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March for Israel Draws 290,000+ to Washington, D.C.

The largest Jewish gathering in U.S. history, the #MarchForIsrael on Nov. 14, 2023, brought more than 290,000 people to Washington, D.C., and an estimated 250,000 watched the event via livestream. Sponsored by Jewish Federations of North America and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, the event was a moving display of unity and solidarity with the people of Israel, calling for the return of the missing hostages captured by Hamas terrorists on Oct. 7 and denouncing the rise of antisemitism since the beginning of the Israel-Hamas war.

Our Greater Boston Jewish community was well represented at the March for Israel, with nearly 1,600 people—including grade school students, families, community leaders, allies, clergy, and college students—traveling to attend the historic event and show that Boston stands with Israel.

We invite you to watch the recording of the event below.

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The Jewish Community Rejects Bigotry and Hate

By Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston

(Photo: Halfpoint/iStock)

We are grateful to Jewish Council for Public Affairs for leading our community in unequivocally saying that the Jewish community rejects Islamophobia, anti-Arab hate, antisemitism, and all forms of bigotry.

We are proud to have been part of the drafting of this statement on behalf of our community.

The Jewish Community Rejects Bigotry and Hate
By Jewish Council for Public Affairs

In the wake of the attack in which a six-year-old Muslim boy was murdered and his mother critically injured by a man who targeted them because of their faith and the Israel/Hamas war, over 100 Jewish groups released a statement today condemning the attack and rejecting any effort to exploit the situation in Israel and Gaza to spread hate and bigotry.

The statement, which was organized by the Jewish Council for Public Affairs and signed by 130 national and local groups, explicitly rejects “Islamophobia, anti-Arab hate, antisemitism, and all forms of bigotry”:

“We stand in solidarity with all our neighbors under threat, and urge our elected and civic leaders, law enforcement, schools and universities, and employers to make clear there will be zero tolerance for any act of hate.”

“As Jewish leaders, we want to be very clear: we unequivocally reject those targeting our Muslim, Arab, and Palestinian American neighbors with bigotry, threats, and violence,” said Amy Spitalnick, CEO of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs. “This is a moment of profound pain for our community—and we refuse to allow some to exploit that pain as an excuse to spread bigotry or extremism of any kind. Our communities’ safety is inextricably linked, and only by coming together and calling it out can we defeat the forces of hate and violence.”

You can read the full text of the statement here and below:

Since Hamas’ terror attacks in Israel on October 7th, we’ve seen bigots and extremists exploit the crisis to spread hate, disinformation, and extremism.

This is a moment of deep Jewish pain, mourning the lives taken and praying for the safe release of the hostages in Gaza—and this pain and fear is compounded by a horrific rise in antisemitism here in the United States and around the globe.

We also know that we are not the only ones being targeted in this moment. Our Muslim, Arab, and Palestinian American neighbors are facing bigotry, threats, and violence—including the despicable murder of a six-year-old child this weekend outside Chicago, by a man who reportedly espoused anti-Muslim hate.

Let us be unequivocally clear: The Jewish community rejects Islamophobia, anti-Arab hate, antisemitism, and all forms of bigotry. Particularly as extremists continue to exploit this moment, we are reminded that all of our communities’ safety and futures are inextricably linked—and recommit ourselves to fighting hate in all its forms.

We stand in solidarity with all our neighbors under threat, and urge our elected and civic leaders, law enforcement, schools and universities, and employers to make clear there will be zero tolerance for any act of hate.

View the complete list of groups and organizations that signed the statement.

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Allies Join “The Good Fight”

By Rich Tenorio

When former President Barack Obama administration member Carol Fulp was asked about allyship during a panel at “The Good Fight Forum,” she knew exactly how to respond. 

“First and foremost,” she said, “allyship is showing up. Allyship is speaking up. Allyship is looking up. It’s teaming up.” 

All four actions were well-represented at what has become an annual conference in the Boston area by the Anti-Defamation League, with this year’s edition taking place at the Renaissance Boston Waterfront hotel on Oct. 10, 2023. The conference occurred three days after the deadly surprise terror attacks by Hamas against Israel. Launched from the Gaza Strip, the attacks left over 1,300 Israeli service members and civilians dead, including men, women and children. The number of wounded has surpassed 3,300, while an estimated 100 to 200 hostages have been taken by Hamas. 

Fulp spoke at a panel alongside Suffolk County District Attorney Kevin Hayden and Idit Klein, the head of the Jewish LGBTQIA+ group Keshet and the lone Israeli among the trio. Rabbi Jonah Steinberg, New England regional director of the ADL, moderated the discussion. 

Allyship to Boston’s Jewish community has been on display ever since the Oct. 7 terror attacks. Two days later, numerous city and state political leaders joined in a solidarity gathering for Israel on Boston Common. Among them were Gov. Maura Healey, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, U.S. Sen. Ed Markey and Boston Mayor Michelle Wu. 

At “The Good Fight,” Hayden shared insights into how to disrupt hate directed against the local Jewish community. 

“We have to be committed to conversations in the hard way,” he said, “fighting against the out and front, blatant ‘isms’ we’re fighting against, rather than the silence of it.” He added, “I don’t know if one is better than the other.” 

Regardless, he said, “There are more for us than against us. You have to believe that, hope that, trust that. For me, personally, you have to pray that.” 

Fulp shared lessons in allyship she learned from a good friend, Harvard Business School professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter. 

As Fulp explained, “Allyship is to be willing to accept criticism, because we don’t know it all. We need to be open to things we might be doing wrong, things we might be doing that are hurtful. Being sensitive enough, trusting enough with your ally, they can share, ‘This is hurtful, inappropriate or a microaggression.’ These are all things that allies learn, because there is trust with their ally.” 

In addition to this panel discussion, there were other panels over the course of the day, with speakers including Steinberg and CJP president and CEO Rabbi Marc Baker, plus two voices from Israel—Shalem College administrator and scholar Daniel Gordis, and Carole Nuriel, ADL senior regional director for the Middle East and North Africa. 

“In the face of this ugliness of the situation, there was so much heroism,” Nuriel said. “So many people wanted to rescue others … I believe there was manifest solidarity and empathy all around. There was so much unity, togetherness, love and empathy. That will help us win.” 

“What we know at this point is first and foremost what this was and was not,” Gordis said. “This was a pogrom. It was not about freedom fighters seeking freedom or Palestinians seeking a Palestinian state.” 

Several speakers referenced statements directed against Israel following the Hamas attacks—namely a letter from over 30 Harvard University student groups that blamed them on Israel. Some of the groups have since withdrew their support of the letter amid outcry. 

Peggy Shukur, the ADL’s deputy regional director, said, “Although Hamas is known for organized terror,” people are “witnessing a shocking counter-narrative of the attacks that is getting traction on and off campus—‘Israel is to blame for the attacks.’” And, she said that the previous afternoon, “in Cambridge, people chanted, ‘We don’t want no Jewish state, we want ‘48!’” 

Rabbi David Wolpe, currently at Harvard Divinity School as a visiting scholar, had a suggestion. 

“Look at the enemies Israel is fighting,” he said. “Remember 9/11. These are the people Hamas just let over their border. Appeal to people not already totally captivated by an evil ideology. Those are the people we should be talking to.”

Rich Tenorio covers antisemitism news for JewishBoston.com. His work has appeared in international, national, regional and local media outlets. He is a graduate of Harvard College and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. He is also a cartoonist. Email him at richt@cjp.org

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Israel Update with Miri Eisin

Since early Saturday morning, so many of us have struggled to make sense of the horrific events unfolding in Israel. Hear acclaimed political scientist, former intelligence officer, and retired Israel Defense Forces Col. Miri Eisin share background on the situation, on-the-ground insights, and opportunities for the Greater Boston community to help those in need.

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Opening Remarks From Rabbi Marc Baker at ADL New England’s The Good Fight Forum 2023

Rabbi Marc Baker, president & CEO of CJP, shared his opening remarks at ADL New England’s The Good Fight Forum on Oct. 10, 2023, a community event dedicated to combating antisemitism and hate.

Dear Friends,

As we’ve already heard, we are here this morning at an unprecedented time in this history of the State of Israel and the history of the Jewish People.  

Several years ago, this gathering, this Good Fight, was created as a response to the most horrific and deadly antisemitic attack we had ever experienced here in America – the Tree of Life shooting. It devastated the Pittsburgh community, touched many people here in our own community, and in many ways changed Jewish life in America as we now know it. Let us keep the Tree of Life victims in our hearts and minds today and always.  

We are here because the hatred that has plagued the Jewish community and the world for thousands of years is not only alive and well, but still growing here in America and right here in our own community – in schools, on college campuses, from the egregious displays of white supremacists blaming 9/11 on the Jews to casual workplace conversations and the social media of pop stars and professional athletes.  

This morning, we are here one day after thousands of us gathered on Boston Common to stand in solidarity with Israel and to raise our voices – together with friends, allies, elected officials and other local leaders. We gathered to express our love, solidarity, grief, anger, and moral outrage at the horrific and heinous acts of terror that have taken over 900 innocent Israeli lives. The Good Fight taking place right now in Israel is a war to protect the innocent lives of our Jewish family thousands of miles away and to protect the future of the Jewish homeland.  

And this is not just far away – it is already touching nearly every one of us in some way or another, whether one of the tens of thousands of Israelis living here in Greater Boston or American Jews who have friends and family living in Israel and defending the Jewish State. My personal friends and family had to go directly from yesterday’s rally to the home of dear friends to escort them the airport after they learned that their son-in-law – a young man with a tremendous spirit, love of Israel, and bright future ahead of him – was killed in battle.  

My friends, in the past few days we have witnessed the largest, most gruesome massacre of Jews that I have seen in my lifetime and that we have seen since the Holocaust. We are here today to fight for our own safety and well-being and for the future of our community and this country; Israelis are in a fight for their lives; and we are living through the darkest moment of hatred and violence against Jews that many of us have ever known.  

Add to this the vile and incomprehensible response that we have seen in the streets of Cambridge and on college campuses – a defense of terror and violence rooted in ignorance and extremist, antisemitic ideologies that demonize Israel and dehumanize Israelis, and that, in fact, threaten the safety, security and well-being of Jews, especially, but not exclusively, our young people.  

We are here today to better understand these challenges and what we can do about them, again with gratitude to the partners and leaders from across our community who are doing this work everyday in so many different ways.  

Put simply, we have work to do. We have work to do to educate, advocate, and mobilize our communities, along with friends and allies, to fight against all forms of antisemitism, especially right now against Israel-hatred, along with all other forms of bigotry and hate; to fight against forces of extremism, conspiracy theories and other forms of disinformation and demonization; and to ensure that every person can walk down the street and through the world with head held high with a sense of safety, security, confidence in their personal identity and belonging in the larger society of which we are a part.  

We have work to do to create communities and a world where everyone – of every religion, race, gender, sexual orientation – feels free, safe, accepted, and valued.  

We have work to do, which is why I’m so proud that over the past year CJP has partnered with ADL and so many other organizations to launch our 5-Point Plan to combat antisemitism and anti-Zionism. We will not likely eliminate a 3,000-year-old hatred in our lifetimes, but we will certainly be stronger and fight against it more effectively when we fight it together.  

Together, we are educating and mobilizing our community. Together, we are putting faces and stories to the personal experiences of Jew-hatred through our Face Jewish Hate media campaign, and we are partnering with the Foundation to Combat Antisemitism’s national blue square campaign so more people who share our values will #StandUpToJewishHate.

Together, we are expanding community security to ensure that we and our children will be safe and secure as we choose to live engaged, vibrant, joyous Jewish lives in our schools and synagogues and community centers.  

Together, we are deepening relationships with allies and leaders from across civic Boston because this is not a Good Fight that we will win alone, and as my friend, JCRC CEO Jeremy Burton, always reminds us, antisemitism, like other forms of hate, is not a problem for the Jewish community to solve on our own.  

It was heartening, comforting, even inspiring to launch our Face Jewish Hate campaign at TD Garden side by side with important and influential political and faith leaders; just as it was heartening yesterday to hear the unequivocal support for Israel and condemnation of terror from so many of our friends, allies and elected officials. That only happens because of the work ADL, JCRC, so many of the partners here today, do to deepen these relationships, to stand with and show up for other vulnerable communities, to fight for democracy, human dignity, and for the character of our commonwealth and our country. I feel grateful and hopeful that we are in this fight, this Good Fight, with friends and allies who will stand with us, and that we are in this with one another, together.  

Thank you.

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Staying Safe Against Cyberhate 

By Rich Tenorio 

When the Israeli organization CyberWell published a report on the state of online antisemitism for 2022, the survey quoted multiple Jews on the subject. They included Tyler Samuels, a Jamaican Jew who recounted the backlash he faced after discussing history—both Jewish and Jamaican Jewish—on social media. 

“I was inundated with hate, from death threats to the usage of slurs against me,” Samuels said. “This abuse only got worse if I dared mention my love of Israel.” 

Netflix host Dr. Sheila Nazarian, a Jewish Iranian American with a significant social media presence, noted that “the sad reality is that I am often the target of harassment and hate—just for being Jewish.” 

“This abuse only got worse if I dared mention my love of Israel.”

Dr. Sheila Nazarian

Cyberhate is defined as “[online] hate speech” by the Anti-Defamation League, and the ADL and other organizations are marshaling their resources to combat it. 

“Unfortunately,” the ADL explained in its “Best Practices for Responding to Cyberhate,” “while the internet’s capacity to improve the world is boundless, it also is used by some to transmit antisemitism, anti-Muslim bigotry, racism, homophobia, misogyny, xenophobia and other forms of hate, prejudice and bigotry.” 

In a resulting initiative from the ADL, a Working Group on Cyberhate emerged following a request for action from the Inter-Parliamentary Coalition for Combating Anti-Semitism back in 2012. The best practices were published in 2019, and the platforms expressing support included Twitter. Ironically, the platform—now owned by Elon Musk and renamed X—has gotten into a public dispute with the ADL over the issue of antisemitic and racist content on the site. This is why reporting antisemitism matters both in-person and online.

CyberWell has made it a priority to address online antisemitism. Of the many types of Jew hate, online antisemitism is among today’s fastest-spreading, according to CyberWell. The organization’s 2022 survey found that the highest amount of online antisemitism overwhelmingly consisted of stereotypes, tropes and conspiracies (63.7%). The second- and third-highest percentages were collective blame of Jews (15.6%) and antisemitism directed against Israel or Israelis (8.8%). The findings did not represent the whole of last year, as the organization did not begin tracking data online until May. 

Samuels described his own proactive steps—as well as his frustration at having to make them: “Rather than focusing on educating people about Jewish history, I now have to police my notifications to hide and block antisemitic comments on my posts.” He called this “an exhausting existence.” 

“Rather than focusing on educating people about Jewish history, I now have to police my notifications to hide and block antisemitic comments on my posts.”

Tyler Samuels

Both CyberWell and the ADL recommend actions that can be taken. 

The ADL Cyber Safety Action Guide offers tips to report antisemitic content on numerous platforms, although it notes that there are often limits to these platforms’ policies. CyberWell details its efforts to get platforms to remove antisemitic content, noting their varying levels of responsiveness. The organization even trains students in how to recognize and report online antisemitism from its Tel Aviv location. And it explains rights explicitly or implicitly guaranteed to social media users. 

Jewish social media users, according to CyberWell, are guaranteed “protection from online hate hosted on these platforms—whether it is targeted harassment against you specifically, or generally spreading fear and harmful misinformation about the Jewish people as a group.” 

As for Samuels, he expressed a wish that social media companies would be as proactive in removing antisemitic content as he is in self-monitoring it. 

“I do it,” he said, “because I have no faith anymore that social media platforms are acting with a solid will to remove those who perpetrate this old virus of hatred.” 

Rich Tenorio covers antisemitism news for JewishBoston.com. His work has appeared in international, national, regional and local media outlets. He is a graduate of Harvard College and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. He is also a cartoonist. Email him at richt@cjp.org.

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A Deep Dive Into Cyberbullying 

By Rich Tenorio 

Bullying is bad enough, but with kids on social media all the time, cyberbullying can be just as bad, if not worse. And it’s sometimes antisemitic in character, depending on the target. 

“A lot of bullying and cyberbullying go hand-in-hand,” said Jinnie Spiegler, director of curriculum and training for the Anti-Defamation League. “It’s rare when bullying in-person does not make its way to the digital world. Usually, it’s both.” However, she noted, cyberbullying “is unique from other bullying and can be particularly harmful.” 

WHAT IS CYBERBULLYING?

Occurring in digital spaces such as a computer or smartphone, cyberbullying includes hurtful comments, posting private information, posing as someone else to harm their reputation and forcible exclusion from groups online, she said. 

Cyberbullying has increased dramatically in recent years and poses added dangers for tweens and teens. Unlike traditional schoolyard bullying, in which there is some relief when the school day ends, cyberbullying can occur at all hours, limiting the ability of trusted adults, such as parents and teachers, to notice and/or help. Instead of private locations such as the back of a classroom or school bus, cyberbullying can manifest itself through public posts online, potentially harming someone’s reputation for years—including, ironically, the individual committing the bullying. It can persist on digital devices indefinitely, unless a social media platform removes it. 

The Cyberbullying Research Center tracks the phenomenon among 12- to 17-year-olds. The overall cyberbullying victimization rate among that demographic stood at 18.8% in 2007, the year Apple rolled out the iPhone. By 2019, the rate had risen to 36.5%; in 2021, it increased yet again, to 45.5%, nearly half of young people in that age bracket. 

Spiegler said the ADL’s view of bullying draws upon common characteristics—it is repeated, threatening behavior, committed by one or more individuals with a perceived power differential over their target. That power differential can include hostile stances toward marginalized groups, such as Jewish, Black or LGBTQIA+ communities. For example, read what happens when antisemitism and anti-LGBTQIA+ hate converge. It is this identity-based bullying and cyberbullying that the ADL is marshaling its resources against. 

“We tend to use examples like antisemitic cyberbullying, racist cyberbullying or bullying,” Spiegler said. “You’ll see this a lot, especially in the teenage years, bullying targeted toward a particular group or person. A lot of times, what they say is racist or antisemitic or homophobic, things like that.” 

WHAT TO DO ABOUT CYBERBULLYING 

Although cyberbullying can be dismaying, like bullying in general, its targets do have options, from managing their settings online to asking that social media platforms remove hateful content. 

Spiegler’s suggestions: 
  • Be an ally, supporting the target even if you don’t know them. 
  • Don’t participate in cyberbullying if it comes up. Other people will notice your nonparticipation, which may lead them to do the same. 
  • Tell the oppressor or oppressors to stop, either publicly or privately. 

Remember that you don’t have to confront the person doing the cyberbullying and that this is often the safest approach. When it comes to directly communicating with a cyberbully, she recalls a lesson from her anti-bias work: “If there’s antisemitic or racist remarks, why are you going to feed into that?” Instead, she counseled, “Understand where the person is as an individual [and don’t] feed into that kind of groupthink.”

In general, she said, “There are strategies for staying safe online. Don’t respond, save screenshots if you need them later, reporting them to trusted adults.” And, she said, “you can report abuse to the companies,” whether it’s Facebook, X or even a Nintendo or Sony Playstation game. (Read more about why reporting antisemitism matters.)

“As kids get older,” she said, “they’re less and less likely influenced by a parent or trusted adult. Young people have to help each other move from bystanders to allies.” 

Rich Tenorio covers antisemitism news for JewishBoston.com. His work has appeared in international, national, regional and local media outlets. He is a graduate of Harvard College and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. He is also a cartoonist. Email him at richt@cjp.org.

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Organizations Fighting Antisemitism Receive Grants From CJP

Next month we mark the five-year anniversary of the Tree of Life massacre, and the fight against Jewish hate continues. Antisemitism is intensifying across the country, with a marked surge in bomb threats and swatting attacks of Jewish institutions, extremists publicly gathering in communities, the highest number of reported antisemitic incidents, and the spread of antisemitic propaganda on social media. But at the same time, mainstream public conversation on antisemitism has shifted significantly over the past five years. With the first-ever national strategy to combat antisemitism being released and strong displays of cross-community solidarity, we collectively must meet this moment to strengthen and empower the Jewish community to advance innovative solutions and collaborations.  

CJP’s groundbreaking new fighting antisemitism initiative has recently launched to increase our local efforts and resources on antisemitism and to facilitate a stronger collective effort centered on collaboration, coordination, and partnership in a way that meets the urgent needs in our Greater Boston community. 

The initiative will be moving forward work across CJP’s 5-Point Plan to combat antisemitism, raise public awareness, increase community engagement, deepen allyship across communities, increase educational resources, and strengthen communal security. Following the successful launch of our public awareness campaign, Face Jewish Hate, CJP is proud to announce our inaugural and initial grants allocated to strategically implement Year 1 priority areas of the 5-Point Plan. 

They include:  

ADL New England to drive forward increased incident reporting and response, expand education programs in schools and campuses, and bridge building work between Jewish and Black communities.  

“Since 1913, ADL has empowered our community to confront antisemitism through our mission to ‘stop the defamation of the Jewish people and security justice and fair treatment to all.’  This Plan allows us to provide our community with tools to confront antisemitism, and expand our incident response, vital in the wake of recent swatting attacks. We will deepen our education and outreach to schools, campuses, and the workplace as we build allies in the fight against antisemitism.” 

JCRC (Jewish Community Relations Council) of Boston to advance community and government relations at the state and municipal levels to address antisemitism. 

“JCRC exists because our network of organizations and leaders believe that the safety and the interests of our Jewish community can only be achieved – at least in part – through our engagement in, presence in, and relationships in Boston’s broader civic space. Our work as JCRC is the weaving of networks of relationship – within and beyond the Jewish community – to facilitate pathways for articulating and advancing our shared interests, including working in allyship to fight antisemitism and hatred in all its forms. This plan supports the JCRC network to invest in the work of building and being allies with others in our region, advocating on matters of security to our state and local officials, and working together to ensure that Jewish identity and experience are represented without bias in our public schools.”  

American Jewish Committee (AJC) of New England to amplify their work with diplomats, elected officials, and interfaith leaders at the local level to address antisemitism. 

“The proliferation of antisemitism in New England and across the country is an historic challenge. Fortunately, unlike in past eras, we have the wherewithal to meet this challenge. What it requires is sustained strategic focus and a mobilized Jewish community. We are glad to work with CJP and other organizations from across our community to coordinate and amplify the work we do.  In this way, we will steadily work to mitigate the dangers posed by anti-Jewish activism and ensure a healthy future for our Jewish community.” 

JOIN for Justice to launch the SEA (Study, Engage, Act) Change program for congregations in the Greater Boston area on racial justice and deepening allyship. 

“To face the scourge of antisemitism, we won’t be satisfied by asking people to stand with the Jewish community after we are attacked.  One critical component needs to be developing the leadership of Jews, at the grass roots level, across all races and identities, to build relationships with people across all religions, races, and identities.  Then, they can stand together, as allies, with the power to fight all hatreds and oppressions and build a more just Greater Boston where communities unite to stop oppression before it happens.  We’re thankful for CJP’s vision and leadership in enacting this comprehensive plan.” 

Facing History and Ourselves to significantly increase the availability of content, resources, and professional development for Greater Boston educators on Holocaust education and antisemitism:  

“We are grateful to CJP for convening organizations from across the Greater Boston community to combat antisemitism. The education pillar of this work is a critical aspect in helping students become compassionate and engaged upstanders who understand the importance of their choices. The only means to a better tomorrow is by working on today.  We, at Facing History and Ourselves, continue to effectuate change by helping educators establish inclusive and reflective classroom community that can thereby provide space to combat prejudice, stereotypes, and bigotry.” 

Tribe Talk to increase and deepen educational resources and programs for pre-college students on antisemitism. 

Lappin Foundation to support teen antisemitism work. 

Boston University Hillel to continue its antisemitism initiative as a potential scalable model for the broader community. 

CJP is thrilled to roll out the grant funding to these partners and to coordinate this work. In the weeks and months ahead, we will continue to work to amplify and measure the impact of this work in our efforts to strengthen the tools for our community to combat antisemitism. 

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Answering the Call: From Boston to D.C., United Against Xenophobia

By Rebeccah Lipson, Repair the World Fellow, Boston    

This summer marked a significant turning point in my journey as I embarked on a new chapter with Repair the World, an organization that mobilizes Jews and their communities to actively pursue a more just world. Little did I know that this commitment would soon lead me and my dedicated team to a powerful moment of action: the 60th anniversary March on Washington. 

As Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel once wisely noted, “The opposite of good is not evil; the opposite of good is indifference.” At Repair the World, we understand that our purpose goes beyond passive observation of the world’s injustices. It’s about stepping forward, taking action, and making a tangible impact. This philosophy, encapsulated by Rabbi Heschel’s words, has shaped my summer and propelled me toward the heart of a movement that echoes with historical significance and calls for a united stand against all forms of discrimination and injustice. 

As the summer unfolded, my team and I grappled with the notion of responsibility. We spent hours at cafes, synagogues, and parks discussing the various forms of injustices Boston is facing. We recognized that we, as Jews, have a unique obligation to address and combat xenophobia in all its manifestations. The decision to journey from our base in Boston to Washington, D.C., wasn’t just a logistical one; it was an unequivocal statement of our commitment. We wanted to take what we learned and put it into action. This trip to D.C. was a manifestation of the Jewish value of na’aseh v’nishma, action and learning. We firmly believe that when given an opportunity to fight against forms of xenophobia, it is our duty to seize it. 

The 60th anniversary March on Washington holds a special resonance for me, not only due to its historical significance but also because of the values it represents. Dr. Martin Luther King’s legacy reverberates through the decades, reminding us that the struggle for justice and equality is ongoing. As I stand on the precipice of this march, I can’t help but reflect on the parallels between the civil rights movement and the issues we continue to grapple with today, such as food insecurity and housing injustice that brown and Black Bostonians continue to face today.

The decision to march alongside CJP, in collaboration with ADL, speaks volumes about our collective determination. It’s a testament to the power of solidarity, achdoot, in the face of adversity. Our call to serve goes beyond the march. Our call to serve enables us to take direct action in the name of tzedek, justice. The march itself is a continuation of a journey that began 60 years ago, and we’re here to carry forward the torch of progress and equality. 

Our dedication isn’t merely symbolic; it’s a reflection of our unwavering belief that combating xenophobia, racism, and discrimination is central to our identity as Jews. We’ve faced our own historical struggles, and that shared experience binds us to the broader tapestry of individuals who have fought and continue to fight for their rights. Just as we would expect others to stand with us against antisemitism, we recognize the imperative of standing with those who face other kinds of hate. 

In a world where divisiveness can seem all-encompassing, this march becomes a beacon of hope. It’s a space where individuals from different backgrounds come together with a shared purpose: to reshape the future into one that’s inclusive, just, and equitable. It’s a moment to amplify the voices of those who have been marginalized and silenced, and to challenge the structures that perpetuate inequality.

As we prepare to gather for Shabbat dinner with members of the King family and leaders of the march, the significance of our presence becomes even more palpable. It’s not just about showing up; it’s about actively participating in a service movement that’s greater than ourselves to change the world for the better. 

I’m humbled by the journey that brought me here and excited about the journey that lies ahead. This summer, Repair the World gave me purpose, and, like Jewish service, this march gives me another opportunity to turn that purpose into action. 

As Rabbi Heschel’s words remind us, our refusal to be indifferent is the spark that ignites lasting change.

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Allyship and the Work Ahead: Reflections From Washington, D.C.

By Melissa Garlick, Senior Director of Combating Antisemitism and Building Civic Engagement at Combined Jewish Philanthropies

On Saturday, August 26, 2023, CJP partnered with ADL New England to travel to D.C. to stand in solidarity with communities across the country for the 60th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. At the same time as we were marching, singing, and chanting, Black people were being gunned down and killed in Jacksonville, Florida, in a racially motivated attack. 

The juxtaposition of themes of survival, resilience, and determination alongside the very painful reminder of the work ahead resonate deeply with me as a Jew and are exactly why I am so committed to deepening allyship as central to CJP’s work to fight antisemitism. As Reverend Jamal Harrison Bryant put it in his speech: “We are not the generation that is going to sit down and be quiet. If you don’t believe me, take a one-way trip to Montgomery, Alabama, and there you will find out that no weapon born against us will be able to prosper … 60 years later, we’re still not free, but we know how to last.” 

In the Jewish community, we understand all too well that racist, antisemitic, and extremist violence are intended to push us into the realm of despair and silence. We stand on the shoulders of prior generations who bravely gave their hearts, souls, and lives to democracy and freedom for us to continue that fight. And we intimately understand that fighting antisemitism cannot be done in isolation from the struggle for racial justice. That the only way we are going to achieve our shared vision is to do it arm in arm. 

CJP’s work to fight antisemitism is dedicated to the vision that our work now can inspire and empower future generations to ensure freedom and equality for all. And the vision that future generations can live and pray without the threat to physical safety and security. 

In the meantime, we march on and we push forward: loudly, proudly, and together.  

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