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Ancient Origins of Anti-Semitism Examined at B’nai Sholom

Where did anti-Semitism originate, and how do we know it?

A new course at B’nai Sholom Reform Congregation in Albany will provide many of the answers.

“Ancient Origins of Anti-Semitism” will be taught over seven Tuesdays beginning September 16 from 10 a.m. until 11:30 a.m. at B’nai Sholom, 420 Whitehall Road, Albany, New York.

                This course will consider the modern terms “anti-Semitism,” “anti-Judaism” and “Judeophobia” for their appropriateness in understanding attitudes toward Jews in the ancient world. The class also will review the history of violence against Jews during an 800-year era from 410 B.C.E. through 387 C.E. Evidence from archaeology, ancient papyri, the later histories of Egypt, Hellenistic and Roman writings, the 380 C.E. edict declaring Christianity to be the official religion of the Roman Empire, and the denouncement by early church leaders of gentile Christians who observed the Torah will form the background of the discussion. The course will attempt to distinguish between the antipathy of early Christianity toward Judaism as a threat to Christian identity and the irrational accusations against Jews in the Middle Ages of ritual murder, well poisoning and other atrocities.

Steven Stark-Riemer, the course instructor, studied anthropology at City College of New York, where he specialized in archaeology, and received his degree in 1972. He conducted field work at the Tel Gezer excavations in Israel under the direction of William G. Dever, director of the Hebrew Union College Biblical and Archaeological School at the time. Stark-Riemer continues to pursue his interest in the archaeology, history and religion of the ancient Near East.

“Ancient Origins of Anti-Semitism” is open to the public. Fee for the seven-session course is $54 ($36 for B’nai Sholom members), and registration is required.

For more information, visit www.bnaisholomalbany.org or contact the B’nai Sholom office at 518-482-5283 or office@bnaisholom.albany.ny.us.

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