The Michael and Elaine Serling Institute for Jewish Studies and Modern Israel

 

The Michael and Elaine Serling Institute for Jewish Studies and Modern Israel

Our hearts go out to the victims of yesterday’s horrific mass shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue outside of Pittsburgh, and their families, fellow congregants, friends and the entire community. Our thoughts also go out to our own friend and colleague, Dr. Margot Valles, who grew up one block from the synagogue. One of her parents’ best friends, Daniel Leger, was one of those injured and remains in critical condition. Margot also remembers playing as a child in the home of Mrs. Rose Malinger, who was one of the 11 people murdered, on what was her 97th birthday. Our thoughts and prayers are with Margot’s family and friends.

We live in dangerous times. Individuals radicalized by the rhetoric of hate groups on social media are emboldened to act on their prejudice, as that rhetoric seems to make its way into mainstream politics. Antisemitic rhetoric is gaining greater legitimacy. It is therefore even more incumbent upon all of us to take care of one another, watch out for one another, treat one another with respect, empathy and kindness, while standing firm against hatred and prejudice of all kinds. With 11 killed and several injured, this may be the deadliest antisemitic attack in U.S. history. Early indications are that the perpetrator’s violence was triggered by long-standing antisemitism, combined with anger about the work of Jewish organizations to show compassion and support for refugee communities – demonstrating the way in which prejudice and hatred for one group cannot and should not be separated from prejudice and hatred for other marginalized groups, and that people of good will must stand up not only for the rights, dignity and safety of their own communities, but for the rights, dignity and safety of others. The Anti-Defamation League reports that there was an almost 60% increase in antisemitic incidents in the United States in 2017 from the previous year (almost 2,000), which is the highest number of incidents since the ADL started reporting incidents in the 1970’s. These include antisemitic incidents in schools and college campuses which nearly doubled in number for the second year in a row, in addition to bomb threats, vandalism, and white supremacists marching in Charlottesville. We in the Michael and Elaine Serling Institute for Jewish Studies and Modern Israel will continue our work to educate ourselves and others about the history and ongoing presence of antisemitism and prejudice more broadly, and work to combat prejudice locally, nationally and internationally.

Yael Aronoff
Director, the Michael and Elaine Serling Institute for Jewish Studies and Modern Israel

 

The Michael and Elaine Serling Institute for Jewish Studies and Modern Israel engages in the interdisciplinary study of the history, cultures, language(s), identities, and religion of the Jewish people. While our program encompasses the historical and geographic breadth of Jewish experiences, our particular strengths are in five key areas: American Jewish history, culture, and literature; European Jewish History and Holocaust Studies; Hebrew; Israel Studies; and Judaism and Jewish Philosophy.

A hallmark of our program is the close interaction of faculty, students and community members. The Michael and Elaine Serling Institute for Jewish Studies and Modern Israel offers a 20 credit undergraduate minor in Jewish Studies that allows students to explore, in interdisciplinary and flexible ways, Jewish history, culture, and identity, to learn Hebrew, and to study Judaism and Jewish thought. Students work closely with faculty mentors, who provide guidance both on academic development and professional opportunities. Our students have opportunities to engage in substantive research projects in class or as guided independent studies as well as senior theses and to participate in faculty-led study abroad programs in Israel. The result is a collegial, supportive community of students and faculty who form lasting relationships.

The Michael and Elaine Serling Institute for Jewish Studies and Modern Israel also supports the scholarly work of The Michael and Elaine Serling Institute for Jewish Studies and Modern Israel, developing a nationally recognized program that fits with the aspirations of a 21st-century global university. We have 6 core Jewish Studies faculty and over 20 affiliated faculty from ten departments and colleges across the university. The program contributes to and enhances knowledge of Jewish life in the university community, mid-Michigan, and the State of Michigan.

The Undergraduate Jewish Studies Minor
The Jewish Studies Minor offers a rich interdisciplinary program which introduces undergraduates to the history, cultures, language(s), identities, religion, and civilization of the Jewish people. Students can choose from among our varied and flexible course offerings (listed below), for a minimum of twenty (20) credits, which can be taken while fulfilling the requirements for a major in nearly any field at MSU. Our minor centers on our strengths in American Jewish History and Culture, European Jewish History and Holocaust Studies, Hebrew, Israel Studies, and Judaism and Jewish Philosophy. We emphasize close collaboration with and advising from faculty, and offer rich opportunities for undergraduate research. These curricular components are enhanced by our many co-curricular lectures and films designed to enhance classroom experiences and research.

 

UPCOMING EVENTS

 
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News

Michael and Elaine Serling have given a multi-million-dollar naming gift that will provide a new endowment in “Modern Israel” in Jewish Studies. It will serve as a catalyst, stimulating activities that join MSU faculty and Israeli colleagues in several fields, including the humanities, social sciences, business entrepreneurship, medical science, and engineering, as they initiate new collaborative projects. It will also contribute to research, study abroad, and internship opportunities in Israel for undergraduate and graduate students and provide support for visiting Israeli scholars. With this gift the Jewish Studies Program has changed its name to the Michael and Elaine Serling Institute for Jewish Studies and Modern Israel.

Events

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