With the new school year just getting under way, the revised edition of “Jewish U: A Contemporary Guide for the Jewish College Student” is drawing flak for its outmoded and inaccurate depiction of Jewish campus life.
In the most recent issue of the Jewish student publication New Voices, three separate student reviewers wrote critical takedowns of the guide, penned by Rabbi Scott Aaron, noting too narrow a focus on Hillel involvement and an overly didactic tone.
Aaron “consulted … tens if not hundreds of thousands of Jewish parents and prospective college students,” according to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
Aaron’s cheesy advice, the reviewers claim, renders it farcical and ignorable. Take these tidbits from the guide’s chapter on sex: “no chuppah, no shtuppah” and “an important Jewish concept is that every person is made in the image of God, so anonymous sex with a drunken pickup or a prostitute would not be a Jewishly acceptable choice.”
The guide “strikes the wrong note at every turn,” writes David Wilensky of Drew University.
Levi Prombaum, a student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, writes that students should “get more from this kind of guidebook than shallow summaries of Jewish holidays and Hebrew school-style instruction on Jewish values. Aaron should treat the book’s audience like adults. Otherwise, ‘Jewish U’ risks getting lost, added to that long list of things a new student just doesn’t have time for.”