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Responses to Recent Reports on Jewish Life and Learning at Northeastern

University Statement on Americans for Peace and Tolerance

For several months, a group that calls itself “Americans for Peace and Tolerance” has targeted Northeastern University with distorted videos and press releases. The group has selectively cherry-picked past events—some more than a decade old and all taken out of appropriate context—in an attempt to portray the university as hostile to the Jewish community. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Jewish life and learning is vibrant at Northeastern today and getting stronger. Since the fall of 2010, Northeastern’s Jewish Studies Program has been under the strong leadership of Dr. Lori Lefkovitz, the Morton B. Ruderman Professor of Jewish Studies and a noted scholar in the field. The recent Ruderman Memorial lecture by award-winning author and illustrator Art Spiegelman, creator of Maus:  A Survivor’s Tale, was an enormous success, attended by over 500 students, faculty, and community members. The  Holocaust Awareness Committee is now managed by the College of Social Sciences and Humanities.  This year the Committee created a very strong  program of events for Holocaust Awareness Week; the week began with Northeastern’s annual Holocaust  Remembrance Breakfast, featuring a lecture by Professor of History Uta Poiger on “The Holocaust, History, and Memory,” and continuing with    a film, “Elusive Justice: The Search for Nazi War Criminals,” a lecture by Pulitzer prize winner Michael Chabon, and a talk by Holocaust survivor Jack Trompetter.

These recent events are the latest in a series of multifaceted programs and activities at Northeastern this year, including an Israeli film series, a multinational conversation on global diaspora, and a lecture by Stotsky Professor Laurel Leff. On April 18, Israeli ambassador to the US Michael Oren came to campus and spoke about Israel’s relationship with the US.

Northeastern also has a leading Birthright program, a range of educational opportunities for students in Israel, and internships in a variety of domestic Jewish organizations. In addition, we have an important research partnership with The Technion Institute focused on security issues and a faculty exchange program with Ben Gurion University.

As must be the case at a major university, there are many voices and viewpoints on our campus, and we foster discussion and debate to help students develop skills of analysis and critical thinking, honoring the principle that bad  ideas are best combated with good ones.

Baseless attacks from outside groups do not shake Northeastern’s commitment to being a community where people from all backgrounds, faiths, and viewpoints are not only welcome, but able to thrive.  The university is stronger and better because of it.

Statement by Barry Shrage, President of Combined Jewish Philanthropies:

“Northeastern University, under President Joseph Aoun, has worked hard to make Northeastern a great place for Jewish students. With the support of  President Aoun, a highly motivated Hillel, a revitalized Jewish Studies department (under the leadership of Lori Lefkovitz, Ruderman Professor of Jewish Studies and Director of Northeastern’s Jewish Studies Program)  and one of our most effective Birthright and Birthright follow up programs, Northeastern is rapidly enhancing a  reputation as a wonderful school for Jewish students.  President Aoun is committed to doing the right thing and has taken many positive administrative steps to strengthen Jewish life on campus and CJP will continue to strengthen its partnership in support of Jewish life on the Northeastern campus in the years ahead.”


Published On: April 27, 2012 |
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