Where’s The Love For Emmanuel Rackman and Eliezer Berkovitz?

Professor Marc B. Shapiro blogs:

David Singer recently wrote an interesting article on Rabbi Emanuel Rackman.[3] With the recent passing of Rabbi Moses Mescheloff,[4] Rackman, born in 1910, might be the oldest living musmach of RIETS. If this is so, don’t expect this to be acknowledged in any way by the powers at YU.[5] The ideological winds have blown rightward in the last thirty years, and Rackman has moved leftward. He is thus no longer regarded as representative of RIETS or worthy of any acknowledgment.[6]

A similar thing happened at Hebrew Theological College in Skokie. Rabbi Eliezer Berkovits (died 1992) was, in my opinion, the most significant and influential person ever to teach on its faculty. (Unfortunately, they didn’t let him teach Talmud, only philosophy.) Yet not only does HTC currently have no interest in recognizing him, in 2001, some eighteen years (!) after the appearance of Not in Heaven, a very negative review appeared in the Academic Journal of Hebrew Theological College.[7] To show how insignificant Berkovits is in Skokie, neither the author, Rabbi Chaim Twerski, nor any of the editors, realized that his last name is not spelled Berkowitz! Were he alive today, can anyone imagine that HTC would allow him to speak? (It would be interesting to create a list of people who founded or taught at institutions and today would be persona non grata there. A few come to mind, and for now let me just mention R. Zev Gold, the outstanding Mizrachi leader who was one of the founders, and first president, of Yeshiva Torah Vodaas. Gold, who was also a rabbi in Scranton, was one of the signers of Israel’s declaration of independence.[8])

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been noted in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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