LOGAN, Utah — The Hebrew word “shalom” literally means peace” and is commonly used as a greeting in social interactions among Jewish people. Across the world, Jewish people, regardless of their nationality or first language, greet each other with a Shabbat Shalom on Friday evenings when welcoming the Shabbat(the Jewish holy day of rest).
Utah State University will present the Inaugural Jewish Inclusion Seminar Series, scheduled on March 28-29. The series will explore concepts associated with “shalom” — peace, welcoming, inclusion and belonging. This seminar series recognizes the diverse and multifaceted Jewish identity of USU’s campuses and extends a welcoming shalom to USU’s Jewish students and colleagues. All are welcome to attend the three events scheduled during the series.
“USU welcomes people of all faiths, all identities, heritage and experiences,” said Jane Irungu, vice president of Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion. “Our commitment is to empower all, and to make sure everyone feels welcome and valued as part of the Aggie Family. Learning about each other is a strategy towards inclusive excellence.”
The Jewish Inclusion Seminar Series is facilitated by USU’s Division of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion. The goal is to increase awareness about Jewish identity and experiences in our communities. The series will be led by the DEI team, including Isaiah Jones, senior director for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, Charity Van den Akker, director of DEI Education and Training, and Ronen Sebag, senior adviser for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion.
“The fact that we as a community are coming together to learn and better understand Jewish experiences and strategies to combat antisemitism is incredible,” Van den Akker said. “I believe these are important first steps as we build a more inclusive campus community together.”
The series will open with its main event on March 28 at 2 p.m. in the International Lounge of the Taggart Student Center as well as broadcast. The event is titled Jewish Identity and Antisemitism on Campus and will give an overview of Jewish identity, the diversity of Jewish experience, historical and contemporary manifestations of antisemitism, and how to address antisemitism within the context of free speech and academic freedom.
“All minoritized individuals and groups are equally valuable within our Aggie family,” Sebag said. “What's key for the very important work of DEI is to give a voice to the members of each minoritized group. I’m very excited to be a part of this important work, and I’m honored to bring my Jewish identity and voice, and the voice of the Jewish community, into this space that is designed to be inclusive, affirming and empowering for all minoritized individuals and groups.”
On Thursday, March 29, DEI will host two more events. The first will be a seminar on Reactive and Proactive Strategies to Address Antisemitism, at 10 a.m. in TSC Room 221. This workshop will help participants think about and plan what they can do to create a more inclusive environment for the campus Jewish community, both reactively and proactively.
The second event will include Strategies for Administration, beginning at 3:30 p.m. in TSC room 221. This session is designed to address DEI and student affairs administrators.
“I am thrilled for this engagement opportunity to increase awareness of Jewish identity and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion,” Jones said.
More information on the events as well as links to virtual attendance options can be found at usu.edu/dei/jewish-inclusion-seminar-series.
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