Porat Yosef: Studies Presented to Rabbi Dr. Joseph Safran


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Foreword By Norman Lamm

This volume has one ostensible purpose: to celebrate the eightieth birthday of a distinguished rabbinic personality and teacher. But underneath it lies another goal for which Rabbi Joseph Safran's career serves as a living symbol, and that is to pay honor to the entire profession of Jewish education. What we have in this volume, therefore, is more than a Festschrift; it is a festival of tribute and a testament of homage to the sometimes praised, but usually neglected and often derogated, role of the teacher in Jewish life, especially in modern times. Traditionally, the teacher occupied a prestigious role in the Jewish community. A brief foreword is not the place to expatiate on what is, after all, a commonplace. Suffice it to refer to the Talmudic dictum that he who teaches Torah to the child of a friend is considered as if he had given birth to him; what other culture has been so generous in bestowing upon the teacher the dignity of being a co-parent? Or the Mishnaic injunction that, "let your reverence for your teacher be as great as your reverence for Heaven." But somehow, in the course of the Enlightenment and thereafter the great migrations that uprooted Jews from their stable centuries-old culture, that singular distinction eroded. The attractiveness of other and more rewarding careers suddenly open to Jews deprived teaching of its glamour, and, as Jewish learning itself fell into neglect, the halo of honor that always graced the teacher began to wilt. As talent fled what had always been a sacred and eminent calling, Jewish teaching became the employment refuge of those unqualified to do anything else. This contributed, of course, to a practical "justification" of the new prejudice against Jewish teachers, and the situation rapidly deteriorated. Only more recently have efforts been initiated to restore the prestige of teaching by professionalizing Jewish education. But all during these wrenching vicissitudes, part of the general crisis of Judaism in the last century or two, some hardy.

devoted, and talented souls became the noble exceptions to this '' sad tale of decay. These were people who were self-motivated, utterly dedicated to Jewish learning, ' and aflame with a passion to transmit their heritage to the next generation, and then to yet another generation. These were the uncelebrated heroes of Jewish education, men and women willing to forego monetary rewards and the approbation of their peers, men and women who were single-minded, stubborn, and inspired. The Jewish community which today is experiencing a long-delayed renaissance of Jewish learning (in certain circles, though it is by no means universal), has not fully appreciated them. This volume is an attempt to compensate for the unfortunate dereliction of the duty to express gratitude by focusing on one such superb representative of Jewish teachers.

"Let your eyes behold the visage of your teachers," the Sages admonished. What concerned them was not only the inspiration that comes to a student from visualizing the face of his teacher, but also the more general rule that understanding a class comes only from exploring the specific. "Jewish education" is too abstract to make an impression on the mind and the soul. It is when we contemplate the personality of an individual educator that we can best appreciate what Jewish teachers are all about.

Hence, the larger importance of this Festschrift in honor of Dr. Joseph Safran. Scion of a distinguished rabbinic family, Chief Rabbi of the once great and vibrant Jewish community of Jassy, Romania, and a doctoral graduate of the University of Vienna, Rabbi Safran came to these shores almost thirty-five years ago and for some twenty-five years served on the faculties of various schools in Yeshiva University. Recently, he has completed two volumes, Studies in the History of Jewish Education, written in a graceful Hebrew and published by Mosad Harav Kook in Jerusalem. The book has been widely acclaimed by experts in the field.

Perhaps the greatest proof of the fierce dedication to Torah education by this gentle, polite, and courteous educator is the family that he and his wife raised: two sons who have chosen careers in Jewish education and scholarship, a daughter who devoted many fruitful years to chinukh, and a son-in-law who has made his career in educational administration. All his family has been associated, in one way or another, with Yeshiva University. This volume, therefore, is a tribute to Joseph Safran both as man and as symbol. Both are precious to all who value the Judaic enterprise and cherish those who have dedicated their lives and talents to it. May he be granted the years and the health to witness the success of his lifelong endeavors as his children, grandchildren and many pupils carry on his invaluable labors. .

-Norman Lamm
Rabbi Dr. Joseph Safran, renowned scholar, author and lecturer, is a son of one of the most distinguished rabbinic families of pre-World War II Rumania. His father, Harav Bezalel Zev Shafran was the preeminent ray, posek and rabbinic leader of Rumania and author of the three volume She'elot U'Tshuvot R'Baz. Rabbi Safran served as Chief rabbi of Jassy, Rumania from 1938-1944 where he developed, organized, and supervised its educational system and directed the adult university, Hashmoniah. In 1944 he came to Israel where he served as a member of the Chief Rabbinate in Tel Aviv, while teaching and lecturing extensively throughout the country.

In 1957 Dr. Safran joined the faculty of Yeshiva University where he served as professor of Jewish Education at the Ferkauf Graduate School of Humanities and Social Sciences. He has been a frequent lecturer on Jewish values, philosophy, history and literature, and is the author of many scholarly studies in both American and Israeli publications. His two volume Pirkei Iyun B'Toldot HaHinukh HaYehudi, published by Mossad Harav Kook has been hailed as a classic in its field. A third volume is currently in preparation.

To mark the 80th birthday of Rabbi Dr. Joseph Safran, and to celebrate a lifetime of accomplishments in rabbinics, education, and . scholarship, a distinguished group of rabbis, scholars and authors have contributed studies in a wide range of Torah, Judaica and scholarship. Porat Yosef includes original essays of members of Dr. Safran's own distinguished family, including Rabbi Dr. Alexander Safran of Geneva, Switzerland as well as Rabbi Safran's sons. A distinguished panel of Dr. Safran's colleagues at Yeshiva University join with prominent scholars from the Hebrew University, Columbia University and Bar Ilan University in a volume filled with research, thought and philosophy in honor of a personality whose life has been synonymous with Jewish learning, teaching and research.
ABOUT THE EDITORS: Dr. Bezalel Safran is a respected scholar and lecturer who served on the faculty of Harvard University from 1974 to 1988. He is currently preparing a major work on Maimonides' ethical theory.

Rabbi Eliyahu Safran is a popular educator, lecturer and author who served as rabbi and principal in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania from 1974 to 1985 and as principal of Yeshiva University High School for Girls from 1985 to 1991. He presently serves as principal of Bezalel Hebrew Day SchooVFrances Opatut Junior High School in Lakewood, New Jersey. His third book Kos Eliyahu: Insights on the Haggadah and Pesach is currently in preparation.
Rabbi Dr. Joseph Safran, renowned scholar, author and lecturer, is a son of one of the most distinguished rabbinic families of pre-World War II Rumania.

Author:Bezalel Safran, Eliyahu Safran
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