Leaders from across the country gather to strategize on safeguarding Jewish communities

May 24, 2024 | Article, JCRC

More than 80 leaders from 30 communities across the US met in Washington, D.C. in late May to build strategies for safeguarding our communities in the wake of the precipitous rise of antisemitism and anti-Zionism since October 7. Among the attendees was JEWISHcolorado President & CEO Renée Rockford who said, “What has defined community relations and community outreach for most federations and their accompanying Jewish Community Relations Council has dramatically shifted as we work to combat anti-Israel and anti-Jewish incidents. There is no other national or local organization with the ability of federation-based JCRCs that can do this kind of advocacy work and bring the community together.”

Renee Rockford and Matt Most in Washington, D.C.

Some of the speakers and partners included Representative Ritchie Torres (D-NY), Mike Lawler (R-NY), Hillel, Project Shema, Fuenta Latina, and Tel-Aviv Institute. Said Rep. Torres on the subject of antisemitism, “The post-October 7th moment did not change the status of antisemitism, but rather it revealed a trend unfolding for a long time. We have a historic opportunity to fundamentally reform how people think about antisemitism, and shame on us if we let that opportunity pass us by.” Topics included addressing the crisis on college campuses, civic partnerships and engagement, and social media.

Rep. Lawler spoke of being one of the lawmakers to have introduced the bipartisan Antisemitism Awareness Act, which has passed in the House and is awaiting Senate approval. The Act will require the Department of Education to use the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism and its contemporary examples when enforcing federal anti-discrimination laws. Lawler said usage of the IHRA definition in this context is a key step in calling out antisemitism where it is and ensuring antisemitic hate crimes on college campuses are properly investigated and prosecuted.

JFNA President and CEO speaks to Jewish leaders in Washington, D.C.

Jewish Federations of North America CEO Eric Fingerhut spoke at the gathering underscoring the dramatically shifting landscape and the need for adaptive and unprecedented response of the entire Federation system post-October 7. Federation professionals and lay leaders will gather for the JFNA General Assembly in Washington, D.C. November 10-12.

Read the letter sent by a broad coalition of 61 national Jewish organizations in support of CAA and contact your members of Congress.