YSU - save the Center for Judaic and Holocaust Studies

YSU President Tressel, Provost Brien Smith, and Dean Charles Howell

We are a group of students and community members seeking the continuation of the Center for Judaic and Holocaust Studies, as well as its head Dr. Jacob Ari Labendz, at Youngstown State University. We urge fellow students, community members, faculty, as a well as groups to sign this petition, share it with friends, and make public your support for this campaign - we urgently need your help, because...

On November 11th (when Youngstown State University was closed for Veteran’s Day), nine full time faculty members in thriving academic programs received emails informing them that their contracts would not be renewed for the 2022-2023 academic year. Dr. Jacob Ari Labendz, a renowned scholar of History and Jewish Studies, who also runs the Center for Judaic and Holocaust Studies (CJHS) at YSU, was among the faculty who received this email. Though the university claims Dr. Labendz’s non-reappointment does not guarantee the closing of the CJHS, there are no other professors at YSU who are qualified to run it. The failure to renew Dr. Labendz’s contract not only deprives present and future YSU students of the opportunity to learn from a brilliant scholar, but it also places the future of the CJHS in serious jeopardy.

In his five years at Youngstown State University, Dr. Labendz:

Led a study abroad trip to the Czech Republic, Poland, and Germany, where he taught the course, “The Holocaust and Human Rights in Central and Eastern Europe,” to eleven Youngstown State University students. Dr. Labendz made the trip affordable for students with grants from the Thomases Family Foundation (administered by the Youngstown Area Jewish Federation) the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, and the CJHS endowment. Students visited sights of Holocaust memory, studied perspectives on the fall of Communism and the Soviet Bloc, and partook in one-on-one discussions with Jewish communities still forging an identity in the wake of Nazism. It fostered a once in a lifetime learning experience for students, as well as a diverse approach to the study of Jewish history. These amazing trips were planned to resume after Covid-19 restrictions and safety concerns were lifted.

Led three trips to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C., allowing approximately ninety YSU students (per trip) a glimpse into the history of the Holocaust and the way it is memorialized in the present day.

The CJHS hosts a myriad of symposiums and lectures throughout the course of the academic year and plans various events that celebrate Jewish culture, including the annual building of the Sukkah during the Jewish festival of Sukkot. In addition, the Jewish Film Festival and the Jewish-Muslim Forum are valuable not only in their promotion of Jewish traditions, but also in the emphasis they place on diversity.

The CJHS also provides academic scholarships for both Jewish and non-Jewish students, including (but not limited to) the Dr. Saul Friedman Scholarship and the Dr. Leonard B. Spiegel Memorial Scholarship.

You can read much more about the Center at its website, here.

Dr. Labendz teaches a plethora of insightful courses, including Jewish History, Intro to Jewish Studies, the History of the Holocaust, graduate seminars in European history, and survey courses on World History. His research on white nationalism and modern antisemitism offers important perspectives in a world where religious and cultural minorities face growing dangers, threats, and bigotry. On November 15 of this year, the CJHS received a bomb threat. In 2019, a white nationalist from New Middleton made a video threatening the Youngstown Jewish Community. White nationalism and antisemitism remain a threat to minorities and to take away a resource like the CJHS, as well as Dr. Labendz’s expertise in the subject matter, is a direct threat to the safety of vulnerable populations in Youngstown.

In a world still reeling from its legacy--and in a climate that weaponizes the memory of Nazism to make facile political and personal gains--Holocaust studies matter. In a world where individuals try to deny or debate the Shoah as an actual historical event, Holocaust studies matter. In a time when religious and cultural minorities face growing threats from white nationalists, Holocaust studies matter. History begs careful and sensitive inquiry and, through its analysis, teaches lessons in the present day that matter.

Youngstown State University needs a thriving CJHS. It needs Dr. Labendz’s expertise in running it. We are a better university when we value and honor diversity and when we invest in the faculty, who are at the heart of student success.

We feel very strongly that Dr. Labendz’s presence makes Youngstown better and that he brings irreplaceable value, insights, and perspectives to our campus and we ask you to sign this position in support of Dr. Jacob Ari Labendz and the CJHS.

And we urge the administration to understand what Dr. Labendz means to Youngstown State University and what we stand to lose in his non-reappointment.

About this petition:

If you would like to write an individual letter to the President, Provost, and Dean, please reach out to us so we can collect a copy for our larger campaign project:

Alexis Heldreth (akheldreth@student.ysu.edu )

Brooke Bobovnyik (bebobovnyik@student.ysu.edu)

You can sign on as an individual and also as a group, for instance if your university club or community organization or faith group would like to sign on as a whole. If you are signing on multiple groups please sign them on by using a semicolon between groups.

Thank you for all you do,
The Supporters of the Center for Judaic and Holocaust Studies

PS. Follow us at https://www.facebook.com/Save-the-Center-for-Judaic-and-Holocaust-Studies-at-YSU-110390421460467

PPS: If you have social media accounts, please share a message of support with the hashtag #saveYSUCJHS - thanks so much!

To: YSU President Tressel, Provost Brien Smith, and Dean Charles Howell
From: [Your Name]

I am writing to ask you to save the Center for Judaic and Holocaust Studies.

The Center promotes diversity on campus through the annual events it organizes, including its collaborations with other centers such as Islamic Studies. The Center also educates the greater Youngstown area about Jewish culture and Jewish history (including the history of the Holocaust, a tragedy that fundamentally changed and continues to shape our modern world), and is a vital research in educating the Youngstown area on issues relating to Holocaust studies, Jewish cultures, and the continued threat of modern antisemitism and white nationalism. In 2019, the Jewish community was violently threatened by a white nationalist in New Middletown, who was soon arrested because of the danger he posed to the Youngstown Jewish community. On November 15 of this year, the Center received a bomb threat via an email. Antisemitism and white nationalism are a continued threat and we cannot afford to eliminate vital resources that educate and actively work against them.

Dr. Jacob Labendz is a beloved professor of history who- apart from being a brilliant scholar and an incredible mentor- has shown time and time again his commitment to this university. From leading study abroad trips and annual visits to the United States Holocaust Memorial in Washington D.C., to organizing diverse panels and symposiums on campus, and the vital, timeless scholarship he has produced on Jewish history and white nationalist movements, his tireless work not only shapes the lives of his students, but it makes Youngstown better.

Without the Center, and without Dr. Labendz's expertise in running it, our entire community loses a vital diverse, educational resource that will make us both less diverse and less able to understand the intricacies of Jewish culture and why it and its his history matter. We cannot replace or emulate what Dr. Labendz brings to YSU and we urge you to reconsider his non-reappointment.

We would like to sit down to speak with you more about our passion for this Center and what we can do to help save it. We believe the Center is crucial to the ethical core of our university.

Thank you,

The Supporters of the Center for Judaic and Holocaust Studies

Including these individuals and groups (as of Jan 10 9AM):

Michelle Abrahmz
Christine Adams
Isabella Adkins
Samuel Adu-Poku, YSU-OEA
Nancy Affinito
Hugh Agnew, Elliott School of International Affairs, The George Washington University
Megan Ahn
Xavier Allen
Kim Akins
Ron Albright
Laura Alexander
Nathaniel Alioto
John Anzevino
Lisa Anzevino, Boardman Local Schools
Aurora Anzevino
Dana Aritonovich
Jaladah Aslam, Martin Luther King Jr. Planning Committee
Olivia Austin
Grace Ayers
Kelly Baer
Jodi Baer
Phil Bailey
Brittany Bailey, Sojourn to the Past member, YSU student, black student union
Nolan Baker
Matt Baker
Mark J. Baker
Snjezana Balaz, Youngstown State University
Jessica Baloun, Youngstown State Univeristy
Rebecca Bandy
Rebecca A. Banks
Ellen Banks
Ellen Banks
Julie Barcza
Stephanie Baric
Danielle Barker
Rochelle Barone-Maldonado
Mimi Barress
Christopher Barzak
Jessica Basile
Brendan Baum
Rev. Monica Beasley-Martin, Defenders of the Earth Outreach Mission
Aaron Beeman
Shelby Beene
Andrew Behrendt, Missouri University of Science and Technology
Susie Beiersdorfer
Gavin Beinart-Smollen, NYU
Rose Benar
Mathias Berek, Centre for Research on Antisemitism, Technische Universität Berlin
Zackary Berger
Matthew Berkman
Katharine Beutner
Oksana Bilenko
Richard Bionci
Eva Birk-Petri
April Bleakney
Max Bleich
Emelie Blixt
Theron Bloom
Alex Blumin, National Association of Hebrew Teachers
Shelley Blundell
Jeffrey Blutinger, Jewish Studies Program, California State University Long Beach
Luree Blythe
Bridget Bobovnyik
Brittany Bobovnyik, Physician, 2014 YSU alumni
Joan Bobovnyik
Lisa Bobovnyik
David Bobovnyik
Brooke Bobovnyik
Denise Bobovnyik
Olivia Bobovnyik
Daniel Bobovnyik
Ewelina Boczkowska
Brian Bonhomme, YSU
Sahn Bonilla
Cavan Bonner
Robert Botkin, Womble Bond Dickinson
Noelle Bowles
Matthew Boxer
Rev. Joseph Boyd, Unitarian Universalist Church of Youngstown
Jennifer Boyd
Marissa Brady
Zachary Braiterman, Syracuse University Jewish Studies Program
Ray Breese
Rosie Bresson
Kirby Broadnax
Farrell Brody
Natalie Brown
Susie Brown, Youngstown State University
G. Bruno
Daniel Brustein
John Buch
Elizabeth Buchanan
Emma Bucheit
Alexander Bucher, Youngstown State University
Roberta Buckberg
Bonnie Burdman
Olivia Buzzacco
Carmella Cadusale
Laura Calcagni
Jacob Campbell
Glenn Campbell
Sophia Campos
Jennifer Cancio
Julie Cancio Harper, Community member
Gia Cappabianca
Carolyn Cappabianca
Mary Jean Cappabianca
Kathryn Carmany
Daphne Carr
Carol Carr
Isaac Carrino
Michelle Carroll
Tobias Carroll
Melissa Castillo
Gayle Catinella
Steven Caumo
Katarina Cerny
Riley Chiu
Wesley Choy
Taylor Christian
Tyler Cichon
Danielle Class
Rob Class
Francis Cleary
Marilynn Clement
Susan Clutter
Julia Cohen
Tyler Cole
Richard Colonnaj, Our Revolution, Usgoa International
Turquoise Autumn Connelly
Gabe Conradi
Erica Constance, Youngstown State University, Anthropology Colloquium
Maria Conti Maravillas
Jazmine Contreras, Goucher College
Allyson Cooper
Kathleen Cora
Mellicent Costarella
Nathan Cotton
Cathy Cowan Becker
Sarah Crable
Bruce Cratty Mr.
AJ Crow
Elizabeth Crow
Carter Crumpler
Myca Cruz
Rebecca Curnalia, YSU
Deborah Cunningham
Linda Cutrer
Andrew Cvetkovich
Veronica Dahlberg
Lukas Darling
Donna Davis
Murray Davis
Linda Davis
Miriam Davis
Thérèse De Genova
Donna DeBlasio, Youngstown State University
Mary Lynn Delfino
Jenna DeLuca
Deborah DeLuca
Debra Dematteo
Alexis Denney
Gina DeNiro
Joseph DeNiro
Geralyn DeNiro
Chuckie Denison
Dominic DeRamo
Jessica Derenburger, Alumni
Laura Detre
Allie Dettelbach
Louis Devault, Nationwide Child Protection Reform, Nationwide Protest Against dcfs, cps, dhs, dhss, dss, dfps, dcss Corruption
Joey Devine
Joseph DiBlasio
Laura DiBlasio
Megan Didavi
Thomas Diggins, Youngstown State University
Karen DiMauro
Nicole DiPiero
Andrew Dittmar
Gary DiTullio
Francesca Dohar, Student at YSU
Brooke Donatelli, Youngstown State
James Donovan
Michael Dover, Cleveland State University School of Social Work
Dr. Peter Ullrich, Zentrum für Antisemitismusforschung
Abby Drennen
Mary Drzycimski-Finn
Brian Duchon, MPA
Noëmie Duhaut
Emily Duigenan
Amelia Durbin, American Athiests, Secular Humanists
Izzy Duval
Glenn Dynner, Sarah Lawrence College
Caitlin Eaton
Ellen Eckhouse
Rebekah Edwards
Dylan Edwards
Mallory Ehrhart
Jodi Eichler-Levine, Lehigh University
Mike Ekoniak, Youngstown State University
Cheryl Elser, UUYO
Galen Elser, UUYO
Harvey Elman
Linda Elman
David Emery
Eyrika Engeman
Erica England
Monica Epstein
Rebecca Epstein-Levi
Lisa Espy
Douglas Estes
Krystal Evette
Michael Factor
Rachel Faerber-Ovaska
Isabella Falcon
Maryna Farynets
Jake Fay
Kayla Fekety
Bridget Fekety
Paula Fekety
Donna Feldman
Sara Feldman
John Feldmeier
Amber Ferrell
Matthew Ferrence
Stephanie Ferrigno
Ben Feuer
Ron Fields
Emily Filler, Washington and Lee University
Joyce Findley
David H. Finke
Stefanie Fischer
Lindsey Fisher
Dakota Fisher
George Fleet
Stephen Flora
Arlene Floyd
Amy Fluker
Nydea Ford
Emily Forsee, CSU- National Lawyers Guild
Robert Fowler
Susan Fowler
Christian Fox
Klarissa Fox
Sydni Francis
Tim Francisco
Nikki Freeman
Michelle Fretwell
Amy Friend
Samantha Fritz, University of Pennsylvania, Youngstown State University
Alyssa Froehling
Orly Fuerst
Adam Fuller
Marcus Funck, Center for Research on Antisemitism, TU Berlin
Joshua Furman, Rice University
Toni Gallagher
Monserrat Garcia Rodenas
Katherine Garlick
Sydney Gass
Margery Gass
Dominic Gatti, St, Joseph Parish, Cleveland State Alumnus
Seth Gavalier
Emily Gavalier
Desiree Geier
Doug Genna
Renee George
Cookie George
Jill German
Helen Gewirtz
Shianna Gibbons
Zachary Gierlach
Benjamin Gilbert
Jennifer Gilpin
Jacob Giner
Ryan Gittler- Muniz
Daryn Glassbrook
Eagle Glassheim, University of British Columbia
Rachel Gobep
Megan Gocala
Sima Godfrey
Randall Goldberg, Advisory Board CJHS
Kerry Goldstein
Diane Gonda
Jeff Goodlet
Paul Gordiejew
Jay Gordon
Leah Gossom, Jewish Congress and Bend the Arc
Carol Gottesman
Jordan Grantonic
Dawn Grattino
Richard Gray, Ashland University
Hannah Green
Nathaniel Green
Rachel Greenblatt, Dartmouth College
Sharin Greenrod
Henry Greenspan, University of Michigan
Caitlin Greenwood
Michael Grimes
Gary Grossman, University of Georgia
Ari Grubaugh
Rachel Gruber
Jordyn Grzelewski
Zoey Guzman
Andrew H.
Marcus Haase
Shannon Hahn-Wallace
Edin Hajdarpasic, Loyola University Chicago, History Department
Anna Hajkova, University of Warwick
Glenn Hall
Michelle Hanna
Eric Harper
Ace Harrah
Mirphy Harrison
Nicole Harker
Jacob Harver, YSU American Studies
Jo Harvey
Jeanne Haseley
Garrett Hassay
Evelyn Hass
Christina Hatcher
Ella Hazy
Abigail Headley
Patricia Healy
Nanette Hecht
Elizabeth Hedler
Michael Heeter, Mahoning Valley DSA
Amanda Heffron
Camryn Heldreth
Alexis Heldreth
Donna Heldreth
Stacey Heldreth
Bill Heldreth
Lindsay Heldreth, University of Notre Dame, Youngstown State University
Alyssa Henning
Alex Hensley
Olivia Hepburn
Vincent Hepola
Diane Herman
Brigitte Herman
Rachel Herns
Dolores Heschmeyer
Kayla Heubel
Marius Hicks
John Higgins, Case Western Reserve University
Jeremiah Hill
Joshua Hill
Laura Hilton
Raeghan Hilton
Laurence Hiner
Heather Hively, Indie Wax Records, Yo.
Erin Hochman
Rebecca Hodges
Luke Holland
Dana Hollander, McMaster University
Samantha Hollis
Beth Holloway, YSU alumnus, class of '79 and '81
Nora Honkomp
Karen Hoover
Sam Horne
Mary Huck, Our Revolution
Bobby Hudock
Rabbi Carl Huerta, U.S. Army Retired
Lorelai Huff
Donald Hunsbarger
Sarah Hunter
Rabbi Dario Hunter
Charlotte Husteck
Leah Ifft, YSU Alumni and former Grad Assistant in Judaic and Holocaust Studies
Sarah Imhoff, Indiana University
Matthew Inskeep, AAS,BSHCA,BSN,MSPH
Olga Irwin
Cryshanna Jackson Leftwich
Helena Jaeschke
Jordan Jamison, Our Revolution Ohio
Maja Janiszewska
Astrid Jarvis
Sara Jay
Terri Jay
Pete Jeremy
Jennifer Jesse
Michael Johns
Ashley Johnson
Janae Johnson
Nadine Jones
Braxton Jones
Melanie Jones
Jacquelyn Jones
Julianne Jones
Sydney Jones
Lance Jordan
James Jordan, Youngstown Solidarity Club
Zach Jugenheim
Fayaz Kabani
Rabbi Andrue Kahn
Jana Kanos
Lynnsie Kantor
Jaden Karr
Michael Kaszowski
Yiannoula Katsadas
Alexander Kaufman
Nicole Kaufman
Emma Keeshin
Sue Kegg
Joseph Kempe, Youngstown State University
Paige Kempf
Jay Kennedy
Ethan Kennelly
Russell Kenney
Brandon Keryan
Sepideh Khavari
Alena Kirova
Jacqueline Kish
Rachel Klacza
Jen Klearman
Rebeka Kline-Pejsc
Michael Kline, YSU Alumni, concerned Alum
Karlee Kluchar
Andrew Kluth, Case Western Reserve University
Sam Koeleman
Daphne Koeleman
Yelena Kogan
Margaret Kohler, University of Toledo
Yuliya Komska,
Jude Koury, YSU alumni
Janet Kramer
Meg Kramer
Jennifer Kretch
Margaret Kridler
Marian Krieger
Suzanna Krivulskaya
Adrienne Krone, Allegheny College Jewish Studies
Philip Kruger
Payton Kuhns
Abby Kulisz, Indiana University
Austin Kupec
Jacob Labendz
Gail Labovitz, American Jewish University
Regan Ladle, YSU
Eva Lamberson, Youngstown State University
Sidney Lambert
Nancy Langley
Alexander Langer
Fiona Lally
Dave Law, YSU
Cassandra Lawton
Marylyn Leach
Loren Lease
Hannah Lebovits
Azucena LeMieux
Dominic Lepple, Sarah Lawrence College
Kyle Levine
Sheryl Levine
Laura Levitt, Temple University
Cheryl Lindsay
Rachel Lipinsky
Lisa Lipsitz
Dr. Andrea Liss, university professor
Joseph Lite
Sarah Livingston, Hillel Foundation at Ohio University
Jennifer Lloyd
Jason Long
Heather Lorimer, YSU faculty STEM
Olivia Love
Sarah Lowry
Hannah Lund
Danielle Lydon
Alice and Staughton Lynd, Attorneys
Frances M
Amy M
Jack M
Mary MacGillivray
Langley Mackesy, YSU Student
Adelle Madison
Michelle Maitland
Collin Malloy
Jessica Manack
Traci Manning
Josh Mansfield
Tom Maraffa
Holcomb Maria
Carmen Marinucci, YSU Grad
Jessica Marglin, University of Southern California
Yesmar Marrero
Gia Martin
Kristina Martinez
David Mason, Rhodes College
Hannah Mattix
Kay Mayer
Emily McArdle
Marissa McCabe
Patty McCabe, Boardman Local Schools English Teacher
Rose McClurkin, YSU student
Missy McCormick
Katie McGuire
Parris McGuire
Colleen McLean
Athnie McMillan-Comeaux
Sarah McNickle
Jay McNickle
Darcy McTigue
Jessica Megown
Kevin Melfi
Johanna Mellis ASEEES
Marina Merlo, YSU
Rachel Mesch, Yeshiva University
Kelli Messer
Kayla Metzger
Melissa Miles, 1983
Anna Miller
Isaac Miller, UCSB
Maribeth Mincey
Vicki Mincey
Rick Mitchell
Race MoChridh
Emily Moody
Ryan Mooney
Danielle Moore
Douglas Moore
Reygan Moore
Nicole Morello
Martha Morgan
Ed Moritz
Ethan Morrison
Mary Ann Morrison
Brooke Mowery
Taylor Murphy
Olivia Murphy
Tara Murray
Edna Myers
Molly Nagin, Communist Party USA Cleveland Club
Raymond Nakley, Jr. Coalition for Peace in the Middle East
Denise Narcisse, PhD, MPA Youngstown State University
Stephen Naron
Brian Newberg
Sapphire Nguyen
Jamie Nitzsky
Brianna Norman
Anne Norman-Schiff
Julia Norton
Matt O'Mansky
Mary O’Connor
JJ O'Nesti
Nan O’Malley
Christa Ord
Michael O'Sullivan
Sean O'Toole
Michael Okrent, Cleveland State University, Shaarey Tikvah
Ranen Omer-Sherman, University of Louisville
Diana Palardy
Martha Pallante
Delaney Pallo
Gabriel Palmer-Fernandez
Michael Pan, The Veterans Health Administration
Mary Pantloni
Isabella Paracca
Rachel Parent
Debra Parsons, Parent of a YSU alumnus
Zachery Parsons
Carrie Pasquale
Luke Passalinqua
Amber Pasternak
Sharrona Pearl, Drexel University
Mario Pecchia
Trenton Peluso, Sigma Chi, Interfraternity Council
Avery Pennington
Diana Perez
Mililani Perry
Nicole Pettitt
Tanya Pettitt
Jonathan Pettitt
Samantha Phillips, YSU alumna
Peter Pinter
David Pizzo
Ethan Platt
Amy Plant
Karen Plummer
Donna Plunkett, Our Revolution, Common Cause, Fair Districts, All on the Line
Khepri Polite
Mark Pompeo, YSU Italian Club
John Popadak
Shannon Pope
Morgan Porada
Jeremy Price
Laura Price
Alicia Prieto Langarica, Youngstown State University
David Profusek
Vincent Prologo
Sandra Pryor
Carly Psenicka
Alex Puncekar
Laura Putre
Erica Putro
Josiah Quarles
Stacy Quinones, Stacy Quinones Stacy Quinones
Shari Rabin, Oberlin College
Mallory Rader
Mario Ramunno
Ashley Rance
Tracy Randall
Harry Rapaport
Habeebah Rasheed-Grimes
James Ray, Martin Luther King Planning Committee
Jordan Reddick
George Reed
Julie Reis
Addison Remick
Teresa Reno
Kelli Repphun
Robert Resnick
Ashley Reynolds
James Rhine
Daniel Rhine
Olivia Ricciutti
Robert Rice
Andrea Righi
Nichole Rimboiu, Kent State University
Caitlyn Risley
Leslie Rivera
Raven Rivera
Allyson Rizer
Kathryn Robison, YSU Alumna
Annette Rodriguez
Lauren Rogers
Christine Rohde
Tom Romano, Miami University, emeritus faculty member
Howard Rome El Emeth
Irmela Roschmann-Steltenkamp
Amberly Rose
Eli Rosenblatt
Miriam Rosenblatt
Angie Rosenburg
Pat Rosenthal, Common Wealth
Lisa Rosenthal
Joseph Rosky, IAFF retired
Grzegorz Rossolinski-Liebe, Freie Universität Berlin
Lara Rosta
Sydney Rowe
Zara Rowlands, Diversity, Inclusivity and Equity Dietetics Practice Group
Mike Rubosky
Marilyn (Patti) Rudawsky
Sandra Russell
John Russo
Evan S
Ethan Sabourin
Leah Sakacs
Jad Saleh
Danielle Sample
John Sarkissian
Nicholas Sauer
Frances Scaliae
Drew Scalzo
Caroline Scarvel
Paula Schaefer-Riley
Madalyn Schaefer, YSU alumni
Jesse Schaffzin
Glenn Schaft
Stephanie Scheckelhoff
Deborah Schein
Mary Schemetti
Janet K. Schenk NA
Erika Schoeps
Lauren Schroeder, YSU
Karen Schubert, Director Lit Youngstown
Stefanie Schueler-Springorum, Center for Research on Antisemitism, Berlin
Janet Schueller
Daniel Schwartz, George Washington University
Joshua Schwartz
Seth Schwartz, Columbia University
Erin Scott, Ohio Women's Alliance
Linda Scott
Lisbet Searle-White
Steven Seegel, University of Texas at Austin
Carl Seidita
Sasha Senderovich, University of Washington
Alyssa Sepinwall, Professor of History, CSUSM
Karen Shagrin
Diana Shaheen, Arab American Community Center
Hal Shapiro, AEPi Jewish fraternity
Chantell Shaw
Pamela Shaw
Allison Shelburn
Emelia Sherin, Jewish Community Center of Youngstown
Sara Sherr
Liam Shrader
Debra Shovlin
Kailee Shumaker
Dr. Sam Shuman, Fordham University
Abrielle Sigler
Levon Siler
Thelma Silver, YSU retired faculty
Elyse Silverman
Harry Silverman
Christine Silvestri
Anna Sinclair
Rachel Sinclair
Aniket Singh
Lindsay Sinkovich YSU, UUYO
Helene Sinnreich, Former director of YSU’s Center for Judaic and Holocaust Studies
Catherine Skothos
Ramona Skriiko
Audrey Skyla
Elena Slemons
Ron Slipski, YSU History Alumnus
Geralyn Slipski
Karl Smith
Kristin Smith
Emily Smith
Christopher Smith
Alexis Smith-Alswaeer
John Sniegocki, Xavier University
Pasqualina Sparagna
Alexa Spiegel
Samuel Spinner
Ursula Stacks (Slivkoff) Alumnus
Dagmar Stahl
Richard Steigmann-Gall, Kent State University Former Director, Jewish Studies Program
Gavin Steingo
Alexander Steinitz, Citizen Brewing Company
Emily Stephens
Connor Stevens
Angela Stille, YSU alumni
Brianna Stitt
Jennifer Stitt
Tanner Stogsdill
Julie Stout, Mahoning Valley DSA
Maria Stratis
Jacalynn Stuckey, Malone University & Ohio Academy of History
Jessica Styers
Sara Sudano
Albert Sumell
Jinny Sutherland
Mallorie Sutter
Cecelia Swanson
Vaughn Swanson
LuAnn Swartzlander, College instructor, Citizen
Elaine Tarone
Jamal Tartir
Gloria Tavera
Barbara Taylor
Adam Telesz
Amanda Testa
Joe Testa
Joe Testa
Emma Thaci
Karen Thimmes
Carn Thomas
Jennifer Thompson, Jewish Studies Program, California State University, Northridge
Terrence Thompson
Stephanie Tingley, Youngstown SU
Julianna Titi
Andrew Tobolowsky College of William & Mary
Mitchell Topf
Lisa Torrence
Elizabeth Toth
Storm Tresler
Taci Turel
Elizabeth Tussey
Wojciech Tworek, University of Wroclaw
Aaron Ullrey, YSU
Brittany Urban, Judaic Studies Minor
Ansley Valentine, Indiana University Bloomington
William Valentini
Taylor Valerio
Anne Vallas
Deborah Van Kleed
Bella Vass-Gal
Krithika Vasudevan
Emily Vero
Terry Vicars
Vicki Vicars
Daniela Viera
Steven Viola
Janice Vitullo
Mark Vopat
Marija Vulesica
Maggie W-V
Ciara Wagner
Dave Waldeck
Hollie Wallace
Jonathan Wallace
Patrice Wallace
Donna Walsh
Lauren Wantz
Robert Wardle, Youngstown State University
Lorraine Wardle, Youngstown Vindicator
Cassandra Wasilewski
Anita Waters, CPUSA-OH
Jessica Weetman, YSU ALUMNI
Melissa Weininger
Susan Weiss
Penny Wells, Mahoning Valley Sojourn to the Past
Angela West
Gage Whitacre
Seymour White, Alumni
Casey Whitten-Amadon
Justin Wier
Leslie Williams
Kieran Williams
Jessica Williams
CJ Willis
Mary Ellen Willmitch
Tali Wimble
Reece Wilson
Leigha Wine
Dennis Wingard
Bri and Joe Winiecki
Ezri Wolf
Yvonne Wolfe
Victoria Woods
Cathy Wootan
Patty Wormster
Shaunda Yancey, Youngstown City Schools
Taylor Yeager
Bailey Yoder, YSU alumna, CLASS, MA
Kate Young
Denise Youngsteadt-Parrish
Cicilia Yudha
Lyudmyla Yushchenko
Megan Zakany
Val Zampedro
Kimberly Zarecor, Iowa State University
Anna Zena
Michelle Zidian
Julie Zigoris
Jennifer Zielinski
Ellen Zlotnick
Theodore Zook

Comments from signees:

Samuel Adu-Poku YSU-OEA: I urge the university to do everything within its power to save the CJHS

Hugh Agnew: I do not speak on behalf of the Elliott School, but as a concerned individual. Surely the last few years have shown us in stark relief how important teaching the truth about the Holocaust and related themes is to the health of our Republic and the body politic. Dr. Labendz is a highly respected scholar with a real ability to connect to students. His contributions to Youngstown State will be impossible to replace. I urge you to reconsider his termination and to maintain both this rising star among scholars and the significant institution with which he is so closely involved.

Jaladah Aslam, Martin Luther King Jr. Planning Committee: I’m disturbed to see the elimination of Judaic studies at YSU. It seems our own university is slowly removing programs that promote diversity and inclusion and educating students about the ugly parts of American and world history. Teaching the facts around the Holocaust should be mandatory, not optional.

Kelly Baer: The act of trying to close the Center for Judaic and Holocaust Studies and cutting Dr. Labendz disgusts me as a student. I am deeply concerned for the future of this university, as well as what kind of future the administration wants to see. This is a blatant disregard of the needs of students here, and it only speaks to the increasing lack of diversity and inclusion at YSU. This is discrimination.

Phil Bailey: Not a good look YSU. You probably thought no one was watching. Never again.

Mark J. Baker: Please keep this important center.

Nolan Baker: My experience with the Department of Judaic and Holocaust studies and, specifically, the work of Dr. Labendz, was what set my educational career at YSU apart. It would be a grave error on YSU's behalf to prevent future students from experiencing this education and the halt the exceptional work and instruction Dr. Labendz has done through his role.

Luree Blythe: The History and Studies about any group of people (Jewish, Black, Hispanic, Asian, Middle Eastern, African, Native American, European, Indigenous groups of the World, ETC.) is very important for our young citizens and society as a whole to learn about. We break down barriers and other prejudices when we CARE and strive to learn about people different from us. Please keep this center. Thank you. God Bless.

Noelle Bowles: As a Kent State Trumbull faculty member, I was shocked to discover that my students know very little about the Holocaust. More than a few wondered what it was the Nazis did and took on a writing option to debunk “the Holocaust never happened” conspiracy. I teach English, not history, so it is obvious the YSU center is absolutely necessary for the education of Mahoning valley residents.

Matthew Boxer: At a time of rising fascism and greater worries about antisemitism and other forms of bigotry, it simply makes no sense to eliminate the Center for Judaic and Holocaust Studies or fail to renew the contract of its director. This is a tremendous disservice to your faculty, students, and community, all of whom deserve better.

Rev. Joseph Boyd, Unitarian Universalist Church of Youngstown: Dr. Labendz and the Center for Judaic and Holocaust Studies are both critical to the life of Youngstown and the University.

Susie Brown, Youngstown State University: Stop the cuts. Decrease the athletic budget. This is an institution of learning, not an NFL league.

Laura Calcagni: Dr. Labendz is a valued faculty member at YSU, who was recently commended by President Tressel in his university communications for his work in the Center for Judaic and Holocaust Studies. It would be a tragedy to lose Dr. Labendz at YSU.

Julie Cancio Harper, Community member: Diversity in our community is valuable. I support the work of Dr. Labendz and the Center for Judaic and Holocaust Studies.

Michelle Carroll: Stop peeling away important programming that preserve our history.

Gayle Catinella: There has to be a better way to be efficient.

Francis Cleary: As a ysu alum and member of the Gould Society, I am strongly opposed to the administration's actions against cjhs and dr. labendz.

Marilynn Clement: I am an Ohio resident. I WANT MY TAX DOLLARS TO FUND THE CENTER FOR JUDAIC AND HOLOCAUST STUDIES. Stop killing education in Ohio - Ohioans are stupid enough -- i.e. 55% vaccination rate. DO NOT CLOSE THIS CENTER!!! I had a family member who perished at Dachau. WE MUST NEVER PRETEND ANTI-SEMITISM DID NOT EXIST, AND NO LONGER EXISTS. We need Dr. Labendz to continue at YSU, especially as the number of Holocaust deniers continues to rise in the state of Ohio.

Richard Colonna Jr., Our Revolution, Usgoa International: As an alumni of ysu, I'm disturbed to see a center of education and community enlightenment turn towards sports (money) rather than education in a time of nationwide turmoil. The chant, "the Jews will not replace us " was over half a century removed until 5 years ago outside of fringe groups. Those groups are mainstream now and you want to remove a valuable resource for further expansion? Don't lose community support, continue as a light, not a neoliberal scheme.

Erica Constance, Youngstown State University, Anthropology Colloquium: It is imperative that we save the Center for Judaic and Holocaust Studies, by allowing Dr. Labendz to continue to teach at YSU. Dr. Labendz has proven how much of an asset he is to the university.

Andrew Cvetkovich: It is essential that we maintain a vibrant and multi-faceted understanding of history and its impact on the modern world. This program must be preserved.

Murray Davis: Great man and teacher!

Miriam Davis: As a child of survivors, the Holocaust needs to be taught to young people to learn from and not repeat with any culture.

Louis Devault, Nationwide Protest AGAINST dcfs, cps, dhs, dhss, dss, dfps, dcss corruption: Whatever generation you're from and government begins to monetize advocacy for anything then your 10 years from fascist demonizing a group and eliminating them all the while receiving payment for their work...

Thomas Diggins: Somehow YSU's administration believes firing a noted scholar in a thriving program whose position is one-half supported by an endowment fulfills some part of their curricular efficiency initiative. Maybe they can create a new assistant provost position to look into just how misguided this is...

Rachel Faerber-Ovaska: For YSU to cut Dr. Labendz in the name of cost savings is like setting fire to part of your house in order to lower your heating bill.

Donna Feldman: Removing such a valuable resource would further diminish the reputation of YSU.

John Feldmeier: In times when antisemitism is on the rise in the United States, it is both dangerous and counter-productive to remove this endowed position.

Matthew Ferrence: As the Chair of an academic department in the Humanities in the region, I am dismayed to see public disinvestment in the important scholarly, social, and cultural work of the Center for Judaic and Holocaust Studies. As hatred and bigotry rises across our nation, we need the Center as a powerful, supported voice teaching against the darknesses of our present and our past.

Joyce Findley: This needs to be supported or will be repeated!

David H. Finke: Although I am not all that close to your institution, I am a fellow Ohioan, usually proud of our public institutions. I look to YSU as a reliable resource, and would deeply regret a cutback to this important scholarly Center. Please listen to those who use and need this Center. We will be watching and expecting you to Do the Right Thing. Respectfully, – DHF"

Susan Fowler: I’m not Jewish. I’m not acquainted with anyone whose family suffered in the Holocaust. **That’s why this Center is critically important.** Too many Americans are ignorant about Judaism, and too much disinformation is spread about the Holocaust. You MUST keep this Center alive with Dr Labendz at the helm. Otherwise, it would be too easy to have another Holocaust, this time on U.S. soil. Keep teaching. Keep preserving the history. Never forget. Never again, anywhere.

Amy Friend: Holocaust studies matter!

Joshua Furman, Rice University: More critical than ever to keep this center and preserve its important work

Katherine Garlick: Holocaust studies matter. Honor the endowment that helped create the Center, and the spirit in which it was given.

Dominic Gatti: Why do we (City of You and Steel Valley citizens) have to fight so hard to save things that were endowed like The Rayen School and such vital institutions? Our values need reform*

Randall Goldberg, Advisory Board CJHS: Dr. Labendz does tremendous work for YSU, and the Center is essential to YSU's mission.

Leah Gossom, Jewish Congress and Bend the Arc: This should never be forgotten.

Nathaniel Green: I have known Jacob since we were grad students at Wash. U. He is an exemplary scholar and teacher, and Youngstown State would be foolish to let him go. He, and the CJHS, are a credit to YSU.

Henry Greenspan, University of Michigan: I had the honor of speaking and performing a play of mine at the YSU Center years ago. It is one of our important centers and a travesty to lose.

Rachel Gruber: Losing Labendz and Mir will be a huge loss to the school community as well as the local community. Additionally, it will surely make YSU a less appealing school to attend. As a consequence, I fear that YSU will also lose future donations. Please rethink your position and recognize how invaluable Labendz and Mir are to the university.

Eric Harper: The Center for Judaic and Holocaust Studies is an essential element of the enrichment and education of the community. And the center must be headed by a permanent member of the YSU faculty, rather than a visiting academic, so that engagement with the community is ongoing rather than an opportunity for celebrity.

Laurence Hiner: Those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it.

Dana Hollander, McMaster University: Ohioans need access to knowledge and intercultural understanding of the kind provided by the CJHS under Prof. Labendz’s leadership.

Karen Hoover: As a former Youngstown resident and someone who is proud of the progress YSU has made over the years, i am urging the institution to continue this important Human Rights center.

Sam Horne: Dr. Labenz is critical to the CJHS. And the CJHS is critical to the Youngstown community.

Mary Huck Our Revolution: The Holocaust must be remembered to never be repeated.

Rabbi Carl Huerta: As one who has defended freedom on the battlefield and seen what racial or religious hate can do, this is important for all humanity.

Rabbi Dario Hunter: Dr. Labendz's accomplishments in his field, his skill as an educator, and his contributions to the community are an asset that YSU cannot afford to lose.

Matthew Inskeep, AAS,BSHCA,BSN,MSPH: What an asset to YSU History Department and the Community...Not to mention the Student Body Educational Enhancement of his unfound knowledge. Please keep him!!!

Olga Irwin: As child of person who has survived the Holocaust and an alumni of YSU, this is such a useful department for getting information, sharing information and building the community. It is educational on the historical events that lead up to Holocaust so it will not happen again. It also helped teach how the thought process of the Holocaust is related to systemic racism. We need the program to keep teaching the students and the community, especially in today’s society.

Terri Jay: You are making a big mistake.

James Jordan, Youngstown Solidarity Club: The Center for Judaic Holocaust Studies and Dr. Labendz are a valuable asset to our community.

Sue Kegg: Money for athletics and administrative salaries but none to preserve, protect and study history. You should be ashamed. This is just WRONG and must be stopped!!

Brandon Keryan: Never Forget!

Michael kline, YSU Alumni, concerned Alum: Despicable, especially when the university continues to pour money into athletics. I will do my part to see donations to YSU are cut and current ones eliminated by my fellow Jewish supporters.

Andrew Kluth, Case Western Reserve University: Holocaust studies matter.

Nancy Langley: As a historian and political scientist, I am writing from South Carolina, adding my voice with others. The current socio-political climate requires that institutions of learning protect rare and vulnerable resources - like Jewish Studies programs and those able to teach them.

Dave Law, YSU: We need this to counter the toxic rise of white supremacist groups and mindset, now more than ever. In fact, in my opinion, cutting this program supports that rise in this area.

Marylyn Leach: It is important to continue these studies for each generation to see the depths of where unbridled hatred can lead.

Laura Levitt, Temple University: It is so important to keep this program alive and vital and Dr. Labendz is key to its future. I am shocked to see this program go under given its important role in the community and in the field.

Dr. Andrea Liss, university professor: The Center at your university is a vital source of accurate historical and contemporary information on the humanities, Jewish history and current antisemitism. It is vital to your campus community.

Heather Lorimer, YSU faculty STEM: This is so disturbing to me. Those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it.

Kristina Martinez: The Center for Judaic & Holocaust Studies was started by Dr. Saul Friedman he was one of the architects of Holocaust and Genocide education within the whole United States He received an endowment from the Clayman Family to establish this program. Jim Tressel is an embarrassment!

Jack M: Perhaps more than ever, it is vitally important we remember history and we do not allow dangerous ideologies which cause global harm to reform. That's why it's imperative Judaic and Holocaust Studies remains part of the curriculum at YSU.

Marina Merlo: #SaveYSUCJHS

Douglas Moore: I am local to YSU. I am not Jewish. My sister received her teaching degree here. With conditions as they are in our country today, anyone supporting and teaching the truth about the Holocaust should be kept in position to do so. The pillars must remain in place to keep the truth from being pushed aside, and eventually disappearing.

Martha Morgan: I believe that public universities should provide academic programs like the Center for Judaic and Holocaust Studies.

Denise Narcisse, PhD, MPA, Youngstown State University: Listen, listen. For our students will grow on the seeds that we sew. Please listen.

Rachel Parent: Lifetime Youngstown resident that wants to see enriching programs like this kept intact.

Debra Parsons, Parent of a YSU alumnus: My son had Dr. Labenz for many classes at YSU, in addition, to participating in a study abroad trip to Europe in 2019. My son highly respects Dr. Labenz and has learned so much in his classes. We need more professors who make this kind of impact on students, while also educating us about the Jewish faith and the Holocaust. Please keep Dr. Labenz teaching and mentoring students at YSU. Thank you, Debra A. Parsons

Donna Plunkett, Our Revolution, Common Cause, Fair Districts, All on the Line: Such proposed action is reprehensible. As an American, I resent this attempt to cater to the far-right agenda which is in direct opposition to decency, truth, and democratic principles. That a university would even consider such censorship is appalling.

Sandra Pryor: This is one of the few such programs in the country and losing it would also be a loss to those of us outside of Youngstown who recognize the need for these discussions.

Daniel Rhine: Don’t close the center.

Annette Rodriguez: As an alumni, I am disappointed that academic programs that clearly hold student interest are being cut while other priorities are being chased. YSU is and always will be primarily an academic institution and should be preserved as such.

Tom Romano, Miami University, emeritus faculty member: I support the continuation of the Center for Judaic and Holocaust Studies at Youngstown State University.

Pat Rosenthal, Common Wealth: The community and students need the teachings and wisdom of Jacob Labentz and this action is outrageous.

Joseph Rosky, IAFF retired: I feel any history study is important, especially in these modern times.

Zara Rowlands, Diversity, Inclusivity and Equity Dietetics Practice Group: We cannot become stronger by diminishing and devaluing others.

Ethan Sabourin: What is happening is a travesty. As a Yiddishist and student of Jewish Studies, I am strongly in favour of continuing the centre and retaining the fantastic Dr. Labendz.

John Sarkissian: It is hard to see how the Center can survive without a full-time faculty member to direct it, and, to that end, I urge that the current director (who also teaches other courses in the History Department) be reappointed.

Karen Schubert, Director Lit Youngstown: This is a critical program housed within a thriving department. The administration’s rationale for cutting the program is not convincing.

Lisbet Searle-White: Now is NOT the time (nor is there ever a time) when this sort of learning and preparation for life in our multi-cultural, multi-ethnic world be curtailed.

Diana Shaheen, Arab American Community Center: Dr. Ari Labendz is a person who is compassionate, giving, and committed to peace. He is a member of many Communities. The city of Youngstown and its university would be much less without him.

Hal Shapiro, AEPi Jewish fraternity: You don’t remove a Jewish studies program, especially during a time of heightened antisemitism, anymore than you would remove any other ethnic studies program.

Chantell Shaw: I agree that the threat of disinformation is too great to cut these types of programs. They should be amplified, not silenced during this attack from far-right groups and white nationalists on our democracy.

Levon Siler: Continuing the work of Dr. Labendz and the CJHS is vital in this time of rising, coordinated misinformation regarding the reality of fascism and past genocides. Surely other ways to save money are available to YSU.

Thelma Silver: With the presence of antisemitism and the lack of knowledge of the Holocaust in the nation and on college campuses, the Center for Judaic and Holocaust Studies provides much needed knowledge to YSU and the greater Youngstown community.

Lindsay Sinkovich, YSU, UUYO: Dr. Labendz is a dedicated and passionate scholar and professor who provides invaluable services in honoring the university’s mission to create diverse campus experiences for all.

Adam Telesz: Save the CJHS.

Jennifer Thompson, Jewish Studies Program, California State University, Northridge: Jewish Studies is part of students' civic education. It is part of how students learn what it means to be in a diverse society. Please do not rob YSU students of this opportunity.

Brittany Urban: They need to stay or the school will gain nothing from this.

William Valentini: As someone who had both his grandparents survive the Holocaust and is currently writing a thesis in genocide studies, it is a shame to hear this news from my hometown university, YSU. I hope administrative figures reconsider and understand how important this center is.

Janice Vitullo: Dr. Labendz is dedicated to his profession and his students and is a huge asset to this community. Youngstown cannot afford to lose him.

Hollie Wallace: As an alumni who is still being garnished, the decimation of YSU saddens me greatly.

Angela West: I must express my dismay at learning of Dr. Labendz's non-renewal as a professor and director of the Center for Judaic & Holocaust Studies Dept. at Youngstown State. As a coordinator at a university-led Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies and a historian, I cannot emphasize enough the gravity of Youngstown's decision. These are topics and department(s) universities should be investing in. We should be preserving the legacy of teaching younger generations the importance of human rights and the history of the Holocaust. Such depts. are vital for historical and scholarly research for students and are a rare gem at U.S. universities. I implore Youngstown University to reconsider its decision and reinstate Dr. Labendz and preserve the integrity and existence of CJHS.

Kieran Williams: Dr. Labendz is an outstanding scholar and I'm sure he is no less an outstanding and inspiring teacher.

Jessica Williams: As a Jewish Ohio native who grew up experiencing blatant anti-Semitism in my Ohio public schools in the late 1980s and early 1990s, I can't advocate enough for an Ohio public university to do everything it can to educate its students about the Holocaust. As a human on this planet and as an American concerned with the seeming omnipresence of sectarian hatred and violence, I implore YSU to do everything it can to educate its students about different cultures and religions as well as the history of sectarian hatred and violence - this includes continuing the funding and other supportive for the Center for Judaic Holocaust Studies and its head Dr. Jacob Ari Labendz.

Michelle Zidian: Keep this Jewish History. Thank you.