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NCCI Toolkit for Religious Institutions

If I am not for me, then who will be?
If I am only for me, then who am I?
If not now, then when?

Rabbi Hillel, 1st century CE

AntiZionist/AntiSemites Hold Key Leadership Positions in Our Synagogues
In the course of waking up to the dangers to Israel and the Jewish people, we were shocked to discover the extent to which antiZionist/antiSemites hold key leadership positions in our synagogues and Jewish Federations.

How and why did this happen? It’s often through the best of intentions, including promoting Jewish values of welcoming strangers and creating an “open tent” in our community. These are important concepts, but not everybody has the same good intentions. We learned that there are antisemitic JVP members on synagogue and Jewish Federation boards, and teaching children at our religious schools. There were board members who were actively supporting the local government in efforts to discriminate against Israel. And most distressing, there are rabbis in our area who vigorously and publicly oppose the Jewish State of Israel, including at least one who wanted to honor the memory of PLO terrorist Yasser Arafat.

When we dilute our leadership with people who don’t share our love for Israel and the Jewish people, we pass on this ambivalence to our children and the rest of our local community, which has a rippling effect that does grievous harm to American Judaism and our brethren in Israel. We become so enamored with Rabbi Hillel’s words about looking out for others that we forget the first line of his trilogy is “If I am not for me, then who will be?”

So what Actions can guide our Jewish communities back on a welcoming, growing, thriving path?

Take Action against AntiZionist/AntiSemites In Our Synagogues
  1.  Improved vetting of leadership and critical roles in our Jewish institutions is vital to our survival. Ensure your Federations and synagogue boards have policies to prevent election of antiSemitic activists.
  2.  Even easy, small steps can have major impacts on improving the culture at your synagogues and Jewish Federations.
    • When your synagogues remember the sick and deceased in your congregation, ask that they include names of recent Jewish victims of terror attacks in Israel and around the world in these prayers
    •  Encourage your synagogue to include a prayer for Israel to survive and thrive, in weekly Shabbat services
  3. Encourage more programming that presents the accomplishments and challenges facing the Jewish people. Program topics that could be of interest include Israel’s contributions to the world in water technology and homeland safety; their worldwide first responders programs for natural disasters; Israeli perspective on the missile attacks from Gaza; the teaching of antisemitism in UNRWA schools; the history of Jewish refugees from Middle Eastern lands. There are unfortunately people who will provide delegitimizing, discriminatory, double standard judgements against Israel.   Some Jews feel this provides “balance”; however, this is not balance, it is simply immoral.
  4. Ensure synagogue and JFed policies are in place to vet your program speakers, to weed out known anti-Semites and antiSemitic groups such as JVP. Internet searches and social media are excellent resources for vetting potential speakers.