Earlier this week, I traveled to Chicago for the General Assembly (GA). The GA brings together Federation leaders from across North American and Israeli Jewish communities to explore complex issues facing the Jewish people. This annual conference (which had taken a COVID-19 break) also provides attendees with the opportunity to share the communal agenda for the year ahead.
While we discussed numerous topics, one issue came up time and time again, and that is the scourge of antisemitism. As we are all aware, antisemitism has been on the rise and is appearing more often in everyday life. Just this past week, there were high-profile cases of antisemitism. Kanye West, who has more social media followers than there are Jews on the entire planet, continues to make headlines with his hateful rhetoric. In the sports world, Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving tweeted a link to an antisemitic documentary. And just yesterday on local and national news outlets, there was breaking news from the FBI warning of a credible threat to synagogues in New Jersey.* Sadly, this type of behavior is becoming more prevalent.
We in the Jewish community continue to rely on a variety of organizations, resources, and individuals to deal with this. One way some people choose to deal with the increase in antisemitism is through aliyah to Israel. The horror of the Holocaust was compounded by worldwide restrictions on Jewish immigration. Now, we have a place to go. At the GA, we learned that in 2022, aliyah to Israel is at its highest rate since the mass emigration from the former Soviet Union thirty years ago.
Here in the U.S., we have many organizations which help us continue to fight antisemitism, including Jewish Federation of North America’s Secure Community Network, the Anti-Defamation League and our own local Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC).
In addition to organizations advocating for the Jewish people, we have individuals who are making great strides. Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots, ran ads during NFL games last Sunday urging everyone to “stand up against Jewish hate.” Another individual whose impact is highly significant is Ambassador Deborah Lipstadt. Earlier this year she was confirmed by the U.S. Senate as the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism. Deborah Lipstadt continues to be one of the most highly respected ambassadors for the Jewish people. Please take a moment to read some of her most recent accomplishments in this fight.
Speakers and leaders at the GA reiterated the importance of ensuring the Jewish community has robust and active organizations and personnel to help us combat antisemitism. We need them now more than ever.
*As of this writing, the FBI has apprehended the perpetrator of those threats.
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