The Harris Center for Judaic Studies promotes and supports scholarship in Jewish Studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. 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, as well as promoting understanding between Jews and non-Jews, today the Harris Center serves as a vibrant center of academic activity and public programming.
We offer a 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 provide a wide range of courses in the fields of history, political science, religious studies, philosophy, sociology, anthropology, and Jewish languages and literatures, taught by our affiliated faculty.
With particular strengths in the history of Judaism, the history and politics of the Middle East, the Holocaust, anti-Semitism and other forms of discrimination, Jewish philosophy, and global Jewish diversity, the Harris Center has become a hub for interdisciplinary scholarship. We count among our resources the University of Nebraska Press, which has long had a strong line of publications in Jewish Studies and now handles publication and distribution of books from the Jewish Publication Society.
The Harris Center regularly presents public lectures, conferences, and symposia in the field of Jewish Studies.
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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.
Jewish Studies in Nebraska
In addition to the Harris Center for Judaic Studies, there are two other academic Jewish Studies programs in Nebraska: the Klutznick Chair of Jewish Civilization at Creighton University; and the Schwalb Center for Israel and Jewish Studies at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Both are within approximately one hour driving distance.
Klutznick Chair in Jewish Civilization
The Harris Center has enjoyed a long-term collaboration with Creighton University’s Klutznick Chair of Jewish Civilization. For over a decade we have co-sponsored the annual Klutznick-Harris Symposium, which has been dedicated to a very wide range of topics in Jewish Studies, ranging from the history of Jewish music, philosophy, and food to attitudes to the environment and modern Jewish identity.
Schwalb Center for Israel and Jewish Studies
In future years the Klutznick and Harris programs will be joined by the Schwalb Center for Israel and Jewish Studies in organizing the annual Klutznick-Harris symposium. We look forward to collaboration with the Schwalb Center in other projects, as well.
Frances and Sam Fried Holocaust and Genocide Education Fund
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.
Kripke Center for Study of Religion & Society
Creighton University's Kripke Center for the Study of Religion and Society often presents lectures of interest to UNL students and faculty.