By Date

Dear Friends,

I spent this past week at two powerful, important, albeit troubling conferences.

The first was a small gathering of 100 rabbis sponsored by the Leffell Foundation, Maimonides Fund and the Paul E Singer Foundation. Entitled “Zionism: A New Conversation,” for three days we met with leading educators to discuss Zionism in 2024, explore resources that deepen understanding, and meet with representatives of organizations that foster and deepen Israel engagement. I came away with a deeper appreciation of the challenges we face and a renewed commitment to the work of building a shared Jewish future both here and in Israel.

I was challenged, troubled and inspired, and look forward to sharing some of what I learned and am thinking about in light of the various conference sessions in the weeks to come.

The second was ADL’s annual Never Is Now Summit on Antisemitism and Hate. I have attended the summit for the past few years but, as you might expect, this year was different. Antisemitism and Jewhate had been rising for the past few years, but in the aftermath of the October 7th massacre we have seen a 360% rise in anti-Jewish bias incidents. Whether on campus, in our major cities, or on local school boards and town councils, we face challenges most of us never expected to face. The challenges are real and require new strategies and partnerships to address them. I was honored to be joined by many TSTI members both in person and watching the live feed.

One of my main take aways from both conferences is the need for us to work more closely with other congregations and Jewish institutions than ever before. I was gratified to find an all-but universal openness and desire for such partnerships among those with whom I spent time. Our people are remarkably resilient, and it is clear that a major part of that resilience will be found in the sense of communal solidarity that has been apparent since October 7th.

I know we all lead incredibly busy lives, but I want to ask for an hour of your time this weekend and for you to watch two of the speeches from Never Is Now.

Author Dara Horn recently published a powerful piece on antisemitism in the Atlantic. Her address at ADL was thoughtful, learned, and made clear the role we can each play in addressing the ugliness that has reared its head. It is something any committed member of the Jewish community needs to watch.

Main Stage Afternoon Session
(Dara’s speech begins at the 54:34 mark.)

The second is ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt’s annual State of Hate address. (That’s his name for it, not mine.) Jonathan didn’t pull any punches, and as the head of the leading organization committed to fighting Jewhatred and all bias, laid out the situation as he sees it.

(The video he references at the beginning is a video from the band Five for Fighting entitled “OK.” You can view it here — but please be aware! The images in the video are raw, violent and potentially traumatizing.)

Finally, please take a few moments to read this ADL resource page. While it was prepared for college students to help address some of the misinformation floating on social media and on their campuses, it is an invaluable resource for us all.

Educating ourselves is a key part of the path to meeting the challenges of the day. Please, as a committed member of the Jewish community, make time this weekend to watch both speeches and read the resource page.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Daniel Cohen