José Luis Villegas / Bee file, 2001

Susan L. Mogull, a teacher and influential advocate for accurate portrayals of Jews and Judaism in education, died April 24, 2013, at 72. Read her story here.

Obituary: Susan Mogull advocated for accurate portrayal of Jews

Published: Tuesday, May. 7, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 4B
Last Modified: Thursday, May. 9, 2013 - 2:11 pm

Susan L. Mogull, a teacher and influential advocate for accurate portrayals of Jews and Judaism in education, died April 24 of cancer, her family said. She was 72.

Raised Methodist in West Virginia, Mrs. Mogull was a schoolteacher in the South before she converted to Judaism, married and settled in the Sacramento area. Her unassuming personality and soft approach to people contrasted with her firm beliefs and leadership as a champion for balanced and accurate treatment of Jewish people, heritage and history in public schools.

She co-founded the Institute for Curriculum Services, a national resource center that provides schools with materials about Jews, Judaism and Israel. She reviewed textbooks on California Department of Education advisory panels and testified before state officials on textbooks and the treatment of religious minorities in education.

She was instrumental in a State Board of Education decision to require changes in a textbook that spelled the Christian God with a capital "G" but the Jewish God with a lower-case "g." She helped persuade a publisher to revise a sixth-grade history book that contained many errors, including a suggestion that Jews – not the Romans – killed Jesus.

"Susan was just really driven by a sense of what was right and just," said Aliza Craimer Elias of the institute. "She believed that accuracy was a value in and of itself."

Mrs. Mogull promoted sensitivity toward religious minorities as an active member of community groups, including the Sacramento Jewish Community Relations Council and the California 3Rs Project. She organized an annual luncheon to teach administrators about practices that negatively affect Jewish students, such as scheduling school events or exams on Jewish holy days.

While opposing teaching religion in public education, Mrs. Mogull supported teaching about religion in appropriate subjects and grade levels. As founder and president of the Sacramento chapter of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, she helped persuade California officials to adopt constitutional guidelines for teachers to discuss religion with neutrality and objectivity.

"The basic principle that Susan felt so strongly about is that religion thrives when government stays out of their business, and legislation should never be based on people's religious preferences," said Carol Velarde of Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

Susan L. Stalnaker was born in 1942 and raised in Weston, W. Va. She graduated from a state college and earned a master's degree in English from West Virginia University.

She taught English and American history at elementary schools in Maryland and at Glenville State College in West Virginia before marrying Bob Mogull in 1970. She moved to Sacramento with her husband, a longtime business professor at California State University, Sacramento, and raised three children.

Mrs. Mogull was widely recognized for her integrity and enthusiastic support for Jews, Judaism and Israel. She received the Earl Raab Award from the Jewish Public Affairs Committee of California for service to the statewide Jewish community.

"I had no idea I was marrying such an activist," her husband said. "She was such a nice, easy girl to live with, and in 42 years we never argued – and here she was this dynamo, this bulldog in her activities. She was such a gentle woman."

Susan L. Mogull

Born: Dec. 15, 1940

Died: April 24, 2013

Survived by: Husband, Bob of Elk Grove; children, Robin Levingston of Peoria, Ariz., Scott of Austin, Texas, and Michael of Atascadero; sister, Amanda Lilly of Virginia; three grandchildren

Services: Were held April 29

Remembrances: In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Institute for Curriculum Services, 131 Steuart St., Suite 205, San Francisco, CA 94105.

Call The Bee's Robert D. Dávila, (916) 321-1077. Follow him on Twitter @bob_davila.

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