Emeritus Faculty Association news November/December 2007

Next Meeting:
The next meeting will be Friday, December 7, at 10.30 in the Javits room, 2nd floor library. The speaker will be Howard Schneider. Howard Schneider is the founding dean of the School of Journalism at Stony Brook University. For the past eight months, he has spearheaded the team that developed the proposal for the new School of Journalism. For more than 35 years. Schneider was a reporter and editor at Newsday. For nearly of 18 of those years, he was managing editor and then editor. Under his tenure, the paper won eight Pulitzer Prizes in categories including investigative reporting deadline reporting, arts criticism, specialized beat reporting and foreign affairs reporting. Under his leadership, Newsday was among the first newspapers in the country to create news Web sites; he also led efforts to introduce TV and radio into what had been an all-print newsroom. Schneider began his teaching career at Stony Brook as an adjunct professor of journalism from 1980-1982. Previously, he had been an adjunct professor of journalism at Queens College in 1979. In 2003 Schneider was the recipient of the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism Alumnus Award (M.S.'67). He earned his B.A at Syracuse University in psychology and journalism ('66). He has been a member of the Pulitzer Prize judging panel three times. He also serves on the Science Journalism Advisory Board of the Woods Hole Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Mass.

Last Meeting
Karl Bottigheimer introduced the speaker, Robert Goldenberg, Professor of History and Judaic Studies, (see bio in Oct. newsletter), to speak on the topic of religious and ethnic identities. Bob began by recalling his teaching experience with Stony Brook students who have difficulty distinguishing between religious identity and ethnic identity. If a Christian gives up his faith in God he is no longer a Christian; on the other hand many Jews have lost faith in God but are still considered Jews. To understand this confusing way of thinking about Jewish identify, Bob traced its roots back to Roman times and the rise of Christianity. Toward the end of the first century after the Jews had fought and lost a war against the Romans, Jerusalem with its Jewish temple was now controlled by the Romans. But the Romans decided to continue the practice of requiring Jews to contribute an annual fee to the temple. Now, however, the fee was to be paid to the Temple of Jupiter in Rome. But who were the people who had to pay this tax? Most obvious were people who openly attended synagogues and adhered to Jewish practices such as not going to the market place on the sabbath. But who else were to be considered to be Jews and thus had to pay this tax? One possible group would be those who had been brought up as Jews but who had abandoned Jewish life and practices. Should they be taxed? What about those who had not been born and brought up as Jews but yet who had begun to practice judaism. Should they be taxed ? Roman bureaucrats had to answer those questions.
Jews had begun thinking of themselves in terms of an ethnic, tribal, identity. A person could not join but had to be born into it. At first women could marry into the tribe, but not men. Later, however, Jewish self-identity became to include also a cultural identity that excluded wives who had not been born Jewish as well as their children. They spoke with a foreign accent and in other ways did not display a Jewish identity; thus they were banished from the Jewish community. How persons lived, how they spoke, that is what made a person Jewish. Yet as the Roman expire expanded around the first century more and more persons were able to become Jews "by choice" not having been born Jews. Thus the Roman tax collectors decided to ask only "do you practice the Jewish religion;" if so, you pay the tax. That is, Jewish identity became a religious identity, not a tribal identity. A book published today with the title "Catholics, Protestants, and Jews" would not have been recognized by the prophet Jeremiah. As the Roman Empire became Christian Christians, too, thought of Jews only in the religious sense. Indeed, Christians labeled as Jews any person who did not agree with the prevailing Christian theological understanding of Christianity. In this sense the world was thus divided between Christians and Jews. Nevertheless, traces of tribal identify persisted, illustrated by the fact that a Jew has become Catholic archbishop of Paris. Moreover, some Jews continued to argue that when a person became Jewish "by choice" the person is in effect adopting the tribal ancestors as his own in the way today parents adopt children.
Bob concluded by proving two other examples changing ethnic identities. Greeks began by speaking of themselves as a tribe that spoke Greek, everyone else being a barbarian, the term being used in a non-pejorative sense. However, in the empire built by Alexander the Great the Greek language became the language of necessity, and soon people began to call themselves Greek, and gradually an ethnic group into which you were born. The whole eastern Mediterranean thus became occupied by Greeks. But as Christianity spread that identity became overwhelmed; Greeks were not Christians; they worshiped many gods. Bob's other example was the city state of Rome that conquered first the other parts of Italy, and then beyond, the conquered people becoming Roman citizens.

The new Provost, Eric Kaler, wishes to introduce himself to the Emeritus group and will do so at the next meeting on December 7th.
The honors college would appreciate help from emeriti in reading applications from undergraduates. Volunteers should contact Bill Miller (prof history and new head of honors college) at wrmiller@notes.cc.sunysb.edu
Update on contract negotiations: Retirement chair Judy Wishnia reports that the union is holding out against higher co-pays. As of now the state will continue to pay our $900 p.a. share of Medicare part B (these are the quarterly checks we receive for 2 hundred dollars and change). She reminded members not to apply for Medicare part D (drugs) since our own scheme is better (keep the recent notice to that effect you recently received in the mail).

Joel Rosenthal spoke of the recent death of former colleague and one of the founding members of our group, Egon Newburger. Egon really exemplified the model of a combined commitment to scholarship, teaching, and service. Through the 1970's he was active in promoting scholarship on comparative and internatational economic developement; he edited numerous collections of papers on European economic life (with an understandable emphasis on his native Yugoslavia and Slavic Europe). He then devoted his career largely to university service, the academic version of good citizenship:- Dean of Social and Behavioural Sciences for two terms during a particularly unrewarding period of adminstrative support; a fill-in stint as Dean of Undergraduate Studies; work with the Honors College. I was one of his chairs and he was the fairest and most open dean I ever worked with. The division had few resources but Egon always told his chairs what the were and how- and why- he was inclined to distribute them. He had no secret agendas; he was "our man" in the administration building (and library). He also wrote a text on introductory economics that came out of his Stony Brook teaching experience and he designed it for students in those large and usually unsophisticated courses he accepted as part of his faculty load, despite his status and experience. He and Florence were generous and serious patrons of the campus "high culture". Egon was also a first class skier and bicycled from home to campus until his very last years. We will all miss him.

The ashes of Bentley Glass, an eminent biologist and early and much-admired academic vice president of Stony Brook university, were recently scattered in the garden of his former home here (through the kindness of two of our colleagues who are the current owners). His daughter read a poem which Bentley wrote in 1988. Our emerita colleague, Ilona Ellinger, thoughtfully sent us a copy of the poem which she thought others might like to read. It appears here by popular request:

                       REQUIESCAT IN PACEM 

     Scatter my ashes on the shore, 
     Where a running tide and gentle waves 
     Will soon disperse them far, 
     That the sea worms prosper 
     And the fish grow fat, 
     And I shall find peace. 

     Or scatter my ashes in the wood 
     And linger not to see what might befall. 
     Scurrying ants and beetles will do all, 
     And birds still sing, and trees grow tall. 
     And I shall have peace. 

     Let me live on a little in the minds of friends, 
     Of those whom I have loved, who have loved me. 
     Remember I loved music, sought for deeper 
     Understanding of this our wondrous world, 
     Whose mere existence is a miracle 
     No science can explain. So let me end my quest, 
     I shall have peace..