Arizona Jewish Life
April 1, 2022
Two Hundred concerned citizens gathered together Sunday night, March 27th at Congregation Beth Tefillah to hear from key staff members of StandWithUs. The group was made up of various Jewish community members and Christian supporters. It was indeed heart-warming to see the Evangelical Sisterhood of Mary with their Israeli flags waving. The evening started with a lovely outside dessert reception, catered by Yael Domb, of MY Kosher Catering. Rabbi Allouche opened the event followed by a very educational and enlightening film and program presented by StandWithUs.
Rabbi Allouche, who graciously hosted the evening event, welcomed the groupand briefly spoke of all the unrest in Israel and the world, and rising antisemitism. His resounding message included words of inspiration, support and comfort. Following a moment of silence for the 11 Israeli victims of terrorism who were murdered in Israel this week, he called on the Shalhevet choir to sing the national anthems, after which he introduced Roz Rothstein and the outstanding services and programs offered by StandWithUs.
Roz Rothstein, co-founder, and CEO of SWU, shared the story of the founding of StandWithUs in 2001. She and others were concerned about the terrorist war against Israel as well as the poor media coverage of the situation at the time. Her personal background of being a daughter of Holocaust Survivors resonated powerfully with everyone in attendance. In early 2001, she realized that there were many wonderful Jewish organizations around the world who supported Israel but that none of their missions included strategies to fight the battle for hearts and minds regarding Israel. StandWithUs was born to educate people of all ages and faiths about Israel, and to combat rising antisemitism. Through community education and dynamic programming for middle school, high school and college, the organization has become one of the fastest-growing Jewish organizations in the world, with programs and offices on 6 continents. Roz also shared the power of having a StandWithUs legal department to seek justice for students, faculty and community members who have been bullied or discriminated against because of being Jewish or being openly Zionist.
Carly Gammill, founding director of the StandWithUs Center for Combating Antisemitism (CCA) addressed the audience about strategies to effectively fight antisemitism with IDEA: to Identify, Define, Expose, and take action against antisemitic acts. Gammill brought up examples of incidents found around the country and those specific to our valley, including swastika graffiti, distribution of neo-Nazi fliers and the usage of a swastika math problem recently at a Scottsdale high school. CCA is able to work closely with its StandWithUs legal department to protect the rights of those who seek help. Utilizing legal methods, they work to resolve incidents with pro-active techniques, including informing students of their rights and developing relationships with school administrations. The goal of StandWithUs is to improve campus climate on far too many campuses where antisemitism threatens to bully Jewish or Zionist students and make them feel unwelcome.
During the questions and answers segment, Rothstein and Gammill shared how everyone can be part of the solution. Some of the suggestions include becoming educated, standing up to antisemitism, active outreach to non-Jewish friends and allies, and helping gain recognition for the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) most widely accepted definition of antisemitism. In order to fight antisemitism, we need to first define it.
The main offices of StandWithUs are located across the United States, in Canada, the UK, Israel, Brazil, and soon in Australia. StandWithUs programs are regularly brought to South Africa and the Netherlands. StandWithUs “empowers and energizes teens and young adult students and communities with leadership training and educational programs on college campuses, high schools, and middle schools. SWU educates through social media, print and digital materials, internships and fellowships, films, weekly newsletters and missions to Israel”. Their platforms reach 50,000 students each year, those students reach out to 100,000 of their peers to help them understand the untruths about Israel and Jews. StandWithUs is a leader in social media and reaches millions of people each week through its various platforms including Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.
Valley activists, Lynn Kahn and Mindy Franklin together with, Chicago SWU board member, Chana Anderson, worked together to organize the event and bring StandWithUs to Scottsdale. “Our motivation was to help our Jewish communities resolve the current problems of antisemitism found in the valley. By introducing the effective services and programming offered by StandWithUs we hope to inspire and motivate community members to open a SWU office in the Valley of the Sun.”
The three organizers extend their special recognition to Rabbi Allouche who graciously allowed them to use the facilities at Congregation Beth Tefillah. They are appreciative of all the community support and partnerships that helped to promote the event. Most of all, they are grateful to Roz Rothstein and Carly Gammil for coming to Scottsdale to educate our community about the issues and how we can help, and they are thankful to all of the participants who attended the event and took an important step towards combating antisemitism and antizionism.
Read the full article here.