Alvin Rosenfeld

Borns Jewish Studies Program IU Bloomington

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Areas of Expertise

Holocaust literature, American Jewish literature, exile literature, contemporary antisemitism.

Expert Bio

Alvin Rosenfeld, the Irving M. Glazer Chair in Jewish Studies at IU Bloomington and professor of Jewish studies and English in the College of Arts and Sciences, founded and directs the Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism at IU.

He founded Indiana University's Borns Jewish Studies Program and served as its director for 30 years. He is also the author and editor of 10 books and dozens of articles.

Expert Videos

Alvin Rosenfeld IU Experts Database video transcript [Words appear: What is your area of expertise?] [Video: Alvin Rosenfeld, director of the IU Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism, is interviewed on camera] [Rosenfeld speaks: Much of my work over many years is focused on Nazi Germany and the destruction of the Jews during the period of the Holocaust. In the last 10 years, my focus has shifted as well, or widened, to include a focus on contemporary antisemitism, a subject I never thought, in fact, that I would become a scholar of, because I never thought there would be need for such scrutiny.] [Words appear: Why is there a need to study contemporary antisemitism?] [Video: Alvin Rosenfeld is interviewed on camera] [Rosenfeld speaks: Antisemitism is a social pathology that dates back over many, many centuries. At its worst, it can be enormously destructive, as we know from attention to the Nazi period and the genocide of the Jews under Hitler and his allies during that time. In the aftermath of the Holocaust, it was generally assumed that once knowledge of that horror would be widely known, we would not be facing questions of antisemitism once again being a problem. But in fact, it is today a growing problem. What I and others who study antisemitism try to do is get to the bottom of what motivates it today, who its principle agents are, what its manifestations look like and what can be done to restrain it, if not eliminate it outright.] [Words appear: What is causing the uptick in anti-Jewish hostility around the world?] [Video: Alvin Rosenfeld is interviewed on camera] [Rosenfeld speaks: Antisemitism today is now so widespread -- shows up in so many different ways both verbally and physically -- that it's not always easy to put one's finger on one or two motivating causes. It becomes part of the climate of the time, unfortunately.] [Words appear: What can policymakers do to address these issues?] [Video: Alvin Rosenfeld is interviewed on camera] [Rosenfeld speaks: Laws do exist in certain states -- my own unfortunately not yet -- curbing hatred of this kind. We need greater monitoring of hate crimes, including hate crimes directed against Jews. Jews are only a small percentage of the American population but a very large percentage of people targeted by hate crimes. So getting some good laws on the books, getting a better monitoring process underway, similarly can be helpful. On the leadership level from the White House, through congress, to state legislatures, to local organizations -- both governmental and civic -- the more that people can speak out unambiguously and forthrightly against hatred of all kinds, including this particular kind of hatred, the better.] [Words appear: What can the average person do to combat antisemitism?] [Video: Alvin Rosenfeld is interviewed on camera] [Rosenfeld speaks: Most people are decent people. They're not going to participate at all in hateful words and hateful actions. At the same time, people are taken up with their own issues and can become indifferent to the kinds of misfortunes visited upon other people, and one of the things that all of us can do, and really must do, is make sure we don't become indifferent.]
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Additional Information

Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism:

Updated on: March 8, 2019