Isaac Kaplan

"Is it any wonder I've got too much time on my hands?"

Sunday, June 06, 2004

Touro Over Brooklyn, pt. 1

I don't usually get personal on this blog, but I must say that I get a mazel tov. I graduated from Touro College on Sunday. With that in mind, I decided to revisit the dilemma that faces every Yeshiva guy coming back from Israel: Touro or Brooklyn (or Queens)? What's the choice for college? I went to Touro, and I must say I have absolutely no regrets. In fact, I would recommend it to almost all of the Yeshiva guys facing the ol' dilemma.

I would like to presenting the arguments for Touro, and then deal with the common arguments against it:

The major argument is obviously from a religious standpoint. Two of the main reasons why many rabbis oppose college are: pritzus and kefirah. Because Touro has separate classes, the pritzus issues are minimal. This is the main reason that the halls of Touro are filled with Hasidim, who would be unable to attend college if not for Touro. I had one woman professor there who wasn't Jewish, and she was kinda scary-looking anyway. The rest of the female professors are religious and dress appropriately. The only other major pritzus issue I encountered was when we watched "Death of a Salesman" in English Comp. II. It's not the cleanest of films, but in spite of that, I think it was no big deal, as not watching this and other videos doesn't affect your grade. In fact, during the showing of that video, there was a frummed-out guy in the class sitting with his head down and learning mishnayos in order to avoid pritzus. When another frummed-out guy complained about the advertisements being shown in Marketing, he was told he wouldn't be responsible for them on the midterm and final. I'd love to see someone try to pull that off with a professor in Queens or Brooklyn.
And of course, there's the social scene that Brooklyn has. That can keep a guy busy for a while! I remember seeing pictures in the Night Call of frum guys horsing around with girls, doing assur things. And for yeshiva guys, trying to learn with all your girlfriends in your head is far from simple.

The kfirah issue was a non-factor in Touro. I spent a summer in Brooklyn (before studying in Israel) and took a Core 10 philosophy course. And the kfirah there was pretty strong. "Is there a god?" "If there's evil in the world, how can there be a god?," etc. The worst I heard was a frum girl who spoke up one day and said "Professor, I believe that G-d is a woman." For a frum person to say that, even as a joke, is sickening. I would not be surprised if her sitting in that class had something to do with it. I don't think Touro offers any philosophy classes, but I'm sure if they did, they'd have a frum imstructor for it.

Speaking of cores, the other major advantage of Touro is the much lighter workload, particularly the fact that there are very few cores. English, Stats, and economics are it. No physics, music, art, etc. and other courses that are useless. You'll be done a lot faster in Touro than in the average CUNY college.

Any guy who's serious about learning will have a much easier time in Touro. I've seen some pre-med guys in Queens College try to pull off the Yeshiva-college combo, and it's not easy. Even if a guy like that manages to make it to seder all the time, you can't tell me the great burden of work isn't on his mind. Most Touro professors realize the crazy schedule many yeshiva guys have, and assign work and exams appropriately.
Also, Touro has very few extracuricullar events. Many colleges have tons of events and things going on that can be quite a distraction for any yeshiva guy.

With the arguments FOR Touro out of the way, it's time to deal with the most common arguments AGAINST Touro:

1) The degree you get is meaningless.

2) The place is a joke; you don't learn anything there.

3) It costs a fortune.

4) You don't get the "real-world" experience of interacting with goyim and all kinds of people.

Stay tuned for Part 2!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a 50-year-old attorney and YU grad. The issues of kefirah and pritzus that you speak of are commonplace in a work enviroment. Or do you and your buddies intend to have careers at all?

I thought that the purpose of a yeshiva education was to instill strong religious values that can withstand the attractions of a secular universe. I had even hoped that perhaps some of my young co-religionists would actually feel that their Torah learning could be of great use in whatever careers they chose: that it would would color their thinking and relationships with other people, whether Jewish or not. It's been my experience that people respect you (a) if your beliefs are firmly held,(b) if you can present those beliefs in a knowledgeable, rational and positive manner and (c) if you have derech eretz. If by the time you're 21 you cannot deal with issues like girls, the theory of evolution and the truth of the Torah, may I suggest that you start your yeshiva education all over again because something is truly lacking in your maturity and development.

In plain terms, the issue is not Touro or Brooklyn (Queens) College. The issue is: From which institution are you likely to emerge as a Mensche: a well-rounded human being with midos, derech eretz and learning? Or is that too much for one (or should I say your parents) to hope for?

2:34 PM  
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