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Deans' message to JMC community

January 18, 2022

Dear James Madison Community:

This weekend’s hostage standoff at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas was frightening and traumatic to members of our community. Each instance of violence that appears to target a specific community can send shockwaves that are felt by many — particularly those who identify with the victims closest to the tragedy.

This particular event unfolded in a climate in which antisemitism and antisemitic attacks have been on the rise for the last several years. In this case, the targeting of Jews hit particularly close to home: Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, one of the four hostages, grew up in East Lansing and was a member of Congregation Shaarey Zedek, where his mother is still a member. This made the tragic events especially difficult for some members of our MSU community who have personal connections to those involved.

We express our sympathy and solidarity with those in our community impacted by these events. It serves as a reminder to redouble our efforts to provide a safe climate throughout JMC and MSU.

We also acknowledge that words are not enough; our actions as a college must move beyond the performative, and support the transformative, inclusive climate we seek to advance. To that end, we are actively discussing opportunities within JMC that will promote learning, understanding and inclusiveness relating to freedom and diversity of religion, including about historic and current forms of antisemitism.

The Serling Institute for Jewish Studies and Modern Israel provides a variety of courses and programming on antisemitism and Jewish cultures and history more broadly. For more information, contact JMC Professor and Director of the Serling Institute Yael Aronoff and JMC Professor and Farber Chair of Holocaust Studies and European Jewish History Amy Simon.

Additionally, MSU Counseling and Psychiatric Services (CAPS) offers a variety of mental health resources. JMC’s CAPS counselor and social worker is Courtney Brown. Her office is located in Wilson Hall.

And finally, the Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion may be a valuable source as we seek ways to eradicate acts of violence and discrimination that target individuals based on race, religion and ethnicity.

In solidarity,

Cameron Thies

Dean and MSU Foundational Professor

Linda Racioppi

Associate dean and professor

Brian Johnson

Assistant dean for DEI

Jeffrey Judge

Assistant dean