NEW YORK, N.Y. – Abraham H. Foxman on Monday, Feb. 10 announced he will step down from his position as national director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) on July 20, 2015, bringing to a close a 50-year career in Jewish communal service.
“For almost five decades, ADL offered me the perfect vehicle to live a life of purpose both in standing up on behalf of the Jewish people to ensure that what happened during World War II would never happen again and in fighting bigotry and all forms of oppression,” Foxman said. “My years at ADL, particularly the 27 spent as national director, could not have been more rewarding. ADL continued its growth as a highly respected and influential organization both here in the United States and across the globe. We have never lost sight of the fact that we are an organization whose first priority is to fight anti-Semitism and protect the Jewish people. I’m proud of all that we have accomplished.”
Foxman, a Holocaust survivor who was hidden as a child during the war, and who later immigrated to America with his parents, began his career with the League in 1965 after graduating from the City College of the City University of New York and New York University School of Law. He rose through the ranks and, in 1987, was tapped as national director. During his tenure, the League continued to grow as the premier organization fighting anti-Semitism bigotry and discrimination with 30 regional offices across the United States and an office in Israel. The League celebrated its centennial year in 2013.
“Abe Foxman is a unique leader in American Jewish life. No one brings the combination of passion, experience, insight and courage to the Jewish community like Abe,” Barry Curtiss-Lusher, ADL national chair, wrote in a letter to ADL’s National Commission. “His experience as a hidden child and the son of Holocaust survivors imprinted on his consciousness a deep pride in his Jewishness and the need to stand up for Jews wherever and whenever they were treated badly.”
“From its beginnings, ADL combatted anti-Semitism,” he continued. “Under Abe the added dimension has been the self-confidence about being Jewish, which manifests itself in a willingness to take courageous stands on behalf of the Jewish people. … In a word, it’s all about inspiration. Abe has inspired us all and we are so much the better for that, as individuals, as an organization, as a community.”
For Gary Jones, director of ADL’s Connecticut Regional Office, the impact of Foxman’s departure is personal.
“Abe has helped to build ADL into the kind of institution that will continue to be strong long after his retirement. Beyond that, on a personal level, Abe has been an inspiration to me since well before I left my law practice to become Connecticut regional director.”
Foxman announced his retirement to members of the League’s National Executive Committee during its annual meeting in Palm Beach, Fla. and shortly thereafter in a letter to members of ADL’s National Commission.
ADL’s Succession Committee will be conducting an extensive nationwide executive search for Foxman’s successor.
“Even though it is tough to contemplate Abe Foxman’s retirement,” said Jones. “It is clear that he and our national leadership have a plan in place that will ease the transition.”
Effective July 20, 2015, Mr. Foxman will become ADL Director Emeritus, and he will continue his participation in advancing the League’s mission by serving on both the ADL National Commission and the ADL National Executive Committee in addition to serving in a part-time consultancy.