Swarthmore to Host Symposium on Resisting Anti-Semitism

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The event will discuss anti-Semitism and its successful opposition, both past and present.

On Sunday, Sept. 16, Swarthmore College will host a landmark symposium, “Resisting Anti-Semitism: Past and Present, Local and Global,” which will seriously engage with the topic of anti-Semitism—the forms it has taken and the ways it has been successfully opposed, past and present. The event, which begins at 9 a.m. at Lang Performing Arts Center and is free and open to the public, will feature moderated discussions among scholars from around the world and a keynote address by Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum.

“The goal of the symposium is to give participants a deeper understanding of this form of prejudice and violence, an enhanced commitment to opposing it, and a strengthened ability to do so,” says Assistant Professor of Peace & Conflict Studies Sa’ed Atshan ’06, co-organizer of the event. “We will face head-on the disturbing history and present-day reality of anti-Semitism in the United States, Europe, and the broader Middle East/North Africa region, and will also highlight the hope embodied in the struggle against anti-Semitism, which has existed as long as anti-Semitism itself.“

Also co-organized by Rabbi Michael Ramberg of the Interfaith Center and the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life, the daylong symposium will bring together academics, rabbis, activists, and artists, among others, with expertise in three regions—North America, Europe, and the Middle East/North Africa—to engage in conversation with one another and the Swarthmore community. Enriched by diverse perspectives from the distinguished panelists, symposium participants will gain a deeper understanding of the form of prejudice and violence, an enhanced commitment to opposing it, and a strengthened ability to do so.

“As so many forces are trying to drive a wedge between Jewish and Palestinian communities, we hope that by co-organizing this conference, we—a Jewish American and a Palestinian Quaker—can further demonstrate the beauty and power of collegiality, friendship, community-building, and solidarity,” says Ramberg.

The 10 panelists include academics from institutions in the U.S. and Israel; rabbis from North America and Europe; activists from around the U.S.; and André Aciman, author of Call Me By Your Name, who will discuss his experience growing up Jewish in Egypt. Keynote speaker Kleinbaum has played a pivotal role in efforts to combat both anti-Semitism and Islamophobia as the lead rabbi of Congregation Beit Simchat Torah in New York, the largest LGBTQ synagogue community in the world.

This event is sponsored by the Swarthmore College Peace and Conflict Studies Program, the Department of Religion, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility, and Swarthmore’s Office for Diversity, Inclusion, and Community Development.

For more information, visit the event website.