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 (firstname.lastname@example.org )
Brooke Bobovnyik (email@example.com)
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
PPS: If you have social media accounts, please share a message of support with the hashtag #saveYSUCJHS - thanks so much!
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.
The Supporters of the Center for Judaic and Holocaust Studies
Including these individuals and groups (as of Jan 10 9AM):
Samuel Adu-Poku, YSU-OEA
Hugh Agnew, Elliott School of International Affairs, The George Washington University
Lisa Anzevino, Boardman Local Schools
Jaladah Aslam, Martin Luther King Jr. Planning Committee
Brittany Bailey, Sojourn to the Past member, YSU student, black student union
Mark J. Baker
Snjezana Balaz, Youngstown State University
Jessica Baloun, Youngstown State Univeristy
Rebecca A. Banks
Rev. Monica Beasley-Martin, Defenders of the Earth Outreach Mission
Andrew Behrendt, Missouri University of Science and Technology
Gavin Beinart-Smollen, NYU
Mathias Berek, Centre for Research on Antisemitism, Technische Universität Berlin
Alex Blumin, National Association of Hebrew Teachers
Jeffrey Blutinger, Jewish Studies Program, California State University Long Beach
Brittany Bobovnyik, Physician, 2014 YSU alumni
Brian Bonhomme, YSU
Robert Botkin, Womble Bond Dickinson
Rev. Joseph Boyd, Unitarian Universalist Church of Youngstown
Zachary Braiterman, Syracuse University Jewish Studies Program
Susie Brown, Youngstown State University
Alexander Bucher, Youngstown State University
Julie Cancio Harper, Community member
Mary Jean Cappabianca
Richard Colonnaj, Our Revolution, Usgoa International
Turquoise Autumn Connelly
Erica Constance, Youngstown State University, Anthropology Colloquium
Maria Conti Maravillas
Jazmine Contreras, Goucher College
Cathy Cowan Becker
Bruce Cratty Mr.
Rebecca Curnalia, YSU
Thérèse De Genova
Donna DeBlasio, Youngstown State University
Mary Lynn Delfino
Jessica Derenburger, Alumni
Louis Devault, Nationwide Child Protection Reform, Nationwide Protest Against dcfs, cps, dhs, dhss, dss, dfps, dcss Corruption
Thomas Diggins, Youngstown State University
Francesca Dohar, Student at YSU
Brooke Donatelli, Youngstown State
Michael Dover, Cleveland State University School of Social Work
Dr. Peter Ullrich, Zentrum für Antisemitismusforschung
Brian Duchon, MPA
Amelia Durbin, American Athiests, Secular Humanists
Glenn Dynner, Sarah Lawrence College
Jodi Eichler-Levine, Lehigh University
Mike Ekoniak, Youngstown State University
Cheryl Elser, UUYO
Galen Elser, UUYO
Emily Filler, Washington and Lee University
David H. Finke
Emily Forsee, CSU- National Lawyers Guild
Samantha Fritz, University of Pennsylvania, Youngstown State University
Marcus Funck, Center for Research on Antisemitism, TU Berlin
Joshua Furman, Rice University
Monserrat Garcia Rodenas
Dominic Gatti, St, Joseph Parish, Cleveland State Alumnus
Ryan Gittler- Muniz
Eagle Glassheim, University of British Columbia
Randall Goldberg, Advisory Board CJHS
Leah Gossom, Jewish Congress and Bend the Arc
Richard Gray, Ashland University
Rachel Greenblatt, Dartmouth College
Henry Greenspan, University of Michigan
Gary Grossman, University of Georgia
Edin Hajdarpasic, Loyola University Chicago, History Department
Anna Hajkova, University of Warwick
Jacob Harver, YSU American Studies
Michael Heeter, Mahoning Valley DSA
Lindsay Heldreth, University of Notre Dame, Youngstown State University
John Higgins, Case Western Reserve University
Heather Hively, Indie Wax Records, Yo.
Dana Hollander, McMaster University
Beth Holloway, YSU alumnus, class of '79 and '81
Mary Huck, Our Revolution
Rabbi Carl Huerta, U.S. Army Retired
Rabbi Dario Hunter
Leah Ifft, YSU Alumni and former Grad Assistant in Judaic and Holocaust Studies
Sarah Imhoff, Indiana University
Matthew Inskeep, AAS,BSHCA,BSN,MSPH
Cryshanna Jackson Leftwich
Jordan Jamison, Our Revolution Ohio
James Jordan, Youngstown Solidarity Club
Rabbi Andrue Kahn
Joseph Kempe, Youngstown State University
Michael Kline, YSU Alumni, concerned Alum
Andrew Kluth, Case Western Reserve University
Margaret Kohler, University of Toledo
Jude Koury, YSU alumni
Adrienne Krone, Allegheny College Jewish Studies
Abby Kulisz, Indiana University
Gail Labovitz, American Jewish University
Regan Ladle, YSU
Eva Lamberson, Youngstown State University
Dave Law, YSU
Dominic Lepple, Sarah Lawrence College
Laura Levitt, Temple University
Dr. Andrea Liss, university professor
Sarah Livingston, Hillel Foundation at Ohio University
Heather Lorimer, YSU faculty STEM
Alice and Staughton Lynd, Attorneys
Langley Mackesy, YSU Student
Carmen Marinucci, YSU Grad
Jessica Marglin, University of Southern California
David Mason, Rhodes College
Patty McCabe, Boardman Local Schools English Teacher
Rose McClurkin, YSU student
Johanna Mellis ASEEES
Marina Merlo, YSU
Rachel Mesch, Yeshiva University
Melissa Miles, 1983
Isaac Miller, UCSB
Mary Ann Morrison
Molly Nagin, Communist Party USA Cleveland Club
Raymond Nakley, Jr. Coalition for Peace in the Middle East
Denise Narcisse, PhD, MPA Youngstown State University
Michael Okrent, Cleveland State University, Shaarey Tikvah
Ranen Omer-Sherman, University of Louisville
Michael Pan, The Veterans Health Administration
Debra Parsons, Parent of a YSU alumnus
Sharrona Pearl, Drexel University
Trenton Peluso, Sigma Chi, Interfraternity Council
Samantha Phillips, YSU alumna
Donna Plunkett, Our Revolution, Common Cause, Fair Districts, All on the Line
Mark Pompeo, YSU Italian Club
Alicia Prieto Langarica, Youngstown State University
Stacy Quinones, Stacy Quinones Stacy Quinones
Shari Rabin, Oberlin College
James Ray, Martin Luther King Planning Committee
Nichole Rimboiu, Kent State University
Kathryn Robison, YSU Alumna
Tom Romano, Miami University, emeritus faculty member
Howard Rome El Emeth
Pat Rosenthal, Common Wealth
Joseph Rosky, IAFF retired
Grzegorz Rossolinski-Liebe, Freie Universität Berlin
Zara Rowlands, Diversity, Inclusivity and Equity Dietetics Practice Group
Marilyn (Patti) Rudawsky
Madalyn Schaefer, YSU alumni
Janet K. Schenk NA
Lauren Schroeder, YSU
Karen Schubert, Director Lit Youngstown
Stefanie Schueler-Springorum, Center for Research on Antisemitism, Berlin
Daniel Schwartz, George Washington University
Seth Schwartz, Columbia University
Erin Scott, Ohio Women's Alliance
Steven Seegel, University of Texas at Austin
Sasha Senderovich, University of Washington
Alyssa Sepinwall, Professor of History, CSUSM
Diana Shaheen, Arab American Community Center
Hal Shapiro, AEPi Jewish fraternity
Emelia Sherin, Jewish Community Center of Youngstown
Dr. Sam Shuman, Fordham University
Thelma Silver, YSU retired faculty
Lindsay Sinkovich YSU, UUYO
Helene Sinnreich, Former director of YSU’s Center for Judaic and Holocaust Studies
Ron Slipski, YSU History Alumnus
John Sniegocki, Xavier University
Ursula Stacks (Slivkoff) Alumnus
Richard Steigmann-Gall, Kent State University Former Director, Jewish Studies Program
Alexander Steinitz, Citizen Brewing Company
Angela Stille, YSU alumni
Julie Stout, Mahoning Valley DSA
Jacalynn Stuckey, Malone University & Ohio Academy of History
LuAnn Swartzlander, College instructor, Citizen
Jennifer Thompson, Jewish Studies Program, California State University, Northridge
Stephanie Tingley, Youngstown SU
Andrew Tobolowsky College of William & Mary
Wojciech Tworek, University of Wroclaw
Aaron Ullrey, YSU
Brittany Urban, Judaic Studies Minor
Ansley Valentine, Indiana University Bloomington
Deborah Van Kleed
Robert Wardle, Youngstown State University
Lorraine Wardle, Youngstown Vindicator
Anita Waters, CPUSA-OH
Jessica Weetman, YSU ALUMNI
Penny Wells, Mahoning Valley Sojourn to the Past
Seymour White, Alumni
Mary Ellen Willmitch
Bri and Joe Winiecki
Shaunda Yancey, Youngstown City Schools
Bailey Yoder, YSU alumna, CLASS, MA
Kimberly Zarecor, Iowa State University
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.