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Commitment to Holocaust education earns state recognition for IU Bloomington institute

Feb 2, 2024

In recognition of its commitment to Holocaust remembrance and education about antisemitism, Indiana University’s Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism has been awarded the state of Indiana’s Never Again Ambassador Award on behalf of the Indianapolis Jewish Community Relations Council and the Indiana Civil Rights Commission.

Alvin Rosenfeld Alvin Rosenfeld. Photo by James Brosher, Indiana University

The Never Again Ambassador Award — which was accepted by IU President Pamela Whitten on behalf of the institute Jan. 25 during the 25th Annual State of Indiana Holocaust Remembrance Program — is for an individual or organization that has shown a commitment to Holocaust education and creates meaningful spaces for both the memories and lessons of the Holocaust, never to be forgotten so that such atrocities never happen again.

The Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism, which was established by professor Alvin H. Rosenfeld in 2009, offers courses, lectures and publications focused on present-day animosity toward Jews. It helps to edit a leading academic journal, Studies in Antisemitism, that focuses on the intellectual and ideological roots of “new antisemitism” and seeks to explain the social, cultural, religious and political forces that nurture such hostility.

The institute has also convened several international conferences on the issue, the latest of which took place Jan. 28 in New York City. “Addressing Antisemitism: Contemporary Challenges” was hosted in collaboration with the Center for Jewish History and focused on, among other issues, how technology is used to disseminate hate speech. Over the past four years, the institute has hosted more than 80 webinars featuring some of the world’s most accomplished scholars in contemporary antisemitism. Participants in these webinars span more than 40 countries.

“It’s absolutely imperative to remember the past in the hope that we won’t see anything remotely similar in the future,” Rosenfeld said. “The assumption all along has been that if people really know how bad bad can get — which at its worst is the Nazi period — memory of that catastrophe may be preventative and help people say we never want to go there again.”

In addition to being a national and global leader in contemporary antisemitism scholarship, Rosenfeld said the institute plays an important role in Indiana as an advisor for responding to anti-Jewish hate. It provides historical and cultural context to leaders aiming to mitigate this type of bigotry with legislation.

He said he is honored to have the institute’s work recognized in this way, and hopes that the award will direct more attention and support to its mission.

“I wish there was no need for an institute of this kind,” Rosenfeld said. “But unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like we can extinguish antisemitism. Instead we find ways to open people’s eyes about the threats it poses and find ways to constrain or curtail these threats.”

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