February 4, 2022
3 Adar I, 5782
Dear Friends–
Shabbat Shalom!

It’s February and needless to say, I think we can all agree that 2022 is off to an interesting start. From the incident in Colleyville, to comments from a well-known personality on the Holocaust to this week’s Amnesty International Report, Antisemitism and Antisemitic sentiments continue to be on the rise. In each instance, whether it be deliberate or a microaggression, Jews, regardless of their station in life or political beliefs, continue to be targeted from all sides I want to share with each of you that leading a Federation is both art and science. I try my best to separate out my personal beliefs as they relate to global matters, knowing that the Federation represents each of you, a wonderful quilt.

Instead of adding color commentary on this, I want to share a piece that was previously shared this week by our Jewish Community Relations Council for those of you who may have missed it. As a community, we must not let others rattle or fracture us, we must remain resilient in our education efforts as well as having open dialogue with our friends in the broader community and with each other. The only way to avoid dark days ahead is to be the shining light now.

If you do not receive our JCRC newsletter, please reach out to Joyce Shevin at jcrc@bjf.org to keep apprised of all of our efforts.

May you have a restful Shabbat and a peaceful week.

Amnesty International UK Releases Report:

Amnesty International UK, a wing of Amnesty International, released a report this week accusing Israel of committing apartheid against Palestinians. The Israeli government has repeatedly called for Amnesty International UK to shelve the report for its biased nature and antisemitic rhetoric. U.S. Ambassador to Israel, Tom Nides, called the accusation "absurd".
The report states that the State of Israel was founded on this basis of discrimination between Jews and Arabs. In reality, Arabs in Israel are well represented in the government, judicial system, business, medicine and across society. The report fundamentally contributes to a misunderstanding of the historical issues as ones based on racial discrimination – as opposed to security concerns and territorial disagreements. The report makes little distinction between Palestinians living in Gaza, which is controlled by the terrorist group Hamas, those living in the Palestinian Authority-governed West Bank, and Palestinians and Arab-Israeli citizens of Israel. Amnesty International UK uses these conflations to allege apartheid across all segments of Israeli society, territories which it controls, and territories not under its control. Specifically, the report accuses Israel of apartheid for not withdrawing to pre-1967 borders and for not accepting the so-called “right of return” of all Palestinian refugees within Israel. It argues that Israel must also revoke any laws or practices that protect the Jewish identity of the country.
In advance of the report this week the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Anti-Defamation League (ADL), American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), American Jewish Committee (AJC), B'nai B'rith International, and the Jewish Federations of North America issued the following statement:

We vehemently reject the biased and one-sided report on Israel scheduled to be released February 1 by Amnesty International-UK that presents an unbalanced, inaccurate, and incomplete review and instead inexplicably focuses on one aim: to demonize and delegitimize the Jewish and democratic State of Israel.
This libelous document resorts to baseless ‘apartheid’ accusations against Israel, among other distortions. In so doing, the report commits a double injustice: It fuels those antisemites around the world who seek to undermine the only Jewish country on earth, while simultaneously cheapening and downplaying the horrific suffering that was a result of apartheid in South Africa. The apartheid system practiced by South Africa was characterized by tyranny, segregation and dehumanization established both in law and practice; this has no equivalence to a vibrant democracy where all citizens have rights and representation in the national legislature.

The report makes no secret of its true intention – which is to cast aspersions on the State of Israel, which it portrays as illegitimate, starting ‘at its creation in May 1948’ (page 20). It disregards the fact that Israel’s robust democracy grants its Arab citizens full rights and equality, includes an Arab Muslim nationalist party in Israel’s governing coalition, as well as a history of senior Israeli Arab governmental officials, including Supreme Court justices, government ministers, high-level diplomats, military officers, and members of Knesset.

At the very time when many Arab countries are forging new agreements and accords with Israel, and relations between Arabs and Jews are flourishing in numerous corners of the Middle East, Amnesty-UK’s misguided and backward-looking effort to vilify Israel seems to be trying to turn back the peace clock, inflame existing tensions and incite violence, while obstructing the path to peace and the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We call on all parties of good faith to condemn this ideologically-driven polemic, and instead focus on efforts that will bring the parties together – rather than instigate more distrust and divisiveness.”


Agency Spotlight
Spotlight On Our Future:
Hillel Connections
Hillel Connections is a program designed to attract Jewish college students to Birmingham, allowing them opportunities to develop personal, mentoring, and professional relationships with our community at large. An eight-week immersive summer internship program enables them to envision living in Birmingham as a young professional, and to consider looking for employment opportunities here after graduation; BJF feels this is a cornerstone of ensuring our Jewish future.

We are grateful to the Birmingham Jewish Federation, Birmingham Jewish Foundation, The Grafman Endowment Fund of Temple-Emanu-El, the Levite Jewish Community Center, and several visionary individual donors who have invested in our future by previous and current support of this program. Of the 20 students that have completed the program, 4 continued to work during the following school year, seven currently live in Birmingham, and seven are still in school or in post-grad programs and have expressed interest in returning (with the potential to bring at least 3 Jewish significant others with them).

Each week, we will “showcase” student(s) interested in joining our HC 2022 summer program; EMPLOYERS are needed to offer summer internships. Please review and reach out if you can help NETWORK on behalf of these talented students. They are bright, efficient, and willing to work!

If you know of a potential employer for these students, please have them reach out to us at hillel.connections@gmail.com or text Roxanne at (205) 907-2531. A detailed resume and further information can be provided if that would be helpful before you make the contact.

Prospective Intern Information

Jack L. is a UA Junior in Mechanical Engineering with a 3.65 GPA from Germantown, TN. During COVID, he started his own Landscape and automobile repair business. He is a quick learner and a problem solver and is interested in any engineering-related opportunity. Jack is a member of ZBT and he has performed many hours of community service for all age groups.

Emily B. is a Wake Forest Sophomore majoring in Communications with a minor in Creative Writing. She currently is a staff writer for the university newspaper and excels at public speaking and writing. Opportunities in the publishing industry and/or PR, Marketing fields, especially with regard to Brand Image are desired.
Upcoming Programming
The BHEC Presents:
Holocaust in Film 2022
Select dates listed below
LJCC Movie Night: Kiss me Kosher
Wednesday, February 9, 2022, 7:00 PM
Starting A Conversation:
A hands-on session about transmitting Jewish Values
Monday, March 7, 2022, 11:30 AM - 1:00 PM
Jewish NYC in BHAM:
Tenement Museum Tour
Sunday, March 13, 2022, 3:30 PM
Jewish Roots of Sports Gala
Save the Date – Sunday, March 27, 2022, 6 PM
CJFS Annual Hands Up Together Event
Honoring the Bearman, Krell, and Wolnek Families
Save the Date – April 26, 2022
Community Programs
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The Birmingham Jewish Federation