Confronting Antisemitism through Storytelling
In a 2020 survey by the Jewish nonprofit organization, Claims Conference, nearly two thirds of people ages 18 to 39 did not know what Auschwitz was.
Here at Drexel University, Professor Toni Pitock in the Department of History and the Jewish Studies Program, reports a similar lack of education on the part of her non-Jewish students about the Holocaust and the history of persecution beyond the mass slaughter of Jews during WWII.
Yet this knowledge is important. Holocaust survivors are in their 80s and 90s and will soon be gone. A sharp increase in anti-Semitic crimes over the last several years, a rise in the far right in Europe, and an insidious entanglement of antisemitic tropes with issues on the Left make an awareness of antisemitism necessary. This rhetoric and behavior have affected communities here on campus, in Philadelphia, and around the world.
In an effort to inform the Drexel population about this issue, a partnership between the Pennoni Honors College, Drexel Hillel, Jewish Studies and the College of Arts & Sciences, seeks to create a storytelling event on the Drexel University campus. We hope to bring together students, staff, faculty and members of the community to consider the present-day implications of discrimination against Jews.
Rather than a panel discussion or conference, we want to showcase stories that reflect real-life experience and give a more vivid, first-hand account of antisemitism.
We want to give voice to those who have experienced vulnerability, fear, and hatred against them as Jews. This also includes describing minor incidents—slurs or slights-- which suggested deeper feelings of antisemitism that were not being expressed directly.
We are looking for stories as small as seeing swastikas painted on a wall or being called a derogatory name. Other examples that might be recounted: feeling exposed about being “out” as a Jew, feeling the need to “pass” as a non-Jew, the challenges of talking to children about antisemitism, feeling confusion about what Israel stands for, struggling with the interconnection of antisemitism and antizionism, being questioned about why antisemitism is even an issue.
We invite you to participate. Please tell a story about antisemitism as it may have occurred to you or that you observed as a Jewish person or Jewish ally. More than preaching against antisemitism, we believe that hearing stories that happened to real people can help raise people’s consciousness and encourage everyone to combat antisemitism.
We are looking for stories dealing with:
Submit Your Story
- Your experience with anti-semitism
- Your experience with Jewish stereotypes
- Your sense of how politics has become entangled with anti-semitism