27 January 2023
The recent spate of antisemitic incidents in our community feels particularly troubling against the backdrop of International Holocaust Remembrance Day. But despite what may appear, at times, to be a troubling outlook, our community continues to come together to combat this hate and celebrate the beauty and joy of what it means to live a vibrant Jewish life.
It was with this in mind that I spoke with Dr. James Loeffler, Senior Fellow of the Kogod Research Center at the Shalom Hartman Institute and Professor of Jewish History at the University of Virginia, earlier this week as part of Federation’s ongoing partnership with the Shalom Hartman Institute. We sat down for a community webinar on factors shaping the growth in antisemitism and expressions of public hatred against the Jewish community.
While our conversation covered a number of topics, I was particularly struck by Dr. Loeffler’s following points:
- It is important to understand the current spate of antisemitism within the broad context of history. Over the past 100 years, the U.S. has experienced cycles of antisemitism as our country has faced internal disruptions and change.
- Antisemitism continues to evolve and shift as American society changes. This is true as distinct forms of hatred of Jews rises within distinct segments of our country. We must understand and fight them all.
- To effectively fight antisemitism, we must use all tools available to us, including legal, educational, moral, political, and others.
If you were unable to join us for the live conversation or would like to listen again, click here for the recording.
Federation and our partners, including the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC), Secure Community Network (SCN), Anti-Defamation League (ADL), American Jewish Committee (AJC), local synagogues, and institutions and leaders within and beyond the Jewish community, remain dedicated to our Jewish community’s safety and security. This week, Federation and JCRC partnered to offer a reward for information leading to the arrest and indictment of the individual responsible for two recent incidents. But this is not enough.
We encourage every member of our community – and our allies – to play an active role in this essential work, including through these resources:
- ADL’s latest report on antisemitic attitudes in America and explore their No Place for Hate® signature education initiative.
- AJC’s survey on declining knowledge about the Holocaust, and their Leaders for Tomorrow (LFT) program, which helps high school students develop a strong Jewish identity and trains them as advocates for Israel and to be voices against antisemitism.
- JCRC’s Student to Student: a high school peer education program focused on the Jewish experience.
- Federation and SCN’s incident reporting tool.
Amidst rising antisemitism and remembering the Holocaust today and always, our greatest strength is in coming together. Jewish Greater Washington’s pursuit of vibrant Jewish life will not be defined by or hindered by antisemitism. Our best defense against those who hate us and seek to do us harm is to strengthen our communities and work to make this world a better place.
May the memories of those we lost in the Holocaust be a blessing and a reminder to continue to live our lives as proud Jewish community members.
P.S. Next week, I will embark on Federation’s Rabbinic and Communal Leaders Mission to Alabama. I look forward to sharing learnings and new ideas with you upon our return. For real-time updates and reflections from our travels, follow Federation on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.
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