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Jewish Club of Notre Dame, Campus Ministry to host discussions about anti-Semitism

| Friday, November 9, 2018

In response to the Tree of Life synagogue terror attack in Pittsburgh, the Jewish Club of Notre Dame, the Jewish Federation of St. Joseph Valley and Campus Ministry will unite to host an event against anti-Semitism and oppression called “A World Without Hate” on Friday afternoon.

Professor Sarah Snider, who developed the initial idea for this event, said the discussion will consist of three main sessions. She said the first session will provide a background on the issues surrounding anti-Semitism in America today.

“There hasn’t been a nationwide conversation about anti-Semitism as there has been about certain oppressions against other minorities for a lot of reasons … but that doesn’t mean that anti-Semitism isn’t there,” Snider said.

According to a report released by the Anti-Defamation League, the number of anti-Semitic incidents in America rose 57 percent in 2017, which translates to a total of 1,986 incidents. While the intensity of the violence in the Pittsburgh shooting was troubling, Snider said she was not particularly shocked when she heard the news.

“I used to work in the Jewish nonprofit realm, and all Jewish nonprofits have intense security systems. I also went to a Jewish undergraduate [institution], and I went to Jewish day school my whole life,” Snider said. “The reality is that it is not as unusual as you would think for people to come and try to hurt Jewish people in their places of worship or their schools or their workplaces.”

Senior Alicia Twisselmann, the president of the Jewish Club of Notre Dame, said she too lacked feelings of surprise when she heard about the shootings.

“I wasn’t shocked in the slightest. I sort of just reacted by becoming very numb to it. I’ve seen this signs coming since 2015,” Twisselmann said. “There has been a rise in anti-Semitism over the course of the [past few years] … and all of this has just been building to this point.”

Snider said she feels many Jewish people would agree with this sentiment. To help people understand how and why Jewish people feel they way they do, she looks to the second session of the event, which consists of a roundtable discussion featuring a number of Jewish members of the campus community, including students, professors and staff.

“What I think is cool about this panel is that it not only represents Jewish campus community members from the undergraduate level to the professor level, it also includes Jewish people from a wide swath of denominations and geographical origins,” Snider said.

The third session serves to further broaden the discussion regarding oppression, as it includes both non-Jewish and Jewish speakers.

The event will close with a shabbat service at Temple Beth El, followed by a dinner.

Snider said the event also happens to fall on the 80th anniversary of Kristallnacht, a Nazi pogrom against Jews living in German and Austrian cities. Kristallnacht became known as the “Night of Broken Glass,” in reference to the broken glass littering the streets after these attacks.

Twisselmann, who served a large role in organizing the event, said the organizers welcome people from all different religions and backgrounds to attend the discussions.

“If you want to learn more about Judaism, if you’re interested in intersectionality … if you’re Jewish and wanted to connect with other Jewish people on campus — anybody and everybody and anybody who was interested in is more than welcome to come to this event,” she said.

Karin Wasserman, the Israeli emissary to the Jewish Federation of St. Joseph Valley, said she hopes the event will help bring people together to listen and to create a productive discussion.

“Jewish tradition teaches us all the time to really look forward, to emphasize our life and power and not the sadness,” she said. 

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