March 27, 2008
Briefs: Professor criticised for ‘hate speech’ at CSULB; Purim is fun and sober for L.A. teens
Professor Scolded for 'Hate Speech' at CSULB
The Jewish Studies Program at Cal State Long Beach (CSULB) last week reprimanded Kevin MacDonald, a professor at the university whose writings on race are popular with anti-Semites and white supremacists, for views that are "professionally irresponsible and morally untenable."
"We wish to make it clear that in no way do we wish to impede Dr. MacDonald's First Amendment rights or interfere with his academic freedom," the letter stated. "But just as he has the freedom of speech to advance his white nationalist agenda, so too do we have the freedom of speech to deplore his prejudicial views of Jews and non-whites and state that Dr. MacDonald's writings on white ethnocentrism, Jews, race, and immigration do not enjoy the respect of many of his colleagues."
Signed by the programs co-directors, Arlene Lazarowitz and Jeffrey Blutinger, and history professor Donald Schartz, the letter urged CSULB administration to distance itself from MacDonald.
"In the 14 years that he has been writing this stuff, no institution on campus -- no department, no program, no college or the university -- has ever issued a statement about him. The only thing the university has ever done about Kevin MacDonald is they have given him a sabbatical. We feel that it is time the university stood up and said something," Blutinger said. "We are leading by example."
An evolutionary psychologist, MacDonald is best known for his claim that Judaism is a "group evolutionary strategy" that allows its members to succeed by undermining other groups, such as white Europeans. This argument was published in a three-volume series named after the final book, "The Culture of Critique."
"Not since Hitler's 'Mein Kampf' have anti-Semites had such a comprehensive reference guide to what's wrong with 'the Jews,'" the Southern Poverty Law Center reported last year.
In a lengthy response, MacDonald wrote that the Jewish program accurately characterized his belief in the need for a white "ethno-state" and failed to refute his argument.
"The claim that the best way to defend ethnic interests is to develop an ethnostate certainly reflects the reality of ethnic relations in the last century or so," MacDonald wrote. "Jews of all people should understand the attraction of establishing an ethnostate."
-- Brad A. Greenberg, Senior Writer
Sober, but Joyous, Purim for L.A. Teens
More than 600 Los Angeles teens attended Purim parties this year thrown by an Orthodox youth group intent on showing the kids a festive holiday while keeping them sober and off the streets.
Because drinking alcohol is a ritual part of celebrating Purim, teens often find easy access to liquor and wine on the holiday, which in the past has led to some dangerous and illegal activities. This year, the National Conference of Synagogue Youth (NCSY) of the Orthodox Union sponsored Purim parties.
"Teens are out there looking for ways to celebrate Purim. We needed to create a responsible venue to compete against unsupervised and potentially harmful experiences," said Rabbi Effie Goldberg, West Coast director of NCSY.
About 100 teens gathered for an NCSY bash, complete with live band, at Golan Restaurant in North Hollywood. At Congregation B'nai David-Judea on Pico Boulevard, about 500 teens celebrated with a costume contest, dancing, arcade games and a Wii competition. No alcohol was allowed in, and inebriated teens were turned away.
Aleinu Family Resource Center, a program of Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles that serves primarily the Orthodox community, launched an "Absolut Choice" campaign. The organization sent out 7,000 postcards offering parents pointers for talking to their teens about celebrating Purim responsibly and the dangers of binge drinking. At synagogues on Purim, Aleinu distributed 3,500 water bottles with an "Absolut Choice" label that included information on the dangers of rapid drinking and drinking and driving.
In addition, Hatzolah emergency first response service put up posters around synagogues and other venues warning of the dangers of binge drinking, and rabbis urged people not to serve minors drinks as they went door to door delivering Purim baskets or collecting money for charity.
"I believe Purim was a safer Purim in Los Angeles this year," said Debbie Fox, Aleinu director. "When the community works together, we have a safer community."
-- Julie Gruenbaum Fax, Education Editor
Israel At 60 Bash to Raise Funds for Sderot
Shalhevet High School students are organizing a community festival on March 30 for Israel's 60th birthday.
Fully student-run, the carnival will include a live performance from the Moshav Band, Israeli vendors, kosher food, a petting zoo and rides. Maxine Renzer, 11th grade student co-chairperson of the school's Israel Action Committee, has planned the event over the past four months along with three other students. Last year the festival raised more than $3,000, and this year they hope to raise much more, Renzer said.
"The Jewish people at this time are going through a lot of hardships, and we need to help in any way we can, especially students," she said. "If this is how we can help, it will be an amazing thing," she said.
The event, co-sponsored by StandWithUs, B'nai David-Judea Congregation, Beth Jacob Congregation, NCSY, Bnei Akiva and The Jewish Journal, will have its funds matched by an anonymous donor, with proceeds going to Table to Table, an Israeli organization that helps feed the hungry in Sderot.
For more information, call Shalhevet High School at (323) 930-9333.
-- Celia Soudry, Contributing Writer
Children, Adults Spice Up Summer Activities With Yachad
The Orthodox Union's Yachad National Jewish Council for the Disabled is offering summer programs for developmentally disabled children and adults to participate in travel, sports, arts and drama. Yachad's offerings include a two-week "Yachad Getaway" to New York for ages 18 and older. Campers will stay on a private estate and can choose from daily activities such as swimming, dancing, baking and creative arts projects.
Attendees can learn how to become coaches or counselors and are placed in positions suiting their specific abilities. In a shadow program, "B'Moshava," children ages 10 to 15 with learning disabilities such as Asperger's syndrome can bunk together in a supportive environment with a well-trained staff to engage in socialization and inclusion.
In addition, the "Yad B'Yad Israel Experience" offers 18- to 35-year-olds an opportunity to travel to Jerusalem, an Israeli army base, the Kinneret and the Dead Sea. Activities range from camel riding, hiking up Masada and special Shabbat services. Other programs such as "Yad B'Yad East-West Coast/Hawaii Adventure" involve travel to cities throughout the country, ending in Hawaii.
For more information call Nechama Braun, (212) 613-8369 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.