Friday, November 13, 2015

"Unfortunately, three negative forces retarded the founding of an Orthodox rabbinical college.

First in importance was the low prestige and the lack of power and economic security which plagued the East European Orthodox rabbis in America, largely a result of the poverty of their congregations. The rabbis were so harried with maintaining their positions that they lacked the time, energy and vision to create a uniting force. Because of their own personal insecurity, they were more critical than constructive and most hesitant to merge forces where the yielding of individual sovereignty was involved. The dissension that characterized their relationships was described by a prominent East European Orthodox rabbi in the following manner: "There is no unity and no agreement among them as to how and by what means to raise the prestige of religion....Each decides and acts as of he were the only one in the world." [43] [...]
The sorry position of the Orthodox rabbinate was further aggravated by a lack of aggressive, and imaginative leadership to rise above the sordid conditions of the day. There was no Orthodox rabbi with the perseverance and consecration to inspire a following, to create a movement, to evaluate a problem, and to devote his life to improving the status of his fellow immigrants. [...]
The second factor was the absence of an upper class that had the means and the leisure to sponsor a rabbinical seminary. [...] The main obstacle, however, was the absence of a proper organization and structure to sponsor and support such a school. [...]
To sum up, therefore, the efforts of East European Jews to create a rabbinical school were hampered initially by the weak position of its rabbinate, by the limited and undeveloped financial resources, and by the absence of a congregational union to sponsor and support such an effort.
-Gilbert Klaperman, The Story of Yeshiva University: The First Jewish University in America, (Toronto: The Macmillan Company, 1969), pgs. 46-47.

e: I wonder how far one could make the analogy with the Muslim community in America today. We certainly have a lot of scholars and folks who have studied and it perhaps remains to be seen if they can work together and muster their resources together, instead of each one trying to have his/her own institute/seminary.

On the other hand, Muslims in America are spread around the country and so all the scholars don't necessarily have to be tied to one specific institution in a single geographic area. However, in a certain region, shouldn't folks pool their resources together and collaborate, even if they have differences?