Source: AVI CHAI Foundation
In collaboration with The AVI CHAI Foundation, the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies at Brandeis University and a steering committee of religiously and geographically diverse Jewish day school heads are convening a two-day conference, November 14-15, 2016, to explore the trends playing out in the academy and the campus quad: “From Anti-Zionism to Anti-Semitism: An Educators Conference.”
The conference intends to inform – not to alarm – us about the climate of college life today and to consider how Jewish schooling addresses the changed atmosphere that we and our students confront. Many of us are disturbed when the good that we take for granted – Zionism, Israel, and Judaism – are denounced as evil. We are confused when liberal ideas about diversity and progressivism are turned against the Jews who believe in those ideas. If we are troubled and confused, our students facing the assault are even more so. We have to know and better understand what they will have to confront.
Working with and learning from esteemed heads of school – Joyce Raynor, Gil Perl, Lee Buckman, Bruce Powell, and Raizi Chechik – the Schusterman Center has developed a conference to begin a vital new conversation that will directly address these campus realities. Building on the solid Israel education work already occurring in many Jewish day schools, this conference will examine the all too amorphous, and often ignored or marginalized, discussions about the underlying sensibilities and trends that create a hostile environment toward Jewish politics in general. Therefore, the primary purpose of the conference is to create an environment for teams of educators and administrators from Jewish day schools to consider how to share best practices for teaching about hatred toward Israel and hostility toward Israel supporters when it devolves into a form of anti-Semitism. Through different modalities, the conference is designed to give space and time to educators to deliberate pedagogical approaches, means of transmitting content, and curriculum ideas. The conference seeks to aid educators in identifying tools and practices needed to effectively prepare students for the emotional and cognitive experiences they may encounter on campus and beyond. It is our aim, with the generous support of The AVI CHAI Foundation and the expertise of the educational steering committee, to begin with the first step of raising awareness and generating a sense of urgency among day school educators to consider carefully how best to prepare their students for this challenging and, at times, uncomfortable new reality.
As we imagine, this subject is of great concern to many within the Jewish community. We invite teams of Jewish day school high school educators to participate in thinking about how best to prepare students for the encounters they may experience on campus and how Jewish day schools can approach this challenge in a more intentional and mindful way. We welcome teams of 2-4 educators, heads of departments, administrators and board members to register and participate in this conversation.