Last night was the first night of Hanukkah — and the kickoff to a wide-ranging, broadly-supported campaign against antisemitism spearheaded by eight foundations and attracting the support of more than 60 organizations, most of them Jewish. The timing was no coincidence, said Carly Maisel, the global CEO of the Kirsh Foundation.
The campaign is called “Shine a Light on Antisemitism.”
“We felt like we needed a way to come together and find a positive way to engage around antisemitism,” Maisel said from the national menorah-lighting ceremony at the White House, one of the campaign’s launch events. “The point of this is not victimhood. It’s American Jews saying we have a problem, and a way to engage meaningfully across society. It’s not a headline, and it’s not a ‘gotcha.’”
The campaign was inspired by communal concern about the increase in antisemitism during and after the conflict last May between Israel and Hamas, Maisel said. Philanthropists noticed both widespread fear and a lack of a plan for how to bring the community together and unite during a difficult time.
“American leadership felt that, for the first time, the Middle East conflict had been imported to the streets of America, and was affecting the lives of everyday Jews,” Maisel said.
The campaign includes five target areas: corporate culture, government policy, education, partnerships and media.
Its goals for corporations are two-fold. The campaign is asking businesses to publicly support it, as the NBA, American Eagle Outfitters Inc., Chelsea Football Club and YouTube already have. Part of the ask is pushing corporations to reflect on the question of why antisemitism isn’t included in many office Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives.
“Because of the very real need to get in engaged in DEI, education about antisemitism has dropped off,” Maisel said. “It’s not included in DEI, so it’s not included anywhere.”
On the policy front, Shine a Light will work to support the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of antisemitism, embraced by both the Trump and Biden administrations. The campaign aims to persuade state and local governments to do the same.
Education organizations such as the Jewish Education Project and the Anti-Defamation League will also be part of the campaign. From Thanksgiving through the end of Hanukkah, the Jewish Education Project will offer curated content for students of all ages and work with day schools, congregational schools and youth movements to disseminate it. The ADL’s “Binah” project, offered in 200 non-Jewish schools, includes “Shine a Light’s materials.
Shine a Light has gathered partners on both the local and the national levels. To reach specific and smaller communities, it offered microgrants of $4,000-$10,000 to 50 localities that submitted a proposal for antisemitism education programming that would bring together Jewish and non-Jewish organizations and local officials.
“The event in Dallas will feel different from the event in Miami, from the event in Chicago,” Maisel said.
Nonprofits such as the National Black Empowerment Council, Christian trip provider Passages: Israel, Christians United for Israel, the ADL, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and dozens of other Jewish organizations are members of the Shine a Light coalition.
The campaign’s media operation includes an initiative on TikTok against antisemitism, billboards in partnership with Jew Belong and opinion pieces. About 25 million donated spaces on bus stops, taxis and other outdoor advertising vehicles will feature Shine a Light messaging.
“This is not supposed to be a solution,” Maisel said. “We are not going to ‘solve’ antisemitism. It’s supposed to be a long-term way to engage the problem.”