Resisting Anti-Semitism: Past and Present, Local and Global

Swarthmore College will host a landmark symposium, “Resisting Anti-Semitism: Past and Present, Local and Global” that will feature moderated discussions among scholars from all over the world and a keynote address by Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum.

Co-hosted by Atshan and Rabbi Michael Ramberg of the Interfaith Center and the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life, the all-day symposium will bring together academics, rabbis, activists, and artists, among others, with expertise in three regions – North America, Europe, and the Middle East and North Africa – and engage them in conversation with each other 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.

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

The event is free and open to the public.

Rising Anti-Semitism at Swarthmore College

Swarthmore College. Photo courtesy: Swarthmore.edu

– Naomi Friedman

During the 2016-2017 school year, swastikas were found plastered in McCabe Library, the Crum Woods, Sparrow House and elsewhere on and about Swarthmore college campus. Most of us associate Nazi graffiti with—well, Nazis or neo-Nazis. But in recent years, swastikas have popped up on many campuses just prior to, during, or following  student votes to boycott, divest, and sanction (BDS) Israel and other anti-Israel activity.

I first noticed this in my hometown of Evanston at Northwestern University. In the 2015 spring semester, the student group Wildcats for Israel found their banner torn apart just as a BDS group formed to push for divestment from Israel.  Soon after, BDS student and faculty resolutions were followed by two swastika incidents and anti-Israel mock border checkpoint demonstrations.

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Israeli Soldiers’ Stories At Swarthmore College

— by Ronit Treatman

Swarthmore student Nathaniel Frum invited former Israeli soldiers Hen Mazzig and Sharon to come to campus and share their experiences serving in the IDF. These former soldiers have not received the most cordial welcome at some other universities and I had never been to Swarthmore, so I was not sure what to expect.

More after the jump.
About twenty-five students attended this session. They reflected very well on Swarthmore. They were polite, listened attentively, and spoke when it was their turn. Their questions were very intelligent. They were collegial even when I could tell that they disagreed with the presenters.

Sharon and Hen described their childhoods during the first and second Intifadas, their military service, and their hopes for the future.  The Swarthmore students were invited to ask whatever they liked. All the people in the room were engaged in a conversation about how to achieve peace in the Middle East.

This interaction achieved its goal: The Israelis got to connect with American and international students at Swarthmore. They all learned a little bit about each other. It made me feel very hopeful that conversations and connections such as these will one day lead to a better situation for everyone in the Middle East.

The Great Latke-Hamantaschen Debate


Austan Goolsbee, former chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers and Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, advocates for the latke at the 61st annual Latke-Hamantashen Debate on November 26, 2007.

Gary Tubb, Professor in the Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago, advocates for the hamantashen at the 62nd annual Latke-Hamantashen Debate on November 25, 2008.

By Hannah Lee

Since 1946, the intellectual nerds at the University of Chicago have had fun giving annual mock-serious presentations on the relative merits of the fried latke versus the baked hamantaschen.  Its popularity has spread to other campuses, including Kenyon College, Middlebury College, Stanford Law School, George Washington University, Amherst College, Swarthmore College, Williams College, Wesleyan University, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Brandeis University, Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Princeton University, the University of Minnesota, Mount Holyoke, Bowdoin College, UCSD, Haverford College, Johns Hopkins University, University of Denver, Buntport Theater, and one secondary school Milton Academy.  Yeshiva University held its own debate for the first time on November 22nd and Team Hamantasch won.

I learned about these annual debates when my daughter enrolled at the University of Chicago and was even invited to serve as banner-carrier.  This year’s debate was re-labelled  “Sixty-Five and Never Retiring: A debate over Social Security like no other,” but I think the more fun symposia are on the original topic of food preferences.  The “The Great Latke-Hamantash Debate” published in 2005 by the University of Chicago Press and edited by Ruth Fredman Cernea includes “Consolations of the Latke” delivered by Philosophy Professor Ted Cohen at the 1976 Latke-Hamantash Debate.  

So, which do you prefer: the latke or the hamantaschen?