4-week course taught by Chabad of Park City director will look at ways to outsmart antisemitism
Rabbi Yudi Steiger has experienced his share of antisemitism.
The director of Chabad Lubavitch of Park City says it wasn’t unusual for him to be accosted on the streets while growing up in Belgium.
“Until the age of 14 I lived in a not very good neighborhood and I could not go out without being attacked or spat upon,” Steiger said. “Thank God I now live in Park City, which is such a beautiful place. We’ve only had a few small incidents that have been mainly younger people and high school kids who would ride their skateboards and point their middle finger at our Menorah that we set up in our yard during Hanukkah.”
Although these incidents in Park City have been relatively mild, Steiger felt it was time for Chabad Park City to host a four-week course titled “Outsmarting Antisemitism,” which will be held in person and online, starting Wednesday, Nov. 3.
“The course, from the Rohr Jewish Learning Institute, will use history, Rabbinic Judaism texts and contemporary expert analysis to address some of the questions about antisemitism we grapple with as individuals and as a community,” said Steiger, who will teach the classes. “We will look closely at why antisemitism persists and how we can make hate go away.”
The course has been accredited by the American Psychological Association, the American Medical Association and the Minimum Continuing Legal Education Board, according to Steiger.
The first day of the course is a trial for anyone who wants to attend, he said.
“If anyone wants to continue attending after that class, they can reach out to me and register for the rest of the courses,” Steiger said. “If people want to continue, but can’t attend all the weeks, we can accommodate them.”
While Chabad Park City has presented some Rohr Jewish Learning Institute programs in town, it hasn’t brought in major courses such as “Outsmarting Antisemitism.”
“The JLI has three, six-week flagship courses a year — one in the fall, one in the winter and one in the spring,” he said. “‘Outsmarting Antisemitism’ is something we’ve wanted to do for quite a while. And unfortunately, antisemitism is an important topic now.”
Antisemitism has increased in the past couple of years across the country and around the world, according to a survey conducted by the American Jewish Committee, a Jewish advocacy organization that was founded in 1906.
The survey results, which were released Monday, found that nearly 1 in 4 Jews in the United States have been victims of antisemitism that range from in-person and online slurs to physical attacks.
In addition, antisemitic vandalism at Auschwitz in Poland, and two high-profile mass murders — Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synogogue shooting in 2018 that claimed the life of 11 people and wounded six, and the Chabad of Poway shooting near San Diego in 2019 that killed one woman and injured three — have also brought the issue of antisemitism back into the news, Steiger said.
“Studies have also shown that the climate on college campuses has been increasingly hostile to Israel, and the status of the American Jew is less secure than it has been in the past,” he said. “This is now a growing concern for many Jews around the globe and in the United States, and we’re starting to feel a little anxious.”
Although the four-week course will give attendees information and tools that will help ease their anxiety and fight antisemitism, Steiger wants to emphasize that the battle isn’t supposed to define the Jewish identity.
“We can fight, but it’s not all that we are,” he said. “Jews need to be identified by our rich heritage. We have a beautiful culture with the High Holy Days, the Sabbath and the commandments we follow. And we don’t want what other people do to Jews to become more important than what we actually do.
“Examining this material is important because throughout history, Jews have reacted to and dealt with antisemitism in different ways,” Steiger said. “We want to ensure that we learn from what worked and stay away from self-defeating mistakes.”
The course will also talk about how important it is for Jews to not hide their Judaism, Steiger said.
“When we hide who we are, we are not open about who we are, and that can also hurt us as Jews,” he said. “Being open about who we are is good for everyone, even younger people, to help them understand more about us.”
When: 7-8:30 p.m. for four weeks, starting on Wednesday, Nov. 3
Where: Online and in person. Address will be given at time of registration
Web: jewishparkcity.com and myjli.com