Leadership Conference in Krakow Calls on Millennials to Grapple With Antisemitism
JNS.org – More than 200 young leaders, both Jewish and non-Jewish, from 10 countries gathered at Jageillonian University in Krakow, Poland, to take part in the first-ever “Emerging Leadership Conference,” an initiative of the International March of the Living launched in response to the rise of antisemitism in the last two years.
The conference included a wide-ranging discussion of the young leaders’ responsibilities as the new frontline in the war against antisemitism and centered on the development of a declaration, launching a campaign to rally the support of their peers around the world.
Bringing together students and young professionals from the United States, Canada, Panama, South Africa, Australia, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina and the United Kingdom, the conference was led by 20 youth delegates who experienced antisemitism firsthand on college campuses or in their personal lives.
“Our enemies are everywhere—in the universities, in the streets, and in the political arena. What happened here in Poland is happening in all other countries, and it is time to act,” said Alberto Levy, a Duke University graduate from Panama who received death threats after a Twitter feud with an antisemite took a violent turn.
“Therefore, we need to remember, to understand where we come from and the destructive impact of antisemitism and racism of any kind on humanity. We need to embrace the reality, to understand the world we are living in and the threats that we are dealing with,” he continued. “And we need to fight, to act, to stop being indifferent. We cannot be bystanders to any act of racism or intolerance because we need to set an example strong enough to brand antisemitism as simply unacceptable in the eyes of the masses.”
Along with Levy, now a lawyer and a member of the Latin American Federation of Young Jews, and Izzy Lenga, a British young professional working with the UK Labour Party and the Jewish Labour Movement, the conference participants also heard from other leaders, including Rabbi Danny Schiff, foundation scholar at the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, who was close to all 11 victims of the Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha Synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh in October—the deadliest attack in American Jewish history.
“Some people say that antisemitism is on the rise, but perhaps it never really went away. In truth, it’s just emerging back into the light. Some say that Pittsburgh will go down in history as one of the many cities in which Jews were killed for being Jews. But the story is not so simple,” said Schiff when addressing the students. “It is true; there is rising antisemitism. But it is also true that there are those who want to embrace us and support us, to hold us up and help us rebuild.”
“The Jewish people does not dwell alone, we have friends who want to offer their support,” he continued. “So if we are serious about combating antisemitism, let us choose our allies and work together. Let’s not pretend that we are by ourselves.”