American Jewish History in Yeshiva College

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Menachem Butler is running a contest for those who can answer the following question:

Why should a course in American Jewish History be offered to undergraduates at Yeshiva College?

The following was my answer, which won me a G-mail account. To be fair, it was inspired by an excellent speech I heard earlier this month by Richard Joel.

YC graduates have been and will continue to be the men who shape the American Jewish community. They are the rabbis, administrators, politicians, lobbyists, opinion makers and lay leaders who define the direction of Jewish society. How can they do that without the tools to fully understand the background and nuances of the different segments and institutions of American Jewry? How can they continue a legacy that they do not fully understand? And how can they learn from the mistakes of history without ever studying it?

About Gil Student

Rabbi Gil Student is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of, a leading website on Orthodox Jewish scholarly subjects, and the Book Editor of the Orthodox Union’s Jewish Action magazine. He writes a popular column on issues of Jewish law and thought featured in newspapers and magazines, including The Jewish Link, The Jewish Echo and The Vues. In the past, he has served as the President of the small Jewish publisher Yashar Books and as the Managing Editor of OU Press. Rabbi Student serves on the Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America. He also serves on the Editorial Boards of Jewish Action magazine, the Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society and the Achieve Journal of Behavioral Health, Religion & Community, as well as the Board of OU Press. He has published five English books, the most recent titled Search Engine volume 2: Finding Meaning in Jewish Texts -- Jewish Leadership, and served as the American editor for Morasha Kehillat Yaakov: Essays in Honour of Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks.

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