This week, the Jewish Club of Notre Dame is hosting our University’s first Antisemitism Awareness Week.
We are witnessing a startling spike in antisemitism. In 2019, over 2,100 antisemitic incidents of assault, vandalism and harassment were reported in the United States, a 12% increase from 2018. Antisemitism was on full display at the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. Just last week, a Hasidic Jewish couple and their baby were attacked in New York City. Antisemitism has also grown globally, a trend exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Hatred against Jews has even infected college campuses, producing an unsafe environment for Jewish students. Nearly a quarter of undergraduate students report they or someone they know has experienced antisemitism, a number that rises to 43% for people ages 18 to 29.
In response to these harrowing circumstances, this week, the Jewish Club of Notre Dame is hosting our University’s first Antisemitism Awareness Week. The initiative aims to educate the Notre Dame community about antisemitism and ways to combat it. Each day of the week highlights a different form of antisemitism. Topics include common antisemitic tropes, the Catholic Church’s history of antisemitism, antisemitic political extremism, anti-Zionism and Holocaust denial. You can see a full schedule of events here, on our Instagram page (@jewishclubnd) or on the posters around campus.
Specifically, on Thursday, April 8, at 7 p.m., we will be hosting a Yom HaShoah prayer service with Campus Ministry for Holocaust Remembrance Day by the statue of Father Sorin on Main Quad.
On Friday, April 9, at 4 p.m., we will also be hosting a panel with other student groups to discuss the intersection between Jews and other marginalized groups in the fight for justice. The event will take place in DeBartolo Hall 141.
We invite the Notre Dame community to participate in this week’s events and demonstrate solidarity with your fellow Jewish students, faculty and staff. Whether it is attending a lecture or proudly displaying your “I stand against antisemitism” pin, even taking time to reflect on how you can personally combat antisemitism is a step in the right direction.
One particular mode of activism we’d like to highlight is calling on your hall senator for the 2020-2021 term to support “A Resolution Acknowledging, Defining, and Condemning Antisemitism in Solidarity with Jewish Students” at this week’s student senate meeting Wednesday. The resolution calls on the University to formally adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of antisemitism. The most difficult part of combating antisemitism is defining it, as antisemites will often hide behind veils of obscurity to justify their hatred. We can never fully address antisemitism unless there is a universal definition, which the Working Definition provides. The Working Definition provides an important educational tool to guide discussions and responses to antisemitism. We hope readers take time to consider the importance of this issue and implore their senators to support the resolution. The Working Definition has already been adopted by a number of colleges and universities, and Notre Dame should be next.
The Jewish community at Notre Dame is calling on the support of the Notre Dame family. Antisemitism is one of the world’s oldest forms of hatred, and often coincides with bigotry towards other groups. This makes combating it that much more important. Over the last few decades, the Catholic Church and Jews have done remarkable work to promote a positive relationship between the two religions. After the Pittsburgh Tree of Life synagogue shooting in 2018, the Notre Dame community demonstrated a strong wave of support for its Jewish members with a prayer service and discussions of antisemitism. We hope you can join us in continuing these conversations and initiatives.
On behalf of the Jewish Club of Notre Dame,
Editor’s Note: A previous version of this letter incorrectly said the Yom HaShoah prayer service on April 8 would take place outside Hesburgh Library. The event will take place by the Father Sorin Statue near Main Quad.
The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.