The kids aren’t all right


You gotta feel for Rabbi Scott Aaron. Three student reviewers give a thumbs-down to his revised edition of  “Jewish U: A Contemporary Guide for the Jewish College Student.” In the most recent issue of New Voices, they call it condescending and out of touch with real campus life—harsh words for a book consulted by tens if not hundreds of thousands of Jewish parents and prospective college students.

It’s too Hillel-centric, writes David Wilensky of Drew University, who finds it ironic that Hillel president Wayne Firestone penned the forward for this Union for Reform Judaism publication:

Note Wilensky:

“Many Hillels are not welcoming to Reform students, but now that the URJ has cut its funding for on-campus programming–formerly called Kesher–maybe it is hoping that Hillel can pick up the slack.

Levi Prombaum of the University of Wisconsin-Madison opines that the book is “successful…only in satisfying the adults who commissioned it.” Ouch.

Here’s more from Prombaum:

“’Jewish U’ addresses all of college’s social, academic and Jewish struggles in textbook clarity; and peppered throughout is advice that rings of a parent unwilling to let go. The result is an instruction manual that is both uninspiring and irrelevant to most Jewish college students.”

Is there any use to it at all? Sure, say the reviewers.

Prombaum notes that it provides a good overview of the different denominations, and has a great reading list. And Judah Gross of the University of Maryland likes the recommendation that students “try out Shabbat and holiday services on campus because they are probably different from the ones students attended at home,” calling this suggestion “simple, mind opening and doable.”

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