The Palm Beach Synagogue will hold its first Anti-Semitism Summit on Tuesday at The Colony.
Spurred on by what they see as a growing threat to the Jewish people, temple officials said in a statement they hoped to “dissect and define the current problem as well as lay out a clear roadmap to address the problem.” .
“There has been a series of anti-Semitic events across the country,” Rabbi Moshe Scheiner said, citing the January 15 hostage-taking at a synagogue in Colleyville, Texas, and the 2018 mass shooting in Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue.
“We know anti-Semitism is a problem. Our question was, how does the average person, the layman on the street, how do we counter this? Let’s educate. Let’s learn from these experts. We can’t sit idly by. .” said Scheiner.
The event is chaired by Nolan and Michael Greenwald of Palm Beach. Michael Greenwald is a former financial diplomat who served in two presidential administrations, holding counterterrorism and intelligence positions.
“When we moved to Palm Beach from New York (in 2020) … we met the rabbi. We were appalled at the threat to local communities,” he said. “I was appalled at the number of attacks, the heightened nature of the attacks – and there hasn’t been much progress.”
The panel will be comprised of former US Ambassadors Nancy Brinker (Hungary); Stuart Bernstein (Denmark); Clifford Sobel (Brazil and the Netherlands); Lana Marks (South Africa); and Robin Bernstein (Dominican Republic). All are members of the synagogue except Sobel. Greenwald will moderate.
Other panels include:
* Responding to Antisemitism Abroad: Reflections from Former Envoys. Speakers will be Hannah Rosenthal, Former Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism, US State Department, and Farah Pandith, Former Special Envoy to Monitor Muslim Communities. Greenwald will moderate.
* Fundraising ideas in action: Testimonials from a seasoned philanthropist with Terry Kassel, Head of Strategic Human Resources, Elliott Investment Management.
* Changing the Public Perception of Antisemitism: A View from Campus with Clara Scheinmann, Director of Programs and Strategy, Kraft Family Foundation to Combat Antisemitism, and Mark Rotenberg, Vice President for Academic Initiatives and Legal Affairs, Hillel International. The moderator will be Rabbi Shneor Minsky of Palm Beach Synagogue.
* Strengthening community security: A local response to anti-Semitism.
Josephine Gon, Vice Chair, Jewish Community Relations Council, Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County; Keith A. Myers, president and CEO, MorseLife Health System; and Bob Lutz, vice president of Palm Beach Atlantic University are scheduled speakers for the panel, which will be moderated by Rabbi Scheiner.
Scheiner said he hopes the conference is just the start of “ongoing discussions” about how to combat anti-Semitism. “It’s not necessarily going to stop it, but we can fight it.
“We often hear bad news. We say it’s terrible, it’s sad. But we want to engage more. We want to be part of the solution. The first step in everything is education: what can we do about it. Then comes the action.”
Greenwald said this symposium is not just for Jews, but for anyone who wants to counter any hate crime.
“I hope we light a torch where other communities can take up this torch.”
The summit starts at 9 a.m. and registration is $54 per person, including lunch. Call the Palm Beach Synagogue at 561-838-9002, ext. 4 or visit palmbeachsynagogue.org to make reservations.