Monday, September 26, 2005


THROUGHOUT MY AUTOBIOGRAPHY (Journey Through the Minefields -from Vietnam to Washington-an Orthodox Surgeons Odyssey) I REFER TO MY DEVOTION TO THE PRINCIPLES OF TORAH U MADDA

Page 31 is a prime example which reads’ this weltanschauung (torah u ‘madda ) which is the trademark of Yeshiva University has been my guiding principle throughout my life”
Thus it came as a shock and a sense of deep disappointment to attend the Yeshiva College 75th Anniversary Dinner last week on the Intrepid and discover that the emblem of the Yeshiva with TORAH U’MADDA in Hebrew was no more.
I am deeply appreciative of the efforts of President Richard Joel to infuse new life into our Yeshiva with new programs and personnel.
His talks on Torah Umadda are moving because of his personal commitment They are usually delivered to hundreds (of often committed individuals). The Yeshiva logo however will be seen by tens of thousands { and could theoretically be our logo for the next 75 years }( I assume even after Presidents Joel’s tenure ) .The absence of TORAH UMADDA certainly sends a negative message (that may be unintended) regarding who we are and what are our roots.

In a personal sense it is as though after 50 years of wearing a yarmulke in my medical office, hospital, the White House and Congress as well as in the streets of Europe, China and every country I have visited, I now no longer wear it, because people already know who I am.

Could every Einstein Medical School or Cardoza Law School student feel that the emblem represented him or her ? Probably no more than the average Yale student identifies with the URIM V’TUMIM which Yale has never changed, as its emblem. But it was YESHIVA, UNDER TORAH AUSPICES that opened these schools, with kosher food, and no classes on Jewish Holidays etc . Jew or Gentile should be proud to attend a University steeped in a religious tradition .For what reason and for which individual or group should we change?

The graduate of any educational institution should be proud of their school and its logo.It is fun to wear them on clothing and reunions , and so on. For Yeshiva our logo represents our way of life and its removal represents a demoralizing curveball thrown to us by the Yeshiva we love.

We live in a world where our way of life is severely challenged. On the right we are attacked as the initiators of a watered down and unauthentic version of Torah Jewry They neither respect nor honor our Torah scholars living and dead. On the left within Edah and their cohorts we are the agents of ossification and they too attack (but more subtly), our religious leadership. Reform and Conservative bless us as a pox on all our houses. We are probably losing the battle to the right, but this move of deleting our insignia (and call to arms) borders on the sacrilegious, and sends a terrible public message
What is almost as amazing is how quietly and without fanfare the emblem change was apparently instituted. To my knowledge no big dinners, emblem unveilings. or announcements took place to herald the new logo. Perhaps I missed the telltale signs of the change.
My sister-in-law Judith Hartstein now tells me she noticed the change six months ago and called the Yeshiva. She was informed that TORAH UMADDA was not replaced but put into the background (like an asterisk in the latest YU publication-page 9 YU REVIEW fall 2005 received in my home by mail this weekend)
Commentator (Yeshiva College student newspaper) in an article last week seems to indicate they too were surprised. by the posting of a new motto and logo on the Yeshiva website. I have now spoken to about 40 alumni including members of the RIETS Board who knew nothing of the new logo. One individual told me he thought that RIETS through the efforts of its Chairman refused to accept the change. I will try to confirm that fact.

I consider myself part of a YESHIVA FAMILY .My father Z’L attended the High School, and worked in the YU Development Dept .I attended BTA,, and graduated YC in ’58. My wife Sheila graduated Stern in ‘62 and our three children went to the High Schools and graduated Stern and YC. As did my brothers, Sheila’s sisters and two of our in-law children .
I was a Master Builder (by contributing $ 18,000 ) and was honored at a YU Rockland County Breakfast. My mother years ago was similarly honored in her home community of Bayside , Queens. For almost six years I served on the Board of RIETS. Throughout my life at the OU and in my writings, my loyalty and devotion to our Yeshiva has been unquestioned. Of all the awards and honors I have received the one I cherish the most is the Bernard Revel Award from the Yeshiva College Alumni Association for Community Service.
Therefore the removal of Torah UMadda has special meaning to me,even as I understand many who believe that there are more important things in this world and at YU, to be involved in than a logo.
Contrary to the contention that the emblem was changed five times in 1945, 1961 1986 the HEBREW WORDS TORAH U’MADDA were clearly seen on the emblem. In 1961 the 75th anniversary was a special emblem, as was the 1986 100th anniversary. Yet the Hebrew was never changed and the emblem reverted back after the celebration.

Of course as Yechiel Robinson points out in his Commentater story on the change, it will be the faculty, students and the overall hashkafah that will ultimately determine whether we will desire to send our children and grandchildren to Yeshiva College or Stern. However our logo like our religious ceremonial accoutrements,. such as Tfillin, Sukah ,Mezuzah and Prayer to name a few, are more meaningful than any art department creation.
Yesterday morning at Daf Yomi I stared and stared at the YESHIVA COLLEGE baseball cap (on the table next to my gemmoroh) given to us as we left the Dinner. The two flames might be more modern or art deco than our old emblem. If the Hebrew words Torah U’Madda had been inscribed, one within each flame, I might have applauded. I did applaud the release after almost 50 years of Joel Schreiber’s beautiful GOLDEN DOMES a theme song he wrote in 1956 and which the Administration refused to accept. I remember it well since in that year Joel was V.P. of Student Council, and I was Sec- Treas.
However there is no Hebrew or any other Torah thought on the logo just a pareve non-denominational saying.
BRING WISDOM TO LIFE (--how inspiring! )

I showed my hat to my non-orthodox Talmud students in my weekly Good Samaritan Hospital class. Each one made approximately the same two comments
What in the world do the flames represent?
Doesn’t the flames logo look like our Catholic Hospitals very similar emblem?
Similarly the Commentator article points out the similarity to the 2005 Hillel logo.

Thus I have decided to start a campaign among alumni, students, parents and faculty of RIETS, YESHIVA COLLEGE, STERN, and the HIGH SCHOOLS as well as any other YU Institution, to petition President Richard Joel and the respective Boards –to reverse their decision and to restore the words TORAH U’MADDA in the University LOGO.


I hope that those who agree with me, especially the Marshals at the dinner would contact their friends, neighbors, family, etc asking them to e-mail their petition with their name and year of graduation .If I reach 1000 or more petitioners we will try to deliver these petitions directly to President Joel, for whom I have great respect and admiration.
At the dinner, President Joel asked for our input and leadership. This is a great opportunity to tell our President what we think ,even if the change took place one or two years ago.



Dear President Joel

As a supporter of Yeshiva , I humbly request that TORAH UMADDA in Hebrew be reinserted into the YU logo

Respectfully Yours

Name------------------------------------------ E_MAIL ADDRESS--------------------------------
Class of --------- School------------------------------------------------------
Address (optional) ---------------
Phone (optional) -------------------
I would like serve on the Committee to help publicize this petition drive and make it successful---NAME-------------------------------------------------
Call me home--------------------------------office--------------------cell-------------------

Wednesday, September 21, 2005


When I have an opportunity to see Senators Hillary Clinton and Jon Kyl this Sunday at the HUVPAC dinner I will try to interest them in my idea of the US building oil refineries and then selling them once operational.
I am all for disaster relief, but oppose a blanket 20 billion dollar package without knowing who will administer, and set priorities and over what period of time will we spend such an amount( hopefully not in a few weeks! ) Etc?
How much are private Insurance companies paying/? Should these not be deducted from the totals?
How will they prevent people with debit cards from purchasing Gucci bags? (As happened 2 weeks ago)
Is it not time to reassess all the pork in the Highway bill and other federal programs that could be used in these difficult times?
Perhaps there should be an across the board 1% cutback on all federal spending except social security and federal salaries for a six month period?
I am sure the OMB and other agencies could come up with better suggestions, but the bottom line is that the New Deal ended with Roosevelt and fiscal integrity, tax reductions and local responsibilities are what conservatives ran on in recent elections.

I have always respected Senator Leahy as an independent honest public servant. Similarly
I have known Senator Harry Reid since his days in Congress as an open and fair minded individual. Thus I am disappointed that the latter will vote against Judge Roberts, bowing to pressure from women and civil rights groups. At the same time, Sen. Leahy’s public announcement is even more courageous in light of Reid’s’ pending vote.
My friend Senator Reid forgets that elections have consequences and Judge Roberts was a judicial choice that should have sailed through like previous Democratic nominees such as the very liberal Thurgood Marshall or Sandra Day O’Conner .
I wonder if the President surmises that outside of a Liberal nominee,Reid will oppose any choice.


Last night I attended a dinner for Ateret Cohanim-The Jerusalem Reclamation Project. As I note in my autobiography I was involved with Prime Minister Netanyahu and the American administration on the issue of Ras Alamoud which today is a Jewish housing project
I met an old friend Howard Teich .He is a well known Jewish activist with a tremendous amount of insight into our community. He raised a most interesting concept that he has considered for some time to help bring together all the factions of the Jewish Community absent party or organizational label. He is concerned with a lack of unity and I believe JEWISH LEADERSHIP.
His idea is to have an organization consisting of the former Presidents of the major Jewish Organizations ,These individuals have a tremendous amount of talent and much brainpower as well as experience. Many have been, shunted aside when their terms of office expired.
Since they don’t represent an organization, perhaps their approach to issues would be less parochial. But yet their long term contacts and prestige would come into good stead should substantial unifying issues be raised and successfully agreed upon in the hope of getting the organizations to sign on.If successful they would have a strong moral voice. .
The Bush I and Clinton effort is such an example

Wednesday, September 14, 2005


For the second time in four months I participated in a SIYUM SEFER TORAH the completion of writing a Torah scroll and its presentation to a worthy organization in Israel.. In May our Talmud class presented a scroll to the Israeli Navy. This past week our friends Adele and Jules Brody invited their friends to the Amit School in Sderot ,a school of 650 high School students for a moving and emotional ceremony.

What was most exciting about the school was the number of Ethiopian and Russian students who have been taken in to receive a broad secular and religious education. They come primarily from poor homes.

The Sderot community has been repeatedly attacked by Palestinian Kassam rockets, and now with Gaza Judenrein, they are on the front line.

It is sad to see the headlines in the NY Times on Tues talking about the Palestinians who REVELED in the former Gaza settlements, as though they had a party.

In Times Square on New Years eve a million people REVEL – in Gaza there was arson ,mayhem and anarchy all supported by Hamas and the acquiescence and participation of the PA.

With the lack of control at the Egyptian border and in Gaza the future for the “ rule of Law “ is bleak. Abbas is weak and it is time to realize that fact, which will not change.

The Roberts confirmation hearings are truly a sham. After watching a good part of three days, I know---
He is bright , handsome, collected and has beautiful eyes
Senators love to talk
Judge Roberts masterfully employed the JUDICIAL FIFTH AMENDMENT in refusing to reveal his thoughts on issues that might come before him—and which the Senators knew in advance he would employ. It was interesting to hear quotes and recordings of Senators Biden and Kennedy at the time of the Thurgood Marshall and Ruth Bader Ginsberg hearings, telling the nominees not to reveal any opinions regarding issues that might come before the Court. Elections have consequences, and the Bush victory turned the tables on the Democrats.
Aside from his comments on the use of precedents from foreign courts which was appreciated, little new was obtained from Judge Roberts.
As a non-lawyer I appreciated his declaration of “respect “ for precedents but not actually declaring that depending upon the FACTS in a future case , the Court's decision might be altered even in the face of such precedents.
In sum the Senators never laid a glove on him.
While his confirmation appears certain, the real battle begins when the President announces his second nomination.
There is enough blame for every level of government to share in the Katrina and post-hurricane fiasco
Primarily the New Orleans Mayor bears the greatest burden for not arranging to use the school buses to evacuate the poor and disabled 48 hours before Katrina hit. The failure of local and State authorities to allow the Salvation Army and the Red Cross into the Convention Center and stadium is unforgivable.
The President has to answer for packing FEMA with political hacks who were in above their heads.
Congress and the Administration have to answer for refusing to allocate needed funds requested by the Army Corps of Engineers to once and for all repair the levees and use modern techniques as was done in Holland to avoid such a catastrophe.
The Mayor and La. Gov failed to heed the National Weather Service warnings regarding a CATEGORY V hurricane.
FEMA is to blame for holding up scarce volunteer services as they insisted that the volunters undergo Community Relations and Sexual awareness courses( as part of Political Correctness) for a few days as people died.
America has much to be ashamed of for the abject poverty in the inner city. But we have learned nothing since Patrick Moynihan’s famous paper on the lack of stable two family parent structure in the Black Community. Until that problem is addressed, together with greater education, and the development of role models in the family structure we are destined to be two peoples.

Finally the generosity of the American people and the world community is a wonderful thing to behold. As after 9/11 we will rebuild and come out a stronger nation.

The entire catastrophe again highlights the need for new oil refineries in this country, and I again refer to my suggestion of a few weeks ago to have our government build them and auction them off after becoming successful.