Chancellor Carol Christ to be awarded for speaking out against anti-Semitism

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UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ will receive the Courageous Leadership Award from the Jewish Community Relations Council, or JCRC, for speaking out against anti-Semitism and for her support of civility and free speech.

Christ will be awarded at a JCRC event March 11, in addition to honorees Jennifer and Tony Smorgon, Manny Yekutiel and Rita Semel. Christ was chosen for the award because she has spoken out against anti-Semitism and voiced support during difficult times for the campus student body, including Jewish students.

“In her statements, actions, and her mere presence at crucial junctures, Chancellor Christ has signaled her unwavering commitment to establishing institutions of excellence in Jewish and Israel Studies on the Berkeley campus,” said Ron Hassner, chancellor’s professor of political science and Helen Diller family chair in Israel studies, in an email.

The JCRC is an organization that works to support the Bay Area Jewish community. According to JCRC spokesperson Jeremy Russell, it selects its awardees based on their commitment to a just society as well as a secure future for the Jewish community.

Several members of the Jewish community on campus have cited their support for Christ receiving the award. Campus history professor Ethan Katz noted that the welfare, safety and morale of Jewish students are extremely important to Christ.

ASUC Senator Shelby Weiss, who represents Jewish students, said she is thankful for Christ’s efforts to address the challenges Jewish students face and is supportive of the JCRC’s decision to recognize her work.

“If in the distant past, students might have shied away from Berkeley due to its alleged reputation for anti-Israel and anti-Jewish bigotry, now students flock to our campus precisely because Christ has helped us become national leaders in the study of Jewish history, identity, culture, law, and Israel Studies,” Hassner said in an email.

Russell commended Christ for speaking out against anti-Semitism and for her leadership and ability to confront incidents in a civil manner. This, according to Russel, is critical in ensuring a welcoming campus for all to “flourish.”

JCRC will continue to support UC Berkeley through a representative who serves on the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on Jewish Student Life and Campus Climate, Russell added.

“Our work to meet the needs and interests of Berkeley’s Jewish students is an inseparable part of our broader efforts to foster a true sense of belonging for every student, from every community, at all times,” Christ said in an email. “We will continue to seek ways to foster respectful coexistence and civil discourse, and we will continue to speak out against abhorrent ideologies that promote antisemitism and every other form of hatred based on one’s origins or identity.”

Contact Mela Seyoum at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @melaseyoum.