by Judy LaPietra
The history of Jewish life in the United States predates the country itself. With the enduring dream of freedom and tolerance, Jewish communities have flourished throughout our history, as Jewish refugees continue to bring the bounty of Jewish culture and tradition to our shores. The fabric of the American patchwork quilt is stitched by an enduring Jewish thread.
While the quilt that is America proudly displays over 350 years of American Jewish achievement and diversity, the invisible thread of antisemitism has always been present. The accelerated manifestation of antisemitism in our country that we are currently witness to is not new to our shores. Antisemitism in America has continued to persist despite the emergence of organized opposition groups in the early 20th century such as the American Jewish Committee and the Anti-Defamation League. It is not until today, however, that we see an unprecedented response to decisively counter antisemitism emanating from the White House.
The new U.S. National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism promises to be the most comprehensive historical response in our country’s history. The goal of this ambitious plan is a multi-layered societal approach to tackling the threat of antisemitism today in the United States. It does so in a way that is based on 4 strategic goals: to increase awareness of antisemitism, to improve safety for Jewish communities across the country, to counter antisemitic discrimination, and to build a collective national network to combat antisemitism. More than a symbolic statement, the plan delineates calls to action for every level of our society from the halls of Congress to local institutions and communities. Perhaps the most important aspect of the new strategy is that it places antisemitism front and center in American life, no longer a perceived marginal problem. The government response also underscores that the antisemitism of today is part of a pattern in American history and not a series of episodic incidents from our past.
The Greenspon Center has heard this historic clarion call to action as we reinforce existing programming and reimagine new opportunities that support the goals of this new strategy. We were provided an unprecedented blueprint by the Biden administration to address this pervasive thread that is antisemitism in America. It is up to all of us to ensure that this opportunity not take its place among the centuries of inaction and indifference, as we work at long last to remove the thread of antisemitism.