San Francisco

University of San Francisco, Swig Program in Jewish Studies and Social Justice

University of San Francisco Swig JSSJ Program, 2130 Fulton St. Kal 152 San Francisco, CA 94117
(415) 422-6601 Fax: (415) 422-3180 [email protected]
Director Aaron J. Hahn Tapper 4154226601 [email protected]
Assistant director Oren Kroll-Zeldin 4154226601 [email protected]

Founded in 2008, the Swig Program in Jewish Studies and Social Justice is the only academic program nationwide formally linking Jewish studies and social justice. Engaging students in both theoretical and practical applications of social justice and activism rooted in Jewish traditions, and examining Jewish culture, history, politics, philosophy, and language to better understand and strengthen marginalized communities around the globe.

The program offers a wide range of Jewish studies courses, a minor in Jewish studies and social justice (JSSJ), annual social justice and human rights lectures, and an annual social justice Passover seder. Additional programs include films, presentations and workshops, a study-abroad course, Hebrew San Francisco: Ulpan (summer 2022 is the 25th consecutive program, the longest-running Hebrew Ulpan program in the U.S.), and Arabic San Francisco (summer 2022 is the third consecutive program).

The program’s ethos is built upon the following four ideas, each integral to the Jewish community’s vast histories and identities:

  • Activism – each of us has a role in the process of shaping the world as it is into the world it can be.
  • Intersectionality – all forms of marginalization and oppression are interlinked.
  • Social Identity – each of us has multiple social identities, whether a reflection of our age, citizenship, ethnicity, gender, nationality, physical ability, physical appearance, religion, sexual orientation, socio-economic standing, race, or something else entirely. Some identities are acquired; others, we’re born with.
  • Social In/justice – our social identities have a great deal of meaning for us and others. At times they give us access to opportunities. At other times they deny us entry to jobs, homes, and even food. The world in which we live currently functions as if our identities are real. Most of us live as if there is a specific definition to community X or Y, despite the fact that identities are not static but constantly shifting.

New faculty and staff has been welcomed in recent years, including Rabbi-in-Residence Camille Shira Angel; Sinton Visiting Professor in Holocaust, Genocide, and Refugee Studies Rabbi Lee Bycel, and Assistant director and faculty member Oren Kroll-Zeldin.