On Wednesday, I had the opportunity to talk with Ambassador Deborah Lipstadt, US special envoy to combat antisemitism, about the new national strategy and its implementation.
JCRC organized this event along with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Center for Faith-Based Partnerships, directed by long-time JCRC board member Samantha Joseph. This office, along with other offices and teams across the federal government, is tasked with the executive-side implementation of the strategy. We were also joined by Maggie Siddiqi, Director of the Department of Education’s Center for Faith-Based Partnership – herself a friend who I have come to know and respect over the years through Muslim-Jewish engagement at the Shalom Hartman Institute.
We had an enlightening and wide-ranging discussion about the process behind the plan, the highlights, and some of the aspects that have received attention in recent weeks. But most importantly, it was a conversation about realizing the vision of this strategy through implementation.
This is a plan that includes significant commitments from the administration, with, as the ambassador noted, concrete deadlines for which the agencies will be accountable. And, it also is a call to action: upon Congress, upon state and local government, upon businesses, cultural institutions, philanthropies, and communities.
Some of the topics we discussed are already being addressed– directives from the Dept. of Education to universities regarding their civil rights obligations, directives within federal departments regarding access to kosher and halal food. Others, such as the call by the Biden-Harris administration to include Jewish experiences and history in ethnic studies programs, will now fall to states and school boards, where standards are set and specific curriculums are selected and implemented.
The work is now ours to do – as local leaders, as partners to the Jewish community, as allies who want to help implement this strategy – to stand together against antisemitism. Which is why we at JCRC, with your support, are expanding our investment in key areas, as part of the CJP 5-point plan:
- JCRC is doubling down on our advocacy work to secure state investments in non-profit security – which, because of our work already, brings millions of dollars each year to synagogues, JCCs and other vulnerable organizations.
- We’re expanding our work on K-12 public education to hire a director of educational partnerships and increasing our capacity to work with state officials and local school district where decisions about curriculum and content, including ethnic studies, happens.
- We’re investing in and leading an analytic planning process, with support from CJP, to inform our strategy, as a community and across our network, to build allyship with and from other communities, in particular communities of color and other vulnerable minorities.
As Ambassador Lipstadt emphasized, people need to read the plan. And, if you read the plan – or listened to our discussion with these three wonderful public servants – you know that the implementation of the plan, like the strategy itself, is wide-ranging and will require a ‘whole of society’ effort.
I want to thank CJP for co-sponsoring this event with JCRC and Melissa Garlick, Senior Director for Combatting Antisemitism, for joining us and introducing the discussion with an overview of CJP’s community strategy.
As I’ve said before, the national strategy is an overwhelmingly positive contribution to our needs and our efforts in the struggle against antisemitism. And to paraphrase the great Tip O’Neill, (most) implementation is local.
We’ve already gotten to work on the implementation here in Boston. We hope you’ll be our partners – and the Jewish community’s, and the Biden-Harris administration’s – in this work.