Actions & Outcomes Combating Antisemitism

Responding to a long-time supporter who asked what Federation is doing about antisemitism, Federation recently issued this report. We appreciate community members sharing feedback about Federation's efforts to combat antisemitism. That passion is well placed; voicing concerns validates our purpose and resource deployment, and energizes us all to remain vigilant. 

Jewish Federation in the Heart of NJ engages in proactive and reactive measures to help preempt, mitigate, legislate, investigate, prosecute, rectify, prepare for, and protect against hidden and overt manifestations of antisemitism. We prioritize direct working interactions with those in positions to make and enforce practices, policies, laws, penalties, and other protections against bias and hate-based harm. 

Astutely, some point to the fact that often our work is “unseen.” You might say we are in the kitchen making the sausage. In fact, if you’ll pardon the metaphor, we are not just in the kitchen, we are in the field raising the chickens, growing the herbs. Without our roll-up-your-sleeves, behind the scenes work, there are no sausage — no results, nothing changed, nothing gained.        

Our work is primarily:

  • Government advocacy;
  • Safety and security initiatives;  
  • Civic and multicultural alliance building; and yes, as you noted… 
  • Education. 

Secondarily, when resources permit, we selectively participate in, promote, and support constructive demonstrations intended to bring attention to important issues in our community, e.g. a hyper-local vigil in Highland Park and a mega march in New York City.  

We value the role of such demonstrations in heightening attention on an issue and encouraging leaders to take action. Unfortunately, demonstrations often generate millions of dollars’ worth of publicity and donations to the causes and organizers on the other side of the street; they divide the Jewish community instead of strengthening us against antisemitism; and worse, yet — and somewhat counter-intuitively — they can make it more difficult for people in power to support the Jewish community. 

We — the universal we — are not likely to demonstrate OR legislate OR educate our way to ending antisemitism in many lifetimes, if ever. At the end of the day, we must optimize laws, funding, curricula, allies, policing practices and the like, while never relenting on efforts to fight hate in hearts and minds, one person at a time. 

We have seen that the most effective ways of turning the type of awareness that demonstrations achieve into outcomes are, in fact, direct government advocacy, alliance building, security initiatives, and education.

Given Federation's obligation to use donors’ monetary contributions in ways that produce results, our donors may be reassured our work in these areas produces the greatest return on investment.   

The following partial list of recent Federation actions and outcomes presents the breadth and depth of our work and impact on behalf of the Jewish community and our peace-loving allies in the fight against all hate. 

We remain committed to making the most of them in making Jewish life stronger, safer, more supportive, and sustainable today and for generations to come.  


JEWISH FEDERATION IN THE HEART OF NEW JERSEY
OVERVIEW OF ACTIONS & OUTCOMES AIMED AT COMBATTING ANTISEMITISM
as of  JULY 27, 2022

Given the rise in antisemitism and the growth of the movement to boycott divest from, and sanction Israel (BDS), Federation is taking concrete steps to firmly push back against detrimental biases, actions, and rhetoric in our community and beyond. 

We appreciate our valued partners from the public and private sectors, including government, law enforcement, education, and many faith communities. We are committed to working together to make inroads against antisemitism and all forms of hate —ultimately bringing tools to bear to better address it on multiple fronts:

Focus: Supporting elected leaders and public officials in meeting the needs of the Jewish community

Example of Actions

  • Regularly meet with local, state, and federal elected leaders to advocate for legislation that combats antisemitism, improves Jewish communal security, strengthens the US-Israel relationship, and counters BDS, among other priorities — including, for example:  
    • Trained and took five new Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) delegates on recent Washington mission; spoke with six U.S. Senators and Members of Congress
    • Advocated with chair of the NJ Senate Education Committee for Holocaust education
    • Discussed with Marlboro, Manalapan, and East Brunswick mayors the need to adopt IHRA definition of antisemitism as litmus test for identifying and dealing with antisemitism in public schools
  • Testified to NJ Assembly Budget Committee to increase funding for community safety and other programs in state budget
  • Drafted legislation, proposed amendments, and provided testimony to create the NJ Nonprofit Security Grant Pilot Program (NSGP), expand the pilot program’s scope to include security personnel, and transition the pilot to a permanent program.
  • Supported annual program facilitating meetings between law enforcement officers and Holocaust survivors, including field learning at the U.S. Holocaust Museum and National Museum of African American History & Culture in Washington, D.C. — supporting officers in understanding and handling bias incidents.
  • Sponsored NJ legislators trip to see Israel first-hand to counter biased tropes in the public domain.


Examples of Outcomes

Local/State

  • Law enforcement officers stated their commitment to bring greater sensitivity to potential bias incidents.
  • Jewish Federation priorities were included in the NJ FY 2023 budget. Among other wins, security-related priorities included:
    • 81% increase in funding for NJ nonprofit security grants
    • Record security funding for day school students
  • Signed into law:
    • NJ NSGP (making it permanent after several years as a pilot program)
    • Expansion of NJ NGSP from only security personnel to include target-hardening 
  • NJ passed bill anti- BDS law prohibiting state pension funds from investing in companies that engage in or promote BDS. 
    • This law was pivotal in recent successful negotiations surrounding Ben & Jerry’s in Israel.

Federal

  • Members of Congress supported and passed into law the Never Again Education Act increasing Holocaust education in schools.
  • Funding for the Federal NSGP tripled from $90 million to $270 million.
    • This year, U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security approved a spending bill containing $360 million for the federal NSGP. 
  • 2021 Omnibus spending bill included:
    • Doubling budget for U.S. State Department Antisemitism Envoy
    • Doubling NSGP terrorism prevention grants
    • Funding new grants to better prevent and respond to hate crimes by improving reporting data
  • U.S. Senate passed resolution condemning 2021 antisemitic attacks
  • U.S. House approved emergency funding to replenish Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system


Overall

  • Secured a “seat at the table” in such forums as NJ Office of the Attorney General’s Summit on Combatting Bias, Hate, and Violence enabling Jewish Federation in the Heart of NJ to advance the needs of our community

 

Focus: Supporting institutions and people facing threats of hate-based violence at Jewish facilities

Jewish Federation security initiatives invest in making the places where Jews and our neighbors gather safer and more secure.

Examples of Actions

  • Provide guidance to 80+ Jewish institutions on daily security concerns and operations.  
  • Provide intensive, hands-on support to 20+ organizations to optimize applications for nonprofit security grants.
  • Host on average 20 security training workshops annually for Jewish organizations’ employees, lay leaders, and community members at large to be prepared in the event of a violent incident. 
  • Introduce synagogue and other Jewish organization leaders to local, state, and federal law enforcement and public safety partners through “Blue Sky Days” to proactively build relationships among personnel and familiarity of facilities outside of a crisis.
  • Created and distribute emergency procedures guide to 50+ organizations throughout the community 
  • Distributed 60+ Stop the Bleed trauma-first aid control kits to organizations throughout the community 
  • Make the Jewish community’s needs and interests top-of-mind among law enforcement, public safety, elected and faith leaders through involvement in such bodies as:
    • New Jersey Department of Homeland Security and Preparedness: (a) Interfaith Advisory Council, (b) New Jersey Shield initiative, and (c) Mass Gatherings Working Group
    • New Jersey Office of the Attorney General (a) Division of Criminal Justice and (b) Division on Civil Rights
    • National Faith-Based Information Sharing and Analysis Organization 
    • Secure Community Network’s National Security Directors Advisory Network
  • Convened hundreds of interfaith community leaders, clergy, law enforcement officers, public safety officials, and nonprofit partners at Community Preparedness Summit  
  • Engage security experts as advisors on the Jewish Federation Security Taskforce to inform and connect community organizations.  
  • Conduct and coordinate facility assessments identifying security gaps and help organizations write policies and procedures to enhance security.
  • Help Jewish organizations manage incidents and work with officials and partners. 
  • Make training resources available on demand through 24/7/365 digital portal.  (jewishheartnj.org/security-resources) 

Examples of Outcomes

  • Helped bring more than $11 million in security grants to dozens of Jewish organizations
  • Saved grant recipients time and money in making security improvements through grant implementation support
  • FBI awarded Director’s Community Leadership Award to Jewish Federation in the Heart of New Jersey for exemplary impact  
  • Agency director reported safe and successful handling of lockdown incident following Federation security assessment/training
  • Multiple law enforcement agencies now use facility blueprints and Federation’s “Intro to Judaism for Law Enforcement” guide in patrolling and other vigilance operations relating to the Jewish community.
  • Local law enforcement now conduct their internal trainings at Jewish facilities, further preparing themselves in the event of emergency at those sites. 
  • Launched and maintain a sophisticated emergency alert network for community leaders
  • Established a trusting, mutually valuable, and open line of communication with law enforcement and public safety partners making Federation the one-stop/first contact for organizations and individuals needing to investigate and triage active threats and incidents. 
  • Supported partners in identifying threats and thwarting attacks 


Focus: Supporting average citizens who want to more effectively fight antisemitism, hate, and anti-Israel sentiment in the community at large 

Examples of Actions

  • Rolled out local push of national advocacy campaign demanding social media companies revise policies on posts containing disinformation, hate speech,  incitement, and discriminatory content 
  • Six-part training series providing context, strategies, tactics, and tools empowering people to advocate with lawmakers, community groups, and others; brought in experts, e.g., from:
    • StandWithUs
    • OpenDor Media
    • Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis (CAMERA)
    • The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and others. 
  • Aggregate and provide digital access to on-demand resources empowering individuals to better understand and speak out against antisemitism (jewishheartnj.org/antisemitism-resources). 
  • Publish monthly updates and calls to action (e.g., including language and means to contact elected officials) via e-news to 5,000+ activism-minded community members; Recent antisemitism-related calls to action pertained to: 
    • Increasing funding for Nonprofit Security Grant Program
    • Voting yes on Iron Dome funding
    • Supporting the Israel Relations Normalization Act
    • Urge NJ to enforce anti-BDS Law in Ben & Jerry’s case 
    • End UN bias on Israel 
    • Oppose anti-Israel resolutions at National Education Association conference 
  • Brought noted author and expert (before her appointment to current post as U.S. Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism), Deborah Lipstadt, to Rutgers for community-wide forum on Holocaust denial and antisemitism.
  • Sponsored interfaith clergy trips to see Israel first-hand to counter biased tropes in the public domain. 
  • Provided access to three-part Israel Action Network coaching in narratives and tools for JCRC professionals and lay leaders to combat antisemitism and anti-Israel bias. 
  • Conduct neighborhood- and synagogue-based briefings on the current threat landscape and best practices to protect oneself and others.
  • Monitor and respond to local, state, and national public figures’ biased and/or uninformed positions on Israel.
  • Through social media conversations, op-eds, and direct correspondence, appealed to Jewish community members frequently attacking one another via social media regarding antisemitism to refocus on constructive communication with elected and public leaders in a position to effect real change.     
  • Sponsor delegations to march in “Celebrate Israel” parade in New York City.

Examples of Outcomes

  • Network of allies among Christian and Muslim faith leaders co-hosted with Federation ten community-wide “Seeing Human” events promoting multicultural understanding and advocacy.
  • Facebook revised policies on hate speech, bigotry, Holocaust denial, and the spread of disinformation.
  • Five new delegates joined our Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC), which advances Jewish communal priorities with elected officials  
  • Non-Jewish allies expressed support for our local Jewish community in the wake of hate crimes from Pittsburgh, PA to Colleyville, TX.
  • Interfaith clergy members who traveled to Israel with Federation
    • Spoke to several hundred congregants from their pulpits, published articles, including in the Muslim Journal, and spoke on panels, e.g., Metuchen Edison Area Interfaith Clergy Association with Diocese of Metuchen about reality in Israel vs. biased tropes 
    • Invited Federation to speak with congregation members at holiday celebrations, e.g., Iftar at Masjid Ibrahim in Newark, NJ.
  • Social media in-fighting between Jewish community factions, weakening the community’s position with public leaders, has dissipated 

Focus: Tackling antisemitism, hate, and anti-Israel sentiment in schools

Examples of Actions

  • Counseled parent of student who experienced antisemitism in class on how to address with school officials.
  • Spoke to Rutgers University leadership on multiple occasions following antisemitic incidents.
  • Convened interfaith student discussion at Rutgers University. 
  • Provided input to NJ Interagency Task Force to Combat Youth Bias 
  • Advance Jewish community interests through ongoing involvement and conversation with
    • NJ Commission on Holocaust Education
    • NJ Governor
    • NJ Attorney General
  • Sponsored the Center for Holocaust, Human Rights & Genocide Education (Chhange) Building Bridges Holocaust curriculum in public schools.
  • Sponsored Chhange Annual Colloquium providing Holocaust and genocide education to over a thousand middle and high school students and educators.
  • Bring in resources teaching students to recognize and respond to antisemitism and BDS, including
    • ADL’s “Words to Action” 
    • J-SERVE advocacy workshops
    • StandWithUs workshops
    • OpenDor Media films
    • “Write On for Israel” program
    • Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI) Global School Twinning Network
    • JAFI Young Emissary program
    • Teen Israel Summit

Examples of Outcomes

  • Parent who reached out for help with child’s antisemitic school incident became an active and consistent JCRC advocate, delegate to Washington D.C. mission, and participant in meeting with NJ State Senator.
  • Rutgers University leadership condemned antisemitism unconditionally on campus.

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