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Executive Committee Support for Derek Penslar

February 22, 2024

Last month, the Executive Committee sent a letter in support of AJS member Derek Penslar to the president of Harvard University. At our first board meeting of 2024, we shared the letter with the board.

Read the letter

We received a supportive response from the President of Harvard.

Alan M. Garber, Interim President
Office of the President
Harvard University
Massachusetts Hall
Cambridge, MA 02138 USA
Tel: (617) 495-1502
Fax: (617) 495-8550

January 26, 2024

Dear President Garber,

We would like to express our support for Professor Derek Penslar in general and in his appointed role as co-chair of Harvard’s presidential task force on antisemitism.

Professor Penslar is a prolific scholar with a stellar international reputation. We understand Professor Penslar was appointed to the task force because of these impeccable scholarly credentials which make him uniquely well-suited to offer expertise about antisemitism, especially as related to anti-Zionism. Smear campaigns based on his alleged political viewpoints or focused on attacking his identity have no place in determining his qualifications. Rather, we urge Harvard to promote the value of scholarly expertise as essential to the most complicated and pressing issues of the day.

Thank you for your thoughtfulness on this matter.


Laura Leibman, President, Association for Jewish Studies.
Helen Kim, VP of Program, Association for Jewish Studies
Laura Lieber, VP of Publications, Association for Jewish Studies
Hartley Lachter, VP of Membership and Outreach, Association for Jewish Studies
Lila Corwin Berman, Secretary/Treasurer, Association for Jewish Studies
Robin Judd, Past President, Association for Jewish Studies

[Read the PDF version]