What Can We Learn From RGB?

Dear Tanenbaum Community,

A Jewish teaching says those who die just before the Jewish new year are the ones God has held back until the last moment because they were needed most, and were the most righteous. And so it was that Supreme Court Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, died as the sun was settling on Friday, marking the beginning of Rosh Hashanah.

Throughout her life, Justice Ginsberg has often reflected on what it was like growing up in Brooklyn, in the shadow of WWII and the Holocaust, and the large imprint this left on her. She said in one interview, “It makes you more empathetic to people who are not insiders, who are outsiders.” At Tanenbaum, we similarly work to promote justice and build respect for people across faith traditions, especially those considered “outsiders.”

While anti-Semitism was widely accepted in 1933 when Justice Ginsberg was born, throughout her career she worked tirelessly to make the court more hospitable to Jews and other minorities. She convinced the court that explicitly framing the calendar year as Christian was offensive to Jews, and worked to excise it. She was also a powerful voice on the court helping women ensure their right to sign a mortgage without a man; have a bank account without a male co-signer; have a job without being discriminated based on gender; and retain job security regardless of familial or pregnancy status.

There is no doubt that Justice Ginsburg’s work has cracked open many doorways that have more widely been pushed open by and for others. May the world remember her as the fierce advocate for justice that she was, and may her life and lessons be for a blessing.

With reverence,

Rev. Mark Fowler

 


 

Healing as a Community

Dear Tanenbaum Community –

On August 11 and 12, 2017, a “Unite the Right” white nationalist rally was held in Charlottesville. Violent factions of the neo-Nazi movement converged with a new generation of internet trolls, spilling onto the streets of Charlottesville, Va., in the largest gathering of white supremacists the United States had seen in two decades.

In the last few years, activists and faith groups have worked to find ways forward, while continuing to reflect on the long history that led to that tragic day. At Tanenbaum, we’d like to offer some resources for that work and reflection:

Listen/Watch:

Read:

  • Charlottesville Case: Sines vs. Kessler: Learn about the “once in a generation, trial that will fundamentally change our nation.” Integrity First for America is taking on the leadership of the violent white nationalist movement – sending a clear message that violent hate has no place in our country.
  • White Supremacy: An Overview: Learn more about the varied white supremacist movements and groups.
  • Anti-Semitism: What, Where and Why: Understand the historical impact of Unite the Right protestors chanting, “Jews will not replace us.”

Act:

  • Religious & Spiritual Approaches to Anti-Racism: Religious and spiritual communities are actively engaged in anti-racism work. This fact sheet highlights organizations and initiatives working to move the needle toward justice. Consider joining efforts to engage with anti-racism work beyond social media.
  • Five Ways to Counter Extremists on Social Media: A “How To” resource sheet for rising above social media extremists and right-wing hate groups. During this extended period of physical distancing, the power of social media is greater than ever before! Learn how to disrupt these hashtag echo chambers!
  • Five Ways to Combat Anti-Semitism NOW!: A resource for learning about and combating anti-Semitism.

We are all responsible for building a world that promotes justice and builds respect for people of all religious beliefs, together.

In Solidarity,

Rev. Mark E. Fowler
CEO, Tanenbaum


Photo: Clergy marching in Charlottesville, VA. Image: Jordy Yager

What do anti-Semitism and anti-Immigrant hate have in common?

Friends

Anti-Semitic hate crimes are rising in NYC and worldwide at alarming rates. And there’s a similar surge in anti-immigrant sentiment. So we wanted to know, what do these two hate movements have in common?

At the request of Jim Rice, editor of Sojourners magazine, I wrote a piece attempting to answer exactly that question. He’s made it available for the next few days…so take a look if you can.


Please let me know what you think,

Joyce S. Dubensky
CEO


Confront Hate on Holocaust Remembrance Day

In a 2005 resolution, the U.N. designated January 27 as Holocaust Remembrance Day—and condemned without reserve all manifestations of religious violence.  Today, our remembrance of the victims of the Holocaust is unavoidably followed by more recent memories—of Jersey City, of Halle, of Pittsburgh—but also a convicting desire to combat their source.  In a recent evening of our “Courageous Conversations” series, we applied a variety of perspectives—religion, media, ideology, politics—to reach the same conclusive response: a key way to confront anti-Semitism is to start with a conversation.

A bigotry as pervasive as anti-Semitism requires a multi-layered analysis to grasp—and even then, its roots go much deeper than many realize. But the panelists for our Confronting Hate event provided helpful insights to begin this process of understanding.

Georgette Bennett, our President and Founder, opened with a moving speech on the new biography of Rabbi Marc Tanenbaum[1] and how Marc’s work fighting hate is relevant to this critical moment in history.

For example, Georgette described Marc’s emphasis on the link between verbal violence and physical violence. She also denounced silence in the face of atrocity as implicit permission for these kinds of hate crimes, and challenged the audience to imitate Marc’s practice of engaging with people holding opposite viewpoints in open—and respectful—conversation. She noted, Marc was slow to call someone an “anti-Semite” but quick to condemn “anti-Semitism.”

A stimulating panel discussion followed. Judy Banki, an expert in Jewish-Catholic relations, discussed her work with Rabbi Tanenbaum including Nostra Aetate at Vatican Council II. TM Garret shared his personal story as a former white supremacist, and Muslim investigative journalist Nafeez Ahmed explained how the far-right white supremacist movement affects politics around the world.

Judy spoke of her encounters with Catholic anti-Semitism, both personally and professionally, from pre-Vatican II to now.  She explained how it was present in textbooks, films and even prayers, and how Nostre Aetate helped start a process of changes. She detailed how this has changed, how it has not—and the work it took to get here.

TM’s powerful sharing revealed how he progressed from hateful jokes, to hate speech, to white supremacy, and into full-blown anti-Semitism. He made the distinction between leaving a hate group and leaving hate—how his bigotry did not end fully for over a decade after resigning as a leader of a KKK group and leaving the white supremacy community behind. It was only then, that he was finally able to confront his anti-Semitism.

Nafeez discussed how he investigated the shift in far-right movements on both sides of the Atlantic from their traditional anti-Semitism to their adoption of Islamophobic positions as well. He explained that far-right political groups often make a point of publicly denouncing anti-Semitism and Nazism (i.e., publicly disassociating from their historical, anti-Semitic roots), but then continue to support neo-Nazi groups and anti-Semitic stereotypes. Nafeez thus concludes that contemporary prejudice against racial and religious minorities, no matter what is said on the surface, is still deeply rooted in anti-Semitism.

[1] Confronting Hate: The Untold Story of the Rabbi Who Stood Up for Human Rights, Racial Justice, and Religious Reconciliation is sold by Tanenbaum at a discounted price, to make it available to people who wish to read it.


 

Holidays & Hate: NY’s Anti-Semitism

Friends—

We are in the midst of a season of celebration, family and friend time, holidays, activity—and most of us have limited bandwidth for the daily news stories that keep unfolding.

But we have a responsibility to see what is happening, including in our own communities. Yesterday, 5 Jews celebrating Chanukah were attacked and stabbed for being Jews. It is the 8th anti-Semitic crime in New York this month. And NY is one of the MOST diverse states in our nation!

As we pause to celebrate, let’s also take note. And then go from resolution to action, helping us create an anti-anti-Semitism Movement in 2020. If not now, when?

Joyce S. Dubensky
Tanenbaum CEO

Tonight’s the Night to Confront Hate!

Tonight is the night to join us at “Confronting Hate: Examining Anti-Semitism Through Religious and Ideological World Views.” Please see below for some important information and reminders.

If you are joining us in person, the doors will open at 6:00 pm. This Courageous Conversation will take place from 6:30 – 8:00 pm at One Spirit Learning Alliance (247 West 36th St, 6th floor). Please check-in at our registration table upon arrival.

If you are joining us remotely, please click the link below to join the webinar via Zoom:

https://zoom.us/j/6374166188

Or Telephone:

US: +1 646 876 9923

Webinar ID: 637 416 6188

Please be advised that this webinar will be recorded live and will be posted online following the event.

Food for the event is sponsored by Khyber Pass. The Courageous Conversation event series is made possible thanks to our partners at the Nissan Foundation!

Please contact Dasha Tanner, dtanner@tanenbaum.org if you have any questions.

It’s Been a Long Year Since Tree of Life

Stronger Together (AP Photo – Greg Bull)

In the year since the Tree of Life massacre, 12 white supremacists were arrested for targeting, planning to target or threatening attacks against Jews and Jewish institutions. There were also other threats, as worldwide anti-Semitism continued to multiply.

That is the dark side of a global story that has not stopped unfolding after the deadly shooting in Pittsburgh. But there is another story. The story of international outrage and collective action as allies and upstanders unify against the hatred. We saw it after Tree of Life, and we saw it just few weeks ago yet again. On Yom Kippur, a synagogue in Halle, Germany was targeted by a gunman, and Anti anti-Semitism protests emerged across Germany by the thousands.

We need to stand up together. And to do this we must be armed with the information, and the resources to respond to those who pursue hate. That’s why, as part of Tanenbaum’s Combating Extremism campaign, we are honoring Pittsburgh’s tragic anniversary by sharing our newest fact sheet—Anti-Semitism – What, Where and Why.

We ask you to check it out and let us know what you think. And then please share it with friends, allies and those who think differently from you. Because we all have a lot to learn. And together, we are stronger than hate.

With reflection & hope,

Joyce

 

A Shooting On Yom Kippur


Friends –

As many of you know, I am Jewish. That’s why I was in Temple on Yom Kippur, when a gunman in Germany again tried to slaughter Jews as they prayed. He did not succeed in getting into the synagogue where over 50 worshippers sat together.

So he took his hate out on others nearby, apparently trying to fulfill the pledge he made in his online manifesto. “If I fail and die, but kill a single Jew, it was worth it…After all, if every White man kills just one, we win.”

My Rabbi condemned this violent act of anti-Semitism, as she remembered Pittsburgh and Poway.

Jews around the world—including in the U.S.—are at risk because of anti-Semitism. And horrifically, so are many others. This hate is not limited to targeting my Jewish community. It affects Muslims and Christians in countries all around the world. It targets Bahá’ís and Sikhs and Hindus.

Anti-Semitism reflects these wider social trends. It is often referred to as the “canary in the coal mine,” and often indicates a rise in stereotyping, demonizing others and widespread bigotry and hate.

And that’s why we are addressing this issue on November 14th, during a courageous conversation called Confronting Hate: Examining Anti-Semitism through Religious and Ideological World Views. It’s time to tackle violence against Jews head-on—and how it can fuel hatred against so many others.

We must stand together as allies to condemn anti-Semitism. And to protect one another.

Joyce S. Dubensky
CEO, Tanenbaum

 


 

Less Than Three-In-Ten Americans Know Rosh Hashana Is The Jewish New Year

Friends-

Did you know that 8 in 10 Americans correctly answer questions about Christian traditions? But that less than 3 out of 10 Americans are familiar with some basic facts about other religions—including Judaism? (See the Pew Research Center’s new poll: What Americans Know about Religion).
Given the surge in anti-Semitic hate crimes being reported, those statistics are particularly disturbing. We’d like to know what you think about anti-Semitism: what it is, where it shows up and why there’s so much of it.

Please spend just a few minutes and take our short anti-Semitism survey!

With respectful curiosity,

Joyce S. Dubensky
CEO, Tanenbaum

How Much Do You Know About Anti-Semitism? Take Our Combating Extremism Survey!

Tanenbaum spends a lot of time thinking about anti-Semitism. And one thing that seems pretty clear, is that people don’t always have a clear understanding of anti-Semitism—what it is, how it works and why it matters.

We know that anti-Semitism is real. And while anti-Semitism is often broadly understood as violent hatred of Jews, or hatred that bears the threat of such violence, sometimes anti-Semitism is quieter and just shows up as microaggressions.

So we want to know what you know and think about anti-Semitism. Please tell us by spending a few minutes taking our Combating Extremism short anti-Semitism survey!

We look forward to hearing what you have to say!