Mercer Island rabbi will offer ‘Outsmarting Antisemitism’ course

Four-week course will begin on Oct. 25.

Rabbi Nissan Kornfeld said that people are anxious about antisemitism and hate in general in the present day, and they’re also worried about what’s coming down the line in the future.

To help them deal with these intense feelings, the director of Chabad Mercer Island will offer a new four-week in-person and online course, “Outsmarting Antisemitism,” from the Rohr Jewish Learning Institute (JLI) beginning at 7 p.m. Oct. 25.

“We want to really examine the data together. We want to give people the tools to be able to respond and not define themselves by antisemitism, but really live beautiful, proud Jewish lives. To just have purpose, positivity in that field and not be bogged down by perceived and actual antisemitism,” Kornfeld said of the course, which will use history, Talmudic sources and Jewish mysticism to address the past and present of antisemitism.

This is the first course that Kornfeld has offered on antisemitism, and he noted that it’s not in response to a specific incident. People are just feeling uncomfortable about what they’ve been exposed to lately, he added.

Kornfeld said they don’t want antisemitism, hatred or haters to define their Judaism, adding that they can’t ignore what’s happening and need to respond. Kornfeld and contemporary experts will discuss strategies on how to counter antisemitism during the course along with giving people the support and strength they need as they traverse their religious path, which is paved with a deep, rich heritage.

“Unfortunately, this (antisemitism) is not new. Some call it the world’s oldest form of hate, and therefore we really want to look at how Jewish communities over the past few thousand years have responded to hate and antisemitism. See what has worked and maybe try to employ some of that. See what has not worked and stay away from that,” Kornfeld said.

Added Cary Nelson, past president of the American Association of University Professors: “All those who care about religious freedom, both Jews and others, confront a disturbing increase in antisemitism worldwide. It is no longer enough just to be opposed to antisemitism. We all have to be knowledgeable about its history and current manifestations if we are to be equipped to combat its spread. That is why this course matters.”

The course is open to the public and people can register at or call 206.851.2324. Lawyers, medical doctors and mental health professionals can earn continuing education credits by attending the course.