A gift from the Goldhirsh-Yellin Foundation has established two funds: one for studying Jewish history and culture in Israel and another for studying antisemitism.
The Fund for the Study of Jewish History and Culture in Israel will encourage collaborative scholarship and spread knowledge of Jewish culture and experience to the public. The Fund for the Study of Antisemitism, housed within the Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies, will be a hub for those working to combat antisemitism and anti-Judaism.
The Goldhirsh-Yellin Foundation is a family foundation "committed to supporting education, cancer research, and archaeology in Israel."
The announcement of the gift comes following recent incidents on campus this past month, as an individual yelled antisemitic insults and flipped furniture at Penn Hillel, and a swastika was found in Meyerson Hall.
Penn President Liz Magill sent an email to the Penn community on Sept. 22, in which she strongly denounced the acts of violence and expressed an unwavering commitment to fighting antisemitism and ensuring safety and support for the Jewish community on campus. She pledged to take tangible steps toward this goal, such as strengthened security measures at Penn Hillel and the Lubavitch House.
“It is our collective responsibility to foster a campus environment where all members can thrive and succeed,” Magill said in the email. “We must set about this work with renewed focus and urgency as a community.”
Penn Hillel organized "Shabbat Together" on Sept. 22 to promote unity after the vandalism incidents and in response to speakers coming to campus with histories of allegedly making antisemitic comments, according to some students and community members.
Steven Weitzman, Ella Darivoff Director of the Katz Center of Advanced Judaic Studies and the Abraham M. Ellis Professor of Hebrew and Semitic Languages and Literature in the Department of Religious Studies, emphasized how impactful the gift is.
“With this generous support, the Katz Center will be able to develop important new initiatives to support research and advance public understanding in two central domains of Jewish experience,” Weitzman said.