Critical Conversations: Combating Antisemitism

Critical Conversations is an annual Spertus Institute program that brings together high-profile experts and activists to address the most critical issues of the day.

Our 2023 program focused on rising antisemitism—its current manifestations and what can be done to combat it, both within and beyond Jewish communities.

Critical Conversations is generously funded by the late Eric Joss.

This program was presented from Spertus Institute’s Feinberg Theater and broadcast live in February 2023. We recorded it so you can explore this critical issue with our presenters. 


About the Issue

According to the Pew Research Center, six-in-ten American Jews report having had a personal experience with antisemitism in the previous year, ranging from seeing antisemitic vandalism to experiencing direct harassment. The Anti-Defamation League tabulated 2,717 antisemitic incidents in the US in 2021, representing a 34% increase from 2020 and the highest number since ADL began tracking in 1979.

“Rising antisemitism targets the very fabric of our communities, as do all forms of bias and hatred,” explained Spertus Institute President & CEO Dr. Dean P. Bell, who moderated this program.

He continued, “Building the skills to combat antisemitism requires understanding our current climate in both an historical and contemporary context, and so we gathered four important voices to share their distinct and valuable insights.”

For more about Spertus Institute’s work on this issue, see Combating Antisemitism with Education

About the 2023 Critical Conversations Presenters

Dr. Miriam F. Elman is Executive Director of the Academic Engagement Network, a DC-based organization that counters antisemitism and anti-Israel activities on college campuses. In 2018, she was named by Algemeiner as one of “the top 100 people positively influencing Jewish life.”

Dr. Dov Waxman is an internationally recognized expert on contemporary antisemitism and American Jewry’s relationship with Israel. He is a political science professor at UCLA and writes for publications including the Washington PostGuardian, and Atlantic.

Nancy K. Kaufman served for many years as CEO of the National Council of Jewish Women and Executive Director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Boston. She is an advisor for SRE Network, a group of 150+ Jewish organizations committed to safety, respect, and equity.

Dr. Lila Corwin Berman is a professor of history at Temple University, where she directs the Feinstein Center for American Jewish History. Her research examines the history of Jewish citizenship in the United States.

2023 Moderator

Dr. Dean P. Bell is Spertus Institute’s President & CEO. In addition to his role at Spertus, Dr. Bell served as Associate Editor of the two-volume Antisemitism: A Historical Encyclopedia of Prejudice and Persecution.

This was Spertus Institute’s 2023 Alex and Klara Tulsky Presentation on the Jewish Future.

Thank you to sponsors AllianceBernstein and Levenfeld Pearlstein.

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