Blog Post

Confronting antisemitism with empathy and education

Cornerstone Editors

People often misunderstand Jewish identity. Jewish people are a diverse, multiracial, ethnic community with a culture deeply rooted in Judaism, one of the world’s oldest monotheistic religions. There are almost 15 million people worldwide who currently identify as Jewish. And sadly, there’s been a steady rise in the number of hateful incidents directed at them in recent years.

The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), which counts the United States and 30 other countries among its membership, defines antisemitism with a non-legally binding “working definition” that reads:

Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.

Researchers found that 1 in 4 hiring managers say they are less likely to move forward with Jewish applicants. Beyond the workplace, according to the Anti-Defamation League, over 1,500 antisemitic incidents were recorded in the US alone in 2022. Hateful propaganda is even promoted to millions by people in positions of power. The Texas Tribune reported on “January 15, a gunman held four hostages in a standoff that lasted around 11 hours at Colleyville’s Congregation Beth Israel, a synagogue northeast of Fort Worth not affiliated with Kutner’s.” The seriousness and pervasiveness in addressing antisemitism are critical in every aspect of daily life.

A clear example of effective workplace training is the experience of a rabbi who was among the four held hostage. All four hostages escaped, including the rabbi, who shared that training to “deal with active threats prepared him for that day.” Training in the workplace when confronting antisemitism is essential to ensure a safe, supportive, and holistic workplace.

Combating antisemitism at work

People are seeking answers to this disturbing increase in harassment, vandalism, and violence against Jews. So, when considering how to identify and prevent antisemitism in the workplace, it is critical to address microaggressions and stereotypes. These are often implicit in their expression but can come across in remarks and general everyday statements of opinion.

Diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) conversations open the door to an extensive understanding of root problems that people may overlook and are integral to a successful workplace. At Cornerstone, we dedicated an entire episode of our award-winning learning series, A Seat at the Table, to understanding and confronting antisemitism in the workplace. As an organization committed to DEIB, the supplemental learning resources included with the series can help employees aid in the fight against antisemitism in the workplace.

The unscripted conversations in A Seat at the Table can be both enlightening for your people and a template for how to have these types of open, honest conversations at work because the journey towards overcoming prejudice begins by taking action against it with empathy and education. Conversational learning engages people through the voices and lived experiences of others. These discussions provide a personal perspective of the world, leaving the door wide open to learn from those around us. Connection through mutual dialogue builds a bridge that encourages a place of understanding and growth.

An uptick in antisemitism indicates an unhealthy society, fueling other forms of bigotry and hate towards marginalized groups. By denouncing it and promoting education through transparent, compassionate conversations like A Seat at the Table, we can focus on preventing such non-tolerant behavior and building workplaces that work for everyone.

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