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Westmont College is located in Santa Barbara, California.The college provides high quality undergraduate liberal arts programs and also assists students in their personal development, intellectual competence, and to have strong Christian commitments. Other than the campus at Santa Barbara, Westmont has another campus at Montecito.Westmont College was founded by Ruth Kerr, in 1937. Wallace Emerson was its first president.The college moved to its new premises in Santa Barbara in 1945, with its sprawling 125-acre campus and the Mediterranean House.The college achieved accreditation in 1958, and nine major buildings were added in the 1960s. Westmont Coolege earned national recognition in the 1980s and 1990s for its academic programs.There are more than 1,200 students from 24 states, 11 countries, and more than 30 denominations.The college is accredited by the Western association of schools and colleges, and the California State Board of EducationWestmont College has a superb library with over 150,000 books, and according to the Carnegie Foundation, Westmont College ranks among the top liberal arts colleges in the United States.The college offers bachelors degrees in 26 liberal arts majors, 10 pre-professional programs, 18 units for internships, and an elementary and secondary credential program.Students also are involved actively in community life. On and off campus they serve in more than 30 ministries.Most students compete in some competitive sport, as Westmont has won 13 National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) national championships.Student musicians also show their skills and Westmont classical repertory theatre presents two productions every year.The Westmont College fund, for which money is raised by the college advancement office, supports student scholarships and other programsThe campus houses the Roger John Voskuyl library, Ellen Porter Hall of Fine Arts, Mericos H. Murchison Physical Education Complex with its gymnasium, two handball courts, a swimming pool, and a weight training center.The campus also houses the Arts Center and the Reynolds gallery, the George E. Carol observatory, with its telescope, a health center, chapel, and tennis courts.
History is the study of human activity in the world and its meaning from the earliest times to the present. It explores different dimensions of human interactions in their environments, including politics, economics, religion, culture, and ecology.
The study of history sharpens analytical and critical skills essential to intelligent citizenship in today&rsquos world. It fosters the ability to ask good questions, to understand situations from several vantage points, to cultivate humility, and to understand and appreciate other times, people, and cultures. Students learn to conduct research and communicate their findings clearly. All these skills are readily transferable to a wide range of careers.
The department&rsquos standard track allows students to take courses from a variety of time periods and geographic areas. Many students spend a semester abroad during the course of their studies. Some do so as part of the major&rsquos International Studies track. There is also a track for those who wish to pursue a career in secondary education and for those considering advanced graduate work.
Our faculty are strikingly international, with strong ties to five different countries and PhDs from three. Westmont history majors leave prepared to serve the world.
Out graduates flourish in a wide range of careers, including education, marketing, archival work, finance, non-profits, management, law, government, and Christian ministry. Click here for profiles of some of our alumni.
The Founding of WestmontEl Tejado, purchased by Westmont College in 1945.
Westmont College is largely the result of one woman’s vision. In August 1937, Ruth Kerr awoke from a sound sleep. God had spoken to this deeply religious woman and had told her the time was right to open a Bible school. This was the beginning of Westmont College.
Ruth Kerr became president of the Kerr Glass Manufacturing Company (anyone who does canning or preserving should recognize the name) in 1930, five years after her husband’s death. Using funds from her successful company, she opened the Bible Missionary Institute in Los Angeles in 1937 with 72 students and 16 staff. Two years later, the school added some liberal arts courses and changed its name to Western Bible College. The metamorphosis continued the following year under the leadership of Dr. Wallace L. Emerson. The school moved to larger facilities in Los Angeles, became a four-year liberal arts college built upon Christian principles, and changed its name one last time to Westmont College. Why Westmont? According to Emerson, because the “name sounded all right.” Classes began in the fall of 1940 with a faculty of 33 and with 85 students.
These were lean years. The library was initially developed by purchasing volumes at used book stores and estate sales. Faculty was not always paid at one point Dr. Emerson sold his car to help pay his teachers. Still, enrollment grew during the war years, with more than 300 students attending by 1946. The college had outgrown its campus, and in 1944, Westmont purchased a former golf course in Altadena to develop a new home. Neighbors objected they wanted the course to become a public park, and there were concerns over traffic, parking, and noise. There may also have been a racial element involved, for Westmont enrolled students of all races, and the proposed new campus was in a strictly all-white neighborhood.
The county zoning commission refused Westmont the necessary zoning change, and the school found itself without a home, for it had already sold the old L.A. campus. Bolstered by funds from the sale of the Altadena land, the search for a new site continued. It led school representatives to Montecito, where, in 1945, they purchased the 125-acre estate El Tejado from Charles Holland for $125,000. The estate was the former home of the Dwight Murphy family, and the large main house had been designed by Reginald Johnson, architect of the Biltmore Hotel and Santa Barbara’s main post office. The house became Kerrwood Hall. The school also leased or bought a number of other properties for dormitories and trucked in Quonset huts from Oxnard for more space. One newly hired faculty member was told to bring his housing with him he lived in a trailer for four years.
The college entered a period of growth and expansion under the 18-year presidency of Dr. Roger Voskuyl, who arrived in 1950. He pushed the hiring of more doctorates for faculty. The long-sought dream of accreditation was achieved in 1958. The school’s physical plant continued to grow, and by 1960 enrollment stood at almost 500 students. Growth accelerated in the 1960s. By the end of the decade, more than half of the faculty held doctorates and the student body had grown to almost 900.
Today, Westmont College occupies a campus of more than 110 acres with a student body of more than 1,300. More than 80 percent of the faculty are doctorate holders. The college remains dedicated to its mission of “…serving God’s kingdom by cultivating thoughtful scholars, grateful servants, and faithful leaders for global engagement with the academy, church, and world.”
The Westmont College History department is committed to the study of the human past across the world and in many eras. We believe that an understanding of the complexities of history helps students to develop skills relevant for many professions, to grow in empathy and curiosity, and to understand better their own place and calling in the world.
Program Learning Outcomes
The links below lead to information about the department's most recent assessment of student learning relative to our program learning outcomes. Note that our department revised all its outcomes for the current review cycle assessment of previous outcomes may be found in the reports listed at the foot of this page.
As a result of what they have learned in their history program:
Primary Sources - Students will be able to read primary sources historically and use them effectively.
Research - Students will be able to select an appropriate research topic, and locate, evaluate, and responsibly use primary and secondary sources relevant to their work. Due for assessment 2014-15
Global Awareness/Diversity - We did not develop an outcome for this, wanting to wait on the wider college conversation. Due for assessment 2015-16
Vocation - Students will show evidence of mature reflection on the relationship between their education at Westmont and their vocational pursuits. Due for assessment 2016-17
Program Review Resources
Curriculum Map. A curriculum map is a visual representation of the structure of program curriculum. The map charts program courses, syllabi, and assessments as they relate to the intended program learning outcomes. In other words, a curriculum map is the intellectual linkage that presents twenty plus courses as a story of learning.
Multi-year Assessment Plan. A mullti-year assessment plan shows what program learning outcomes will be assessed in what years.
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Westmont Magazine A History of the Stack House
Could you identify the John Stack house on campus? A private residence built in 1958 and named for the original owner, the property caught the attention of college officials in 1966 because of its proximity to Van Kampen Hall and access to Cold Spring Road.
When Westmont acquired the old Deane School campus in 1967, the college completely surrounded the Stack house, and the owners agreed to sell it. Ernest and Gertrude Gieser, who donated the funds for Deborah Clark Halls, purchased it and the Monroe house in 1970 with the understanding that Westmont would manage the property during their lifetimes, and it would revert to the college when they died.
In the absence of immediate plans for the house, students made a suggestion. Wit h Armington and Van Kampen nearby, the residence presented an ideal location for a student union. A student council committee met with Deans Tom Byron and Rosemarie Springer to discuss this possibility. Its “home-like” quality, with three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a living room and a dining room opening to a kitchen, appealed to students, who lived in cinder-block dorm rooms. They envisioned a place where men and women could mingle in an era when men’s and women’s residence halls were separate and closed to members of the opposite sex. With tentative approval from the administration, students began to raise the money to transform the Stack house.
But once established, the student union faltered. Poor management, a lack of funds and an unpredictable schedule threatened its existence. In 1975, Ray Anderson, a religious studies professor, and Greg Monaco, a junior majoring in philosophy, stepped in. When Anderson discovered the student union, also known as the Dew Drop Inn, was closed at noon, he sought to open it to create a “non-institutionalized space” for students to gather. Anderson told the Horizon, “It’s a place to just come down and talk. It will be unofficial, open-ended discussions . . . a combination of theology and sandwiches.” The lunch menu offered a variety of health- food sandwiches and drinks, sold at cost to students. Evening concerts featuring college and local bands proved to be popular with students.
Starting in the summer of 1976, Stack house provided the theater department with a classroom, rehearsal space and storage for props. This change surprised and upset some students when they returned in the fall to find the student union gone. But the administration reaffirmed their decision, and the theater department used the house until 1983. The students set up a coffeehouse in Deane Chapel instead.
The Health Center, located in Porter Center since 1968, moved to the Stack house in 1983. Converted into examination rooms, counseling offices and a quarantine area at the time, the building under went fur t her renovation in 2013 to reconfigure the reception and office areas and improve accessibility. The original charm and homey atmosphere of the former residence continue to create a good environment for the Health and Counseling Centers.
It is August 1492 and Pope Innocent VIII has died. Now the Sacred College of Cardinals must meet to choose his successor. Although it presents a unified front outwardly, the curia is rife with internal dissent. Some cardinals wish to reform the Roman Catholic Church, while others would magnify its wealth and worldly power (as well as their own). This is the conclave that elected Rodrigo Borgia to become Pope Alexander VI—but that may not happen after all. Why not? Because this is a game and students will take on the personas of the twenty-three cardinals who participated in this historic event, deciding for themselves who will lead the Church into the sixteenth century. Conclave 1492: The Election of a Renaissance Pope is an immersive historical roll playing game developed for the Reacting to the Past series used in hundreds of colleges and universities. This chapter details the game’s development and design, pedagogical goals, and reception among students who have played it. Conclave 1492 is an attempt to bring the world of the Borgias to life for twenty-first century college students, creating a dynamic classroom environment that encourages students to dig into primary sources sharpen skills in critical thinking, writing, and public speaking and make some history in the process.
This chapter is part of an edited volume on the historical and cultural reputation of the Borgia family published by Routledge (2019). The author and publisher retain all rights regarding further distribution of this material. For the Conclave game, see the separate document uploaded to my profile.
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Photo by: Mary Steiner. Retrieved from: www.pinterest.com
Westmont College is a relatively new edition to the academic world, however, in its short existence, it has quickly become nationally known for its astounding science programs. The Cellular and Molecular biology program offered at Westmont College have attracted students from across the world, looking to pursue a science-based degree with a liberal arts academic support structure. Many students take advantage of the study abroad program to optimize their college experience, while others remain on campus to indulge in the student-operated organizations and activist groups.
Offering a wide range of opportunity for students is one of the main missions of the College. Promoting civility and community involvement is just as vital to student development as The beautiful Santa Barbara scenery creates a warm and inviting atmosphere on campus that keeps students in high spirits and motivated towards their goals. With over 25 buildings and structures located throughout the campus, each program is given the space, privacy and dedication it needs to deliver a high quality education to the students pursuing them.
Since founded in 1937, Westmont College set out on a mission to deliver a quality undergraduate program for Christian students, encouraging them to serve God’s kingdom throughout the world. Among the founders was Ruth Kerr, a reputable local scholar who envisioned an academic facility that would teach local Christians how to advance themselves in order to better serve their community. With the help of first president to the College, Wallace Emerson worked diligently to establish a school that would supersede all others in the country, despite the late development.
Westmont College is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges as well as the California State Board of Education.
Just a few years after opening, the College quickly outgrew its location and facility, sparking the move to Santa Barbara to accommodate students and increase enrollment. Establishing a home in the former Dwight Murphy estate, Westmont College went on to expand the campus onto the property formerly owned by the Deane School for Boys. By 1958, the school received its accreditation and began solidifying its mark in the academic world.
The Office of Campus Life at Westmont College enables students to enjoy all aspects of the residential campus while optimizing their overall education. Student organizations such as the Orientation Team play vital role in campus life, welcoming incoming students and helping them get accustomed to their college experience. Students can take advantage of the Intercultural organizations offered on campus that embrace and encourage diversity on campus, often hosting rallies and special guest speakers for students to appreciate. Various activities such as the Urban Initiative act as support and additional encouragement to these very same values.
There are a variety of different clubs and ministries available on campus for students to participate in . All club leaders are provided with an extensive list of resources that are needed to enhance and optimize the club offerings and benefits to students. Many students participate in the Student Government, helping them to develop strong leadership skills and responsibilities. Each student is given access to all campus amenities such as dinning services, laundry facilities and computer labs. The campus library and bookstore offer long hours during the week as well as weekend hours to accommodate all schedules.
Financial aid has been an important aspect of Westmont College life and as such, is given an extensive attention to detail. The Office of Financial Aid and staff members strive to ensure that students can rely on the information obtained, as well as the guidance through the application process to secure funding. Westmont College accepts all forms of government funding including federal and state grants, scholarships and financial awards.
All students are encouraged, upon acceptance, to contact the Office of Financial Aid to ensure timely registration and well-optimized schedules. Students are encouraged to participate in the work study program offered on campus that offers employment opportunities to students both on and off-campus. Members of the Financial Aid staff are available to assist students in the application process, as well as to offer counseling to both students and their families.
2017 College Rankings
English & History
In 1946, American psychologist David P. Boder traveled across the ocean to Displaced Persons and refugee camps in France, Italy, Switzerland, and Germany in order to talk to survivors of the Holocaust. His primary goals were two-fold: he desired to record survivors’ stories in their own words and to translate these stories into English to increase awareness of their plight in the U.S. In total, Boder interviewed 121 refugees in nine languages on a wire recorder, producing the first repository of oral testimony from the Holocaust. From 2003 to 2006, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) Oral History Branch sent out an international call for anyone who had been interviewed by Dr. Boder to contact the Museum to do a follow-up interview 11 interviewees agreed to be re-interviewed by the museum. These individuals occupy a special place in Holocaust history as both Jewish child survivors and those among the first to be recorded telling their stories. This paper looks comparatively at the USHMM re-interviews and their original counterparts in order to discover the ways in which personal memory changes over time.
Presented April 2015. The 37th Annual Warren Susman Graduate Conference, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ
Despite the recent growth in the field of Displaced Persons studies, works dedicated to the history of Italian postwar camps have remained largely on the periphery. Viewed primarily as stopovers on the route to get elsewhere, Italian camps have not been examined with attention to either the work of rehabilitation or individual agency. This is especially the case with child DPs, who are most often viewed simply as pawns within a larger national or international struggle. This paper brings attention to these issues by examining the actions of a variety of NGOs within the Italian camps revealing the times where children chose their own paths and geographical destinations. Closer examination of the UNRRA (and its successor, the IRO) Care and Maintenance questionnaires given to children in Italy allows me to assess the agency of the children themselves and subsequently the limitations of the NGOs in determining the children’s futures.Through a critical reading of these questionnaires, this paper will trace three case studies to evaluate the level of agency displaced children had over their own futures. The first two follow children through the Zionist stronghold hachsharot, Selvino, where their future plans take two different paths. The third traces the little-studied story of Jewish children who traveled to Italy as a byway to Palestine from North Africa: those who sought to escape persecution in North Africa but were subsequently labeled “ineligible” for care and maintenance as “not true refugees” under the UN mandate.
Presented April 2016. The 38th Annual Warren Susman Graduate Conference, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ
In a May 1947 memo, JDC worker Theodore Sanejberg described Italian children’s home, Selvino, as a “children’s paradise.” Less than a month later, however, he wrote that his original assessment had been “idealistic” and described the children’s behavior as “very unpleasant.” Located in the foothills of the Alps between Milan and Switzerland, Selvino became the rehabilitation center for hundreds of Jewish children, primarily foreign orphans, in Northern Italy from 1945 to 1948. Heralded as a rousing success in the years that followed its closure, Selvino nevertheless struggled during its existence to please all the parties involved in its operation. This paper examines the role of the JDC as a major funder backing the children’s center and its work in conjunction with the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA, and its later successor the International Refugee Organization, IRO) and the Jewish Agency to provide for and eventually resettle the children. It posits that much of the tension between these agencies as it was expressed in Selvino came down to two factors: finances and rehabilitation styles. Jointly funded by UNRRA and the JDC, the home suffered from a lack of materials during its opening, but this absence was eventually resolved as communication between the agencies and the home improved. Rehabilitation, on the other hand, continued to be a struggle as many JDC workers believed in an individualistic approach, while Selvino home leaders practiced communal or collective methods of trauma recovery. By considering Selvino’s history within the broader context of other Italian displaced children’s centers, this paper contends that the operating procedures of these non-governmental agencies become clearer through comparison, as does the remarkable legacy of this small home.
Presented August 2017. Seventeenth World Congress of Jewish Studies Hebrew University, Jerusalem, ISR
Refugees who arrived in Italian Displaced Persons camps in the years immediately following the Second World War were not looking to make Italy their home. But as the wait to immigrate to Palestine grew longer because of increased regulations, the refugees began to look for ways to improve their situation in what had become their indefinite everyday existence. In this spirit, they created schools and theater groups, produced newspapers and radio shows, and engaged in religious services and cultural activities. This paper explores the return of cultural activities such as drama, art, education, sports, and literature to the lives of those in the camps. to do so, it investigates the attitudes and actions of both those on the central organizing committee and those in the camps who received the services provided by the committee. Among the latter group were refugees both from Europe and from North Africa. As such, this paper also examines the potential coexisting tensions and opportunities for cultural sharing this renewal might have caused between North African and European refugees given their divergent backgrounds and traditions. In the end this paper posits that the high priority those in the camps gave to the renewal of cultural life stands in opposition to the notion of these refugee camps as ‘spaces of exception’ or places of ‘bare life.’ In this, it also serves as a corrective to the widespread notion held by many official government and NGO or aid organization workers of refugees as “apathetic” or “lazy.”
Presented March 2018. 25th International Conference of Europeanists, Council for European Studies, Chicago, IL
This lecture will compare and contrast the cultural life of European and North African Jews in Displaced Persons (DP) camps in Italy after the Second World War. In part it will focus on the relationship between NGOs and the Organization of Jewish Refugees in Italy, the leadership committee for the camps made up entirely of Jewish DPs. It will examine differences of opinion over methods of rehabilitation including the revival of culture, the renewal of education, and the implementation of job training.
In addition, the lecture will bring to light one of the most singular features of DP camps in Italy: the presence of North African Jews within them. Libyan Jewish migrants were denied refugee and displaced persons status and thus ineligible for asylum benefits, despite their wartime and postwar persecution. The lecture will investigate how aid agencies, especially the JDC, were able to intervene and to help North African Jews create new futures for themselves despite uncertain environments.
European and North African Jewish refugees alike often viewed Italy as the great byway to Palestine and these camps as mere rest stops along the way. Thus, they were often reluctant to create any kind of “home” in them. But as the wait to immigrate to Palestine stretched into months and even years because of increased regulations, the refugees began to look for ways to improve their situation in what had become their indefinite everyday existence. In this spirit, they created schools and theater groups, produced newspapers and journals, and engaged in religious services and cultural activities. And in doing so, some found a new group, a new family that helped make camps feel like home. It is this transition from a temporary to a quasi-permanent home, and the ways in which this “home” became a space for rewriting life narratives in anticipation of creating a new future for oneself, in which I am most interested. And it is this transition, I would argue, that is largely lacking in refugee camps in Italy today.
In this lecture, I explore the rebirth of Jewish culture and the tensions therein between the desire to hold on to the past and to construct an entirely new future for themselves. We’ll then turn to a children’s camp to see how group dynamics shifted from remembering the past to living fully in the present as a new family looking to the future. I posit that the high priority those in the camps gave to the renewal of cultural life and the re-creation of families stands in opposition to the notion of these refugee camps as ‘spaces of exception’ or places of ‘bare life.’
Presented February 2019. Workshop “The Movement of Peoples as Crisis: Political, Economic, and Cultural Causes and Responses” Rutgers University Center for European Studies, New Brunswick, NJ
Since the end of WWII in 1945, many Jews from Eastern and Central Europe viewed Italy as the byway to Israel, and although blockades and quotas had significantly prolonged their tenure in Italian Displaced Persons (DP) camps, by 1949 many had made their way to Israel in 1948 Jewish refugees from North Africa were hoping to follow the same trajectory.
This lecture by Danielle Willard-Kyle (Ph.D. candidate at Rutgers, Association for Jewish Studies Dissertation Fellow) compares the daily experiences of European and North African Jewish refugees and their ability to turn the DP camps into new “home” spaces. Through a series of case studies, she examines what options single adults, unaccompanied children, and families felt they had in order to build a future for themselves, and whether their sense of agency differed based on age, gender, and/or national origin. In examining the daily lives of those in Italian DP camps, she argues that many established homes in these temporary spaces that attempted to both re-create elements of their former lives and at the same time to project what they hoped their future lives might look like.
This program occurred on May 19, 2020.
This dissertation studies the questions of home-making and community-building by Jewish refugees from Eastern Europe and North Africa in transitional immigration camps in Italy after the Second World War. It recovers the stories of these long-silenced Jewish displaced persons (DPs) and reorients the field of postwar refugee studies to reconsider the importance of Italy. Between 1945 and 1951, at least 50,000 Jewish, non-Italian refugees made their way to Italy, most in hopes of permanently resettling in Palestine/Israel. Blockades and quotas for emigration entailed that the majority lived in at least one of the 35 Displaced Persons camps or 97 hachsharot, or agricultural training centers, for several years. These camps and centers were set up by the Allied Military forces, the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration, and the Jewish Agency for Palestine these groups were later joined by the Italian national government and the International Relief Organization. This dissertation argues that through their interactions with fellow DPs and aid workers, many Jewish DPs established homes in these temporary spaces that attempted to both re-create their former lives and to project what they hoped their future lives might look like.
This dissertation explores themes of rehabilitation and agency in everyday life during displacement and migration. Through its connections of family and humanitarian history, it specifically examines the history of childhood questioning the implementation of rehabilitation methods and recognition of youth agency. It examines the ways in which interactions between organization and individuals of all ages in the camps created new understandings of home, family, and identity, in light of wartime and postwar ruptures. It further connects these histories of displacement with the role of states and humanitarian groups in aiding or hindering refugees’ creation of new homes and futures. This is particularly important in relation to their involvement with North African Jewish migrants who were denied refugee status. This study examines the ways this lack of status further complicated the already present problems in the DP camps resulting from a lack of adequate food or shelter. Finally, this study explores the memories of the DP camps to show how these remembrances have shifted over time from spaces of despair to places of rebirth.
Dissertation Available Upon Request
In 1947 a Holocaust survivor in an Italian Displaced Persons (DP) Camp reported “it looks now, as if people will starve to death…when will come our liberation?” The issue of not having enough material goods—food, clothing, blankets, etc.—was widespread throughout postwar Europe, but in the early years after the war it hit DP camps particularly hard. In the early months of their formation and formalization, camps often ran out of food and lacked seasonally appropriate clothing, leading to many problems, even illness and death. The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) in many cases stepped in to make up the difference in food and material lack. This paper looks at the question of stuff and what happens in communities where there is a lack of basic necessities and then when there is an excess. It focuses on issues of agency and advocacy, examining the relationship between the JDC and the DPs. The question of stuff also allows us to see how and whether DP communities are connected with each other and with the local Italian population outside the camps. Hunger strikes by those in camps protesting the British refusal to allow ships to leave port for Palestine invite us to ask if DPs saw their communities as broader than individual families or specific camp locations. Ultimately the presence of the JDC in the camps meant greater access to resources for the DPs knowing this prompts us to ask about the reaction of the local Italian population to this greater influx of resources. This paper investigates whether this excess of goods created a community that crossed camp lines via the black market and what this might have done to internal relationships.
Presented December 2019. Association for Jewish Studies Annual
Conference, San Diego, CA
Since the end of World War II in 1945, Jews from Eastern and Central Europe had viewed Italy as the byway to Israel and although blockades and quotas had significantly prolonged their tenure in Italian Displaced Persons (or DP) camps—camps set up by the Allied Forces and United Nations in Germany, Austria, and Italy to handle the refugee crisis caused by the war—but by 1949 many had made their way to Israel. Jewish refugees from North Africa were now hoping to follow the same trajectory. This lecture focuses on these North African Jewish migrants and, in particular, those from Libya who made their way to Italy in the late 1940s. Following its liberation in 1943, Libya was placed under the authority of the British Military Administration pending a vote on its trusteeship in 1947-9. And between 1948 and 51, nearly 30,000 of the 36,000 Jews in Libya fled the country. Obtaining legal exit permits from Libya in late 1948 for Jews wishing to emigrate was nearly impossible, despite the long line of applicants. A small minority of around 3 to 5,000 traveled through the Italian DP camps to reach Israel. These were individuals, families, and small groups (often of youths) who paid smugglers or relied on the direct intervention of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (or the JDC) to help them with this “mysterious migration” out of Libya. The organization in charge the International Refugee Organization (or the IRO) officially labeled European Jews as refugees and DPs, thus making them eligible for asylum benefits. North African Jews, in contrast, were nearly all denied refugee and DP status. Like European Jews, these North African adults and children were uncertain as to how long they would be staying in Italy, but unlike European Jews, they did not have a stable position in the refugee camps. Their lack of official status caused instability that meant that Libyan refugees and aid workers had to struggle to achieve the most basic physical trappings of care, including food and shelter. This lecture explores the process of registration and decision-making around personal classification for those Libyans attempting to gain status in the DP camps.
Panel Presentation, "Libyan Jews in the Maelstrom of Modern History," Sephardic World, October 2020, presented virtually.
Since the end of World War II in 1945, Jews from Eastern and Central Europe had viewed Italy as the thoroughfare to British Mandatory Palestine/Israel.3 Although blockades and quotas had significantly prolonged their tenure in Italian Displaced Persons (DP) camps—camps set up by the Allied Forces and the United Nations in Germany, Austria, and Italy to handle the refugee crisis caused by the war—by 1949 many had made their way to Israel. Jewish refugees from North Africa were also hoping to follow the same trajectory. The experiences of Jews in postwar Libya were inextricably linked to their time as colonial subjects of Italy. The double-edged sword of racism and antisemitism created a dual burden for Jews in Italian-run Libya. Yet, despite this weighted situation, several thousand Libyan Jews still decided to use Italy as the byway to Israel. Postwar relations between Jewish Libyans and their non-Jewish Libyan neighbors and between the Jews and the British Military Administration (BMA) were tense at best. This tension erupted into violence, which sparked the mass exodus of nearly the entire Jewish population to Israel.
This paper examines the choice of a minority in the Libyan Jewish community to travel to Italy as an escape route to Israel following the 1948 riots. These were individuals, families, and small groups (often of youths) who paid smugglers or relied on the direct intervention of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) to help them with this “mysterious migration” out of Libya. It looks first at the DP camps and the legacy of Fascism more broadly in Italy and Libya. It then demonstrates how the interweaving of support from various organizations and agencies made the journey of these Libyan Jewish migrants possible and ultimately enabled them to continue to Israel, despite their not acquiring the proper paperwork or refugee status.
After Four Years of Adversity, Westmont College Graduates Celebrate Achievements, Resilience
Hundreds of mask-wearing Westmont College seniors walked across the stage and received their diplomas during an in-person commencement ceremony on Saturday morning at Thorrington Field in Santa Barbara.
Members of Westmont&rsquos Class of 2021 rank among the most resilient and determined college graduates in the history of the nation, school officials said.
&ldquoWe gathered this morning to honor and celebrate the amazing labors and accomplishments of the Class of 2021,&rdquo President Gayle Beebe said. &ldquoThere's no class in the history of Westmont College who has endured so much to make it to this day.&rdquo
The crowd erupted in applause.
The graduates endured the massive December 2017 Thomas Fire, the effects of the deadly Montecito flash flooding and debris flows of Jan. 9, 2018, and the COVID-19 pandemic while attending the interdenominational Christian liberal arts school in Montecito.
&ldquoFour years ago, you arrived on a beautiful August afternoon,&rdquo Beebe told the graduates. &ldquoReady to move in, anticipating all that lie ahead, not thinking of the long and arduous journey that would bring you to this moment. &hellip We celebrate all that you've achieved. All that you have learned. The achievements that have been academic, emotional and social, but also spiritual and enduring.&rdquo
Of the 306 students who participated in this year&rsquos commencement, 124 earned honors, according to college officials.
In addition, the graduating class included Esteban Garcia Mares and Steven Carmona, veterans who served in the military before attending Westmont.
Four students in the Class of 2021 graduated with triple majors: Kimberlee Liang Gong, Zion Shih, Chisondi Simba Warioba and Logan Hodgson.
Student speakers Shih and Warioba also took to the podium.
&ldquoI don't need to go over each and every event over the past four years to get the simple point across that it has been a tough time,&rdquo Warioba said. &ldquoI know that each and every one of us has been shaped in ways that we definitely did not anticipate coming into college.&rdquo
From fires, floods and the COVID-19 crisis, &ldquoour class has not undergone what you would call a normal college experience,&rdquo Sharon Ko, a member of the Class of 2021, wrote in her student reflection.
The morning began with a prayer offered by Lori Ann and Joel Banez.
During Saturday&rsquos commencement, the graduates marched from Kerrwood Hall to Thorrington Field, joined by their professors and while bagpipers performed.
Once the graduates arrived at the field, their loved ones waited to be seated for the commencement ceremony. To accommodate social distancing protocols, two guests per graduate were allowed to attend commencement at the campus, 955 La Paz Road. The ceremony was closed to the general public, with family members and friends encouraged to watch a livestream of the event online.
&ldquoIt is an amazing feeling to even get to do this today,&rdquo Beebe said. &ldquoI realize we're restricted on the field, but we have people from around the world who are watching via the streaming services that are being provided today.&rdquo
Russell Howell, professor of mathematics at Westmont, provided introductory remarks.
&ldquoI realized not all of you are parents of our graduates,&rdquo Howell said. &ldquoYou are all here because you have had a significant influence on their lives. Rest assured that your influence will certainly continue.&rdquo
Graduation exercises serve to celebrate the completion of an academic program by its graduating seniors, Howell said.
&ldquoAs a college, we congratulate them on their scholastic success,&rdquo Howell said. &ldquoThese ceremonies also give us an opportunity to give our graduates a formal farewell.&rdquo
One after another, members of the Class of 2021 in graduation regalia walked across the grass toward their seats and sat in the middle of their two guests.
Some people embraced in hugs.
Beebe presented Ron Werft, president and CEO of Cottage Health, with the 2021 Westmont Medal. The medal is given each year to recognize individuals who are providing exceptional leadership and tremendous contributions to the Santa Barbara community.
&ldquoI am extremely honored and truly grateful to receive the Westmont Medal, and to share it here in a special moment,&rdquo Werft said. &ldquoIt's exciting to be here, particularly because after Zooming in, this is the largest group of people I've seen in three dimensions for over a year.&rdquo
Werft said he shares the medal with his wife, Mary, who&rsquos engaged in both education and health care volunteer activities in the local area, including COVID-19 vaccination efforts at the community drive-up clinic at the Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital campus.
&ldquoI also accept this award on behalf of the thousands of health care heroes at Cottage, who are dedicated to caring for our community 24/7, and particularly for their compassion and fearless commitment during the past 16 months," Werft said.
Cottage Health &mdash a nonprofit system of health care providers serving Santa Barbara, Ventura and San Luis Obispo counties &mdash is Westmont&rsquos partner for its new Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing program that launches in spring 2022 pending approval from the California Board of Registered Nursing.
Westmont is &ldquoindeed a community treasure,&rdquo Werft said. &ldquoWestmont looks at community needs and addresses them.&rdquo
In fall 2020, Jason Tavarez, director of institutional resilience, oversaw efforts that resulted in Westmont being one of the few schools in California to safely offer outdoor, in-person classes, according to school officials. Westmont has administered more than 8,900 COVID-19 tests, which resulted in a 1.1% positivity rate, according to officials.
Sandra Richter, Westmont&rsquos Robert H. Gundry professor of biblical studies, provided the address, titled &ldquoWhen You Cross the Jordan: Some Thoughts on Liminal Space."