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------------------------------------------------------
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I would like serve on the Committee to help publicize this petition drive and make it successful---NAME-------------------------------------------------
Call me home--------------------------------office--------------------cell-------------------