Letter from the Editors – Winter 2018

In this second issue of the 2017-2018 school year, we are proud to continue our commitment to providing honest, versatile, and meaningful content from a diverse array of topics.  In this issue, we have published everything from a meditation on Judaism and cannabis, to an Indian-Jewish recipe, to a commentary on Biblical Isaac, to an interview with one of the most influential rabbis working in the United States.  Leviathan continues to be a space where all of our staff is free to explore topics that interest them, and we hope that what continues to interest us also continues to interest our readers.

We would like to continue to extend our deepest thanks to all of the organizations, departments, and readers who have supported the work we do here at Leviathan.  With the publication of this issue, we officially became a journal that has been running for forty-five years.  Our lasting success over these four decades is due in no small part to the support we receive.

Moving forward, we are committed to expanding the conversation within the Jewish community and providing an open space for all students to be able to explore their thoughts in relation to Judaism. We extend an invitation to anyone who might be interested in engaging with our journal – we’d love to hear from you!


Avery and Zach


Letter from the Editors

As another academic year is upon us, we at Leviathan are more excited than ever to kick off the year with this issue! As you have probably noticed, we are elevating the physical presence of the journal and are printing at a higher quality this year. We are printing fewer copies than in the past which will enable us to reduce our paper use and will give us an opportunity to pursue more effective and creative uses for our funding.

As writers and media-makers, we are very committed to providing honest, versatile, and meaningful content. While we all enjoy producing this content, the ultimate goal is for the school to benefit from our stories and hopefully learn about or reflect upon something new. Because of this, we would love to hear from you – the readers. A goal of ours this year is to engage more with the readership, so if you have any thoughts, opinions, or even want to produce a piece, don’t hesitate to reach out or attend one of our weekly meetings. With much of our staff leaving after this academic year, it is important for us to remain as engaged as ever as a staff and think about what is important to the public in relation to the Jewish community. We, as usual, are motivated to tell stories about our roles in or around the Jewish community – and we are excited to have another year of content as we celebrate the 45th year of publication for Leviathan Jewish Journal.


Avery and Zach



Screen Shot 2016-04-07 at 8.50.09 PMWhen I eairst joined Leviathan, I did not realize its importance. A Jewish newspaper? That didn’t raise an eyebrow.

But, as is true throughout history, sometimes it is only after the fact that we realize what we were a part of, the movement we helped stir.

This year started with a rupture to the Western world. In January, the office of the satirical French magazine Charlie Hebdo was attacked. Twelve were killed. But it was not solely an attack on a magazine—it was an attack on Western values. The controversial, often crass, and never tame magazine stood for the right to offend. The real target was freedom of press.

More specifically, the gunmen were affiliated with Yemen’s Al-Qaeda branch. They attacked the magazine for its crude depictions of the Muslim prophet Muhammad. In this light, it is not relevant whether Charlie Hebdo’s characterizations were culturally sensitive or racially appalling—the bloodshed was not over a matter of taste. The violence was the direct manifestation of two opposing views: those who believe in freedom of religion and those who do not. While more progressive circles may—oftentimes rightfully so— condemn Charlie Hebdo for grotesquely promoting intolerance, twelve cartoonists lost their lives because one party could not tolerate another. Not everyone believes in the right to offend. Leviathan, as both a print and religious publication, felt the need to weigh in. How would we react? Although there were many back-and-forth discussions and even dispute over invoking the Charlie Hebdo event on our cover, at the end of the day, the fact that we print represents our stance. We are a Jewish publication. We are a free publication. For these reasons alone, in the eyes of the shooters, we are just as culpable. Like the legacy of the forever persecuted Jewish people, our retaliation is our existence. That is our response.


L’Chaim, Amand

Letter From the Editor

After a hectic and controversial year, the Leviathan Staff thought it would be beneficial to revisit the subject of what it means to be Jewish in today’s world. This is in no way a simple question, as the diversity of the Jewish people speaks to the fluidity of our identity. Are we the culmination of our history, inheriting monotheism through our holy lineage? Or are we just fingerprints, products of our ever-changing environment, blips on the cosmic stage? Are we grounded in our past, or is it our obligation to live in the present and look towards the future?

We did not decide on our cover image this quarter without much deliberation. We hope the message is clear: while we may feel overwhelmed as little individuals within our greater communities, as Jews, as Americans, even as Santa Cruz students, we must remember we are greater than the sum of our parts. Some groups overlap, some clash, but if we allow ourselves to learn from a different perspective, what we find is so much more meaningful and surprising than if we choose to remain in uniform ignorance. Our steadfast refusal to admit fault and listen to those who disagree will only result in the division of our collective identity; we must remain conscious of our assumptions. Even when we disagree, there is still room for all of us within the Jewish community. If we maintain these basic humanist standards, we can become empowered by our differences, and the solidarity of our community will not waver. Through active listening and mutual acceptance, not only can we cultivate something beautiful, we can begin to truly know one another.

Our hope is to inspire you not only to accept Jewishness in all its forms, but to actively push your own boundaries. Grapple with ideas that make you uncomfortable. Play the devil’s advocate. Don’t allow yourself to fall victim to your own assumptions, and don’t just hear, but listen. If you disagree with the ideas in this journal, good! And if they make you question, or even make you think, we will have done our job. Enjoy!


Aaron Giannini

Editor in Cheif


The Girl in the Desert

By April Monteith

Burning Man, 2010. Dust and domes and fire and LEDs, drugs and drink, food and art, not very much sleep. Beautiful girls running around in practically nothing, inciting a kind of scarred-over lustless jealousy. Fifty thousand people all dressed to kill, every outfit as ridiculous as any other, milling around a giant nonsense city where everything concrete turns into metaphor.

Here we are in the middle of a literal desert, and in the middle of our emotional desert. Here was God, the הוהי of

Exodus 3:14, revealed to me in his burning splendor, a sacred word of terrible obscenity, the holiest of holies, the trendiest of trendies, a word whispered in the ear from one high priest to another for millennia, divorced of all social construction of meaning other than one enigmatic passageAyah Asher Ayah. I will be what I will be. What will be, will be. I am what I am. Being what being. “What’s happenin?” Moses wondered, who will I say sent me? How will I justify myself? And God told him, whatever, man. It’s time to happen.

And there she was, right when I needed her, standing apart from her friends in the middle of the desert, crouched fiddling with a propane valve buried in the playa. Wearing pants and a work jacket. Tall, curveless, with a boy’s face, a glorious halo of bright pink hair, and oozing more femininity than I knew could come out of a person with every step and posture.

Why did I need her? Did she have her own burning bush, or did she just know exactly what she was her whole life? Did she find her destiny and wrestle with it until it submitted and gave her its blessing? I can’t help but rue it, and wonder if the person I was- the brash, intellectually belligerent genderqueer boy in daisy dukes and babydolls the summer I was sixteen –could have seized their own destiny too, instead of waiting for a revelation and a mission.

Well, I am what I am.

Thirty seconds. Enough time to catch a name, to drink in her presence, and realize that’s what I’m supposed to be. Enough to realize, I’ve spent my whole life trying not to be me. Enough to know, it’s time to happen.

I started hormones last Thursday.

By Karin Gold

Published on page 40 of the Winter 2012 issue of Leviathan.

UC Santa Cruz From a Jewish Boy’s Perspective

By Oren Gotesman

In March of 2011, the US Department of Education’s office of Civil Rights announced that it was going to launch an investigation regarding the alleged harassment and intimidation of Jewish students at UCSC under Title VI of the Department of Education Civil Rights Act. Title VI “prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin in all programs or activities that receive Federal financial assistance.”[1] The investigation is meant to determine whether the anti-Israel behavior of certain UCSC faculty in their classrooms and departmentally sponsored events has created a hostile environment for Jewish students who have some identification with Israel. UCSC Lecturer Tammi Rossman-Benjamin submitted this complaint and argued that the administration of UC Santa Cruz was responsible for one-sided events that developed a consistent feeling of harassment, intimidation, and alienation towards Jewish students who have a connection with Israel[2]. Since Rossman-Benjamin filed her complaint it has become the subject of heated debate and controversy at UCSC. I will first examine the legal basis for the complaint, and then consider the validity and implications of some common critiques of it.

I constantly see students focusing exclusively on whether or not a statement or event is anti-Semitic. This approach to the complaint is problematic, as Rossman-Benjamin considers the hostile learning environment at UCSC to be the main catalyst of the investigation. The real issue is whether or not this environment leads to anti-Semitism, not necessarily the anti-Semitic comments themselves. Because the meaning of “hate” is ultimately in the eye of the beholder, the United States adopted a definition of what kind of criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic. The “…State Department uses Natan Sharansky’s [three D’s] for identifying when someone or a government crosses the line.”[3] The “three D’s” are:

Delegitimization: “When Israel’s fundamental right to exist is denied –alone among all peoples in the world– this too is anti-Semitism.”[4] An example of delegitimization is using slander in order to make Israel publicly look far worse than it is, often by undermining the democracy of the country altogether.

Demonization: “When the Jewish state is being demonized; when Israel’s actions are blown out of all sensible proportion; when comparisons are made between Israelis and Nazis and between Palestinian refugee camps and Auschwitz –this is anti- Semitism, not legitimate criticism of Israel.” Another common example of demonization of Israel is the common reference to Israeli soldiers as perpetrators of genocide or baby killers.

Double standards: “When criticism of Israel is applied selectively; when Israel is singled out by the United Nations for human rights abuses while the behavior of known and major abusers, such as China, Iran, Cuba, and Syria, is ignored; when Israel’s Magen David Adom, alone among the world’s ambulance services, is denied admission to the International Red Cross –this is anti-Semitism.” Double standards is one of the D’s that critics of Boycotts Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) use against Israel. Choosing to boycott Israeli products, and not those of China, for example, is holding Israel to a different standard than that of the rest of the world.

According to the First Amendment, we as students have a lot of liberty to discuss a wide variety of topics, including both Judaism and Israel. This freedom applies whether the context is good or bad, true or false, and includes hosting events that openly violate the “three D’s.” The University employees, on the other hand, are not allowed to violate these rules by injecting whatever political opinions they want into the campus setting. According to the complaint, faculty members have used their classrooms and departmentally sponsored events to criticize Israel, rather than provide an evenhanded perspective on the Middle-East. Rossman-Benjamin argued that the following points are not academic speech, but in fact are purely political propaganda, if not hate speech:

1: In January 2009, Cowell College was responsible for sponsoring “Pulse on Palestine,” an event that featured a movie titled “Occupation 101.” Despite a petition with ninety signatures of UCSC students requesting that Cowell rescind sponsorship of this event, the college did not withdraw its support and the event went forward as planned. The event presented the following as fact: “Israel is entirely responsible for the plight of the Palestinians and their violence against Israel” and “Israel is guilty of ethnic cleansing.” [5]

2: Faculty members have used their classrooms to promote an anti-Israel bias. In one case a faculty member used her readings to state the following: “Israeli massacres are often accompanied by sexual assault, particularly of pregnant women as a symbolic way of uprooting the children from the mother, or the Palestinian from the land.” A student of this class stated that “[the professor] even used the class website to distribute information about anti-Israel protests occurring in the Bay Area and to invite her students to attend.” [6]

3: In March 2007, four professors and a TA, none of whom are scholars of Israel or Zionism, held a a conference called “Alternative Histories Within and Beyond Zionism.” This event presented the following ideas as factual: “Zionism is racism,” “Israel is an apartheid state,” and “Jews exaggerate the Holocaust as a tool of Zionist propaganda.” [7] Though there was a short Q&A, the event gave no time for an official rebuttal in which students could explore the idea that Israel isn’t a racist, apartheid state.

Most pro-Israel students who are knowledgeable about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict would know how to refute or argue adequately against the above claims. The issue, however, is that the pro-Israel community can’t be responsible for the faculty and departmentally sponsored events’ one-sided dialogue. If professors make “hateful” comments about Israel in their classrooms and a properly educated student isn’t there to correct that information, then the class leaves with the belief that those opinions are fact. If a college or faculty member spends over an hour lecturing or showing a biased video on why Israel is a Nazi state that commits genocide, then a short Q&A will do little to influence the bigoted and misleading message the audience has been exposed to. It’s acceptable when the Committee for Justice in Palestine (CJP) and The Santa Cruz Israel Action Committee (SCIAC) have events that challenge one another, but when the faculty adopts a one-sided political ideology, it begins to silence the other side.

If you believe that the above three points are evidence of UCSC injecting political (if not hate) speech rather than academic speech into the classroom, you would likely believe Rossman-Benjamin’s complaint has some merit. Rossman-Benjamin’s complaint is essentially stating that the faculty and administration at UCSC have frequently broken federal law and no one has done anything about it. It wouldn’t matter if we believed Rossman-Benjamin is a right wing extremist who could never represent most Jews, the U.S. Department of Education created standards for what it considers anti-Semitism and Rossman-Benjamin’s complaint is merely informing the state that its schools are not living up to those standards. Rossman-Benjamin used the aforementioned three examples, among others, to illustrate that these events are not only non-academic, but can leave Jewish pro-Israel students with a feeling of alienation or intimidation. These students feel this way because many Jews have a very important connection to Israel. They may value the country for religious, cultural, or spiritual reasons, or even because it’s a land that they can flee to in the event of persecution. I don’t mean to say that all criticism of Israel is bad, but the act of making one-sided statements about Israel, without acknowledging other points of view, can be hateful, especially when an administrator or professor is behind them.

The students’ reactions to the investigation have been varied and at times very negative. A student who attends the Olive Tree Initiative as well as a faculty member told me that during an Islamaphobia conference in June of 2011, a literature professor at UCSC claimed that Rossman-Benjamin’s complaint was Islamaphobic. The complaint does not address Islam or the Muslim Student Association, and it doesn’t even deny that the Palestinians have a legitimate narrative and deserve a peaceful state. In fact, the complaint isn’t even in favor of Israel, rather it’s against one-sided, nonacademic events and narratives. Therefore, the accusation seems baseless.

I heard one African American student question Rossman-Benjamin’s rationale for involving the government. He inquired why she chose to focus so much on the bad environment specifically for Jewish students and not on the environment for other students. He stated that: 1. There is an abundance of Jewish students on campus, 2. There is a Hillel near campus, 3. The regents are Jewish, 4. There is a Jewish Studies major on campus, and therefore other ethnic groups and religions need better representation.

This particular student was vocal about minorities not being represented properly at UCSC, as well as other issues involving minorities on this campus. I suspect many other students share this man’s feelings. When he presented her with such statements, Rossman-Benjamin simply said “don’t Jews have civil rights too?” Though this was just the opinion of one student, it did make me wonder whether or not the students on this campus view the Jewish community as a “more privileged minority.” In Fall 2011, I participated in a small survey of Jewish students regarding the environment for Jews here at UC Santa Cruz. When I brought up the idea of Jews being viewed as a privileged minority, one of the non-Jewish evaluators said, “The Jews are a privileged minority, as they work hard and therefore are able to inherit wealth from their ancestors.” I was completely speechless. Personally, my grandparents lost everything in the Holocaust and had little to pass down to my parents. Her statement only solidified my idea that many view the Jews as an exceptional minority, often without reason.

Perhaps the idea that Jews are a more privileged minority is one of the reasons this complaint is difficult for some people to take seriously. Perhaps people, even Jews, believe that we are capable of dealing with criticism on campus because we are privileged. Even if it’s true, the issue isn’t that the Jewish students at UCSC aren’t able to defend themselves against criticism of Israel; the main problem the complaint is trying to address is that the colleges are holding events that foster a skewed and hateful view of Israel. What happens when our university sponsors events that call Israel a Nazi state without representing an opposing view which addresses the implications of such a statement? What happens when people tell students that Israel kills Palestinians for no reason? What happens when students see Israel as the sole reason for a lack of peace in the Middle East? Many students agree with Rossman-Benjamin that these statements breed hatred towards Israel and its supporters. Regardless of how one feels when someone calls anti-Israel dialogues anti-Semitism, the idea that UCSC is funding hate is completely unacceptable. The main question I think we should all ask ourselves is, “Has the school violated the federal anti-discrimination laws?” The question of whether to reform the law because of the inaccuracy of the “the 3D’s” or the term “anti-Semitism” is a conversation for another day.  It is our responsibility to question if the school has failed to obey anti-discrimination laws, and if it has failed, then what are the consequences for the Jewish pro-Israel population and the anti-discrimination laws of other groups?

1. http://www2.ed.gov/policy/rights/reg/ocr/index.html

2. http://www.zoa.org/media/user/images/Benjamin-Complaint-6-25-09.pdf (Pg. 2)

3. http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/rm/2011/160032.htm

4. http://www.jcpa.org/phas/phas-sharansky-s05.htm

5. http://www.zoa.org/media/user/images/Benjamin-Complaint-6-25-09.pdf Pg. 3

6. http://www.zoa.org/media/user/images/Benjamin-Complaint-6-25-09.pdf Pg. 10

7. http://www.zoa.org/media/user/images/Benjamin-Complaint-6-25-09.pdf Pg. 15-17

 Published on page 32 of the Winter 2012 issue of Leviathan.


By Rebecca Pierce

Published on page 31 of the Winter 2012 issue of Leviathan.

Letter from the Editorial Board

The mind-body problem was the obsession of most philosophers before this century’s crop discovered that it is, like all metaphysical questions, either meaningless or trivial. But I’ll never be convinced of that. It’s the essential problem of metaphysics, about both the world out there and the world in here … What is the world? What am I? This is the mind-body problem.
–Rebecca Goldstein, “The Mind-Body Problem”

Expressing the mind-body problem is the work of a writer. Words and stories help us take in, sift through, and then reveal. But what happens when events we perceive doesn’t match what others perceive? The mind-body problem isn’t limited to individual experience, but can grip an entire collective, like the Jewish community.
The Leviathan staff has become incredibly conscious of its own mind-body problem. When two parties share an experience, they will come up with two different viewpoints, blurring the line between perception and interpretation. The problem arises when two bodies fail to sync with two minds, especially concerning issues as delicate as the ones explored in this journal. Opinions can be presented as fact, and facts presented as evidence towards a greater agenda. The power we have as journalists is not to be taken lightly.
While our staff is comprised of several minds, we only have one body in which to collect our thoughts. We’ve said that our goal is to give equal expression to all voices, but talking about it isn’t enough. When someone feels they have been wronged, it’s our responsibility to serve as a bipartisan forum invested in equal representation as well as the truth. In the following pages, you will find the results of our struggle to truly craft a space for all perspectives.
To keep the mind and body aligned is no easy task. Yet when the mind and body finally meet and tension subsides, powerful things can happen. So if the words in this journal provoke you, enrage you, confuse you, or inspire you– anachnu be’yachad, we are together. Put mind with body and join our conversation.
L’chaim slugs,
Leviathan Editorial Board

Published on page 7 of the Winter 2012 issue of Leviathan.

Statement of Intent

Leviathan Jewish Journal is an open medium through which Jewish students and their allies may freely express their opinions. We are commited to responsibly representing the views of each individual author. Every quarter we aim to publish a full and balanced spectrum of media exploring Jewish identity and social issues. The opinions of Leviathan’s staff, the organized Jewish community, or the university of California.

Published on page 6 of the Winter 2012 issue of Leviathan.