Grapevine: Focus on education

News from around the capital city.

Alfred Dreyfus (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Alfred Dreyfus
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
• It's a well-known fact that President Reuven Rivlin has a soft spot for anything and everything that can be identified with Jerusalem.
This week, he attended the concluding ceremony for graduates of a program for school principals at the David Yellin Academic College of Teacher Education.
The event in itself was not necessarily one that would ordinarily be included in the president’s agenda. But Rivlin has a certain degree of nostalgia for the David Yellin Institute, because his father, Prof. Yosef Yoel Rivlin, was a colleague of Yellin – and the two were among the first to form a Hebrew-language study group for teachers who wanted to teach in Hebrew and not German, the prevailing language of instruction at the time.
Rivlin, in his address, was pleased to note that the David Yellin Institute had successfully confronted all its challenges, most significantly of providing programs equally suitable for teachers in both east and west Jerusalem – who, in studying together, develop mutual respect and understanding. This is not only a Jerusalem mission, but a national mission, Rivlin underscored, telling the graduates they held Israel’s most precious tool in their hands: The education of the nation’s children, the generation of tomorrow.
•  Two years after Alfred Dreyfus was exonerated for a crime he did not commit, another Jew was erroneously charged with a serious crime – and like Dreyfus, found guilty through trumped-up evidence as well as undisclosed evidence.
While Dreyfus was an honorable man, Oscar Slater, who was found guilty of murder in Glasgow, Scotland, was a very shady character with numerous aliases and a variety of professions. But like Dreyfus, Slater did not commit the crime with which he was charged, and there were many petitions against his execution, which was subsequently commuted to life imprisonment.
Among the people who were convinced Slater was the victim of a miscarriage of justice was Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who in 1912 called for a full pardon for Slater in his publication The Trial of Oscar Slater. Doyle, who was the creator of Sherlock Holmes, was of course vastly interested in crime, and particularly in evidence that either exonerated a suspect or alternatively led to a suspect’s conviction.
Slater’s conviction was eventually overturned in 1928. He died in 1948, the year the State of Israel was established, which in a sense gives him another connection with Dreyfus.
Dr. Kenneth Collins, a native of Glasgow now living in Jerusalem, will discuss “Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and the Case of Oscar Slater” at the upcoming meeting on Tuesday, May 5 of the Israel branch of the Jewish Historical Society of England. The lecture will be delivered at 7:45 p.m. at Beit Avi Chai on King George Avenue, adjacent to the Yeshurun Synagogue.
•  There's a popular misconception that yeshiva students are all pasty-faced and lack in athletic abilities. Tamir Goodman is one of several yeshiva graduates who are living proof that this is not so.
Goodman, one of nine siblings, was known as the Jewish Jordan. He began playing basketball when he was five years old and showed an uncanny aptitude for the game. In junior high he played for the Talmudical Academy of Baltimore; by the time he was in 11th grade, he was ranked the 25th-best high school player in the US.
Needless to say, while at university, Goodman was avidly pursued and wooed by Israeli teams; in July 2002, he signed a contract with Maccabi Tel Aviv. He subsequently played for Givat Shmuel and Elitzur Kiryat Ata. Later, he took time out to serve in the IDF, then suffered a knee injury that required major surgery. Although he eventually went back to playing basketball both in the US and Israel, he kept having problems with the knee; to make matters worse, he suffered a broken hand in a practice match.
In 2009, realizing he was no longer fit to play, he retired. But just as retirement didn’t stop Tal Brody from coaching, it hasn’t stopped Goodman either. In fact, he’s become a motivational speaker, coach and educator.
In this context and under the aegis of the Orthodox Union, he is launching a four-week program on Monday, May 4, at the OU Center on Keren Hayesod Street, starting at 11:45 a.m. Basically, it’s about spiritual lessons learned from basketball, but participants will also be able to talk hoops and watch videos of exciting games. Participation is NIS 25 per session.