Young Rabbinic Leadership Tell Stories of Palestinian Solidarity- April 5

Young Rabbinic Leadership Tell Stories of Palestinian Solidarity
Tuesday, April 5, 6:00 PM
Mandel Center G03
Hosted by Jewish Voice for Peace

Do Judaism and Zionism necessarily align? Rabbi Joseph Berman and rabbinical students Alana Alpert and Ari Lev Fornari will share the connection between spirituality and activism in their own lives. Come learn how young Jews can work for justice in Israel and Palestine through Jewish traditions and values.

RSVP on facebook:

If I am not for myself, who will be?
If I am only for myself, what am I?
If not now, when?

-Hillel the Elder, Avot 2:4

THE FIGHT FOR AN EDUCATION: Thursday, March 31, 6:30 PM

Jewish Voice for Peace presents: The Fight for an Education
When: Thursday, March 31, 6:30 PM
Where: Pearlman Lounge

Mira Dabit and Amer Shurrab, young activists from the West Bank, will share the challenges facing students who live under Israel’s military occupation, and their inspiring struggle to put an end to it by holding companies like TIAA-CREF accountable for investing in Occupation.

The fight for equality and accessibility in education is cen…tral to every struggle for a just and democratic society. That struggle continues today in Israel/Palestine, where Palestinian students and teachers trying to access education face unlawful detention, armed harassment, curfews, checkpoints, closed schools, dorm raids, apartheid wall, apartheid roads, illegal arrest, and bombed schools and universities.

So why is TIAA-CREF – the world’s premiere retirement fund for educators – invested in companies that create these barriers? Why is the retirement fund that claims to be “financial services for the greater good” profiting from the Israeli Occupation? Come meet Mira and Amer to find out!

PS: Only one more day to sign the petition for inclusion in Hillel…we are almost at our goal of 1000 signatures from current Brandeis students! Visit

Noam Chomsky Moved to Bigger Venue

Noam Chomsky’s speech, part of Israeli Occupation Awareness Week, has been moved to Sherman Function Hall! That means there should be space for everyone who wants to seize this incredible opportunity to see Chomsky, one of the nation’s leading public intellectuals, talk about Israel’s increasingly discriminatory policies in the occupied territories.

Noam Chomsky at Brandeis
Thursday, November 11, 6:30 – 8
Sherman Function Hall (Upper Sherman)
Hosted by Brandeis Students for Justice in Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace

Brandeis ID Required (Contact us with questions)
No large bags or posters allowed inside

For more information on Chomsky, visit his website at

Get pumped for Israeli Occupation Awareness Week!

Palestinians, Israelis,
Palestinians, Israelis, and internationals protest settlements in Sheikh Jarrah, East Jerusalem

Israeli Occupation Awareness Week will take place November 8 – 12
Hosted by Students for Justice in Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace

We are young Jews, Muslims, & Christians; Palestinians, Israelis, Americans, & Europeans; we envision Israel & Palestine as a place of justice, and we hold Israel accountable for its military occupation. Peace can proceed when all Palestinians reclaim their rights to free movement, land, water, a home, a fair trial, cultural preservation, national identity, & democratic representation.

Highlights of the week include Noam Chomsky on “Escalating Policies of Apartheid,” Daoud Nassar on Palestinian farmers fighting settlement construction, Alice Rothchild on “Difficult Conversations: Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions within the Jewish Community,” and Diana Buttu on moderating peace talks with the PLO.

Check out the facebook event:!/event.php?eid=125844904140133

Continue reading “Get pumped for Israeli Occupation Awareness Week!”

Hedy Epstein, Holocaust Survivor & Activist, Speaks Out On Palestine

Hope you can all come to this exciting event next week! Email with any questions.

Hedy Epstein, Holocaust Survivor and Human Rights Activist, Speaks Out Against the Occupation of Palestine

Thursday, Oct 21, 6 pm, Lurias (Upper Sherman)

Hosted by

Jewish Voice for Peace

Students for Justice in Palestine

The Peace, Conflict, and Coexistence Studies Program

Hedy Epstein survived the Holocaust when her parents sent her from Nazi Germany to Britain on the Kindertransport. Since then, she has devoted her life to human rights causes from reproductive rights to immigration reform. She has made five visits to the West Bank, Palestine, and came close to boarding the Freedom Flotilla to Gaza. She is an outspoken critic of Israel’s military occupation of Palestine, and has become a well-known, controversial figure in the Israel-Palestine peace movement.

At Brandeis, Hedy will share stories from a life fighting injustice, advocating for an end to the occupation of Palestine.

All are welcome!

Bill Ayers Town Hall Meeting Tonight!

Excited about Bill Ayers coming to campus? Angry? Annoyed? Confused? Apprehensive? The two student groups responsible for bringing Ayers to campus, Democracy for America and Students for a Democratic Society, will be holding two town hall-style meetings, where any member of the Brandeis community can express feelings, ask questions, and partake in an open conversation about the meaning of Ayers’ visit. Representatives from the Brandeis faculty will attend to offer a different perspective. All opinions are welcome!

7:00, Monday night, Lown Auditorium, Rabb

Prof. William Ayers will speak at Brandeis

Democracy for America, Students for a Democratic Society, the Social Justice Committee and four academic Departments (PAX, History, Education, SJSP) will be bringing Bill Ayers to campus on Thursday April 30. He will be speaking in the Shapiro Campus Theater at 9 PM, doors will open at 8:30. He will be speaking about social justice, activism and his experiences in the Weather Underground. This will include a Q&A session afterward. During the preceding week we will hold educational events about the speaker.

Tickets will go on sale after spring break, the price will be $5 and will be available on a first come, first serve basis with a Brandeis ID. 230 tickets will be available for sale. This event is limited to members of the Brandeis Community only.

Contact Lev at or Liza at for questions!

Report on today’s administrative presentation: The Rose

Students I have talked to seem to agree that today’s presentation by Pres. Jehuda Reinharz, COO Peter French, and Provost Marty Krauss was productive.  There was a massive student turnout (the room was packed), and a lot of important questions were answered.  I feel relieved that I’ve finally been given substantial information, but also some resentment that this presentation, which was prepared in December, could not have been shown to the student body earlier.  It seems crazy to hold back explanatory and even comforting information while the student body frets.

Here is a paraphrased summary of what  we were told regarding the closing of the Rose.  More summary to come regarding details on endowment return and other areas of the presentation.

Brandeis lost 25% of its endowment between June 30 and December 31, falling from $712 million to $549 million in market value. Peter French’s projections predict the endowment’s value will reach an all-time low of $468 million in Fiscal Year 2009. After that, the endowment will begin to recover, but until it surpasses its original principal, no withdrawals can be made due to Massachussets law.  Proposed changes in academic structuring and student/faculty ratio will help to close gaps, but not by a lot.  Selling the Rose, as sad as it makes the Board of Trustees, is the only feasible large-scale cutback.

So, what exactly will happen?  There are 7180 works of art in the Rose collection, with an estimated worth at about $350 million before the crash.  It will take months or years to sell the paintings, as we must wait for the art market to recover, as well as examine the terms of donation or purchase for each and every work to see if its sale would be legal. A full sale of the Rose collection is thus nearly impossible and undesirable.  If, by some miracle, the economy recovers and philanthropy picks up, Pres. Reinharz said that there may be no sale at all. Continue reading “Report on today’s administrative presentation: The Rose”

Jasper Johns is Watching!

According to today’s New York Times article (See Nathan’s post below), world-renowned contemporary painter and printmaker Jasper Johns has spoken out about the Rose’s closing.

Johns said on Tuesday, “I find it astonishing. I’ve never heard anything like it.”


Johns is only one of the revolutionary artists cherished at the Rose, including Robert Rauschenberg, Cindy Sherman, Andy Warhol, Joan Miro, and Roy Lichtenstein.

Why Student Organizing Matters Now

From the beginning of Brandeis students’ activism in the face of the budget crisis, many of us involved have questioned the legitimacy of “making a fuss” during tough times. The administration will inevitably cut integral pieces of academics and campus life, and there are more important problems in which to invest our energy. Can we really have an effect?

4,000 students, faculty, and staff from Southern Nevada schools rallied on Thursday
4,000 students, faculty, and staff from Southern Nevada schools rallied on Thursday

In the words of Hillel Buechler’s unsubstantiated op-ed in the Justice, greater student inclusion in decision-making “isn’t feasible for now; the University has already established a pattern of disregard for our say in making changes, and that pattern has yet to be broken.” These feelings of hesitancy, undoubtedly spreading among campus activists, are contrary to the principles of the very University we are trying to preserve.

How about the Rose Art Museum. Even as we struggle with our own emotional cost-benefit analyses, it is still integral that we express passion for what we value on campus. A college education teaches us to explore our interests, and then to immerse ourselves in what we find fulfilling, preparing us to fight for our ideals after graduation. We are supposed to utilize the confidence we develop in the classroom for positive change. In that vein, I will be attending Thursday’s sit-in (1:00 at the museum!) not because I definitively oppose the closing, but because I want to make sure that the Board of Trustees and administration deeply understands the adverse affects of this decision not only on PR and financial asset holdings, but on student morale. The Board of Trustees is removed from campus values and attitudes, which can turn the student body into a means, rather than an end, to an educational institution. We must do whatever we can to break through financial analysis and make our complaints felt.

Even if we, the students, are viewed as a means to a financial end, we need to remember that we are the most important means. We too often forget that the university depends on our money, our success, and our support. It is irresponsible for us to neglect input. The administration has not only expressed a desire to hear from students but implemented avenues of dialogue (i.e. Jehuda’s 11:00 meeting today in Sherman); it would be a humiliating demonstration of apathy for us not to partake.

Our administration is just as desperate as we are, and a mutually beneficial solution depends on discourse involving both sides! Few administrators/faculty are viewing student organizing as antagonistic, in fact they are relying on it. At a time when we are selling the Rose, our second largest asset after the school’s land itself, no idea is too radical.

So, in a clichéd attempt at a rallying cry, let’s put aside our pessimism and save our own school!

In the words of Danny Cairns…

At a secret faculty meeting, Alex, Sahar, and Danny went with an anonymous student photographer to the upstairs door, which was locked. They went downstairs to try to access the front door, and were bounced out by a bouncer. She [Alwina Bennett] asked Alex if he had to call anyone, and Alex said “ok!”

Shortly thereafter, police showed up. Alwina Bennet came back out and said that the students were trying to access a secret faculty meeting. Bennet claimed Alex hurt her hand as she tried to open the door. Apparently the interaction was entirely nonviolent. The police said that the students could potentially be charged with assault and battery, though it seemed this was an empty claim.

Ed Callahan explained that everyone should be allowed to have private meetings. Then they spoke with the police, who made a report.

Jason Gray arrived to talk with them.

Now, a group of students are assembled at the top of the Rabb steps, waiting for the faculty to exit.

Keep Baracking the Vote!

Congratulations Brandeis, we defeated Tufts and won “Barack the Raymond Vote!”

Yesterday, students from both schools canvassed every neighborhood in Raymond, New Hampshire, knocking on 1023 doors and identifying 268 people in Raymond who are planning on voting for Obama on election day.  next week! (To put things in perspective, Raymond has a population of 15,000.)

Please mark your calendars and take at least a day off to support Obama on election day and weekend!  We’ll be going back up to Raymond on November 1, 2, 3, and 4.  Email Justin at to reserve a spot in a car.

Jamnesty: A Benefit Concert for Child Soldiers (This Saturday, 2-5 in Levin)

Brandeis Amnesty International will be holding a rollicking musical event this Saturday form 2-5 in Levin Ballroom to raise money and awareness for international child soldiers.   Activist Clubs represented include STAND, Positive Foundations, Students for a Sensible Drug Policy, The Vegan Club, and Students Against the Judge Rotenberg Center.

Here’s the Schedule!
2:00 – Student speaker
2:10 – Brandeis Sax Quartet (formerly known as “Sax Appeal)
2:40 – Student speaker
2:45 – Ines Schinazi
3:10 – Student Speaker
3:20 – Boat Car
3:50 – Student speaker
4:00 – The Verbs
5:00 – Student speaker, conclusion

Saturday, October 18th, Levin Ballroom, 2-5 PM

If you’re not canvassing in New Hampshire, please do SOMETHING worthwhile with your saturday afternoon!  This will be really fun, and we hope you’ll be there!

New Left Ideologies at Brandeis: Beyond Institutional Politics

The Port Huron Statement, Tom Hayden’s 1962 manifesto for the Students for a Democratic Society and the New Left, is often considered irrelevant today.  True, what was considered radical before the counterculture movement (participatory government, universal healthcare, demilitarization, etc) is now the mundane mantra of mainstream American progressives.

Yet what struck me in the statement was the relevance to modern campus life.  I have always viewed Brandeis as a contrived little bubble.  It’s a wonderful (and often enlightening) bubble, but one has to admit how fake it is.  We construct our own universe where we can all feel like stars in a chosen field: academics, performance, or in the case of Innermost Parts, political engagement.  Yet I have often felt frustrated when people forget the bubble, and treat their Brandeis proceedings with self-importance.  Paradoxically, the bubble can also lead to an extreme lethargy, as students see no point in engaging themselves in broader “issues”.  While the university institution certainly can lend itself to genuine political involvement, it’s difficult to strike the balance between apathy and egotism.

Fortunately, Tom Hayden echoed my feelings.  Apparently things haven’t changed so much since 1962…

Apathy is not simply an attitude; it is a product of social institutions, and of the structure and organization of higher learning itself.

The extracurricular life is ordered according to in loco parentis theory, which ratifies the administration as the moral guardian of the young.

The accompanying “let’s pretend” theory of student extracurricular affairs validates student government as a training center for those who want to spend their lives in political pretense, and discourages initiative from the more articulate, honest, and sensitive students. The bounds and style of controversy are delimited before controversy begins.  The university “prepares” the student for “citizenship” through perpetual rehearsals and, usually, through emasculation of what creative spirit there is in the individual.

And so, as Brandeis students continue to explore our political power on campus, let’s not forget to keep things in perspective.  Our personal political expression is not limited to the confines of University institutions!  Hayden would encourage us to fight alienation and powerlessness not through beurocracy, but through self-exploraion and human relations.  He states that “students leave college somewhat more ‘tolerant’ than when they arrived, but basically unchallenged in their values and political orientations.”  Let’s prove him wrong by remembering that college is an opportunity to explore ourselves, and not to prove ourselves within institutional confines.

Change Aramark Now: Coalition for Food Service Reform

Thank you to Tim for posting on Brandeis dining, specifically Aramark’s waning contract.

The good news? A Brandeis student campaign has already begun to seize this opportunity and reform our food services. There has been much discussion about switching providers, presumably to a rival corporation such as Sodexo or Compass Group. However, as Tim mentioned Aramark’s ties to Brandeis will be extremely difficult to sever. This is not necessarily a bad thing: Aramark has already made positive changes at Brandeis, such as compost, and has gone even further at other universities. John Hopkins, NYU, Baylor, Penn State, and Vassar, for example, have sustainable dining programs that we can demand as well. Aramark, with its record of health, labor, and environmental violations, is actually rumored to be quite receptive to student demands. I have confidence that a well-organized group of campus activists can succeed in a series of reforms.

And so I introduce…Brandeis Coalition for Food Service Reform

View the categories we plan on addressing after the jump.

Continue reading “Change Aramark Now: Coalition for Food Service Reform”

Judge Rotenberg Center Update: What You Can Do Now

[Please extend a warm welcome to my good friend Liza. -Sahar]

Children continue to be tortured in Massachusetts. For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of Brandeis Students Against the Judge Rotenberg Center visiting your dorm room, the JRC is a school in Canton for people with mental disabilities. Students here are hooked to electronic devices at all times and given painful two-second skin shocks as a way of behaviorist conditioning, for infractions as small as speaking out of turn or falling asleep in class. Aversive treatment is not only inhumane, it is ineffective: students revert to former behavior once negative stimuli are removed. A statewide campaign of psychologists and disability rights activists has worked to stop this cruelty for decades.

Here’s a brief update on the efforts in the State House and at Brandeis to shut it down.

Senator Brian Joyce, a disability rights advocate who co-authored anti-JRC legislation currently in study (a.k.a. not going anywhere), put an amendment in the state budget that would regulate, but not ban, aversive shock treatment. Amendment EHS 874 is essentially the same as the “compromise” bill, S 1123, with one key difference: it permits the use of shocks for minor behaviors, only if all other forms of treatment are proven to not work. Therefore this legislation is far from perfect, but would still add a crucial level of psychologist oversight. You can read it here:

The conference committee is running behind schedule, and will decide by the end of July whether or not this amendment will go to the House floor. It already passed in the Senate, a significant half-way victory. Please take a second to call Representative DeLeo, chair of the Ways and Means Committee, asking him to take action against cruelty to the disabled. Here is an optional script:

Representative Robert DeLeo: 617-722-2990

“Hello, my name is_________ and I’m from Brandeis University. I am calling to urge Representative DeLeo to support Budget Amendment EHS 874, restricting the use of cruel aversive treatment. The electric shocks used at the Judge Rotenberg Center are inhumane and unsafe, as demonstrated by the recent prank incident in which a student was wrongly shocked 77 times in three hours. This amendment offers a reasonable compromise, allowing aversive treatment in extreme cases but preventing future disasters. Please support disability rights in Massachusetts. Thank you.”

Here is another reason why Rep. DeLeo is important to this issue. While lobbying at the State House, David Emer and I had the pleasure of meeting with Representative Barbara L’Italien, a leading anti-JRC figure in the State House. She insisted that little progress can be made on this issue as long as Salvatore DiMasi remains the Speaker of the House. He is a close ally of Representative Jeffrey Sanchez, whose nephew is actually a JRC student (fyi: This was a hit at the January hearing in which Sanchez’s brother screamed, “I do not have a son: I have a retarded boy,” among other abhorrent statements). However, Representative DeLeo is a top contender to be the next Speaker. Therefore, even if legislation does not pass this time, our calls to DeLeo are still crucial to the future of disability rights.

For more information about JRC, read this Mother Jones article:

or this Boston Globe article describing a single telling incident: