Jewish leaders need tools and training to respond to the troubling rise in antisemitism.
To address this urgently important need, Chicago-based Spertus Institute launched the Leadership Certificate in Combating Antisemitism, an initiative that serves Jewish community executives and senior professionals from across North America.
The inaugural cohort recently completed the program, and its participants, who represent communities with a combined Jewish population totaling more than two million, are now prepared to address antisemitic incidents with new expertise.
The program’s second cohort launched in October 2023. These front-line leaders will work together with a team of experts over a period of six months. The program will equip them to respond to antisemitism with knowledge, strength, and skill.
The 18 leaders selected, includes Rabbi Dovid Asher, for the second cohort of this antisemitism initiative hail from 13 U.S. states and the Canadian province of Alberta.
Unfortunately, there is a pressing need for this program.
In its Audit of Antisemitic Incidents for 2022, the ADL tabulated 3,697 antisemitic incidents in the United States. This is a 36% increase from the 2,717 incidents tabulated in 2021 and the highest number on record since the ADL began tracking antisemitic incidents in 1979.
This is the third time in the past five years that the year-end total has been the highest number ever recorded. The trend is similar outside of the United States.
In September, a study revealed that Jews in Canada are the most targeted of religious minorities in that country for hate crimes. While Jews comprise only 1% of the population in Canada, they were the victims of 14% of reported hate crimes, reflecting a 47% increase between 2020 and 2021.
“Rising antisemitism targets the very fabric of our communities,” said Spertus Institute President & CEO Dr. Dean P. Bell.
“Combating antisemitism requires both a high-level of historical and contemporary knowledge about the issue and the development of determinative real-world skills.”
In addition to his role as Spertus President & CEO, Dr. Bell holds a faculty appointment as Professor of History and served as Associate Editor of the two-volume “Antisemitism: A Historical Encyclopedia of Prejudice and Persecution.”
Spertus Institute Dean & Chief Academic Officer Dr. Keren E. Fraiman said, “The institutional leaders accepted into this program will become part of an important network of national and international Jewish leaders. They will be able to leverage each other’s talents, resources, and relationships to combat antisemitism with coordinated efforts across communities.”
Dr. Fraiman, an expert in Israel on education, continued, “They will gain important knowledge about the manifestations of antisemitism, combined with critical skills in community engagement, risk assessment, crisis communications, and alliance building.”