Empowering & Preparing Jewish Greater Washington’s Teens to Combat Antisemitism

Over the past several years, our community and Jews nationwide have faced a significant rise in anti-Jewish hatred. In Greater Washington, school children faced horrifying messages threatening our community at bus stops and on school property, and antisemitic flyers were left on doorsteps of homes among other forms of vitriol. Most recently, a menorah was vandalized outside of a synagogue during Chanukah.

Since October 7th, however, antisemitism has skyrocketed. According to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), there have been 3,283 antisemitism incidents between October 7, 2023 and January 10, 2024, “a 360-percent increase compared to the same period one year prior.” This three-month level of hate is higher than yearly totals for almost every year over the last decade.

To ensure community members and leaders have adequate resources to respond to these incidents, Federation approved $1 million to address antisemitism in our region and formed a task force, co-chaired by Devorah Berman and Robert Granader, focusing on this critical issue. As part of our continued implementation of this strategy, and with thanks to our committed task force and leadership, Federation is now accepting proposals from organizations seeking to work with teens in addressing this rising hatred.

I encourage you to share this announcement with your networks and any organizations that may have relevant programs and initiatives. Proposals are due by March 1st. Please contact [email protected] for more information.

Our goal is to prepare local Jewish teens in a rapidly changing world by: increasing a sense of connection and belonging among this age group, encouraging new and innovative approaches to helping teens address antisemitism, reducing the prevalence of antisemitism that is impacting and involving teens, and preparing teens for their transition to college life.

So, just as antisemitism is, as Ambassador Deborah Lipstadt, Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism, recently explained, akin to a virus that evolves and cannot be cured, we must adapt and respond to this new environment and fight the new forms of anti-Jewish hatred and prepare our community’s teens to thrive in today’s world.

Hatred cannot and will not overwhelm who we are as a Jewish people.

Thank you for all you do and for your strength and resolve as we work together to combat antisemitism and build a bright Jewish future in Greater Washington, in Israel, and beyond.

Shabbat Shalom,
Gil Preuss
CEO, The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington