The Foundation to Combat Antisemitism (FCAS), Brandeis, and the Kraft family are excited to partner to fight hate against Jewish communities. Antisemitism has unfortunately risen all over the country. The collaboration will be a multi-pronged strategy to help educators, students, and Jewish professionals learn how they can better address the negative attitudes toward different communities. The goal is to give everyone the tools and information they need to have a more meaningful dialog about the issues and a stronger understanding of how hate manifests in different groups of people.
The Tiers of the Partnership
There will be three major prongs of this innovative program.
Fellowships at the Foundation to Combat Antisemitism
Undergraduate students, graduate students, and recent Brandeis alums can apply for paid fellowships, either for the semester or for the year. There, they will learn how to improve their skills in research and communications. Fellows will also learn how to partner with and engage different communities to stop the spread of hate. Working at the new Samuels Center for Community Partnerships and Civic Transformation on campus, their work will be connected to both curricular and co-curricular groups at Brandeis.
Brandeis will be hosting a variety of events, including panels, workshops, speakers, and conferences. Researchers and experts will share the data about antisemitism and discuss how policy can be drafted to reduce the number of incidents. This part of the program will work with elementary school and high school administrators as well. The more resources they have, the more they can share with teachers at their school.
New Curriculum for the Horstein Jewish Professional Leadership Program
This residential program has been a mainstay at Brandeis, but the Robert Kraft’s partnership will introduce new content to its students about antisemitism. There will also be more people added to the program thanks to a new digital certificate program and degree offered via the foundation. Known as Kraft Scholars, the goal is to prepare leaders through individual learning modules so they can respond in a meaningful way to antisemitic incidents.
Threat to Survival
Robert Kraft has long been vocal about the true power of hate. “The rise of antisemitism and hate targeting Jews across the country is a threat to the Jewish community’s survival and needs strong leadership to combat. Through our Foundation to Combat Antisemitism, we are working to find innovative ways to educate and empower Jews and non-Jews to stand up to Jewish hate. Brandeis is the right partner for this important work, as its founding values are based in a commitment to create a better world.” Kraft started the Foundation as a resource for anyone who shared his beliefs.
Colleges like Brandeis are a great place to get involved because its leaders and students are already on board with the tenets of his nonprofit. What’s more, the community wants to do more than just affirm messages of tolerance. They want to make strong inroads with people who think differently. Often, prejudice stems from a lack of understanding about so-called outsider groups.
Brandeis President, Ron Liebowitz, wants to see a change not just in the upper echelons of leadership but across the board. Ron Liebowitz sees this as an opportunity to make a real difference. “We are grateful for this new partnership with Robert Kraft and his family, leaders in their commitment to combating antisemitism on university campuses and in society more generally.”
Brandeis was founded almost 75 years ago as a way to give Jewish people a means to higher education. Thanks to the restrictive quotas on the community, Brandeis welcomed people from all walks of life. Anyone who wanted to take part in a free exchange of thoughts and ideas was welcome within its walls. Liebowitz sees it as his obligation to not only educate young people about hate against Jews, but also what that hate can mean for communities as a whole.
As he put it, “This initiative will help the university to do its part through a comprehensive approach to educate students, convene leaders in higher and K-12 education, and train future Jewish communal professionals about the impact of this millennia-old scourge.” There’s a lot to be said about how and why people form negative thoughts about other people. ⁹
The root causes of hateful attitudes are often due to complex systems that are difficult to change. Kraft understands that his role is not to shift every single person’s mindset. What he wants to do, through organizations like his foundation and collaborations like those with Brandeis, is open up the doors to better conversations. This is more than just asking people to stand against hate in a figurative sense. He wants people to take action, and education is the best place to start.