CEO Letter 1.29.21

By Jenn Ross

I have continued to see a rise in Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism nationally and internationally since I began my tenure here in July 2016.  The darkest moments include the shootings at the Tree of Life Synagogue in 2018 and at Chabad of Poway in 2019, numerous violent attacks on Jewish individuals in the U.S. and internationally, and the defacement of Kesher Israel’s synagogue last August.  Unfortunately, by reading Secure Community Network’s daily emails, I’m aware that troubling incidents occur continuously.


JTA published an article on January 7, “Neo-Nazis, QAnon and Camp Auschwitz: A guide to the hate symbols and signs on display at the Capitol Riots,” identifying a dozen frightening ideologies, many of them anti-Semitic, all of them hateful and misleading.  One of the lesser publicized ones was regarding the “Intacivists,” who support banning all forms of circumcision.  I have been alarmed by governmental initiatives to challenge circumcision such as in Denmark, Finland, Belgium, as well as attempts from legislators and activists in Iceland, Germany, and Sweden.


There are many ways to work against these trends.   You can work towards the prevention of anti-Semitism by contributing to the Jewish Community Foundation’s Never Again Holocaust Education Fund.  Your gift will support Holocaust education and curriculum resources for teachers and other educational initiatives to teach lessons of the Holocaust that will help prevent anti-Semitism, bigotry, and hate behaviors. For more information, contact Paulette Keifer at 904-307-2413 or


The Federation will be holding its 24-hour Reading of the Names virtually from 7:30pm April 7 until 7:30pm April 8. We thank Kesher Israel for being the lead synagogue this year. If you would like to be a reader, contact your synagogue if applicable or Lillian Rappaport at  If you just wish to watch, it will be live-streamed on the Federation’s Facebook page. Tentatively, the Governor’s Civic Commemoration on the Holocaust, coordinated by our partner Pennsylvania Jewish Coalition, will be held the morning of April 7.


Throughout the year, Lillian personally educates and identifies other speakers from our community to talk to classes and at community programs.  Our area’s Rabbis and I participate in numerous interfaith and civic programs bringing a positive Jewish presence to the broader community and working together as part of the solution.  I have witnessed the strong bonds we have locally with our interfaith and grassroots activist community in the mutual support during challenging times. 


I believe in the wisdom shared by the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”  Do not give up hope. You can be part of the solution.  We regularly include information on Facebook and in our community emails about events and initiatives combatting hate.  I hope to see you at a future program. 


You can reach me at 717-236-9555 x3104 or