Iran, Rising Antisemitism, Passover Traditions. It’s Friday.

It’s Friday, and I want to share a few thoughts from the week.

As news reports began to spread late last night that Israel had attacked Iran in response to Iran’s first-ever direct attack on Israel, I immediately began to contemplate the meaning of an escalation into a real regional war. While the full extent of the situation is still unclear, it appears that the surgical approach on the Iranian city of Isfahan – home to many military bases and about 100 miles from key nuclear facilities – and other sites throughout the region created minimal damage and was perhaps designed to send a clear signal of Israeli capability.

We will continue to watch the situation closely and provide critical support overseas and here at home.

Check out my takeaways from this week below, including the latest report on antisemitism, my conversation with the Israeli Embassy’s Deputy Chief of Mission, our incredible Next Gen program, and more.

While I’ll be skipping next week’s It’s Friday due to Passover, I wish you and your family a happy and meaningful holiday, though this Passover will be more complex as we grapple with a celebration of freedom from slavery amid the war in Israel – and the knowledge that so many remain in captivity.

Our family will add an empty chair in recognition of the hostages – held by Hamas for 200 days this coming Wednesday. I am also hearing that many families are setting a flower on their Seder plates to recognize the hostages still in captivity and to stand in solidarity with the women who faced particularly heinous violence on October 7th.

Send me a note if your family is adding any new traditions to your Seder this year.

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

Iran, Rising Antisemitism, Convening Communal Leaders. It’s Friday.


  • Attacks on Israel Continue. Unfortunately, after the 300 drones and missile attacks were intercepted by Israel and our allies last weekend, attacks continued into the week, with Hezbollah sending drones into Northern Israel, hitting a local community where 18 people were injured, including a family friend of Federation’s Israel Office Director, Karen Katzman. The situation remains very tense.
  • Briefing with Israeli Embassy. On Wednesday, I hosted Deputy Chief of Mission at the Israeli Embassy, Eliav Benjamin, for an informative conversation with some of our top leadership to discuss the latest situation in the Middle East. A few of my takeaways:
    • On Iran, it was not lost on anyone that our allies worked shoulder to shoulder to stop the drone and missile attacks. We have a common enemy – and these attacks were another reminder of the Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah nexus.
    • On the hostages, Hamas rejected the hostage deal and truce put forward by the U.S., Egypt, and Qatar. As President Biden said, “It’s now up to Hamas. They need to move on the proposal that has been made so we can get these hostages home.”
    • On U.S. cooperation, Israel is in very close consultation with the U.S., especially as it relates to Iran, and is hopeful that Congress will quickly pass a supplemental aid package. I should note that this package includes additional resources to safeguard our local communities from antisemitic violence.


  • Startling New ADL Report. Earlier this week, the ADL released their annual 2023 audit on antisemitism in the U.S., and while not surprising, it is sobering and frightening.
    • A total of 8,873 antisemitic incidents across the United States in 2023 – that’s more than the total number of incidents in the last three years combined.
    • Not surprisingly, we saw a dramatic increase take place following October 7th, and increased assault and vandalism incidents. It is especially saddening to note the 135% jump in incidents at K-12 schools.
  • Combating Hate in D.C. This new reality makes our work at home imperative. Through a $1M commitment to combating antisemitism, our Federation has been highly focused on two top priorities – security and supporting innovative initiatives addressing hate and antisemitism impacting teens in Greater Washington.
    • Already, our support has helped our partners and synagogues step up security given the recent rise in vandalism and antisemitic attacks, and support innovative programs designed to educate and engage community teens and young adults and the professionals that work with them.


  • A Night of Learning. Given these challenging times, coming together couldn’t be more important. This week, we hosted an incredible program in Northern Virginia with the Shalom Hartman Institute and nearly 100 community leaders. It was a night of learning, building connections, and answering critical questions about moving the community forward. Check out the photos here.
  • Empowering Future Leaders. One of the highlights of my week was stopping by Federation’s Next Gen Partner Agency Fellowship “Match Night.” It was fantastic to see these young leaders matched with our partner agencies, where they’ll work together to gain more experience by serving on agency Boards of Directors. The room was buzzing with excitement.


  • A big thank you to so many in the community for sending me input about my new It’s Friday email content and format. I heard incredibly positive feedback. Keep sending me your comments – and what you find most interesting.