UMass Amherst Jewish Affairs

Jewish Affairs

About the Jewish Affairs program

Our Mission

The central mission of the Jewish Affairs program (which is part of the Office of Religious Affairs) is to foster a safe and welcoming campus environment for Jewish and all other students—an environment characterized by mutual respect, which is free of harassment or discrimination of any kind.

Photo of Larry Goldbaum, director of Jewish Affairs

Our Philosophy

In order to carry out this mission successfully, we must create a campus environment in which all students, staff, and faculty are valued and respected. Any form of harassment or discrimination is an impediment to the respectful environment we are striving to create, whether it is the result of individual ignorance and prejudice or institutional practices which limit the rights of any member of our community.

Consequently, while educating the University community about the history, culture, and religion of the Jewish people, and about the enduring anti-Semitism which has nearly resulted in the annihilation of the Jewish people (a history of persecution which still lives in the consciousness of many Jews, even in the relatively safe confines of Amherst, Massachusetts), we must join with other groups to promote an atmosphere of mutual understanding and respect; to staunchly defend the rights of all people, including other "minority" groups; and to take a stand against bigotry and prejudice wherever they surface.

Photo: Larry Goldbaum, director of the Office of Jewish Affairs from its creation in 1995 until its evolution to the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life in 2010.

Programs & Services

Educational Activities
We strive to educate the University community about Judaism, Jewish culture, and anti-Semitism, through workshops; speaking at meetings; one-on-one talks with individual students, staff, and faculty; educational programs; and articles in campus newspapers. We also support the creation of new courses and promote inter-group dialogues which foster a more informed and respectful campus climate.

Institutional Advocacy
We advocate for institutional policies which serve the needs of all students, and challenge specific policies which create hardships for Jews. We also advocate for the inclusion of Jewish concerns in all "multicultural" initiatives and the inclusion of diversity issues in institutional programs.

Individual Advocacy
We offer resource referrals and other support for victims of anti-Semitic harassment. We also provide assistance in cases where University or departmental policies make it difficult for Jewish (or other) students to observe their religious traditions.

Coalition-Building and Intergroup Dialogue
We strive to build positive and respectful relationships between culturally diverse groups, through dialogue and through the joint sponsorship of programs which address common concerns or which provide a model for effective inter-group dialogue.

To learn more...

Chronological Index of our educational, cultural, and dialogue programs (since 1995).

Subject Index of our programs, articles, and other resources on this web site.