Ram Apologizes About April Fools’ Article But University’s Jewish Students Still Go Unheard

Article Creates Stir Between Father McShane and the Ram While Subject of Piece Remains Quiet


For the April Fools’ issue of the Rose Hill newspaper the Ram, the editors decided to run a story called “Jesuits Gone Jewish,” which jokingly claimed that Fordham would forgo its Jesuit roots and become a Jewish institution. There were a few jokes thrown in at Jewish people’s expense, and in response, Rev. Joseph M. McShane, S.J. wrote an email to the whole school admonishing the editors. I, among others, was alarmed by his response, which was quite vehement in its disgust.

In its next issue, the Ram printed two letters to the editors and an editor’s note. One letter was one from McShane himself, expressing his disappointment in the piece, while another was from the editors of “The Cardozo Jurist,” the newspaper at Yeshiva University, who stated that they found the article to be hilarious.

The Ram also printed another letter, from former Ram editors, expressing how they felt that McShane had overreacted. They also accused him of making biases that were as bad as the Ram’s mistake in the April Fool’s issue. Finally, in the editor’s note, the Ram apologized for their mistake but thought that Father McShane’s method of communicating with the paper wasn’t proper.

Since I read Father McShane’s email before reading the April Fool’s article myself, I expected it to be filled with complete and total hatred towards Judaism and the Jewish community. To quote McShane, I had expected the article to be a “particularly crude article that trafficked in the worst anti-Semitic stereotypes and that seemed to have been written for the sole purpose of offending the Jewish members of our community.”

There’s something missing from this discussion, though. So far we have responses to the April Fools’ article from Yeshiva students, the Ram editors and McShane. I have yet to hear the voices of the people that McShane thought were hurt the most. We haven’t heard from the Jewish community at Fordham, so I’m writing this article as a Jewish student that attends this university. My opinions clearly don’t reflect every Jewish student in the university, but I’d like to think that I have some voice in the situation. After all, there should be someone who steps forward and expresses how the Fordham Jewish community feels since the Ram failed to do so.

The most insulting bit of information I could find was the byline given to the author. His last name was a common Jewish name and he was described as a banker. In Nazi propaganda posters, the Jews were depicted as fat bankers who were villains ultimately trying to damage and change the “German” lifestyle. There is a history of hatred behind that stereotype, a history I don’t think the Ram editors wanted to highlight, but a history that hurts nonetheless.

The actual article and the idea behind the article were meant to be satirical and funny. I ultimately agree with the Ram when they said that McShane didn’t communicate his frustration with the article correctly. He could have noted that the byline was something specifically offensive. His email was instead very general, as if he didn’t truly understand what Jews would be offended about in the article. Also, treading on freedom of speech is not a good way to push good morals across.

I don’t think that everyone is attacking Jews, but I do think that the Ram editors and those who responded to McShane’s email should have been a bit more sensitive in dealing with the article. As a Jew, I have experienced certain biased judgments against me. We are, in fact, a minority and people aren’t completely educated on our religion. In lieu of the recent biased incidents that have happened on both campuses, McShane believed that behavior isn’t tolerated, even if the Ram was just poking fun, and I don’t blame him.

The real problem I see in this is how the Ram ultimately decided to respond to his email and the article. They apologized but failed to print an article that let the Jewish students at Fordham voice their opinions. They could have pushed for a news article asking Jewish students (and non-Jewish students) whether or not they found the piece insulting. Instead, they printed two letters to the editors that made McShane look bad. The whole situation was ultimately a shouting game between McShane and the Ram, with the Jewish community in the middle of it. So, are the Jews really offended? I don’t know. Ask them—the Ram certainly didn’t.