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News from the Jewish Federation of Central Massachusetts

Message from Steven Schimmel, Executive Director of the Jewish Federation of Central Mass. (JFCM)

Antisemitism, again.

Promoting antisemitic conspiracies puts Jewish people in danger. It is especially harmful when it’s perpetrated by those who have a large public platform. Recently, Kanye West, and NBA star Kyrie Irving both endorsed antisemitic conspiracy theories and made antisemitic comments reaching millions of their followers on social media platforms.The two were widely condemned by the mainstream media and by Jewish groups including Jewish Federation. West and Irving subsequently lost branding partnerships, and Irving was suspended from playing in several NBA games in the wake of the comments. Although criticism of the two was strong and swift, there are many other public figures who express and support these terrible beliefs who have not yet faced any consequences, including other celebrities and outspoken extremist politicians of both US political parties.  

There has been a dramatic rise in the number of antisemitic incidents over the last two decades corresponding with the advent of social media. Leading online platforms have taken a stance on limiting counterfactual information about the pandemic, and election fraud, but have failed to curb conspiracy theorists from spreading hate about Jews. At a time when more people are turning to social media sources for their news, and traditional news sources are facing irrelevance and declining viewership, tens of millions of social media users are routinely exposed to antisemitic material masquerading as factual news.

This is also happening at the same time that there has been a renewed push to end online censorship, with disastrous results. As an example, the Twitter platform has recently exploded with hate messaging. Just as there was concern in the years after 9/11 that future terrorists were be being indoctrinated online, there is fear today that antisemitic indoctrination is happening, this time led by the rich, famous, and influential.      

The types of conspiracy theories promoted by West, Irving, and others, blame Jews for society’s problems without any credible evidence. They are the same sort of outrageous attacks made by antisemites in the past, including Nazi leaders. The spreading of these conspiracy theories endangers Jewish lives by encouraging and justifying violence and in the past several months antisemites who embrace and follow these conspiracy theories have physically attacked Jewish people. 

Experts on the subject of antisemitism point to online influence as a factor that has motivated these attacks. Too often these terrible beliefs are embraced by impressionable people who go on to attack Jews. We commend the brands and companies that have ended their corporate relationships with those who spread hate, and encourage all companies to stop doing business with antisemites.

A busy season for YAD!

Members of YAD, the Young Adult Division of the Jewish Federation of Central Mass., were busy celebrating Rosh Hashana and Sukkot together last month, as well as enjoying activities like Shabbat Lunch, Happy Hour, Torah on Tap, and a fun mitzvah project. Take a look below to see some of the fun things this vibrant group of young Jews are doing every month!

Chaverim gathers around the fire for a Sweet New Year!

Chaverim is Hebrew for “friends.” JFCM’s Chaverim project brings friends in their 40s plus (couples and singles) together to enhance community by building bridges throughout Jewish Central Mass for these adults. Shown below, Chaverim members enjoy a warm fire and warm companionship during the Jewish New Year.

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