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Professor Says High School, College Textbooks Ignore Contributions of Jews

Dr. Gavin I. Langmuir, professor of history at Stanford University, asserted that social studies textbooks currently in use in US high schools and colleges largely ignore the contributions of Judaism and Jews to modern civilization. Speaking at an American Jewish Committee luncheon meeting, Prof. Langmuir charged that this “neglect” was directly responsible for the ignorance of most Americans about Judaism, Jewish history, and the persecution of Jews through the ages.

Even courses in prejudice and race relations, Prof. Langmuir said, “have little to say about Judaism or Jewish history. For the overwhelming majority of students, the only portrayal of Judaism and Jews at any level of sophistication is provided by courses in world or western civilization or by the more specialized courses given by history departments. But that portrayal is minimal and more likely to reinforce stereotypes than to reduce them.”

Yehuda Rosenman, director of the AJCommittee’s Jewish Communal Affairs Department, which sponsored the luncheon meeting last Friday, said that to remedy this situation “we expect publishing houses to develop a Judaic series of supplementary social studies reading and audio-visual materials on different phases and ideas in Jewish history”; “that American historians and universities should establish courses in Jewish history and integrate Jewish history into general history”; and at the same time, “we hope that school boards will revise their curricula to introduce clearly into public school studies aspects of Jewish civilization.”

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