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Educating the Great Plains

The Department of Judaic Studies

The Harris Center for Judaic Studies promotes and supports scholarship in Jewish Studies at UNL. Founded in 1991 with an emphasis on educating the people of the Great Plains region about Jewish civilization and the nature and history of anti-Semitism, today the Harris Center serves as a hub of academic activity and public programming.The Center administers an interdisciplinary minor in Jewish Studies, support for undergraduate and graduate research, and a scholarly community for faculty working on topics related to Jewish Studies, broadly conceived. We also offer a wide range of public lectures and conferences.

Statement from the Director on Charlottesville –  16 August 2017

The Norman and Bernice Harris Center for Judaic studies was founded in 1991-92 with the express aim of educating Nebraskans and the wider Great Plains community about antisemitism and its historically catastrophic consequences. As one who regularly teaches courses on the history of European philosophy, I am very much aware of the failures of German academics and intellectuals to speak out vigorously and to act against antisemitism, racism and other elements of fascist ideology when thoughtful conduct was still possible in the early years of the rise to power of National Socialism. I therefore take the occasion of the events of this past weekend, August 11-13 in Charlottesville, Virginia, home of the University of Virginia, to publicly and completely condemn the hate-filled, antisemitic, and racist speech and action carried out by the participants in the “Unite the Right” rally – Neo-Nazis, KKK, and all other member groups. There can be no such thing as an innocent or blameless participant in such a rally. The Harris Center faculty will continue to teach and do research on the history of antisemitism and the many other forms of prejudice. I know that they join me in completely repudiating the ideology and the tactics of the Unite the Right groups, while recognizing that violations of law on the part of any citizen must also be criticized.

During the National Socialist regime 1933-1945, Jews from Europe were repeatedly and tragically denied safe haven on other continents, including the United States and Canada. With this in mind, I take the opportunity to mention the statement made last winter by the Association for Jewish Studies on Syrian refugees. It may be found at www. associationforjewishstudies.org under “Press Room.” The Harris Center is an institutional member and supporter of the AJS.

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The Harris Center also appreciates the ongoing support and collaboration of The Frances and Sam Fried Holocaust and Genocide Education Fund, formerly the Heartland Holocaust Foundation, which is now administered by the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Learn more here.