April 9, 2024

Last week, I spoke with a student from Azusa Pacific University who had questions she needed answers to for an assignment on Judaism. During our conversation, she asked if I had ever personally experienced antisemitism and what that was like for me. I shared with her that I had been spit at as I walked through Washington, DC, and called names. I also elaborated on the prevalence of antisemitism in society today and how it is impacting our community.


I am sharing this in my column this week because it illustrates that more people are becoming aware of how prevalent antisemitism has gotten in society over the last number of years. And with it, actions have been taken outside of the Jewish community to address it.


As you may remember, last May, the Biden administration launched a revolutionary approach to target this rise of antisemitism with The U.S. National Strategy to Counter AntisemitismThe collective Jewish community heralded it because it was understood that we now had a significant ally in this fight. Plus, its official launch was announced by the Second Gentleman, Doug Emhoff, and Ambassador Deborah Lipstadt, Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism.


Just this past Friday, Governor Gavin Newsom announced the Golden State Plan to Counter AntisemitismThis effort had been in the works for over five months and was championed by the California Legislative Jewish Caucus and the Jewish Public Affairs Committee, of which our Jewish Federation is a member organization.


The plan, which is part of the state’s anti-hate agenda, targets four specific areas of focus: 1) supporting and protecting Jewish communities, 2) addressing and preventing antisemitism, 3) uplifting Jewish heritage and building tolerance, and 4) advancing equity and countering discrimination.


While this is all very exciting, it is important to remind all of us of one crucial thing. Each of these is only a strategy—well thought out, comprehensive approaches to tackle this rise in hate… a road map, if you will.


However, it is imperative that we understand that it will still take a lot of work and time to change beliefs and practices in order for this effort to produce tangible results. By no means am I minimizing these efforts. I am actually blown away that there is a national, and now statewide, coordinated approach to tackling this issue.


I just want to make sure we keep our expectations in check and recognize that it will take some time to see a change in society. But at least we know that the Jewish community has some powerful allies with us, and we can feel good knowing that we are no longer alone in our fight.


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