As you have read in this column many times, I love sports. I love the spectacle, the stress, the storylines, and the competition. And the pinnacle of the football year culminated on Sunday with Super Bowl 57. While my San Francisco 49ers were not playing, I enjoyed being with friends and watching the game. And according to the early ratings, 113 million people watched the game, making it the 3rd highest-watched game of all time.
Sadly, the game left me highly disappointed. No, it wasn’t the controversial holding penalty that came late in the 4th quarter or that Rihanna’s halftime performance was a big pregnancy reveal (I actually enjoyed it). Instead, what bothered me was the commercials, or more precisely, the one commercial that could have potentially changed the trajectory of American culture as we know it today.
The organized Jewish community missed a golden opportunity to confront antisemitism – the hatred and animosity towards Jews that seems to have become much more mainstream than it has been since the 1930s and 40s. Although a 30-second spot during the Super Bowl cost a reported $7 million, think about having that many people watching a commercial that drew attention to the antisemitism we are seeing today. Just imagine what kind of impact a commercial like that could have had….knowing that Americans from all walks of life… 113 million of them would have seen it. To me, that would have been a worthwhile investment in our future.
Last night I was invited to a special meeting coordinated with the ADL, with about 20 other heads of prominent LA-area Jewish organizations with newly elected LA Sheriff Robert Luna. The purpose of the meeting was to provide insight and perspective with Sheriff Luna on the concerns of the Jewish community surrounding security and antisemitism. During the hour-long conversation, several of us tried to convey to him and his staff our concerns and willingness to partner to address this current climate of hatred.
Now, I don’t expect that all hate crimes and incidents will suddenly vanish because this meeting took place. I am not that naïve. However, I am hopeful that more people in power, like Sheriff Luna, better understand our concerns and how this is negatively affecting and impacting us. The more people hear this and begin to comprehend it, the greater chance there is to develop a cadre of supporters and helpers.
This is the exact reason why I felt that national Jewish organizations like the Jewish Federations of North America, the ADL, the American Jewish Committee, and even a few non-Jewish organizations should have come together and taken the opportunity to denounce hatred of all kinds in such a public manner. We need more public displays like national commercials to raise awareness and denounce hatred, especially when a message like that could reach so many people simultaneously.
Who knows, maybe a commercial like this will be aired during Super Bowl 58 next year because, sadly, I think we can all agree that antisemitism will still be around.
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