I talked with one of my best friends yesterday, as he called to check in to see how I was doing. As we were catching up, I asked how his daughter’s college applications were going, and he said okay, although he is a bit worried about what he is seeing and reading about taking place on college campuses right now. In fact, he had recently sent a letter to one of the schools his daughter is applying to expressing his concern about the climate of hate towards Jewish students right now.
This is one of many conversations I have had about this topic over the last several years, although it has NEVER been as bad as it is right now. In remarks I have been delivering to city councils as our Jewish Federation has been working to get our cities to adopt resolutions denouncing antisemitism and all forms of hate, I have tried to convey the sense of fear that many Jews feel. And this was before the terrorist attacks in Israel on October 7 that started the war against Hamas. Since that time, the ADL has reported there has been a 400% increase in antisemitic incidents compared to this time last year. Unfortunately, where we are seeing it the most right now is on college campuses.
As President Biden was announcing his administration’s response to this rise of hate towards Jews on college campuses, I was in the process of sending letters, on behalf of our Jewish Federation and local Jewish community, to the University Presidents in our community (i.e. Caltech, Occidental, Cal Poly Pomona, Azusa Pacific University, Pomona College, Scripps Colleges, Harvey Mudd College, Claremont McKenna College, Claremont Graduate University, Keck Graduate Institute, Pitzer, and University of La Verne). Click here to read one of the letters.
Shortly before I sent the letters out, I met with the Executive Director for the Network of Independent Communities (which we are a member of) of the Jewish Federation of North America (JFNA). I was able to update him on the work we have been doing, and he was highly impressed and proud of the role our Jewish Federation is playing within our community. He also shared with me the incredible work being done by JFNA in support of Israel and how appreciative JFNA is for the outpouring of financial support people have shown towards Israel. To date, JFNA has raised more than $554 million that is directly supporting those in Israel who have been impacted since October 7. It made me feel good knowing that our community has helped in whatever way we have been able to.
I also shared this meeting because it further illustrates that even our Jewish Federation does not operate in a vacuum. We are part of the larger ecosystem of JFNA that is helping people around the world in the work being done.
It is a similar reminder, I feel, that we all need sometimes. Our Jewish Federation is only able to do the work we do through the support we receive from the community. Thank you to everyone who has donated not only to support Israel during its time of need but also to those who continue to support our Jewish Federation so that we can do what we do. If you have not yet had a chance to support us, now is a great time. Please help us continue to be a strong and vibrant Jewish voice in and for our community by making a meaningful gift today.