We are a community that seems to go from crisis to crisis, and a part of our communal psyche seems to almost relish it. Whether it’s the Pew Research Center report, or our fears about Iran, or an anti-Semitic attack, it gets our Jewish juices flowing. Last month, it was the appalling news that the American Studies Association had voted to boycott Israeli universities. We screamed. We wrote impassioned op-ed pieces. Like leftover latkes, we sizzled in the oil of our collective disappointment at the brazen cooperation of a piece of America’s intellectual elite in the willful academic ghettoization of the Jewish state.
And we were right to have done so.
However, something was happening behind our backs — something by no means insidious, but, rather, redemptive.
The academic world did not stay silent. Quite the contrary. To date, at least 55 American universities have refused to join the ASA boycott. In many cases, they have also issued strongly worded protests against the association’s actions.
Here are the names of the presidents or chancellors of each university, along with their contact information. Because it is not enough to scream gevalt when we have been wounded. We also have to call out “thank you” to those who are our friends, to those who stood up for truth, to those who have refused to have their educational institutions seduced by the all too common siren song of anti-Israeli behavior. We need to thank those institutions, especially if we are alumni of them, and/or our children or grandchildren attend them. Because the best way to induce people to continue doing good is to thank them for what they have already done.
Take a look at the list below, which includes the first 27 universities to counter the ASA vote. Yes — some, even many, of those institutions of higher learning have significant Jewish populations. Some of the officials are Jewish. But that cannot begin to tell the whole story.
A larger story exists in the geographic diversity of the universities’ locations. Moreover, we don’t know how many Jewish students are enrolled at Willamette University in Salem, Ore. Perhaps more than we think think. But Willamette is not exactly located in one of the queen cities of the American diaspora.
And that is, precisely, the point. There’s an old Jewish joke. A pair of Jews is walking in a dangerous neighborhood late at night. Suddenly, they hear footsteps behind them. One says to the other: “We had better be careful. There are two of them, and we’re alone.”
As it turns out, we are not alone. Not even close.
This is the mitzvah of hakarat ha-tov — recognizing the good. Thank these university officials for their universities’ courage in standing up to the American Studies Association. Thank them for their commitment to truth and to intellectual honesty. Thank them for the generosity of spirit that they demonstrated towards the State of Israel. Get your children and grandchildren to write as well — especially if they are students at those universities.
Now that the winter solstice has passed, the days are getting longer again.
There is more light than we could have imagined.
Boston University. Dr. Robert A. Brown, president. John and Kathryn Silber Administrative Center, 1 Silber Way (8th Floor), Boston, MA. 02215. email@example.com
Brandeis University. Fred Laurence, president. Office of the President, Irving Enclave 113, MS 100, 415 South St., Waltham, MA 02453 of the President | Irving Enclave 113, MS 100 | 415 South Street, Waltham, MA 02453
Brown University. Christina Paxson, president. Office of the President, Box 1860, 1 Prospect St., Providence, RI 02912
Cornell University. David J. Skorton, president. Office of the President, 300 Day Hall, Ithaca, NY 14853. firstname.lastname@example.org
Dickinson College. Nancy A. Roseman, president. P.O. Box 1773, Carlisle, PA 17013. email@example.com
Duke University. Richard A. Brodhead, president. Office of the President, 207 Allen Building, Box 90001, Durham, NC 27708-0001. firstname.lastname@example.org
George Washington University. Steven Knapp, president. Rice Hall, 2121 I St., NW, Suite 801, Washington, DC 20052
Harvard University. Dr. Drew Faust, president. Office of the President, Massachusetts Hall, Cambridge, MA 02138. email@example.com
Indiana University. Michael A. McRobbie, president. Office of the President, Bryan Hall 200, 107 S. Indiana Ave., Bloomington, IN 47405
Kenyon College. Sean M. Decatur, president. Office of the President, Ransom Hall, Gambier, OH 43022-962. firstname.lastname@example.org
Michigan State University. Lou Anna K. Simon, president. Office of the President, 426 Auditorium Road, Hannah Administration Building, Room 450, East Lansing, MI 48824-1046. email@example.com
New York University. John Sexton, president. Office of the President, 70 Washington Square South, New York, NY 10012 firstname.lastname@example.org
Northwestern University. Morton Shapiro, president. 2-130 Rebecca Crown Center, 633 Clark St., Evanston, Ill. 60208. email@example.com
Princeton University. Christopher L. Eisgruber, president. Office of the President, 1 Nassau Hall, Princeton, NJ 08544
Tufts University. Anthony P. Monaco, president. Office of the President, Ballou Hall (2nd Floor), Medford, MA 02155. firstname.lastname@example.org
Tulane University. Scott S. Cowen, president. 218 Gibson Hall, 6823 St. Charles Ave., New Orleans, LA 70118-5684
University of California-Irvine. Dr. Michael V. Drake, chancellor. Irvine, CA 92697. email@example.com
University of California-San Diego. Praddep K. Khosia, chancellor-elect. Office of the Chancellor, 9500 Gilman Drive No. 0005, La Jolla, CA 92093-0005. firstname.lastname@example.org
University of Kansas. Bernadette Gray-Little, chancellor. Chancellor’s Office, 230 Strong Hall, Lawrence, KS 66045-7518. email@example.com
University of Maryland. Wallace D. Loh, president. 1101 Main Administration Building, College Park, MD 20742-6105. firstname.lastname@example.org
University of Pennsylvania. Amy Gutmann, president. Office of the President, 1 College Hall, Room 100 Philadelphia, PA 19104-6380. email@example.com
University of Pittsburgh. Mark Nordenberg, chancellor. 107 Cathedral of Learning, Pittsburgh, PA 15260
University of Texas-Austin. William Powers, Jr., president. Office of the President, 110 Inner Campus Drive, Stop G3400, Austin, TX 78712-3400
Washington University in St. Louis. Mark Stephen Wrighton, chancellor. Campus Box 1192, One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO 63130. firstname.lastname@example.org
Wesleyan University. Michael S. Roth, president. 229 High Street, Middletown, CT 06459. email@example.com
Willamette University. Stephen E. Thorsett, president. 900 State St., Salem, OR 97301. firstname.lastname@example.org
Yale University. Peter Salovey, president. President’s Office, P.O. Box 208229, New Haven, CT 06520-8229 email@example.com
Jeffrey K. Salkin is the rabbi of Temple Beth Am in Bayonne, NJ. He is the author of numerous books on religion and Jewish identity, including “Righteous Gentiles In The Hebrew Bible: Models For Sacred Relationships” (Jewish Lights).