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Programming Series on Jewish Identities and Antisemitism

This series of four events started in October 2021 with a program featuring individuals with a diversity of intersecting Jewish and other identities. In that panel, "Understanding the Multiplicity of Jewish Identities," we focused on the lived experiences of Jewish folks on our campus and in our communities.

In the three sessions during spring semester 2022, we grounded our investigation of Jewish identity and experience of antisemitism in an exploration of history, identity, and opportunities for solidarity. We hope that this series will validate and affirm Jewish members of the UMD family and give all UMD community members greater understanding and more tools to recognize and counter antisemitism when we see it.

Antisemitism, like other forms of oppression, traffics in stereotypes, generalities, and assumptions. These tropes are all around us—in literature and popular culture and in everyday conversations on the street or on our campus. When left unexamined and unchallenged, anti-Jewish tropes can in extreme cases lead to violence and in more everyday circumstances cause microaggressions and other tensions that degrade the vibrant and inclusive climate we want UMD to be.

What’s more, as this programming series explored, anti-Jewish bias and antisemitism work hand in hand with other forms of oppression, including anti-Black racism, anti-immigrant bias, and homophobia, to name just a few. Addressing all forms of oppression are integral to ODI's work of helping the university achieve its diversity, equity and inclusion goals, and this programming will play an important role.

We hope you will watch the recordings below.

Panel #4: Divided We Fall: Why Fighting White Nationalism Requires Confronting Antisemitism, Anti-Black Racism and Anti-Immigrant Bias

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In 2018 a White Nationalist killed 11 worshippers at Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh because he believed Jews were working to “replace” white Americans with Black and brown immigrants. That horrible moment is just one recent example in a constellation of anti-Black racism, antisemitism, xenophobia, and conspiracy theories that is quite old.

In this panel discussion, we dug into the ways that antisemitism and anti-Jewish bias have and continue to intersect with racism and other oppressions to divide marginalized communities and maintain the status quo. We also investigated solidarity as an antidote to these divisive forces, working to articulate the ways each of us can pursue solidarity and reject the biases and -isms that would tear us apart.

Panelists:

  • Dr. Benjamin E. Sax - Jewish Scholar, Institute for Islamic, Christian, and Jewish Studies
  • Deepa Iyer - Director of Strategic Initiatives, Building Movement Project
  • Scot Nakagawa - Co-Director, 22nd Century Initiative
  • Dr. Maxine Grossman (moderator) - Director and Associate Professor, The Joseph and Rebecca Meyerhoff Program and Center for Jewish Studies

Panel #3: Constructions of Race and Jewishness: How Antisemitism Shapes and is Shaped by the Racialization of Jewish People

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Recently, Whoopi Goldberg stirred up a great deal of controversy when she said that the Holocaust was “not about race.” In the aftermath, historians and Jewish organizations pointed out that for the Nazis, “Jewish” was a race. But Jewish people of all races and ethnicities. How can both be true?

Historians and scholars of race, racism, antisemitism and Jewish identity met up for a conversation that unpacked the social construct of race as it applies to Jewish people historically and today.


Panelists:

  • Eric Goldstein, Judith London Evans Director of the Tam Institute for Jewish Studies and Associate Professor of History and Jewish Studies at Emory University
  • Beverly Eileen Mitchell, Professor of Systematic Theology and Church History, Wesley Theological Seminary
  • Shirelle Doughty, Lecturer, Joseph and Rebecca Meyerhoff Program and Center for Jewish Studies, University of Maryland
  • Tracie Guy-Decker (moderator), podcast co-creator and co-host, Jews Talk Racial Justice with April & Tracie

Panel #2: No One Controls the World: The Nefarious Origins and Dangerous Outcomes of Anti-Jewish Tropes

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From speculation about Jewish space lasers to complaints about George Soros’ influence to the Colleyville hostage-taker’s certainty that a New York rabbi could intervene on behalf of a Federal prisoner, the subtext that Jewish people have disproportionate control in the world—to the point of mastery over nature!—is common on all points of the political spectrum.

Experts in the history and sociology of antisemitism participated in a panel discussion moderated by Associate Professor Maxine Grossman (ARHU/JWST), exploring the origin, history, and ongoing endurance of antisemitic tropes that continue to surface as unexamined microaggressions, intentional dogwhistles and sometimes outright violence against Jewish people and their allies. Co-sponsored by the Joseph and Rebecca Meyerhoff Program and Center for Jewish Studies and the College of Arts and Humanities.

Panelists:

  • Dr. Steven Luckert, Senior Program Curator, Levine Institute for Holocaust Education at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
  • Dr. Bruce D. Haynes, Professor, Department of Sociology at the University of California, Davis
  • Dr. Magda Teter, Professor of History, The Shvidler Chair in Judaic Studies at Fordham University
  • Dr. Maxine Grossman (moderator), Director & Associate Professor, The Joseph and Rebecca Meyerhoff Program and Center for Jewish Studies at the University of Maryland

Panel #1: Understanding the Multiplicity of Jewish Identities

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This panel sought to understand the multifaceted nature of Jewish identity and the range of experiences and identities among Jews.

Panelists:

  • Ari Israel, MA, Executive Director of the UMD Hillel
  • Nilaya Knafo, Senior Program Assistant, United States Institute of Peace
  • Julie Ancis, Ph.D. (moderator), Professor of Informatics and Founding Director of the Cyberpsychology Program at the New Jersey Institute of Technology
  • Yosef Webb-Cohen, MDiv, Co-Founder and Senior Educator, Calico Hill Collective