University criticised for ‘anything but orthodox’ advert

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University criticised for ‘anything but orthodox’ advert

'Brandeis was founded by Jews. But, it’s anything but orthodox; the headline of the two-page ad in New York Times Magazine read.

"Brandeis was founded by Jews. But, it’s anything but orthodox," the headline of the two-page ad read. 
"Brandeis was founded by Jews. But, it’s anything but orthodox," the headline of the two-page ad read. 

Brandeis University has come under fire for an advert in the New York Times Magazine after labelling itself as “anything but orthodox.”

“Brandeis was founded by Jews. But, it’s anything but orthodox,” the headline of the two-page ad read.

“It’s a natural mistake to make. After all, Brandeis was founded by American Jews in 1948, including Orthodox, Conservative and Reform Jews. But when we say that Brandeis is anything but orthodox, we’re referring to its character,” the ad continued.

David Bashkevin, director of education at NCSY, called the ad “disappointing”, saying that with all “that *actual* Orthodox Jews face I find this seriously distasteful.”

“This kind of pun might be cute on a podcast or a JCC or even a Federation meeting. Not a cute pun as an advertisement in the New York Times,” he added.

Malka Simkovich, chair of Jewish studies and director of the Catholic-Jewish studies program at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, also lashed out at the university.

“I’m more annoyed by that awful comma, but it’s worth clarifying that in this ad, ‘Orthodox’ clearly means rigid, antiquated, monolithic, and unevolving. Since Orthodox Jews would reject these adjectives in their self-definition, this line is problematic,” she tweeted.

“By problematic I do not mean antisemitic. I mean that this ad serves to marginalise Brandeis’s own Orthodox Jewish student population by dissociating their religious identities from the mission of the school. So no, not antisemitic. But yes, highly problematic,” she added.

Brandeis later issued a statement, defending the ad which it said is “highlighting Brandeis’ Jewish roots and values as well as the fact that we have always been welcoming to students, faculty and staff from all backgrounds. This Sunday’s ad headline was a play on words meant to highlight Brandeis’ unique story and history of innovation.”

Brandeis is “deeply committed to our Orthodox community members, and the ad was intended not to offend, but to underscore both the diversity of our community and our unusual origin story,” it added.

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