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Letter from the President

Letter from the President


Combating Antisemitism

Recent studies confirm that there has been an appreciable and troubling increase in antisemitism, along with other forms of bias and hatred.

There is violence and vandalism as well as a rise in disturbing antisemitic stereotypes on social media, in entertainment, and in day-to-day life.

Some of these contemporary expressions of antisemitism draw from current political, economic, religious, and social conditions, inflamed by increasing polarization. Some are refracted through the prism of long-standing historical accusations of world conspiracies, economic domination, dubious ethics, and dual loyalties.

Combating antisemitism requires understanding our current climate in both an historical and contemporary context, right alongside the development of real-world skills. We must engage and support constituents, leverage communications, develop networks of people and resources, build bridges to those with differing views, and actively and intentionally work towards adaptive change.

A Talmudic story tells of an incident in which the Elders were asked: “Is study greater or is action greater?” Rabbi Tarfon answered that action is greater. Rabbi Akiva answered that study is greater. Eventually it was determined that study is greater, but not as an independent value. It is greater because it leads to action. (Babylonian Talmud Kiddushin 40b)

Study and action are both required as we address antisemitism. Indeed, one of the foundations of Spertus Institute’s educational philosophy is the importance of engaging both theory and practice. That is precisely what we are doing in our new Leadership Certificate in Combating Antisemitism, which launches with a cohort of 17 executive directors and senior professionals from organizations across North America. A dozen faculty members with both academic and on-the-ground experience will help our students study and take action to redress the challenging rise of antisemitism.

This year we also focus our annual Critical Conversations event on the topic of combating antisemitism, giving you a chance to join our students to hear new ideas, learn from experts, and explore what you can do to make a difference

With best wishes,

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Dr. Dean P. Bell
President, CEO, and Professor of Jewish History
Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership

 

Friday, January 6, 2023