Narrator Scott Brown by zly32307


									Narrator: Scott Brown
Interviewer/transcriber: Rachel Sapin
Assistant Interviewer/Indexer: Tyler Trumbo
Interview Date: 4.17.07
Interview Time: 7:13P.M. -7:59 P.M.

Equipment: Sony ICD-ST25 Digital Voice Recorder (SP setting); 2 RadioShack lapel
condenser microphones (70-16,000 Hz frequency response)

I interviewed Scott Brown in the Café area of the Barnes and Noble Bookstore just across
the street from W&M. Scott was eager to share with me his experience as a northern Jew
in a predominately Christian setting and how that led him to become an educator about
Judaism on campus. In addition Scott described his experience with Hillel and steps he
thought necessary to create better Jewish infrastructure on campus. My indexer, fellow
American Studies student Tyler Trumbo elicited from Scott his opinions on Jewish
campus life today and the Wren Cross debate.
                                                      --Rachel Sapin

Time    Topic
0:00:19 Name
         -Scott Brown
         -Senior at William and Mary
         Involved in Balfour Hillel 4 years
         -3 years as V.P. for interfaith and multicultural outreach

0:00:41   Hometown
          -Framingham (town)
          -15 minutes west of Boston, MA
          Framingham Demographics
          -High school far more diverse than W&M
          -More people of color
          -Large school 2500 people
          Framingham Religion
          -Majority are Catholics
          -Protestant denominations small
          -No Baptists, 1 Methodist church
          -A few Unitarian and Episcopalian Churches
          -High school between 8-10% Jewish

0:01:52   Why as a Jewish Person did Scott come to W&M
          - “ I came to find my Jewish roots for certain.”
          -Didn’t take Jewish population too much into consideratoion w/ schools
          Working in Admissions
          -Out of top 50 schools W&M has one of the lowest proportions of Jews
          - Wasn’t attracted by Jewish life

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          -Didn’t want to go to a school that was 30-40% Jewish
          -Looking for different experience

0:02:42   Jewish Life at W&M
           -“ I figured I wanted to get involved with Jewish life on campus…and I
          knew that if there were 40% of the school to take care of that then uh I felt
          it wasn’t going to be as much of a necessity or it wasn’t going to play as
          much of a role because the population was so large to begin with.”
          -Likes small size of community here but thinks it’s a little small

0:03:08   Getting Involved in Hillel
          Freshman year
           -Wasn’t too involved
           -Went to a couple of events
          Sophomore year
          -Created position in org of V.P. of interfaith and multicultural outreach
          -Opportunity to fill need on campus that was being neglected
0:03:33   Questions About Judaism
          -Mainly from non Jews on campus
          “Predominately on this campus without being stereotypical people are
          generally interested in learning about that, you know many evangelical
          Christians because many people view Jews as you know, their brothers or
          sisters, a very important part of their belief system.”
          -Other people were just interested from what they were studying
0:04:05   Scott’s Role As Educator
          -Loves to talk about Judaism and his heritage
          -Easy to talk to
          -Proud of who he is
0:04:24   Why Scott Create the V.P. position of interfaith and multicultural
          -Wasn’t much interaction (on the part of Hillel) with multicultural and
          interfaith groups
          -A lot to be gained in terms of campus interaction
          “…If Hillel were to ever expand its numbers and size, we would have to
          use non-Jews to our advantage in the sense that it’s difficult to do the
          same events and with the same 15, 20 people or thirty people that are
          coming you’re going to have to broaden them up a little bit in order to, to
          attract more people. And then when Jews who aren’t involved see that
          non-Jews are going and people in general that ultimately will probably
          result in more people coming because of the less dorkier, less cliquey, you
          know more of something you know, “Hey I might really enjoy going to
          this lecture, this social event or whatnot.”
0:05:17   Jewish Tribalism and The Campus
          -It’s a bit natural on this campus
          -First day of moving in freshman year someone said to Scott he was the
          first Jewish person they had ever met

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          -Shocking (1st time that happened in 18 years)
          People asking about Judaism
          -The way that people talk in class and approach Scott
          -Coming because they’re generally interested in interfaith dialogue and
          sometimes coming because they’re trying to get Scott to see or agree on a
          point on which he already has solid views on
          -Predominately students who ask

0:06:58   Virginia vs. Massachusetts
          Scott came from MA
          -Most liberal part of the country with most liberal history textbooks
          -Most liberal professors
          -At home considers himself conservative
          In VA @ W&M
          -Now thinks he’s exceedingly liberal
          -Because W&M is a state institution we get people from rural more rural
          areas from Western parts of the state who are very bright, very intellectual
          but lack but lack multicultural preparation in high school
          -Not going to school with people of color or Jews or Catholics
          -Do not have as much experience with diversity
          -Reflects in the kind of questions they asked Scott and how they took to
          being so inquisitive about his faith
0:08:09   Are A Large Majority of Students at W&M Lacking in Diversity?
          -Category of students coming from rural areas in VA around 25-30% of
          -Significant minority
          Religious studies here
          -Scott has taken four-five here
          -Different ways of teaching religion
          -Like Sunday School
          -Explain what you believe and what others believe and why you believe
          what you believe
          “You do it amongst a community of believers and you do it based on
          scripture and heritage…”
          -Great for children to learn

0:09:29   Religion at the University Level
          -Time when our beliefs should be challenged (what Scott loves about
          -Some students come and lose all religious faith while others come and
          find religious faith
          Problem with interfaith dialogue on Secular campus
          -Some students are in religious studies classes making arguments based
          solely on religious perspective and not from scholarly perspective
          -These people were smart (did well on tests) but lacked academic empathy
          to look at in historical terms

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          -Troubling (people were not pushing their limits of where they come
          -Doesn’t allow you to open mind up in college
          -In lots of religious studies classes at school, Scott finds people falling
          into this trap when discussing homosexuality
          - Scott attributes this to having a homogenous background in contrast to
          his own background of living near a city
0:11:55   Hillel As a Means of Changing Scholarly Discussion @
          -Important for the Hillel community’s voice to be a force on campus
          - It was not a force on campus when Scott came to W&M in the fall of ‘03
          -Events weren’t well attended
0:12:45   Discussing The Holocaust
          -Important for Jews to do, especially young Jews in college
          -“We live in a unique time where in some 30 years, when we have our
          children and grandchildren, the survivors will be gone.”
          -Time to listen o these things while they are still living is now
          -1st Hillel event Scott did with Hillel was bring an Auschwitz survivor to
          campus (spring of 05)
          -It was said to be one of the largest Hillel events at the school (400
          -Good for people who never heard Holocaust stories to connect them to
          education about Holocaust

0:14:16   Documentary on Black/Jewish Relations
          -Fall ’05 (Scott’s Junior Year)
          -Scott is interested in Black/Jewish relations today
          -Says they are very poor
          -Sad because Jews and blacks historically have similar heritages and
          ideologically share similar values
          -Showed film about group of Holocaust survivors who found refuge at
          black colleges during 1930s, 40s and 50s
          -Came from Europe and were prohibited from teaching at America’s top
          universities because of quota system
          -Spellman and Morehouse with European Jews teaching Engineering
          -Great bond through both knowing discrimination
          -110 people in room (10 Jews and 100 African American students)
          -Wished there were more Jews but loved the African American turnout
          -The black students had grown up in predominately black areas and had
          little relation with Jews
          -Great conversation, well attended, struck message of friendship and
0:16:36   Hillel Interaction with Black Student groups
          -Not a lot of interaction
          -“It’s always a product of time and how much energy, and really we’ve
          been lacking the manpower to do it.”

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0:16:48   Hillel Today
          -Approximately 200-250 Jews (not necessarily associated with Hillel) on
          -At least according to application forms
          -People who are half jewish and don’t identify may be closer to500
          -Active Jewish community, “There’s probably 100 people whose faces
          I’ve seen and about 30-40 I see on a consistent basis.”
          -People he sees for some events or holidays and then 30-40 that are active
0:17:44   Hillel’s Relationship with Temple Beth El
          -Scott attended Temple Beth El as freshman going to Yom Kippur
          -Last time he did anything with them
          -Yom Kippur services held in Unitarian Jewish
          -Wasn’t comfortable going to Jewish service in a non-Jewish or non-
          secular house of worship
          -This is common for temple Beth El because their synagogue is too small
          to house 80 or 90 people
          -Very reconstructivist, liberal, very different from Scott’s conservative
          “This was kind of a new age approach: very little Hebrew, a lot of guitar,
          a lot of meditation and I wasn’t particularly comfortable so I haven’t gone
          -Thinks there is a relatively good relationship with 5 or 6 Hillel members
          teaching Sunday school
          -“ Jewish people that live in this area are inherently not going to be that
          observant or religious because there is not enough of a Jewish
          -No kosher places to eat, no Jewish day school
          -Lacks infrastructure that big city provides for Jews
0:19:37   Practicing Jews Here
          -Faculty members
          -Still very different from where Scott lives
0:20:00   Creating an Infrastructure (Home) for Jews on Campus
          - Had their own house last year (probably in 2006) that burnt down
          -Located across from the Sailing house on Chandler court
          - Crappy, older house
          -Sparks blew and it burned and everyone in house stopped living there
          -They’re trying again to get another one
0:20:33   Building a House on Campus instead of Buying One Off
          -Not really an option
          -Organizations don’t really have buildings
          -Only one is Campus Catholic Ministries and that because it is one of the
          largest Christian denominations
          -It is a satellite of a larger organization
          -“ Other than that I don’t know of other organizations that have buildings

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          that are sanctioned by the college.”
          -If it happens it is rare
          - However Scott suggests creating an infrastructure on campus for Jewish
          students would be a major step in enhancing Jewish life for students
0:21:34   Having the House Last Year
          -Non-Jewish girls lived in it too
          -Jews asked them to not use cooking facilities if they cooked non-kosher
          -Kosher meal available every night
          -Orthodox Jew can’t use electricity on weekends and house was set up so
          people knew not to watch TV on Saturdays

0:22:22   Orthodox Jews at W&M
          -“The one Orthodox guy here is pretty liberal in practice.”
          -If he opens doors, he has to swipe card to get into building
          -At a place like Brandeis, life is much easier for Orthodox Jews because
          they have special interest housing”
0:23:17   Muslim Students Living in the Arabic House
          -If you’re non-Muslim living in house, expect people to praying and
          eating at 4:30 A.M.
          -They have the ability to do that, prepare their own meals there
0:23:48   Special Interest Housing for Jewish Students
          -Not enough interest not high enough yet
          -For the future that would be good
0:24:04   Relationship Between Hillel and Local Jewish Community
          -A few community members volunteer to have Shabbat at their homes and
          a few community members attend the Cedar
          -Hillel Lets Temple Beth El know when they invite speaker on Judaism or
          speaker from Israel
          -Freshman year Scott went to a Jewish woman’s house for meals and
          other things. Says that has been discontinued
          -Thinks community is always willing to be involved “It’s just a question
          of whether we want them to and in what capacity”
          -Things are open
          -Difference between families and retirees

0:25:32   Deciding What Hillel Events to attend
          -Stigma that Hillel is dorky
          -Scott likes political lectures on Middle East and Jewish life in the South
          -Not into serious debates on jewish religion right now
          -“…Because we have such a small population it’s difficult to round the
          bases f or everybody.”
0:26:49   Keeping Hillel Interesting For Everyone
          -Need dynamic people and good events
          -Don’t have their own space, can’t store things
          -No full-time rabbi, affiliation with the local temple right now is not
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          strong, in VA
          -Lots of opposition
          -Easier in a city where there are more rabbis, kosher food etc.
          -In a population rounding around 1-2% it’s difficult to create that

0:27:59   Working Realistically with W&M Jewish Population to create
          -Create a Jewish Studies minor (no major/minor at school)
          -Jewish studies classes restricted to whatever Mark Raphael’s teaching
          (Head of Jewish studies)
          -Maybe one visiting Jewish scholar teaches as well
          -Make an interdisciplinary major combining history, religion, Hebrew,
          sociology with a Jewish focus
          -Need more Jewish courses
          -Own housing space
          -Group of dynamic younger Jews that want change
          -Would see success with these elements
          -Far easier said than done w/ other class commitments, but possible
0:31:23   Scott’s Opinion About His Role as Educator on Campus
          -He tries to be open-minded and relate to other people
          -Loves doing it
          -Helps him as well as others make sense of Jewish believes
          Kosher as an Example
          -Explains what Kosher is to a lot of kids
          -Practice involves respect for human body and respect for animals
          - To kill Kosher animal it has to feel least possible pain
          -Needs to be holy not inhuman
          -Like cremation, Jews don’t allow cremated bodies in cemetery because
          the body is something to respect (sacred)
          -With broader things, like middle east describes Jewish mindset and
          history and helps make sense of conflict
0:33:34   Explaining Reformed Judaism to roommate
          “It was very difficult and it is. It’s difficult to explain that because it’s just
          like, “How do you explain like a trend of your religion that is basically
          just less literal, more liberal and kind of more like, modern than the other
          trends and why and why is that ok?”
          -Roommate took this explanation to believe Scott believed in nothing
          -Example of how it is sometimes difficult to explain things to people who
          are less open-minded
0:34:08   What Scott Cares About
          -Doesn’t really care about religious life
          -Knows jewish culture and history well and not to sound like fanatic
          -Doesn’t get offended when people culturally or religiously derogative
          -Attempts to give these kind of people the benefit of the doubt

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0:35:00   Christianity
          -Scott enjoys interacting with people at W&M because he gets to learn
          more about this religion
          -Evangelical Christianity
          -What life is like to be a young Christian and why it’s important
          -Very eye-opening
0:35:20   Do A lot Jews on Campus Feel the Interaction with Christianity to be as
          “Jews by our natural nature tend to be very defensive about what we
          believe and what we practice and I am too. Again it depends on the form.
          Talking one on one with somebody doesn’t bother me. I guess if I was
          like up on a stage and somebody was like, “ erh erh How can you say that
          because it says this here” and I can’t debate people about scripture
          because I’m just not as well-versed.”
          -Some Jews are more comfortable about it than others
          -Important to have those conversations to prevent stereotypes
0:36:24   Changes Seen By Scott Regarding Jewish Life On Campus
          Social Change
          -Scott found more “mainstream” Juniors and Seniors leading Hillel a
          couple of years ago in comparison to today
          -People knew who they were
          “There’s not as many of those people going around now. In a sense that
          it’s not even popular it’s people that are being…point persons that are
          jumping out for something about the Wren Cross.”
          Religious Life
          - No question that Wren Cross has been involved in debate over religious
          life on campus
          -Very unfortunate
0:37:43   Scott’s Opinion on The Wren Cross
          -“My opinion is no opinion. The reason I have no opinion on the red cross
          is that we had two instances where two of our students who e-mailed their
          professors during Yom Kippur which is our Christmas, you know Easter
          as far as sanctity. Those are our holiest days. A student e-mailed a
          professor and they got like lip back. They [the professors] were like,
          “Well you gotta make this up I can’t do this with you and you have to
          come to class and whatever.”
          -It was disturbing that the professor had to count it as an absence
          -It’s in the school handbook and the constitution that that doesn’t happen
0:39:44   Other Instances Where Religious Life is Disrespected on Campus
          - Really nasty people openly proselytizing on campus (not students)
          -Lack of response by administration to this incident
          -Muslim Student Association went to dining service during Ramadan and
          asked for keys so that they could eat before sunrise. They got a lot of flack
          for it.
          - Reveals that something is wrong with religious student life on the

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          William and Mary Campus
0:40:53   Issues of William and Mary of Religion at a Public Campus
          -The Wren Cross is not an issue when compared to above issues
          -Debate is so frivolous to Scott and others in Jewish community
          -Debate that made campus so divisive
          -4 people have withdrawn applications to W&M because of event
          -Doesn’t like groups that attacks Nichol and tries to use him in defending
          whether it stays or goes
0:43:20   The new Committee on Religion In A Public University
          “Hey I’ve been waiting to get involved in that conversation for years.”
          -Not because of Wren Cross
0:43:39   This Spring’s Passover Cedar
          -Had reporter come because it was open to community and interfaith
          - Held in Great Wren Hall
          -Many of the reporter’s questions involved the Wren Cross which really
          had no relation to the Passover Cedar
0:44:33   What’s Great About W&M
          -Our institution is about producing world leaders like John Stewart and
          Secretary of Defense
          -Wren Cross took away from that
0:45:38   Symbols
          -American flag burning like cross represent ideals
          -Seemed ironic to Scott that Christians felt under attack at W&M when
          their faith is obviously so well represented demographically and
          historically at the campus
          -Understand significance as symbol but foolish to say Christianity is
          under attack
0:49:08   “Talk about religion on campus, don’t talk about it with the backdrop of

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