New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

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Center for the Study of Antisemitism announces first director, receives second donation

NYU appointed Avinoam Patt as director of its Center for the Study of Antisemitism, which recently received its second million-dollar donation since it was announced in November.
Avinoam Patt, the first director of NYU’s Center for the Study of Antisemitism. (Courtesy of Avinoam Patt)

The university’s Center for the Study of Antisemitism has named Avinoam Patt, a professor of Judaic Studies at the University of Connecticut and an NYU alum, as its first director. The center also received its second million-dollar gift — an anonymous donation of $1 million — since it was announced in November amid criticism that the university was not doing enough to fight antisemitism on campus.

The center — which is expected to be located in NYU’s 60 Fifth Ave. building — is slated to begin programming as early as this coming March. The center will focus on researching both ancient and modern forms of antisemitism through collaboration with institutions such as the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and the Center for Jewish History. The center will be funded by another anonymous seven-figure donation made last year.

“I am so glad to welcome Avinoam Patt back to the NYU community,” university president Linda Mills said in a press release. “Not only as a faculty member focused on the Holocaust, but also as the Inaugural Director of this vital interdisciplinary center, focused on the essential study of antisemitism.”

Patt, an alumnus of the Graduate School of Arts & Science, is also now the Maurice Greenberg Professor of Holocaust Studies in the Skirball Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies. Patt was previously director of the University of Connecticut’s Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life, as well as of the Museum of Jewish Civilization at the University of Hartford. He was also a research scholar at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

In a statement to WSN, Patt said he plans to arrange public programming to contribute to discussions on antisemitism, which he said is “one of the most significant social issues globally and locally.” 

“It is clear we are living through an extraordinary historical moment that requires research, analysis, and education in order to confront it,” Patt said. “I look forward to working together with colleagues at NYU and beyond in order to build a center of engaged scholarship and education, where we will convene the world’s leading experts on the topic of antisemitism, while teaching the next generation of students.”

The university’s November announcement that it would open the center came amid high tensions on campus over the Israel-Hamas war, with students, faculty and alumni criticizing the administration over its handling of antisemitism and anti-Arab sentiments. Over the last few months, NYU has increased the presence of law enforcement on campus, communicated specific guidelines to students and faculty for conduct and protest activity and reviewed more than 90 student conduct cases “related to current concerns.”

NYU also announced the center, which the university has said it had been planning for weeks beforehand, one day after three Jewish students sued the university over its alleged indifference toward incidents of antisemitism on campus. NYU has denied the students’ claims, and said it has been taking “many” steps to combat antisemitism. 

Since the beginning of the Israel-Hamas war, which began after the Palestinian militant group Hamas killed about 1,200 people in Israeli towns and took around 200 hostage, the Israeli military’s offensive in Gaza has killed more than 25,000 Palestinians, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. In a press release, Mills said there has been an “increase in antisemitic incidents” in recent years, particularly after the start of the current conflict. 

“Avinoam Patt is an excellent choice to lead the Center,” Mills said in the press release. “He will bring to the center a commitment to rigorous research, an understanding of the value of public programming on timely and important issues, an openness to collaborating with other units in the university to help translate scholarship into practice, a familiarity with NYU and a keen moral compass.”

Bruna Horvath contributed reporting.

Contact Adrianna Nehme at [email protected].

About the Contributor
Adrianna Nehme, News Editor
Adrianna Nehme is a sophomore still trying to decide what to major in. Originally from a small town in Indiana, she moved to Chicago, Illinois for high school — where she was also the news editor for the school paper! She loves experiencing music live at concerts, seeking restaurants to try in the city and reading fiction novels — her all-time favorite is "The Cider House Rules" by John Irving. Check out her latest adventures on Instagram @adrianna.nehme.
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