The Shmooze

Blogger Spreads News of Anti-Semitic 'Jew Count' at University of Toronto

By Renee Ghert-Zand

  • Print
  • Share Share

With all the Israel-related new anti-Semitism taking place on college campuses lately, people might forget that there is still some good old-fashioned, early 20th century-style anti-Semitism out there, too.

Richard Klagsbrun, a Canadian social media entrepreneur and writer, reported on June 13 on his “Eye on a Crazy Planet” blog on anti-Semitism and a “Jew count” at the University of Toronto. The reported anti-Semitic behavior of a professor of social work (as well as some of her students) took place in late 2009. One of the professor’s U of T colleagues published an account of it in the Journal for the Study of Anti-Semitism in 2010, and the Canadian Jewish News ran a story on it in early that same year. It appears, however, that it is Klagsbrun’s blog post that has exposed the incident more broadly as it has spread in recent days through social networking on the Internet.

According to Klagsbrun’s reported account, as well as Professor Ernie Lightman’s supporting academic paper, Professor Rupaleem Bhuyan was sympathetic to students in one of her graduate level classes who publicly said they did not want to be around Jews and expressed disdain at having to visit Baycrest Centre, a highly regarded Jewish geriatric and research facility, on a field trip. The students reportedly said they were uncomfortable being around “rich Jews.” Bhuyan neither cut off the conversation nor turned the situation into a teachable moment. In a subsequent class, when students began discussing which of their professors were Jewish, she stated (erroneously) that half the professors in her department were Jewish. She reportedly even approved of the student’s conducting a “Jew count” of the social work professors right then and there.

“Finally, one young woman spoke up, protesting her grandparents had come to Canada with virtually nothing and she was proud her family could now afford the fees for them to reside at Baycrest. That must have rung an alarm bell for Professor Bhuyan, because startlingly, she then admonished her students not to divulge what transpired in class to outsiders. But her classroom was not Las Vegas and what happened there did not stay there. Some outraged Jewish students approached Professor Paula David, who in turn consulted senior professors Ernie Lightman [the professor who wrote the JSAS paper] and Adrienne Chambon,” Klagsbrun recounted.

The two senior faculty members, on behalf of the aggrieved Jewish students, approached Bhuyan, as well as both the dean of the School of Social Work and the president of U of T. They were disappointed with the resultant actions of the university, which amounted to generalized condemnations of anti-Semitism, without any specific reference to Bhuyan and what transpired in her classes. Bhuyan was never called out individually, and her teaching contract was renewed.

“The department’s approach seemed to imply a widespread problem with anti-Semitism — which there wasn’t — and that everyone is potentially a racist when one professor promoted anti-Semitism and was never held publicly accountable. It’s ironic that a department purporting to teach anti-racism is incapable of dealing with racism in its own house. We have a responsibility to students to ensure faculty do not abuse the power inherent in their positions, and to the community-at-large to ensure all the Social Workers it graduates reflect and promote the values of the field. That hasn’t happened here,” Lightman said.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: University of Toronto, Rupaleem Bhuyan, Richard Klagsbrun, Journal for the Study of Anti-Semitism, Eye on a Crazy Planet, Canadian Jewish News, Anti-Semitism

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • The eggplant is beloved in Israel. So why do Americans keep giving it a bad rap? With this new recipe, Vered Guttman sets out to defend the honor of her favorite vegetable.
  • “KlezKamp has always been a crazy quilt of gay and straight, religious and nonreligious, Jewish and gentile.” Why is the klezmer festival shutting down now?
  • “You can plagiarize the Bible, can’t you?” Jill Sobule says when asked how she went about writing the lyrics for a new 'Yentl' adaptation. “A couple of the songs I completely stole." Share this with the theater-lovers in your life!
  • Will Americans who served in the Israeli army during the Gaza operation face war crimes charges when they get back home?
  • Talk about a fashion faux pas. What was Zara thinking with the concentration camp look?
  • “The Black community was resistant to the Jewish community coming into the neighborhood — at first.” Watch this video about how a group of gardeners is rebuilding trust between African-Americans and Jews in Detroit.
  • "I am a Jewish woman married to a non-Jewish man who was raised Catholic, but now considers himself a “common-law Jew.” We are raising our two young children as Jews. My husband's parents are still semi-practicing Catholics. When we go over to either of their homes, they bow their heads, often hold hands, and say grace before meals. This is an especially awkward time for me, as I'm uncomfortable participating in a non-Jewish religious ritual, but don't want his family to think I'm ungrateful. It's becoming especially vexing to me now that my oldest son is 7. What's the best way to handle this situation?" http://jd.fo/b4ucX What would you do?
  • Maybe he was trying to give her a "schtickle of fluoride"...
  • It's all fun, fun, fun, until her dad takes the T-Bird away for Shabbos.
  • "Like many Jewish people around the world, I observed Shabbat this weekend. I didn’t light candles or recite Hebrew prayers; I didn’t eat challah or matzoh ball soup or brisket. I spent my Shabbat marching for justice for Eric Garner of Staten Island, Michael Brown of Ferguson, and all victims of police brutality."
  • Happy #NationalDogDay! To celebrate, here's a little something from our archives:
  • A Jewish couple was attacked on Monday night in New York City's Upper East Side. According to police, the attackers flew Palestinian flags.
  • "If the only thing viewers knew about the Jews was what they saw on The Simpsons they — and we — would be well served." What's your favorite Simpsons' moment?
  • "One uncle of mine said, 'I came to America after World War II and I hitchhiked.' And Robin said, 'I waited until there was a 747 and a kosher meal.'" Watch Billy Crystal's moving tribute to Robin Williams at last night's #Emmys:
  • "Americans are much more focused on the long term and on the end goal which is ending the violence, and peace. It’s a matter of zooming out rather than debating the day to day.”
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.