Controversial Brandeis ‘Times’ ad not reflective of Orthodox life on campus, learners say

(June 29, 2023 / JNS)

Times after a controversial Brandeis University advertisement appeared in The New York Situations Journal, which many observed as anti-Orthodox, college students advised JNS that Brandeis is a good area for observant Jews.

“Orthodox Jewish learners have it definitely great at Brandeis,” Meshulam Ungar, 22, a rising senior and former vice president of the Brandeis Orthodox Corporation, a pupil group, instructed JNS.

Ungar understands why the ad struck readers as damaging. Still, he informed JNS, “these unfavorable connotations are not reflective of the quality of life for the Orthodox on campus.”

Maya Ungar (no relation to Meshulam) is entering her junior 12 months at Brandeis, the place she is double majoring in American scientific tests and instruction. The 21-yr-outdated advised JNS that the Brandeis advertisement was “tone deaf.” She has had pretty good ordeals as an Orthodox university student at Brandeis, the place she selected to examine in element for its “vibrant observant community.”

“As an Orthodox Jewish woman, I experience empowered,” she explained to JNS. “This advertisement appeared reflective of wildly poor judgment, but it does not change the way that I really feel about Brandeis.”

The advertisement, which loaded a two-web page distribute in the magazine’s June 25 Sunday version, stated that “Brandeis was launched by Jews. But, it is just about anything but orthodox.”

“Since Orthodox Jews would reject these adjectives in their self-definition, this line is problematic,” Malka Simkovich, chair of Jewish studies and director of the Catholic-Jewish reports plan at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, posted on Twitter. (Simkovich retains a doctorate in Second Temple Judaism from Brandeis.)

Julie Jette, assistant vice president of communications at Brandeis, advised JNS earlier in the week that the advert was not meant to offend. She did not remedy a JNS question about irrespective of whether Brandeis would have approached the advert in a different way in hindsight.

Professor Jonathan Sarna, professor of American Jewish history at Brandeis and director of its Schusterman Middle for Israel Reports atBrandeis University. Credit history: Courtesy.

‘It was like Jerusalem on Shabbat’

Jonathan Sarna, professor of American Jewish background at Brandeis and director of its Schusterman Center for Israel Research, told JNS that the controversy stems from a misunderstanding.

“They plainly imagined ‘unorthodox’ was a reference to character. They did not realize quite a few people would not go through the smaller print. It could not have been much more explicit,” Sarna explained to JNS. (“But when we say that Brandeis is just about anything but orthodox, we’re referring to its character,” the advertisement stated.)

Sarna was not associated in crafting the advert, and he instructed JNS that he did not think it was unconventional that the outdoors marketing agency—in this situation, DeVito/Verdi, co-established by Brandeis alumnus Ellis Verdi—and Brandeis senior administrators did not request his opinion on it. (Verdi has stated that he referred to a “Jewish-American Princess,” or JAP, in a customer pitch.)

“In retrospect, they probably wished they experienced analyzed it out with us first,” Sarna explained to JNS, referring to Brandeis administrators sharing the advertisement with Jewish-research college. He did notice that the ad celebrated both of those the 75th anniversaries of the college and the modern-day Jewish state.

“I was sorry people today misunderstood ‘unorthodox,’” he stated. “It’s a reminder that you simply cannot be too thorough in the marketing and advertising business enterprise.”

On June 27, Matt Shapiro and Shoshana Solomon, president and vice president, respectively, of the Brandeis Orthodox Business said in an e mail that they ended up “hurt and unhappy,” and that the advertisement was “unacceptable and antithetical to Brandeis’ values.”

Ungar, the college student group’s previous vice president, instructed JNS that Orthodox Jewish lifetime at Brandeis is lively, with an energetic beit midrash (religious research hall), a kosher dining corridor and weekly Shabbat dinners arranged by Chabad and Hillel. The campus has the “feel of staying Jewish,” even while it is a secular college, he explained.

“I bear in mind considering that it was like Jerusalem on Shabbat,” Ungar explained of his initial Shabbat campus practical experience.

Meshulam Ungar, a senior at Brandeis College and former vice president of the Brandeis Orthodox Business. Credit score: Courtesy.

A new employ the service of and possibly yet another in the functions

Late very last February, Brandeis began reviewing applications for its freshly created function: a senior associate provost and Lavine director of the Brandeis Jewish Research Centre. Jeannie and Jonathan Lavine endowed a Brandeis professorship and directorship of the center.

The employ the service of would report specifically to the provost and be a component of the latter’s senior leadership crew and “will support the college in all facets of Jewish research and Jewish communal action,” in accordance to the announcement.

The new role will also supervise the directors of 5 Brandeis models: the Cohen Center for Modern-day Jewish Reports/Steinhardt Social Research Institute the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute for Jewish Women’s and Gender Research the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Center for Scientific tests in Jewish Education the Schusterman Middle for Israel Studies and the Tauber Institute for the Study of European Jewry. The announcement stated that the hire is expected to start out this summer time or drop.

Sources advised JNS that this kind of a use would have the form of instinct about Jewish subjects that could have flagged the advertisement as potentially misleading prior to its publication. Before this thirty day period, Brandeis also introduced that it employed Jeffrey Spencer Shoulson—a respected scholar of Jewish scientific studies and a longtime administrator, most recently senior vice provost at the University of Connecticut—as its new dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

Such a employ complicates the senior associate provost lookup, resources explained to JNS, as the much more senior-stage dean—with in depth administrative experience and deep Jewish scholarship—rendered the other role moot. Why would Brandeis have two people today carrying out the identical thing, the resources asked? (At press time, the Brandeis provost’s business office nevertheless shown the placement as open, although clicking on the listing yields a website page stating “The page you are wanting for does not exist.”)

“I was thrilled by the appointment of just one of the major early contemporary students, and unusually, we have a scholar, who has revealed a number of publications who also has an remarkable file of administrative achievements,” Sarna informed JNS. “Brandeis will now have in the administration somebody who is so professional about Jewish research and so sensitive to the issues of Brandeis’ Jewish group.”

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