Senator Carl Levin praises EMU for new program, speaks about Jewish- American experience
Senator Carl Levin (D-Mich) spoke at the kick-off for Eastern Michigan University’s new Jewish Studies minor program and discussed various aspects of the Jewish-American experience.
“The Jewish experience very much begins with the immigrant experience,” Levin explained to a crowd of about 175 individuals from the EMU and local communities. “There are plenty of examples of anti-semitism, but for the most part, Jewish immigrants were able to overcome that and leave hatred behind.”
Levin shared his own family history, telling stories of his grandparents who came to America poor and built successful businesses.
Levin also talked about other important issues within the Jewish community; among these were a sense of community, support for Israel and a commitment to education. He put particular emphasis on the pursuit of social justice and patriotism.
“People should be treated fairly, particularly as it relates to people who are poor and people who have been left behind,” Levin said.
He outlined some of his accomplishments in promoting social justice, including his fight against hate crimes, adding crimes against the LGBT community to hate crimes statues, and the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Levin has served in the U.S. Senate since 1978, and currently is chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.
“It’s not a coincidence that I am keenly sensitive to that kind of discrimination,” Levin said. “It may not be religious discrimination, but it is discrimination nonetheless. It’s intolerance nonetheless.”
EMU Provost Kim Schatzel briefly spoke about the benefits of the new minor. The program began online in fall 2011.
“This new minor asks us to recognize the importance of Jews as artists, thinkers, scientists, social, political and military leaders, business people, as well as philanthropists,” Schatzel said. “It asks us to consider the significance of Judiasm, and how this faith and those who practice it have changed our world.”
Martin Shichtman, director of the Jewish Studies program, said he was “deeply honored” to have Levin as a guest.
“He has been a consistent and powerful advocate for American manufacturing, for education, for the environment, for safe and affordable healthcare, for those who place their lives on the line to protect and defend our freedoms,” Shichtman said. “He has fought against corporate corruption and for individual liberty.”
Senator Levin ended his remarks by congratulating Eastern for a commitment to diversity.
“The greatest strength of this country, as strong as we are militarily, is those values of diversity, and we should always remember, be proud of it, celebrate it, and use it to the advantage of the world,” Levin said.Originally Published: 02/23/12 8:50pm