In remarks delivered at the Jerusalem Post London Conference, Rabbi Dr. Ari Berman, president of Yeshiva University, paraphrased Menachem Begin by saying that Yeshiva University prepares its students to be both ‘Fighting Jews,’ and ‘Inspiring Jews. Fighting Jews, by utilizing their skills in courtrooms, streets, and halls of power, countering Antisemitism at every turn. Inspiring Jews, who are “not just bold but proud,” who do not just fight to survive but work to bring our values out to the world and inspire.
Noting that the Jerusalem Post Conference was also focused on how sports can help the Jewish people, President Berman spoke of Yeshiva University’s top-ranked basketball team, which led all college basketball teams with a fifty-game winning streak, and was featured in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and the Jerusalem Post, among many others.
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“But what has drawn less attention,” he noted, “is the fact that they have been the target of antisemitism.” When they started their run, spectators hurled epithets at them, said Berman, calling players ‘dirty Jews’ and throwing pennies at them. Yet, the YU players did not stop and protest. They won and continued winning, he said, with character, values and sportsmanship. “They did not just combat antisemitism; they earned respect and admiration. They fought, but they also inspired.” The Yeshiva University president remarked that while a great deal of attention in the United States has been appropriately focused on fighting antisemitism, the achievements of the YU basketball team were about Jewish pride.
Paraphrasing the late Rabbi Abraham Isaac Hakohen Kook, Berman added, “the best way to fight against darkness is by shedding more light. Part of our response to antisemitism and suffering of any kind must also include efforts to add more light, alleviating suffering with proactive healing, responding to evil by increasing our collective holiness.”