Judaism and Antisemitism

Judaism and Antisemitism


Judaism is a monotheistic religion (belief in one God), developed among the ancient Hebrews, and it is said that Judaism started around 4000 years ago when the Prophet Abraham received a vision from God. Followers of Judaism are known as ‘Jews’, and it is said that Jews have a special agreement with their God known as a ‘covenant’. The covenant is one of the vital aspects of Judaism and is the basis for the idea that Jews are the chosen people; as a symbol of this covenant, Jewish men are circumcised just a few days after birth.

Click on the drop-down buttons below to learn more about various areas of Judaism.

The Tanakh (Holy books)

In Judaism, there are a collection of holy books known as the Tanakh. The first five of these books are the most important and are referred to as the Torah; all books are written in Hebrew, but many now come with English translations. Within the Torah there are 613 mitzvot, which are Jewish rules or commandments. Many Jews possess a Siddur, which is a book containing prayers and other information that is relevant to their daily worship.

Young Jews may attend their place of worship (a synagogue) and refer to it as the shul (which means school), where a teacher known as a Rabbi will educate them about all their holy books, the Hebrew language and their faith.

The Synagogue

A Jewish house of worship is known as a synagogue, and many Jews will attend services on the ‘Shabbat’; a special day of rest from sunset on a Friday until after sunset on a Saturday where no work is allowed. The individual who leads such services may be known as a Rabbi; however, on Shabbat, singing and prayers are usually led by someone known as a chazzan. What Jews wear to such services can be very dependent on the synagogue which they are a part of. Many may cover their heads with a cap known as a kippah or yarmulke, and when praying, may choose to wear a shawl called a tallit and some Jews may also choose to wear tefillin when praying, which are small boxes containing words from the Torah. Jews are typically supposed to pray three times a day to continue to build their relationship with God; in the morning, the afternoon and in the evening.

What is Kosher?

Within Judaism, Jews must follow strict dietary standards; these are called Kosher foods (Kosher meaning ‘pure’, ‘proper’ or ‘suitable’) which fall into the three categories of meat, dairy and pareve (everything else including fish, eggs and plants). Not all Jews follow strict Kosher guidelines; however, typically they include the following rules:

  • Food categorised as meat may never be served or eaten at the same meal as dairy
  • All equipment used to prepare and serve meat should be kept separate to those used for dairy – even different sinks should be used for each
  • After eating meat, you must wait a designated length of time before consuming dairy; this time can vary but is usually between one and six hours
  • Pareve can be eaten alongside any other food types, however, if utensils or equipment used for dairy or meat are then used for pareve food, then the pareve food will be re-classified as dairy or meat or non-kosher
  • Meat must come from ruminant animals with split/cloven hooves (cows, sheep, oxen, lambs, goats and deer)
  • Meat must be slaughtered by an individual trained and certified to butcher animals (shochet) in a way which follows Jewish laws
  • Meat from pigs, rabbits, camels and horses cannot be eaten
  • Eagles, owls, gulls and hawks are not considered Kosher
  • Cuts of meat which come from the hindquarters are not considered Kosher
  • Any dairy consumer must come from a Kosher animal
  • Dairy should not be mixed with preservatives which come from animals, such as rennet or gelatine
  • Only fish with fins and scales can be eaten; for example, tuna and salmon is acceptable, however, shellfish such as crab, prawn and oyster are not acceptable
  • Eggs must come from Kosher fowl

The Hebrew Calendar

Like many other religions, Judaism have their own calendar containing 12 months known as the Hebrew calendar; however, within the Hebrew calendar, a year can be between 353 and 385 days long. Months within the Jewish calendar are based on the phases of the moon. Because the sum of 12 lunar months falls around 11 days short of a solar year, a 13th month is added within a leap year to keep the calendar in step with the astronomical seasons.

Regular/common Hebrew years have 12 months with a total of 354 days. Leap years however, have 13 months and are 384 days long. As well as this, regular and leap years can be a day shorter or longer. Such alterations of the years are designed to prevent celebrations such as Rosh Hashanah falling on particular days of the week; typically, a day is added to the eighth month or removed from the ninth month to accommodate such celebrations.

It is thought that year 1 was in 3761 BC, meaning that the current Hebrew year (as of November 2020) is 5781. In civil contexts, a new year in the Jewish calendar begins on Rosh Hashana on Tishrei 1st. However, for religious purposes, the year begins on Nisan 1st. The months are named as follows (along with their typically estimated Gregorian equivalent):

Hebrew Month

Gregorian Equivalent

Nisan (30 days)


Iyar (29 days)


Sivan (30 days)


Tammuz (29 days)


Av (30 days)


Elul (29 days)


Tishrei (30 days)


Marcheshvan/Cheshvan (29 or 30 days)


Kislev (30 or 29 days)


Tevet (29 days)


Shevat (30 days)


Adar I (30 days) – Only added in a Leap Year


Adar (29 days) (referred to as Adar II in a Leap Year)


Jewish Celebrations and Holidays

Rosh Hashanah – a two-day celebration to mark the beginning of the Jewish New Year (usually falling in early Autumn). The Torah advises this day should be one of rest, and a shofar (trumpet made from a ram’s horn), is blown every day of the last month of the year and on Rosh Hashanah itself too; the sound is a call to repent.

Yom Kippur – this celebration falls ten days after Rosh Hashanah and is considered by many to be the holiest day of the year. In Hebrew it is known as ‘the day of atonement’ and no work is done on this day. Many Jews also follow a mitzvot from the Torah which instructs them to fast for 25 hours on Yom Kippur to focus on God.

Sukkot (one of three pilgrim festivals) – this celebration occurs five days after Yom Kippur and typically lasts eight or nine days. Within this time, Jews remember their ancestors who lived in the wilderness in sukkah (tent-like structures) following their freedom from slavery around 7th Century BC. As a result, many eat and even sleep in their own sukkah for this festival.

Hanukkah – the festival of lights which usually occurs in December. This celebration commemorates the rededication of the Second Temple of Jerusalem by the lighting of candles for each day of the festival. According to the Talmud (the body of Jewish civil and ceremonial law and legend) the Jewish Priest, Judas Maccabeus, found only a small jar of oil which only contained enough to burn for one day. Miraculously, the oil lasted for eight days until more oil could be found, thus resulting in the precedent that the festival should therefore be celebrated for eight days. On each day of Hanukkah, one candle within a menorah (a candelabra with eight branches) should be lit.

Pesach/Passover (one of three pilgrim festivals) – a festival usually occurring within Spring, which remembers the events which occurred leading up to the Jewish slaves being freed from Egypt. In the days leading up to Pesach, all leavened foods (chametz, foods which contain rising agents such as breads, doughs etc.), are removed from the home.

Shavuot (one of three pilgrim festivals) – this celebration occurs seven weeks after Pesach and celebrates the giving of the Torah to the Prophet Moses on Mount Sinai. To commemorate this, many Jews stay up all night reading the Torah, light candles and eat a lot of dairy food instead of meat. This day is significant as it is believed that King David (the first monarch of the Israelite tribes) died on Shavuot.

Bar Mitzvah and Bot Mitzvah – coming of age ritual of boys (Bar Mitzvah) and girls (Bot Mitzvah) at 13 years old, which marks a child becoming responsible for their own actions; prior to this, parents are responsible for their child’s actions.

What is Antisemitism?

The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) is the only intergovernmental organisation mandated to focus solely on Holocaust-related issues, and the IHRA experts have determined that in order to address the problem of antisemitism, there must be clarity on what antisemitism is. As a result, the IHRA adopted the working definition of antisemitism that states;

“Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

Why it should be spelt 'Antisemitism', not 'anti-Semitism'

Antisemitism specifically relates to anti-Jewish feelings, however due to other cultures being Semitic, they claim that they therefore cannot be ‘anti-Semitic’. As a result, many now remove the hyphen to avoid allowing the word to be attributed to any meaning other that its original intent of expressing anti-Jewish feelings.

Our Stance on Antisemitism

As a College, we have a zero-tolerance policy for any form of discrimination, racism or harmful prejudice towards any individual. We pride ourselves on our vision to inspire, innovate and advance, and we want to provide every person with an equal opportunity and safe environment to learn and grow as an individual. We strive to place our equality, inclusivity and diversity objectives at the centre of our progression and continuously evolve as a college towards being the best we can be.

We are aware of antisemitism still being largely prevalent in our world today and this deeply saddens us as a College. As a result, we wanted to take the time to source more information and collate it alongside some helpful resources in order to not only further our own education as a College on the matter, but to also facilitate education within our wider community. We acknowledge and accept that we have a lot to learn, but we hope that the resources on this page are a good step in the right direction towards wider education on antisemitism.

Below, you will find: information on what antisemitism is, how it should be spelt, how to recognise the many forms it may appear in, how to report antisemitism if you hear or see it, and you will also find a wide array of resources to enable further education. The information we’ve gathered is by no means extensive, but we hope will be an excellent starting point for many.

We pride ourselves on our key values of integrity, trust, inclusivity and partnership, and we are committed as a College to do better in the fight to eradicate antisemitism and allow all to feel safe, supported and seen.


How to Identify Antisemitism

Antisemitism manifests itself in a multitude of ways; it can be found in the form of targeting Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity, and can be expressed through speech, writing, visual forms, actions, stereotypes and stigmas. Antisemitism can also occur through microaggressions; these are acts, statements or incidents which cause indirect (and sometimes unintentional) discrimination against a marginalised group, usually as a result of ignorance.

Recognising antisemitism in the media, schools, workplace and within other religious communities can be difficult at times if you’re not sure what to look out for; below, you can find examples of how to recognise antisemitism in today’s world.

Blatant acts of antisemitic behaviour

  • Calling for, aiding or justifying the killing or harming of Jews in the name of a radical ideology or an extremist view of religion.

  • Making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as collective — such as, especially but not exclusively, the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions.

  • Accusing Jews as a people of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single Jewish person or group, or even for acts committed by non-Jews.

  • Denying the occurrence of the Holocaust and/or intentionally denying the genocide of the Jewish people at the hands of National Socialist Germany during WWII.

  • Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.

  • Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.

  • Stating that all Jews must be immigrants and ‘don’t belong’ outside of Israel.

Discreet acts of antisemitic behaviour (microaggressions)

  • Assigning intelligence of an individual to their race or identity.

  • Not identifying Jews as an ethnic minority group.

  • Preferential treatment of other religions or ethnicities over Jews.

  • Discounting Jewish identity; this can occur on a personal and a cultural level, be it through literature or dialogue.

  • Denying Jewish people, the right to self-determination.

  • Endorsing stereotypes and stigmas, for example, that Jewish people are very stingy, very rich or would all make good lawyers.

  • Physiological assumptions; claiming someone does or does not look Jewish based on physical appearance.

  • Using teachings from other religions to justify dislike for Jews; e.g. ‘The Jews killed Jesus’.

  • Jokes about the Holocaust or comparing other lesser issues to the effects of the Holocaust.

  • Comparing Judaism to other religions and claiming they’re the same thing.

  • Denying the presence of antisemitism.

  • Confusion as to why Jews are still upset over the Holocaust today if they didn’t directly experience it.

How to Tackle Antisemitism

We encourage everyone to call out antisemitic behaviour, educate each other on microaggressions and learn how to be an ally against antisemitism. However, we understand that in the moment it can be tricky to know where to begin; that’s why we’ve created the following tips to help navigate through a situation when you may encounter antisemitism.

1). ALWAYS assess whether it’s suitable to actively do something in the moment first; if it is not safe or possible to intervene, then contact the appropriate people and report the situation. 

2). Identify who you should contact to report the incident; the below tabs will indicate what to do dependent on where you are. The Community Security Trust (CST, a charity that protect British Jews) always recommend that along with following the advice in the below tabs, an act of antisemitism should always be reported to them using their email: incidents@cst.org.uk. This allows the CST to keep regular track of levels of antisemitism within the UK.

In College, antisemitism can be reported to one of your lecturers, any nearby member of staff or to the College Welfare service on: 07881 379 252 for Redditch and Bromsgrove campuses, and 07789 754 161 for Worcester and Malvern campuses.

If you are outside of College and the situation is NOT an emergency, you can contact the police on 101. You can also contact Community Security Trust (CST, a charity that protect British Jews), and report any incidents using their email: incidents@cst.org.uk

If you are outside of College and the situation is an emergency, always contact the police on 999. You can also contact Community Security Trust (CST, a charity that protect British Jews), in the case of emergency on 0800 032 3263 24 hours a day.

3). Always try and check-in on the person/people being targeted; let them know that you’re there for them and see if they need any further support. You do not need to offer advice or a solution, just making them aware that you’re present, you’ve reported the incident, and that you’re there to offer support is enough.

Further Support and Resources

We've taken the time to locate some helpful resources to try and encourage further education on the topic of antisemitism. The below lists are by no means extensive; however, we hope that they will form a good starting point for those looking to learn more about antisemitism.


A wide array of articles can be found online in various places; from newspaper articles to online forums, many discuss the different ways in which antisemitism has occurred through history and is still prevalent in society today.

- The Conversation – Various up-to-date articles and reports on antisemitism.

- Britannica – An article explaining more about antisemitism, its various forms and its origins.

The Guardian – Recent article following (the rapper) Wiley's antisemitic tweets.

- The BBC - Various up-to-date articles surrounding antisemitic incidents currently occurring within the UK.


The following podcasts can be accessed using any laptop, mobile or tablet device. (Please ensure you read the descriptions before listening to any of the following resources to ensure you are fully aware and happy with the content).

- ‘Can We Talk?’ – monthly podcast from the Jewish Women’s Archive; features stories and conversations about Jewish women.

- ‘Wholly Jewish’ - April Baskin, The Union for Reform Judaism's former vice president, speaks with Jews of colour about their identities, experiences and insights (also available on Spotify).

‘Stories We Tell’ - The Union for Reform Judaism shares a new story about the Jewish experience every Thursday (also available on Spotify and Apple devices).

- ‘Israel Story’ – Award-winning podcast 'brings you extraordinary tales about ordinary Israelis'.

Website Links & Charities

The following websites and charities offer various forms of information, support and educational resources.

- Anti-Defamation League (ADL) - "Anti-hate organisation founded in 1913 in response to an escalating climate of antisemitism and bigotry. ADL's mission is to protect the Jewish people and secure justice and fair treatment for all." Website containing educational resources, tools, latest news and much more.

- Campaign Against Antisemitism (EHRC) - Educational information surrounding antisemitism, latest news and research.

- Community Security Trust (CST) - "A charity that protects British Jews from antisemitism and related threats." Website containing further information regarding antisemitism and security, emergency assistance and youth & students.

- Jewish Care - A provider of health and social care services to the Jewish community in the UK. This charity can provide support in various physical and mental health capacities.


If you're looking to find out more about antisemitism, why not take a look at some of the below books for further perspectives and explanations. (Links have been provided for Amazon; these books can be purchased in other locations however. Please ensure you have fully read any product descriptions before making any purchases to ensure you are completely happy).

- Trials of the Diaspora: A History of Anti-Semitism in England - A comprehensive history of antisemitism within England. (This book can be purchased here on Amazon).

- Antisemitism: What It Is. What It Isn’t. Why it matters. - "Rabbi Julia Neuberger uses contemporary examples, along with historical context, to unpack what constitutes antisemitism, building a powerful argument for why it is so crucial that we come to a shared understanding now." (This book can be purchased here on Amazon).

- Antisemitism: Here and Now - An in-depth analysis by Deborah Lipstadt on antisemitism and how it has occurred in history. (This book can be purchased here on Amazon).

- That’s Funny, You Don’t Look Anti-Semitic: An Anti-racist Analysis of Left Antisemitism - A looks at the history of Left antisemitism from a Marxist perspective. (This book can be purchased here on Amazon).

- Jewish Book Council (Book List) - Click here to see the antisemitism reading list by the Jewish Book Coucil.

Video Resources

A small set of documentary and film resources looking into antisemitism. (Please ensure you read the descriptions before watching any of the following resources to ensure you are fully aware and happy with the content).

Yad Vasehm - Antisemitism Video Toolbox (YouTube)

- Philosophy Tube - Antisemitism: An Analysis (YouTube)

- Schindler’s List - Film adaptation based on the true story of Oskar Schindler. (This film can be found on various streaming platforms as well as on DVD).

- #AnneFrank - Parallel Stories - Helen Mirren tells Anne Frank's story through her diary entries alongside those of five other Holocaust survivors. (This documentary film is currently available on Netflix).

Support Resources

- Jami - Mental Health Services for the Jewish community. 

- Jewish Women’s Aid UK - Specialist UK organisation supporting Jewish women and children affected by domestic abuse & sexual violence.

- Community Security Trust (CST) - "A charity that protects British Jews from antisemitism and related threats." Website containing further information regarding antisemitism and security, emergency assistance and youth & students.

- Jewish Care - A provider of health and social care services to the Jewish community in the UK. This charity can provide support in various physical and mental health capacities.