Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Rabbinical Seminary and Mathematics (and other graduate programs)

Henry cites this interview with Robert Aumann (via, I believe, Marginal Revolution). Interestingly, Aumann entered college undecided between studying the Talmud and studying mathematics. Though he quickly decided on mathematics, he remains observant, and believing, to this day (his views on religion, articulated in the interview, are rather interesting, and are, I think, quite similar to mine). I know someone else, also from New York and also older, who couldn't decide between rabbinical seminary and graduate school in mathematics (he chose mathematics). And in "The Chosen," Chaim Potok's classic novel about Hasidic Jews in New York, the final act of rebellion is choosing graduate school in psychology over rabbinical seminary. Then there is my father who was going to be a rabbi until others talked sense into him.

I would imagine that there is a whole generation of Jewish academics for whom this decision was important. And that it says something important that most of them chose academia. Or maybe not.

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