Female Yeshiva Student to Attend West Point

Rachelle David – of the North Shore Hebrew Academy High School in Great Neck, New York – will attend the United Stated Military Academy at West Point this fall. This news made the headlines recently mostly because she will be the first female Orthodox yeshiva graduate to attend West Point. Perhaps the highest profile article was in the New York Times.

This is a historic event and Rachelle’s ambition to serve her country is commendable. However, the New York Times found a truly wonderful way to screw up the story by beginning the article with an awful quote from a school administrator:

I hate to say it, but it’s not a Jewish activity,” said Daniel J. Vitow, headmaster of the North Shore Hebrew Academy High School, a 400-student modern Orthodox yeshiva, and the man who interviewed Ms. David for admission. “The military is not what Jewish mothers want for their children. The stereotypical Jewish mother wants a doctor, a lawyer, an accountant, not an army general.”

Aside from the lack of qualification Dr. Vitow has to speak for all Jewish mothers, I take particular offense to his assessment of Jewish military service. Regular readers will know this is a pet peeve of mine from the article titled What’s a Nice Jewish Boy Like You Doing in the Military?. It’s bad enough when this uninformed view comes from non-Jews, but especially painful when fellow Jews spread this nonsense.

To be fair, the rest of the NYT article contains a nice profile of this fine young woman and I encourage readers to take a look. Hopefully the follow up piece in four years covering her commissioning as an army officer will make up for the intro. In the meantime, maybe we can help teach Dr. Vitow about the rich history of Jews serving in the U.S. military.