[The purpose of the Digest is informative. Preference is given to papers not generally accessible to our readers. Quotation does not indicate approval.–Editor.]
The laying of the cornerstone of the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Yeshiva College is viewed by the Jewish press as marking a new era in the history of Jewish Orthodoxy in the United States.
As the “Jewish Morning Journal,” an Orthodox organ, puts it: “The ceremonies of the cornerstone laying indicate that the time has arrived when Orthodox Judaism in the New World has reached a point of maturity and self-reliance and is in a position to make provisions for its spiritual future.
“The Jew who sticks to traditional Judaism,” the paper adds, “is no longer an inconspicuous person who was wont to regard with a feeling of wonderment and envy the great things which ‘the others’ achieve, no matter who it might have been. Orthodoxy today steps into the big world of education, and is prepared to measure its strength against anything that is being accomplished in this field by Jews of other tendencies and by Americans.”
The “Jewish Daily News,” likewise an Orthodox organ, points out the great strides made by Orthodoxy in the course of recent years, and observes:
“Only as recently as ten years ago no one would have been bold enough even to entertain an ambition for such an enterprise. No one would have believed it, were they told, that the Yeshiva Rabbi Isaac Elchanan would undertake such a task. The very ambition in itself marks an epoch in the history of Jewish life in America. And whether one is optimistic or not regarding the future of Judaism in America, one thing is certain: That the new undertakings of the Yeshiva indicate that Orthodox Jews in America have not given up the fight and are determined to persist in the well-trodden paths.”
“The Day” also feels that the establishment of the Yeshiva College signifies the laying of the foundation for a new Orthodox Judaism in America. Analyzing the background of Orthodox Judaism in this country, the paper expresses the opinion that the difficulties encountered by Orthodoxy until now have been due chiefly to the fact that it attempted to transplant East European Orthodoxy into America without sufficient regard for the special conditions of the new environment.
“The new Yeshiva College,” the paper explains, however, “is the best proof that Orthodoxy has come to the conviction that it must combine the Jewish traditions with American education, that it must find a way of harmonizing the old Judaism with American conditions; that our pious Jews have finally realized that they can expect to perpetuate the old Jewish life-forms, not by ignoring the new conditions, but on the contrary, precisely by recognising the powerful factors in the American environment, and that only in this way can the further existence and development of Orthodoxy in America be assured. This is an important gain for the whole American Jewry. There is room in American Jewry for all tendencies which seek to preserve Judaism.
“Jewish Orthodoxy in the United States,” we read in conclusion, “has saved its chances for further existence through the new Yeshiva college, through its realization that finding itself in America it must become modern in conformity with the environment, if it is not to perish. This realization will be greeted by all, Orthodox as well as non-Orthodox, who wish to see a strong, healthy, and vigorous Judaism in America.”
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.