StandWithUs (SWU) is an international nonprofit and non-partisan education organization that combats antisemitism and supports Israel. Founded in 2001, SWU empowers students and communities with leadership training and educational programs. It informs through social media, print and digital materials, films, weekly newsletters and missions to Israel.
Recognizing the critical need for education and action regarding the global rise of antisemitism, local community activists Mindy Franklin, Lynn Kahn and Chana Anderson are hosting SWU at an event, “Antisemitism Here and Now,” on March 27 at Congregation Beth Tefillah at 6529 E. Shea Blvd. in Scottsdale at 7 p.m. Roz Rothstein, co-founder and CEO of SWU and Carly Gammill, director of SWU’s Center for Combating Antisemitism, will discuss recent manifestations of anti-Jewish bigotry in the community, on campuses and high schools. They will also address different forms of antisemitism and review ways people can get involved. A Q&A with Rothstein and Gammill will follow the discussion.
Franklin, Kahn and Anderson said in a joint statement, “With the current rise of antisemitism here in our community and across Arizona, evident in our cultural, social and political arenas, the time is now for all Jews to band together to combat the narrative of anti-Jewish bigotry. Being passive, disregarding hateful words or actions or hiding one’s religious identity will not make it disappear. It’s time for all Jews to stand up as a unified force against any and all incidents of antisemitism.”
They were also are excited that all the organizations they approached – including religious schools, synagogues, Jewish organizations, etc. – were extremely supportive of bringing SWU to the Valley.
In 2021, ADL Arizona tracked significant reports of hate and bias incidents, reflecting a 26% increase from 2020 and a 41% increase from 2019.
SWU programs select and train student leaders, from middle school to college, to expose antisemitism when they see it and educate their peers about Israel in their schools and communities. In 2012 SWU created the Kenneth Leventhal High School internship.
During the two-semester program, Leventhal Interns, who are juniors and seniors, identify the educational needs at their schools as they pertain to Israel, whether they are rooted in misinformation or disinformation. Then, working with their SWU regional high school coordinator, they develop a vision to meet those needs through educational programming.
SWU has also been a leader in helping university students on campuses worldwide confront anti-Israel/antisemitic challenges. The StandWithUs Emerson Fellowship brings together more than 150 student leaders from the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Brazil. With education and leadership training from SWU, paired with yearlong mentorship, the Emerson Fellows act as a network of grassroots educators on the ground.
Arizona has had student representatives participate in both the high school internship and the university fellowship programs in the past.
“Given the increase of antisemitic incidents in Arizona, a strong presence that confronts this and does proactive education is clearly needed. Thanks to Mindy, Chana and Lynn, this event is an excellent introduction to the community to the work of StandWithUs,” said Rothstein. “Coupled with the student programs we’ve already run here on college campuses, high schools and in middle schools for years, we look forward to being able to start an active chapter. StandWithUs is an excellent resource and partner for students, community leaders and other organizations in cities throughout the U.S. and around the world who want to fight antisemitism and educate people about Israel.”
Rothstein, a daughter of Holocaust survivors, was twice named by the Jewish Daily Forward as one of the “50 most influential Jews in America” and twice by the Jerusalem Post as one of the “50 most influential Jews in the world.”
As a fourth-generation Phoenician raised in North Central Phoenix during the 60s and 70s, Lynn Kahn said she was fortunate not to see or hear any signs of antisemitism when she was growing up. “It wasn’t until employed did I experience the true hatred and disdain that some people felt towards the Jewish people.”
Kahn believes whether acts of antisemitism are due to ignorance, carelessness or genuine contempt, it is an ill in a segment of society that festers and inflicts great harm in humanity as a whole. “I believe antisemitism is taught; it is not an innate trait,” said Kahn. “With all the current antisemitism seen in our country today, coming from the alt-right, alt-left, Islamist extremists, congressional progressives, United Nations and now with Amnesty International – now is the time for us to be ‘Jewish strong and Jewish proud.’” JN
For more information on the event or to register, visit swuandtbt.paperform.co. The deadline to register is March 23.