CMU’s New Series Seeks To Educate, Empower Communities Against Antisemitism

A mid-November keynote marked the start of a new educational series at Carnegie Mellon University aimed at dismantling hate by illuminating its root causes.

The series’ inaugural keynote speaker, Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, shared his reflections as a survivor of the hostage crisis at Congregation Beth Israel synagogue in Colleyville, Texas, in January 2022. Following his talk, Michal Friedman , the Jack Buncher Endowed Chair of Jewish Studies in the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences ’ Department of History , moderated a discussion with the rabbi and took

"These moments are extraordinarily complex, challenging, emotional, messy and painful, and there will never be a quick fix," Heading-Grant said. "Often the best thing we can do is commit to acts of love and kindness, support those in pain, and ask for extended grace, vulnerability and empathy from each other as we find our way through these difficult times."

Heading-Grant pointed out that history has consistently shown education to be society’s most powerful tool for eradicating hate.

"Whether we’re talking about antisemitism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, homophobia, sexism, racism and many other isms, we must learn about how systems of oppression work together to perpetuate injustices, inequalities and harms in this world so we are better equipped to confront and dismantle them in all of their forms," she said.

Michal Friedman moderates a discussion with Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker and takes

"So many stories of extremism are about people who were reaching out and did not find love and support. When you see someone on campus who is clearly having a difficult time, even if you’re a stranger, to be able to say, ’I don’t know you, but I care’ - it means the world," he said. "And if you’re willing to do that, no matter what the issue is in life, there is probably nuance. There is probably a story to share. There is probably a story to hear. And if we are willing to listen, we probably have something to learn in the process."

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