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October 14, 2013 10:30 am

Yeshiva University, Miley Cyrus, and the Legacy of Rabbi Yosef

avatar by Ronn Torossian

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A Yeshiva University campus. Photo: Jim Henderson.

Some random thoughts and observations on recent occurrences:

  • Yeshiva University this week continued its shameful attitude towards sexual abuse and molestation. After covering up years of sexual abuse, the school hired a convicted sex offender to work with young people. After the media exposed the story, the university fired him. (Although who knows if they will hire him back once the media storm dies down.) The school covered up many decades of sexual abuse, and in August 2013 issued a report claiming they had put “many procedures in place to ensure that inappropriate people are not hired to work with its students.” Clearly, less than 60 days later, that statement has been proven to be untrue.
  • With all the noise surrounding pop superstar Miley Cyrus, her recent controversial comments about Jews surely won’t be her last bit of “shocking” behavior. In an interview with Hunger TV, she said that she wouldn’t listen to “…this 70-year-old Jewish man that doesn’t leave his desk all day, telling me what the clubs want to hear.” Working in the entertainment industry as a PR agency owner, I can attest that there are very few 70 year olds who don’t leave their desks in the business – although there are plenty of Jews. Saying stupid things however doesn’t make one anti-Semitic.
  • Perhaps among the many lessons of the newly released  Pew Report on American Jewry is that anti-Semitism is increasingly a non-factor in the United States. How much can Jews possibly be hated if 71 percent of the non-Orthodox are inter-marrying? Undoubtedly, there is some anti-Semitism – but it’s not rampant in this country. Perhaps more of the funds allocated towards monitoring anti-Semitism should be focused on Jewish education? And even if there is some anti-Semitism – addressing it cannot be more important than ensuring Jews remain Jewish.
  • An interesting editorial in the Orthodox newspaper Hamodia, suggests that among the lessons learned from the attendance of 700,000 at the funeral of Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef is that American Jews should recommit ourselves to education. Without education, we will surely need more funerals for the souls of American Jews who are leaving the community.

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