Berkeley Hillel, along with the UC Berkeley Center for Jewish Studies and the Chancellor’s Committee on Jewish Student Life and Campus Climate, published an educational video March 18 to educate viewers about anti-Semitism and how to address it.
The video is funded by the Academic Engagement Network and was written by Rabbi Adam Naftalin-Kelman, executive director of Berkeley Hillel; Ethan Katz, campus associate professor of history and Jewish studies; and Steven Davidoff Solomon, campus professor of law, according to a press release from Berkeley Hillel. It is part of the Antisemitism Education Initiative, which seeks to teach the campus community about the roots of anti-Semitism and its modern manifestations.
According to the video, acts of anti-Semitism include using phrases such as “the Jewish lobby” and “the power of the Jews,” comparing Israelis to Nazis and asking Jewish people to denounce Zionism and Israel.
Although mainly created by campus affiliates, the video and overall initiative serve as resources for college administrators, staff and students across the nation.
“There’s only so many presentations that we could do,” Naftalin-Kelman said. “We thought of enlisting someone to do a video that could be broadcast more widely and have a much larger reach.”
Katz noted that while some acts of anti-Semitism are reported and counted as incidents, many are more “subtle.” For example, if a Jewish student is told by others to denounce Israel, that incident may not be reported, as opposed to if a bathroom was graffitied with an anti-Semitic slur, according to Katz. The video works to address and combat different types of anti-Semitism.
The production process for the video took more than four months to complete, Katz said. The beginning was largely spent on writing and revising the first few drafts of the script to ensure that it succinctly captured the nuances of anti-Semitism, according to Naftalin-Kelman and Katz.
After working with the production team to create the video’s visuals and audio, a draft version of the video was sent to two focus groups for review: one with non-Jewish students and another with Jewish students, according to Katz.
After receiving feedback from the focus groups, the video was revised multiple times until a final version was released, Katz added.
“Ultimately our most important target audience is students,” Katz said. “We want, as much as possible, to really reflect and hold up multiple experiences of various groups and their communities. That’s not easy to do in a film on this topic that’s short.”
The video can be watched on its own, but the writing team is developing discussion questions and activities for it to be used as part of a larger training session, according to Katz.
Ultimately, the video and grander initiative aim to contribute to the ongoing conversations around college campuses and the country as a whole about anti-Semitism, inclusion and discrimination, Katz said.
The video can be watched on the UC Berkeley Center for Jewish Studies website.