The Flight of Odessa’s Jewish Community

Rabbi Refael Kruskal, the vice-president of the Jewish community in the Ukrainian city of Odessa, had prepared for a Russian invasion long before it began. As he explained to Yair Rosenberg, “I had supplies on trucks. I had generators prepared. I said, there’s gonna be a rush on gas stations, so I had gas prepared for the buses on the way.” In late February, Kruskal evacuated his hometown, along with his staff and hundreds of people who benefit from the charitable programs he oversees. Rosenberg reports:

Kruskal oversees Tikva Odessa, a network of Jewish schools, orphanages, and community-care programs that encompasses some 1,000 people. When Russian bombs began to fall last Thursday night, and one exploded near Tikva’s girls’ home, Kruskal and his team decided it was time to leave. The call was made at 7 a.m. on Friday. By 10:30 a.m., he and his staff were on the road with hundreds of orphans, heading for prearranged shelter beyond the Carpathian Mountains. Others from their community headed for the border and crossed into Moldova.

“There were people in the Second World War who didn’t believe [that disaster was imminent], and they and their communities were wiped out,” he said. “We prefer to be cautious and to make sure that our communities are safe.”

Before the convoy set out, Kruskal posted a brief video from the evacuated central synagogue in Odessa, his voice catching as he asked those watching to pray for them.

Religious Jews like Kruskal and the children in his care normally do not travel or use electricity from sundown on Friday to Saturday night, in observance of the Jewish Sabbath. But Jewish law permits the violation of the Sabbath for pikuaḥ nefesh—the preservation of human life. And so the community drove through Shabbat, stopping at a gas station to make kiddush, the traditional blessing over the wine. “You never expect to be standing in front of hundreds of people in your care in the middle of a cold gas station in Ukraine and making kiddush for them and they’re crying,” Kruskal said. “It was very overwhelming.”

Read more at Atlantic

More about: Odessa, Ukrainian Jews, War in Ukraine

How to Save the Universities

To Peter Berkowitz, the rot in American institutions of higher learning exposed by Tuesday’s hearings resembles a disease that in its early stages was easy to cure but difficult to diagnose, and now is so advanced that it is easy to diagnose but difficult to cure. Recent analyses of these problems have now at last made it to the pages of the New York Times but are, he writes, “tardy by several decades,” and their suggested remedies woefully inadequate:

They fail to identify the chief problem. They ignore the principal obstacles to reform. They propose reforms that provide the equivalent of band-aids for gaping wounds and shattered limbs. And they overlook the mainstream media’s complicity in largely ignoring, downplaying, or dismissing repeated warnings extending back a quarter century and more—largely, but not exclusively, from conservatives—that our universities undermine the public interest by attacking free speech, eviscerating due process, and hollowing out and politicizing the curriculum.

The remedy, Berkowitz argues, would be turning universities into places that cultivate, encourage, and teach freedom of thought and speech. But doing so seems unlikely:

Having undermined respect for others and the art of listening by presiding over—or silently acquiescing in—the curtailment of dissenting speech for more than a generation, the current crop of administrators and professors seems ill-suited to fashion and implement free-speech training. Moreover, free speech is best learned not by didactic lectures and seminars but by practicing it in the reasoned consideration of competing ideas with those capable of challenging one’s assumptions and arguments. But where are the professors who can lead such conversations? Which faculty members remain capable of understanding their side of the argument because they understand the other side?

Read more at RealClearPolitics

More about: Academia, Anti-Semitism, Freedom of Speech, Israel on campus