By Sue Stolov, Vice President, AJC Washington

As Jews, we have always jumped into the celebration of Thanksgiving. Since arriving in the United States three generations ago, my family has embraced this holiday as representative of the protection this country would give to us as Jews. We jumped in full force, readily adopting the traditions--turkey, stuffing, cranberries, and being thankful, which was easy for us because, as Jews, we are thankful from the moment we wake up, to the last thoughts we have each night. We are all in for this holiday because Thanksgiving to us is a tangible representation of the laws that are the bedrock of our country.

For me, this Thanksgiving was different. I have felt cracks in the very foundation that this country rests on.  And while it seems everyone should see these cracks, it often seems no one else cares.

I don’t have to tell you antisemitism is on the rise. You have probably experienced what I have experienced.  A daughter on campus texting that she is scared because there are 500 people shouting “long live the intifada” right outside her window. And another daughter who doesn’t understand how her good friends could feel differently about the war than she does and express that difference with hurtful words.

There is one thing that has brought thankfulness to my daughters this year and that is the work they see their mother doing along with other leaders at the American Jewish Committee. AJC’s mission has always been to reach the leaders in our communities whether they are global, national or local. At this time in our history, we want to make sure those who make and enforce laws understand exactly what is at stake. So, beginning with David Farber’s first outreach to his firm King & Spalding several months ago, followed by other trailblazers, we have started an effort to engage with and educate the legal community.

In just two weeks, we have spoken to more than 1,000 attorneys and staff at Ballard Spahr, 650 at BakerHostetler, and 88 at Williams & Connelly. Our presentations are impactful. We cover the diversity of the Jewish community including who we are as Jews, the history of antisemitism sharing how we got here today, what antisemitism is and how it differs from other bigotries, how it manifests today including in relation to Israel, how it impacts democracy, and why everyone should be concerned. The questions that we get afterwards present us with an opportunity to have robust and deep discussions as we respond to “can I be pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian,” “can you expand on what is going on, on college campuses,” and the one I am most thankful for, “how can I support my Jewish colleague?”

As we approach the secular season in our country when we join our friends and neighbors and plan for how we will live in 2024, I hope you will join our effort. Can you introduce us to the leaders at your law firm, business, government agency or non-profit so that together we can make a difference? Will you step up at this time? We must sometimes push ourselves out of our comfort zone and engage our colleagues in shoring up the foundation that our country rests on. If you step up and do that, I know not only will I be thankful, but my daughters, your children, and your grandchildren will be as well.

To become involved in efforts to educate our community, reach out to Sue Stolov or Alexis Schwartz.

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