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Brandeis President Apologizes To Orthodox Community Over Insensitive Ad

University takes accountability for ad campaign misstep, emphasizes support for Orthodox students

Liebowitz stated that he met with the student group and with Hillel leaders that week. “I want to be clear that Brandeis is proud of its vibrant Orthodox community,” he added. “We are grateful to you for the substance and vibrancy you bring to campus; it is integral to the fabric of Jewish life at the university.”

The broader advertisement campaign was intended to “highlight Brandeis’ Jewish roots and values,” Liebowitz added. “Clearly, the execution of this ad missed the mark.” He concluded by “again offering my apologies.”

“I believe the email was right in both tone and substance. This apology exemplifies why Brandeis remains the best secular university for Orthodox students to attend in the U.S.,” he said. “Our leadership can apologize forthrightly to us, and we can continue to work with them to maintain and strengthen the Orthodox community at Brandeis.”

“The fact that the Brandeis administration was willing to listen to and work with Jewish student leaders shows how great of a home Brandeis is and will continue to be for Jewish students,” he said. (He spoke personally, not on behalf of the student board.)

2017 Nobel Prize Winner Michael Rosbash(not seen) in the field of Psychology or Medicine is applauded by a packed audience of students, I know that members of the Orthodox Jewish community at Brandeis were offended by a recent advertisement in the New York Times,” Liebowitz wrote. “First and foremost, I’d like to apologize for anything that was insensitive. Let me assure you that in no way did Brandeis or the ad agency intend to send any message that Orthodox Jews are anything but welcome and supported here. PHOTO BY JOSEPH PREZIOSO/GETTY IMAGES  

Rabbi Dovid Bashevkin, director of education at NCSY, the Orthodox Union’s youth wing, and founder of the media site 18Forty, which helps Jews navigate their Judaism in the modern world, told Zenger News that the president’s was “a welcome statement.”

“It’s heartening to see the dialogue between the university president and the Brandeis Orthodox community. We should always endeavor to share people’s conciliatory steps as loudly, if not louder, as their missteps,” he said. “As far as I am concerned, the matter is closed.”

On June 29, Liebowitz posted a public statement on the website of the president’s office about Brandeis being “deeply disappointed” by a Supreme Court decision. He did not post the apology to Brandeis’ Orthodox community among his “letters and addresses,” instead opting to share it directly with the student group. 

“I thought about that. I think he wrote a personal letter to the Orthodox community at Brandeis. Those are his constituents. They were the ones who should be addressed first,” he said. “He shared with express permission that they share with others in the community. I personally am fine with the way this was shared.”


Produced in association with Jewish News Syndicate

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