Gratz College Debuting New Master’s Program in Antisemitism Studies

Gratz College (Courtesy of Gratz College)

Antisemitism is on the rise both nationally and globally, and Gratz College is transforming the study of it into an academic discipline.

Gratz’s “M.A. in antisemitism studies” is a “first-of-its-kind interdisciplinary graduate program in the U.S.,” according to It “prepares students for successful careers in Jewish community organizations, education, advocacy, government relations and public policy, among others.”

“With antisemitism on the rise and following the horrific events of 10/7, it is more important than ever that interested individuals develop a deep knowledge of historical and contemporary antisemitism, and a functional skillset that prepares them to combat Jew-hatred and root out prejudice more broadly,” the site reads.

The program offers a “36-credit online degree,” according to Students can either take “11 courses and a final project” or “10 courses and a thesis.” A “core course sequence” will build “foundational knowledge of antisemitism and racism.”

There are three degree concentrations within the program based on a student’s choice of career path, according to Those are research, teaching and advocacy. Research prepares students to use data to put together experiments and reports. Teaching gets them ready to work in schools and develop curricula. Advocacy trains them on “community and organizational approaches to combating antisemitism.”

“Without even doing major marketing, we’ve received dozens of inquiries and interest,” said Zev Eleff, the president of Gratz College. “So, there is a market for it.”

Eleff added that the program will teach students “how to champion Jewish and others’ causes.” It will also teach them “how to negotiate in the public square and how to use and leverage data.”

“In the digital age, one of the challenges is how to understand correct and incorrect information,” Eleff said. “This is a program of how to operate on behalf of humanity and the Jewish people.”

“You’re interacting with stakeholders from other communities. School districts, African American leaders, church leaders,” he added. “You’re sitting at the table on behalf of an increasingly vulnerable population. You’re trying to make sense of things for yourself and the people around you.”

Ayal Feinberg will lead the new program in antisemitism studies at Gratz College. (Photo by Lori Cohen)

Ayal Feinberg, the director of the Center for Holocaust Studies and Human Rights at Gratz, said that antisemitism needs to be an academic focus.

“To be as impactful as one can be in the advocacy space, when it comes to antisemitism and combating prejudice more broadly, we need to understand the history and evolution of antisemitism,” he explained. “We need to understand in-group and out-group dynamics. We need to understand how to measure hate, how to model hate. We need to make sure we’re evaluating and assessing the landscape empirically.”

Perhaps most importantly, “we need to create interventions that are ultimately going to reduce hate,” Feinberg concluded.

Gratz was already working on putting this program together when Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7. Antisemitism has been rising in the United States since around 2015. The 2018 Tree of Life synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh was the deadliest antisemitic attack in U.S. history. It also motivated synagogues across the Philadelphia area to put locks on their doors and security officers at their entrances.

Yet Oct. 7 increased antisemitism even more.

Andrew Goretsky, the regional director of Anti-Defamation League Philadelphia, said there were more than 100 complaints of antisemitic incidents in his territory between Oct. 7 and mid-November. The ADL’s national and global estimates of increases have been over 300% compared to the year before.

“Our broader Jewish community has focused on combating antisemitism since Oct. 7. Obviously since Oct. 7, it’s become ever more urgent,” Eleff said. “This is a flagship program for the Jewish nonprofit sector. This is urgent forms of learning that people need.”

Gratz’s webpage for this new program includes several endorsements.

Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro, who is Jewish, said, “We’re seeing a dangerous rise in antisemitism, hatred and bigotry across our country – and it’s more important than ever that Pennsylvanians be equipped with a thorough knowledge of our shared history and the skills to discern fact from fiction. Gratz College is already renowned for its Holocaust and genocide studies programs, and I am encouraged the college is expanding upon that work with a new master’s degree in antisemitism studies.”

Jonathan Sarna, a professor of American Jewish history at Brandeis University, said, “Americans of all kinds need to know much more than they currently do about antisemitism.”

Jewish Rep. Jared Solomon, who serves District 202 (Northeast Philadelphia) in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, said, “Given the spike in antisemitic incidents across the United States, there is an urgent need for innovative pedagogical development of institutional skills and practices to fight antisemitism, racism and hatred of all forms. Gratz College’s new master’s degree in antisemitism studies is a critical first step in the creation and deployment of a contemporary approach that meets this moment.”

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