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Annette van de Kamp-Wright
Editor, Jewish Press
This past August, Jeannette Gabriel moved into the Director role at Schwalb Center for Israel and Jewish Studies at the University of Nebraska-Omaha. Gabriel had previously been working as a Resident Scholar at the Schwalb Center where she taught classes and worked on a research project documenting how the African-American and Jewish community lived together in North Omaha. She has also been teaching community classes at Beth El Synagogue. In her new position Ms. Gabriel will be teaching classes and conducting research related to Jewish and Israel Studies. Gabriel’s primary research focus is American history and religion with an emphasis on issues of race and gender. She is continuing to research African-American and Jewish collaboration and conflict with an emphasis on issues of redlining and domestic work.
“During the short time Jeannette has been in Omaha,” Nate and Hannah Schwalb said, “she has immersed herself in the Jewish community in a variety of ways. We are impressed with her Jewish teaching and her special interest in the history of Midwest Jewish communities. We feel extremely fortunate to have Jeannette as a leading force in our Center; she will no doubt carry on what the late Moshe Gershovich so successfully started at UNO.”
Gabriel came to Omaha from Iowa City where she curated an extensive archival collection of over sixty individual and institutional collections on Jewish Women in Iowa at the Iowa Women’s Archives, University of Iowa. The Jewish Women in Iowa collections include materials that will contribute to new and complex stories about Jewish women’s experiences in Iowa.
Before relocating to Iowa, Gabriel had worked for about a decade with Smithsonian Associates as Resident Historian training high school history teachers through the Teaching American History Program. She recently defended her PhD at the University of Iowa in Social Studies Education. Her thesis examined how teachers she worked with in the Teaching American History Program used images, such as photographs and film, to teach racial history.
Teaching classes in Israel and Judaic Studies is a priority for Ms. Gabriel. For community seniors who are interested in getting involved: during the Spring 2020 semester she will be offering several classes on these topics. Gabriel said, “UNO has a Senior Passport program that enables community members over 65 to register for up to two classes for $25. It’s a great opportunity for community members to take classes. It’s also very important for UNO students to have contact with Jewish community members.”
In addition to teaching classes, one of Ms. Gabriel’s incoming goals is to encourage and support research around Israel and Jewish studies among the UNO faculty. Ms. Gabriel is excited about the interdisciplinary opportunities this new position brings. “When we collaborate across departments, we engage more than one classroom. Through this approach, we connect with the Jewish community, the community at-large, and faculty throughout UNO. We live in a time of exacerbated racial and ethnic tensions, and unfortunately this impacts how the Jewish community is viewed. The Schwalb Center provides opportunities to break down misconceptions and develop relationships across religious, ethnic, and racial lines.”
For more information about the Schwalb Center, to see current course schedule and find out about the Senior Passport Program, please visit