GSEHD Fellowship Addresses Antisemitism and Fosters Jewish Inclusion

The Fellowship & Summer Institute on Antisemitism and Jewish Inclusion, sponsored by the Naomi Foundation and the Academic Engagement Network, is accepting applicants for 2024.

March 21, 2024

 The Fellowship & Summer Institute on Antisemitism and Jewish Inclusion

The 2023 Fellowship & Summer Institute on Antisemitism and Jewish Inclusion hosted at GW.

The Graduate School of Education and Human Development (GSEHD) at George Washington University is hosting a fellowship program that invites faculty and administrators from colleges and universities across the country to learn about issues of antisemitism and how to promote Jewish inclusion at academic institutions. 

The Fellowship & Summer Institute on Antisemitism and Jewish Inclusion was created in 2022.

Benjamin M. Jacobs, an associate research professor at GSEHD, is the co-director of the program along with Ilana Weltman. He said the fellowship was created in response to issues surrounding antisemitism that weren’t receiving enough attention at schools and learning institutions. 

“So that first year, in 2022, we had a convening of about a dozen faculty, administrators and experts from institutions all around the country,” Jacobs said. “And we spoke about the presenting problems we saw. What we identified were issues surrounding antisemitism, as well as the experience of Jews, were not adequately being addressed in [diversity, equity and inclusion] conversations at schools.” 

The plan was to address those issues by recruiting fellows to learn from experts and engage in meaningful discussions on important topics including diversity and inclusion relating to Jewish populations. 

The fellowship has two tracks. One is aimed at faculty and educators while the second track focuses on campus administrators and DEI officers at colleges and universities.  

Jacobs explained the fellowship was designed specifically for educators and administrators because they believed that would lead to a greater impact. 

“We see professional development programs among the educators of educators as having a multiplier effect,” Jacobs said. “So, if I'm teaching 30 people, those 30 people then can bring it out to the world, right? So that’s the kind of impact that we’re hoping to see.” 

The centerpiece of the fellowship is a four-day, in-person institute that brings experts in the Jewish experience, antisemitism, DEI efforts and educational inclusion to engage the fellows in an open dialogue on complex and difficult issues.

Once the fellows return to their respective colleges and universities after leaving the institute, they are expected to work on and implement a plan that puts what they learned into practice. 

“The expectation is that they will take their learning and, in some way, adapt it to the particular demands and needs of where they are,” Jacobs said. 

“We also do hope to see the impact that they are becoming advocates in one way or another for inclusion of Jews in DEI conversations and addressing antisemitism on campuses,” Jacobs said. 

The first cohort of fellows in 2023 went on to implement impressive initiatives when they returned to their campuses, Jacobs said. 

Two  fellows in last year’s cohort were teacher educators and they worked together to increase the usage of Jewish-themed children’s literature in their elementary teaching methods course and increased the collection of Jewish children’s books in their university library and the libraries of local schools.

Jacobs said the 2023 cohort represented a diverse group of faculty and administrators from various universities across the country that were committed to working towards creating inclusive spaces for Jewish students. He hopes to see similar results from the 2024 cohort. 

The 2024 institute will discuss issues similar to the ones covered in 2023 but this year, because of the ongoing conflict in Israel and Palestine, there will be a greater emphasis on topics like anti-Israel sentiments and anti-Zionism. 

“It feels like a now-more-than-ever moment. The issues are red hot, and we don't pretend to have all the answers,” Jacobs said. “But we see ourselves as a place to come together, to network, to expose people to experts, to provide the wisdom that we can and to do our best to move the conversation forward and to lead to change being made.” 

Applications for the 2024 Fellowship & Summer Institute on Antisemitism and Jewish Inclusion are now open. The four-day summer institute is to be held from June 3 to June 6.