Why colleges want more Jews


That’s the question Inside Higher Ed set out to explore. And the answer, while it might warm Jewish hearts, also trades liberally in stereotypes of Jewish academic and financial prowess. The story quotes Patti Mittleman, the Jewish chaplain at Muhlenberg College, a Lutheran school in Pennsylvania, who was "inundated" with inquiries after a newspaper reported that the school had been unusually successful in attracting Jews.

“I have gotten calls and e-mails from colleges and universities around the country, kind of, ‘How did you do this… how did you get all those Jews to come’ – again, distasteful question,” says Mittleman, also the Hillel director at Muhlenberg. Distasteful, she says, because the inquiries seem to be rooted in stereotypes about the wealth and academic prowess of Jews – and are inspired, she believes, by anxiety at private colleges about projected declines in the college-aged population. “Over 90 percent of American Jews send their kids to college,” she says. “So if you’re at a private college or university and you know that the pool that you’re going to market to is going to drop dramatically, and you know that there’s this ethnic group that always sends their kids to colleges – and, perhaps, if we buy into the stereotype, disproportionately might be able to pay your private school tuition – then pieces come together and that’s where I feel like it makes me a little uncomfortable,” says Mittleman.

She points out that while colleges are stressing “religious diversity,” they’re typically not actively recruiting Buddhist or Muslim students.

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