Expatriate Owl

A politically-incorrect perspective that does not necessarily tow the party line, on various matters including but not limited to taxation, academia, government and religion.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Off the Derekh


"Derekh" is Hebrew for road or path. Speaking of someone going "off the derekh" usually does not mean that the person is taking a detour for lunch or shopping, but rather, that he or she has strayed from the values of the Torah and Jewish law.

Judah Touro (1775 - 1854) was an American Jewish merchant and philanthropist who supported diverse charitable causes. In about 1971, Bernard Lander founded an educational institution called Touro College, which was named in honor of Judah Touro. According to its mission statement, Touro College was "established to perpetuate and enrich the Jewish heritage, to support Jewish continuity, as well as to serve the general community in keeping with the Judaic commitment to intellectual inquiry and social justice."

And indeed, Touro College's undergraduate units include Lander College for Men, whose students are all religious Jewish young men who learn Talmud and secular academic courses, and there is a Lander College for Women, which does ditto for religious Jewish young women.

So far, so good! A number of Lander men and women have been enrolled in some of the summer session courses I have taught over the years, and if they are any indication, then the respective Lander Colleges are fulfilling their missions rather well.

But all of those wonderful Jewish values seem to be circling the bottom of the toilet bowl when it comes to Touro's law school, more formally known as the Touro College Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center. I have had numerous occasions over the years to use the law library there, and now that Touro Law has relocated to a site across the parking lot from the Court Complex in Central Islip, New York, it is a good place to get a kosher meal.

As a lawyer practicing on Long Island, I can depend upon Touro Law's fundraising friends to send out those familiar solicitation letters from time to time. I am not particularly ashamed that once upon a time I did pull out my checkbook to respond to those solicitations, but neither am I particularly ashamed that, of late, I no longer do so. Okay, any law school anywhere will have programs and aspects which do not suit me; this is understood. But Touro Law has gone a bit too far off the derekh for my tastes and sensibilities.

For example, Touro Law now sponsors the William Randolph Hearst Public Advocacy Center. I cannot help but get an ever so slightly sour taste in my mouth from anyone in the Hearst family (except for WRH's granddaughter, Patty Hearst, who makes me feel like vomiting). But that wouldn't be so bad, except that the organizations hosted by the WRHPAC include ACORN and the Long Island franchise of the ACLU, and some other organizations having questionable compatibility with Touro College's state mission.

What would Judah Touro say?

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  • At 02 November, 2008 13:32, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    He'd likely say, "well done," since the PAC exactly embodies the ideals of a "philanthropist who supported diverse charitable causes." Or, perhaps we should look to George Washington, who famously wrote to Touro's namesake synagogue in Newport, Rhode Island:

    "The Citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for having given to mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy: a policy worthy of imitation. All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship. It is now no more that toleration is spoken of, as if it was by the indulgence of one class of people, that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent national gifts. For happily the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens, in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.

    It would be inconsistent with the frankness of my character not to avow that I am pleased with your favorable opinion of my Administration, and fervent wishes for my felicity. May the children of the Stock of Abraham, who dwell in this land, continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other Inhabitants; while every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and figtree, and there shall be none to make him afraid. May the father of all mercies scatter light and not darkness in our paths, and make us all in our several vocations useful here, and in his own due time and way everlastingly happy."

    The PAC embodies those goals.

  • At 02 November, 2008 20:45, Blogger Expatriate Owl said…

    It is reiterated that I do not claim to be objective in this (or any other) posting on this Blog. By definition, the postings on this Blog reflect my own personal biases (which I admit can run extreme).

    Moreover, until such time as G-d raises the dead, there is no way to question Judah Touro regarding his views on the William Randolph Hearst Public Advocacy Center, or any other project or instrumentality of the school which Bernard Lander chose to tag with Judah Touro's name more than a century after Touro's death.

    The agencies at the WRHPAC include two with whom I am in strong opposition, namely, ACORN and NYCLU. ACORN's record speaks for itself; my discussion of NYCLU warrants that I disclose my past membership in ACLU, many many years ago, before Skokie.

    And the same thing that prompted my withdrawal from ACLU on account of the Skokie fiasco (actually, it was a "quiet withdrawal" in as much as I simply never bothered to renew my membership) prompts my concern and disgust over the WRHPAC. Specifically, the agencies now in WRHPAC are all cut from similar cookiecutters as far as their political orientation goes. I would be far less disconcerted if WRHPAC's members included entities such as Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, or AMT Children of Hope Foundation, or some other groups in their neighborhood of the sociopolitical spectrum.


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