Friday, June 18, 2021

Judaic Studies program arrives

Plattsburgh State Students can gain historical perspectives and earn college credit at the same time.

Jewish history and culture classes have been offered at PSUC for years. Now, students have the option to take a minor and have the opportunity to learn about Judaism, its history and its contributions to Western culture.

Students can learn about Jewish culture in the introduction to Judaism class. Reading the Jewish tradition and the adolescent self: Anne Frank’s diary teaches students about Jewish traditions, the story of Anne Frank and adolescent journal writing. Students can also take Jewish history topics courses, such as Israeli culture, Jewish art, Holocaust in history, and American mass media and the Jewish experience. Course requirements can be found on PSUC’s website.

The campus also offers a time to observe and honor those who died in one of most recognizable genocides in human history.

The Days of Remembrance is the annual Holocaust commemoration on campus, and it takes place in the Douglas and Evelyne Skopp Memorial Gallery in Feinberg Library. The gallery lets students view artwork from Elizabethtown Community Hospital Doctor of General Medicine Herbert Savel, who has created wood carvings of children who were killed in the Holocaust.

While students are visiting the commemoration or doing classwork, they can find a collection of books about Jewish history.

The program also offers other ways for students to learn about Jewish culture. The Douglas R. Skopp Visiting Scholars on the Theme of the Holocaust, part of the Days of Remembrance, features speakers who tell their stories of survival.

The Douglas R. Skopp Creative Competition offers students a chance to submit a creative work toward the contest and win $250 for first place. For second place, $100 will be given in two categories: original artistic creation on the theme of the Holocaust and original scholarship about the Holocaust, according to a PSUC news release.

“My favorite part about the Creative Competition is seeing the submissions that the students bring in,” Director of Judaic Studies Jonathan Slater said. “We’ve had, one year, a student bring in a scale model of Auschwitz and placed poems on different locations on the scale model. We’ve also had scholarly papers written. I’d love to see more students participate.”

Slater also said Skopp started the Days of Remembrance 25 years ago. Some of his former students named both the competition and the visiting speaker series after Skopp because he was the driving force behind the Holocaust commemoration, and they named the gallery after both Skopp and his wife after he retired 10 years ago. Skopp is a PSUC history professor emeritus and college historian.

“I’d like more people to be a part of our activities, like Days of Remembrance,” Jewish Student Union Hillel President Arin Cotel-Altman said.

She said the Days of Remembrance is not advertised a lot on campus, and that leads to a lack of knowledge among PSUC students. She said although Hillel members submit work to the Creative Competition, if more students enter, they would have a good chance to win because, overall, not many have entered.

The deadline for submissions for the Creative Competition is Thursday, March 10, no later than 3 p.m. The competition’s award ceremony is set to take place in conjunction with the Days of Remembrance Tuesday, May 3.

Adolescent education and chemistry major Bailey Caruso said that while the program does not directly correlate with her major, she would be interested in gaining knowledge about the Jewish faith.

Caruso said that with more advertising around campus, such as posters, flyers, screensavers, on-campus computers and word of mouth, the Judaic Studies program might be able to attract more students who are interested in Jewish culture.

“I’ve always been interested in learning about other cultures, especially as a future educator,” she said. “I’d want students to be exposed to that.”

Email Markiesha Thompson at markiesha.thompson@cardinalpointsonline.com

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