Program Details

The Good and the Bad: Four US Presidents and the Jews

Samuel M. Edelman and Carol Ed
Jewish Culture & History / History

Course Description

This program will be a joint presentation by Drs. Samuel and Carol Edelman. The attitudes with which newly elected presidents come to office and their relationships with their Jewish constituents is both historically interesting, complex and often surprising. The series will deal with four such little-known or misunderstood examples of Presidents who had surprising relationships with, and impact upon, the Jewish community in the US.


  1. An overview of the Presidency and the Jewish community from Washington to Trump. A specific examination of the Presidency of Ullyses S. Grant and the Jewish community and how it evolved from outright anti-Semitism to exceptional regard and respect.
  2. A look at the Presidency of Woodrow Wilson, who is argued by some historians as the leader most positively disposed toward the Jewish community.
  3. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, highly regarded by most Jews in the US, may not deserve that reputation. Newly released information on Roosevelt will be at the core of this presentation.
  4. President Harry Truman, despite his anti-Jewish cultural baggage, supported the creation of the State of Israel and embraced the centuries-old quest of Zionism. This discussion will explore how and why this happened.

About the Instructor

  • Dr. Samuel M. Edelman is one of the founding faculty members of the Academic Council for Israel. He is also an Academic Fellow and adjunct professor of Israel Studies and Zionism at the University of Miami’s Miller Center for Judaic Studies. He is the former Director of the Israel on Campus Coalition Academic Affairs Department. He has served as the executive director of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the American Jewish University in Los Angeles. He is also a CSU Chico Emeritus Professor of Jewish, Israel and Holocaust Studies as well as Rhetoric and Communication Studies. Edelman served as a staff member on the World Zionist Organization's Ben Gurion Centenary Commission. 

    Emerita Professor Dr. Carol Edelman had been on the faculty of California State University for more than 30 years. She was a full professor of Sociology in the Department of Sociology and Social Work. For the last 30 years, she has actively been
    involved in scholarship, research and creative work on the general topic of the Jewish response to the Holocaust. Her research work includes investigation into the Jewish social structure before and during the Holocaust in Eastern Europe, research into cultural responses to the genocide of the Jews, and interviewing and collecting materials on social issues from survivors. She was the co-director of the State of California Center of Excellence for the Study of the Holocaust, Genocide, Human Rights and Tolerance and Associate Dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Studies at CSU Chico.

Upcoming programs presented by Samuel M. Edelman and Carol Ed.

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