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Human Rights Commission Will Probe Columbia’s Firing of Jewish Chaplain

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The New York Commission on Human Rights will begin a full-scale investigation of Columbia University’s firing of its Jewish chaplain, Rabbi A. Bruce Goldman. The commission decided to hear the case after preliminary investigations in which the rabbi charged “The non-renewal of my contract at Columbia is a direct result of discrimination on the basis of religion against a Jew, namely this rabbi, by a group of Jews whose essential concern is neither Judaism nor the welfare of its Jewish students or faculty.” Rabbi Goldman and the Protestant chaplain, Rev. William F. Starr, were notified two months ago that their contracts would not be renewed after June 30. Both supported radical students in last year’s uprising at Columbia.

Named as respondents in Rabbi Goldman’s complaint to the commission were Columbia’s trustees, the Jewish Advisory Board of the Office of the Jewish Chaplain, and the latter board’s chairman, theatrical producer Gerard Oestreicher. The advisory board, made up of 55 Columbia alumni, has led the fight to oust the 33-year-old rabbi and replace him with Rabbi Isidor B. Hoffman, 71, Columbia’s Chaplain for 34 years until his retirement in 1967. Mr. Oestreicher said he thought Rabbi Goldman’s actions would dissuade Jewish students from attending Columbia.

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