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Dershowitz Speaks at Ed School

Controversial Professor Discusses New Book on Jewish Identity

By Carlos A. Monje jr.

Alan M. Dershowitz, Frankfurter professor of law, warned of the dangers of assimilation and integration to Jewish identity in a speech at the Graduate School of Education last night.

Dershowitz discussed his new book, The Vanishing American Jew: In Search of Jewish Identity for the Next Century, before more than 150 people packed into Longfellow Hall.

Quoting Theodore Herzl, Albert Einstein and Jean-Paul Sartre, Dershowitz said that for too long, Jewish identity has been based in fighting institutionalized oppression. "Our enemies make us one," he said.

"We are now moving into the post-persecution era of Jewish existence," Dershowitz said. "Is anti-Semitism over? No, but institutional anti-Semitism is dead and buried."

Dershowitz said that the challenge for the future of Jewish identity is "finding positive reasons to remain Jewish."

He offered several cautious solutions for Jews, including returning to religion, raising children in a Jewish lifestyle and "learning, learning, learning."

"If you love Jewish learning, you will remain a Jew," Dershowitz said.

"There is no single road to Judaism," Dershowitz said. "We shouldn't be afraid. We should be risk-takers--we are going to be forced to be risk-takers."

Dershowitz talked about other Jewish problems including inter-faith marriages, using victimization as a crutch, and the future of anti-Semitism.

"Many Jews tie their identity to victimization," he said.

Dershowitz drew parallels between the Jewish experience and those of feminists and African-Americans.

He said the feminist movement against date rape was very successful, "but instead of declaring victory and moving on, many feminists would not give up their victimization."

"It puts them in a position of fearing victory," he added.

Dershowitz also emphasized the role of Judaism in his daily life.

"I am a Jewish law professor at Harvard," he said. "I can't teach law without quoting the Talmud."

Dershowitz's comments were met with applause. "He brought up a lot of points that I hadn't heard before and was a convincing speaker," Mike S. Abramsom '00 said.

"I thought it was really good because it was totally relevant to my life," Rebecca J. Mandell '00 said.

Dershowitz, who was introduced as "the only Harvard professor to run a deli in the Square," became the youngest tenured professor in Harvard's history in 1967 at the age of 28.

He is an active defense attorney, having defended such clients as O.J. Simpson, Claus Von Bulow, Leona Helmsley and Mike Tyson. He has also authored several books including Reasonable Doubts, Chutzpah and Reversal of Fortune.

"I thought it was really good because it was totally relevant to my life," Rebecca J. Mandell '00 said.

Dershowitz, who was introduced as "the only Harvard professor to run a deli in the Square," became the youngest tenured professor in Harvard's history in 1967 at the age of 28.

He is an active defense attorney, having defended such clients as O.J. Simpson, Claus Von Bulow, Leona Helmsley and Mike Tyson. He has also authored several books including Reasonable Doubts, Chutzpah and Reversal of Fortune.

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