How Do We Tell Our Children About Anti-Semitism?

December 9, 2014

Source: Times of Israel


This past week, CASJE (the Consortium for Applied Studies in Jewish Education), in conjunction with The Jewish Education Project, brought together experts across disciplines to tackle this important question. I was surprised, especially given recent events, how many of the panelists adopted positions that relativized and even minimized the importance of antisemitism in contemporary Jewish Education. I have embedded their conversation below and I am curious if readers agree with their analysis.


This unique online four-day event, Tuesday through Friday, December 2-5 2014, brought together a historian, a psychologist, two researchers, a rabbi and a Jewish educator from North America and the United Kingdom to make sense of contemporary antisemitism and consider how to have meaningful dialogue on it in the classroom.


Online Blog Participants:

Dr. David Bryfman
Chief Innovation Officer, The Jewish Education Project

Dr. Stuart Charme
Professor of Religion, Rutgers University – Camden

Clive Lawton
Scholar-In-Residence, London Jewish Cultural Centre; Senior Consultant, Limmud

Ruth-Anne Lenga
Head of Academic Programmes, Centre for Holocaust Education, Institute of Education, University of London

Rabbi Eliyahu Fink
Rabbi, Pacific Jewish Center, Los Angeles

Moderator: Dr. Alex Pomson
Director of Research and Evaluation, Rosov Consulting

Dr. Pomson opened the event with the following introduction:

"The spectre of antisemitism is a remarkably effective stimulus to Jewish connection. In the nineteenth century, antisemitism brought Herzl back to his community. Today, contemporary educational travel programs to Holocaust-sites prompt thousands of young Jews to connect with the Jewish collective. And yet, a Jewish identity forged through an encounter with antisemitism is surely warped: it depicts the Jew as victim; the object of other people’s prejudice.


What should educators do about antisemitism today? Not to alert young people to its recent virulent reemergence, and to familiarize them with this phenomenon, denies a reality that – unfortunately - impinges on the lives of many people. But to dwell on this contemporary phenomenon risks raising a generation of young Jews fearful of the world, convinced of their own special victimhood, and scared of their own shadows.


How do you recommend approaching this challenging dilemma?"

Read more at Times of Israel.

Updated: Jan. 04, 2015