May 18, 2023

Antisemitism Hits Close to Home

Dov Ben-Shimon Federation CEO

On Monday morning, May 8, our Federation learned about antisemitic incidents among Millburn Middle School students and contacted the Millburn Police Department to ascertain the details.Our Chief Security Officer, Thomas Michaels, is continuing to work with our law enforcement partners to ensure the community is safe and Federation’s Director of Holocaust Education, Ilyse Shainbrown, has been in contact with the principal of Millburn Middle School.Millburn Middle School has expressed plans to put programming into place in the fall. Our Holocaust Council has a number of programs and opportunities available to local schools that it are ready to be put into place in the Millburn Public Schools, if requested.Several members of our community have reached out to share their concern and are in direct dialogue with Ilyse Shainbrown to discuss opportunities for programming, planning, and communication as well as how to speak and talk with their own children about these incidents.Over this past year, our Federation has assisted the local Jewish community in responding to a barrage of antisemitism. It has shown up in our local schools, synagogues, and on social media. Our role in the community is to help individuals and institutions by providing resources, connections, and advise on ways to create a more tolerant civic society.We are relentless in our commitment to confronting antisemitism by continuing to:

  • Create opportunities for dialogue by building coalitions and creating conversations across all denominations, religious affiliations, and ethnic communities
  • Forge relationships with our elected representatives and educate and engage our community
  • Advocate, educate, and provide resources and programs for the larger Greater MetroWest community about hatred and the lessons of the Holocaust
  • Prepare the next generation of leaders by helping teens understand and stand up to anti-Israel and antisemitic rhetoric
  • Support college students at Rutgers and other local universities through Greater MetroWest Hillel
  • Secure and protect our community through our Federation’s Community Security Initiative (CSI)

This most recent incident at Millburn Middle School has deeply impacted many of our community members – reminding us that hate is very much alive in our community. Our work addressing antisemitism is taking place within institutions, through education in schools, and through dialogue with community leaders of all faiths. Each incident of antisemitism is unique and is handled with great attention to the nuance of the situation.I cannot emphasize enough that it is because of our community’s infrastructure and our Federation’s commitment to supporting our synagogues that we are prepared to tackle incidents like this head on. Our Jewish Federation will continue to work with all partners in the community to stand up to hate, build our resilience, and promote safety and security.