Between Privilege and Peril: Sephardic and Ashkenazi Jews and Structural Racism in the United States

March 9, 2021

Speaker: Dr. Devin E. Naar

In this talk fellows explored a series of challenging moments in American Jewish history from the 18th to 20th centuries that reveal the ways in which Jews of different kinds have simultaneously been targets and beneficiaries of racism and discrimination. Fellows learned the ways in which the laws of the country, which have provided or deprived people of rights based on their race, have shaped Jewish institutional practices over the generations. The laws of the land have influenced how American Jewish institutions have provided greater legitimacy and representation to certain Jews over others while also shaping Jews’ relationships with other vulnerable communities. The recognition of the ways that Jews have been implicated in systems of oppression even while remaining vulnerable provides the historical context for action in the present.

Speaker’s Bio

Dr. Devin E. Naar is the Isaac Alhadeff Professor in Sephardic Studies, Associate Professor of History, and faculty at the Stroum Center for Jewish Studies in the Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington. From New Jersey, Dr. Naar graduated summa cum laude from Washington University in St. Louis and received his Ph.D. in History at Stanford University. He has also served as a Fulbright fellow to Greece.

His first book, Jewish Salonica: Between the Ottoman Empire and Modern Greece, was published by Stanford University Press in 2016. The book won the 2016 National Jewish Book Award in the category of Research Based on Archival Material and was named a finalist in Sephardic Culture. It also won the 2017 Edmund Keeley Prize for best book in Modern Greek Studies awarded by the Modern Greek Studies Association. It was translated into Greek by Alexandria Press in Athens in 2018.