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Visiting professor to help in creation of Jewish studies program

by Marlena Chertock,
  • Menachem Mor from the University of Haifa visited Elon University last week and plans to assist in the development of a Jewish studies program on campus. Photo by Marlena Chertock.

A professor of Jewish history from University of Haifa in Israel joined Elon University last week, with plans to assist the university as it develops a proposed Jewish studies program.

Menachem Mor spent the week with his friend Yoram Lubling, professor of philosophy at Elon. They wanted to spend the Passover holiday together, said Mor, who joined Elon Hillel for Passover Seder, a dinner that commemorates the Exodus of the Jews from Egypt.

"I was very impressed by the fact that it's supported by the president," Mor said of Elon's Passover Seder. "It was a very impressive evening. It was a short version, but still, that's enough."

Lubling and Mor met 20 years ago at Creighton University in Nebraska, where Mor was the Klutznick Chair for Jewish Civilization and Lubling taught philosophy.

This year, Mor is a visiting professor of Jewish studies at the University of Virginia.

He will help in the creation and brainstorming of ideas for Elon's program, which is still currently being developed. He served as the dean of the faculty of humanities at the University of Haifa for many years and has experience in Jewish studies.

During the next few years, Mor said he will be involved in conferences and sharing ideas for Elon's program.

"I think it's a great education process that will be very helpful for all of the students that are here," he said. "First of all, Elon has a nice group of Jewish students. It will be a good occasion for them to study more about their Jewishness. For non-Jewish students it will be a nice opportunity to get acquainted, learn about Judaism and take away some of the stereotypes."

Mor is on sabbatical for two years and chose to teach in the United States. He said he has enjoyed teaching here.

The biggest difference between teaching Israeli and American students is the age gap, Mor said. In Israel, people normally go into the army for two or three years, then work or travel for a few years and then start university. University lasts three years in Israel, instead of four.

The usual age for Israeli college students is 25 or 26, Mor said.

"Students are more naive and less knowledgeable," he said of students in the U.S. "They don't have too much life experience."

This is not the last time Mor will teach in the United States. Next year, he will be a visiting professor of Jewish studies at the University of Denver.

Alison Morrison-Shetlar, dean of Elon College, the College of Arts and Sciences and a professor of biology, could not be reached for comment on Mor's involvement, but she is planning to head the proposed program.