Jewish Community Under Siege: Jewish Leaders Failing
We need and deserve better leaders
APT is pivoting to a new direction.
As you know, American Jews are facing a daunting reality of mounting lethal threats.
The Jewish community is under siege. Practically all Jewish buildings in America require security. Jews are being beaten and harassed on the streets. There are almost daily reports of new incidents, including physical assaults. Polls show that about 40% of Jews have changed their behavior out of fear of anti-Semitism; more than 65% of Jewish students on campus fear revealing their identity. And this alarming trend is building.
We have concluded that the Jewish community cannot prevail in America without strong leadership in the Jewish establishment, which has significant financial and human resources.
We believe we have no choice but to change the direction of the Jewish Establishment.
We are launching an effort titled “Challenge Jewish Leadership” via a new website which summarizes the failure of Jewish leadership and states what we believe the Jewish community must do: www.challengejewishleadership.org.
“THINK GLOBALLY, ACT LOCALLY.”
We are organizing and training small activist teams around the country to challenge their local leadership — rabbis, JCRCs, Federations, ADL branches, etc.
This will be a careful step-by-step process. We offer our teams guidance on how to engage their local leaders about the alarming situation, and how to solicit from them their plan to respond.
To the extent that local leaders persist in pursuing unproductive or impotent policies, we will help our teams appeal directly to local donors.
As you know, Jewish leaders are not elected: they are appointed by wealthy donors. We are convinced that in many cases, if not most, real change will happen only when Jewish donors are persuaded to fulfill their fiduciary responsibilities — to fund efforts that work and leaders who courageously drive those efforts.
The feedback from pilot data indicates that we have a leadership in crisis; many local leaders do realize that their previous strategies — based on building alliances with progressive and minority “victim” groups which assumed reciprocity and solidarity — have failed. As Jews were attacked with increasing frequency, there was little sympathy or solidarity from these “allies” which Jewish leaders vigorously, generously, and loyally supported.
We believe that today most Jewish leaders recognize that this happened, although they are reluctant to publicly acknowledge it. Some are struggling to develop a new strategy. This is a crisis for them and an opportunity for us and others to expose the dangerous failure of our current leadership.
Some leaders are moving in the right direction. Here, for example, is a Reform rabbi in New York City (Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch of the Stephen Wise Free Synagogue) who “gets it.” Please watch here as he shares with his congregation the hard truths at his Rosh ha-Shanah sermon this fall. (Shortened video clip: 10 minutes, 40 seconds.)
We are currently working to form about half a dozen local teams to experiment and explore ways to change failed Jewish leaders. We have teams and affiliates in Boston, North Carolina, Nashville, and Providence. We also hope to add at least three more by year’s end.
A CHANCE TO IMPACT A BETTER FUTURE FOR AMERICAN JEWRY:
You are getting this email because you have supported or are interested in our work. I sincerely hope you continue with that support and that you make a generous year-end donation by clicking here.
But, even more, I’d like you to consider joining one of our local activist teams to challenge Jewish leadership by clicking here.
We fully understand that criticizing Jewish leaders may have negative consequences. You may be ostracized, snubbed, de-platformed, or “canceled.” We understand the costs, but we are willing to pay the price because the stakes are now so very high.
We are in a state of emergency which requires everyone in the community to get involved. If we don’t change Jewish leadership, in our communities and nationally, we may not be able to prevail against the growing assaults.