From December attacks on a New York synagogue to hateful posters in Davis Library, anti-Semitism remains relevant in the modern world — and on UNC's campus.
One new course in the College of Arts & Sciences examines how to respond to anti-Semitism.
JWST 390: “Confronting Anti-Semitism”, a one-credit hour course, takes a broad look at anti-Semitism in history, the contemporary world and at UNC. Meeting once weekly and featuring various guest speakers, the course examines how anti-Semitism relates to other forms of racism, and equips students with the necessary strategies to combat anti-Semitism in their own communities.
“One of the most important messages of the class is that this is only the start to a much larger conversation,” Ruth von Bernuth, director of the Carolina Center for Jewish Studies, said. “We hope that this conversation can then go beyond the classroom and that students can learn techniques that allow them to look really closely into incidences of anti-Semitism that we may still see today.”
The idea for the course came from a student, Sam Zahn, a sophomore political science and history major who realized that there weren’t any courses offered specifically focusing on anti-Semitism. He brought up the idea to the College of Arts & Sciences and its Countering Hate initiative last semester.
Zahn and Max Lazar, a graduate student in the history department, worked to develop the course within just a few weeks. Students were able to enroll for the first time this spring semester.
“We are really looking at how anti-Jewish sentiments come up at different times throughout history, and the common themes we can see in different areas around the world,” Lazar said. “We end the course with a round table discussion in April, in which we discuss the ways we can lookout for this issue in our own lives, and even within UNC’s campus.”
The class quickly gained popularity, and what started as a fear of not enough student enrollment rapidly turned into a fear of not enough classroom space, Lazar said.
Zahn, who is currently enrolled in the course, said he likes how the class is so unique.