty member convinced the council of the error of its ways, and reversed the original vote to exclude the student, is insufficient cause for relief. Research conducted by independent and non-Jewish organizations confirm this frightening trend, including a recent report released by Professor Barry Kosmin of Trinity College. (Click Here To Read About Professor Kosmin's Study).
In a recent edition of the New Jewish Voice, I mentioned that preparing our teens for Jewish life was something upon which UJF would expend additional attention. To that end, dealing with this issue will be included in the agenda for our first Advisory Council Meeting on March 31. The UJF Board of Directors created the Advisory Council last year, as part of a set of governance changes designed to provide space for community conversations, as well as a guarantee that UJF hears from as many voices as possible. Lay leaders from Federation and our partner agencies will search for solutions together.
This community has so many things of which to be proud. Surely a community that can come together as it will this Friday for Shabbat Across Stamford can work together to address the problem referenced above. UJF will not shrink from its responsibility. I am proud that our organization will help foster this important conversation.
James A. Cohen