Building Allies In The Fight Against Antisemitism

This week, Jews worldwide marked Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day)—a day to remember the six million men, women, and children murdered simply for being Jewish.

As we honour our survivors and recommit ourselves to the mission of Never Again, we take to heart the lessons of this dark chapter in Jewish history. This includes the painful fact that the genocide of our people was made possible not only by those who perpetrated evil, but also by those who stood by silently or with indifference. In contrast, the Righteous Among the Nations, remarkable individuals of various faiths and cultures who put their lives at risk to save Jews, offer a powerful example of the courage it takes to confront Jew hatred.

The Jewish condition has changed dramatically since the Holocaust, especially thanks to the establishment of Israel. But what has not changed is the need for courageous allies of all communities to stand with us in the fight against antisemitism. With Jews being approximately one percent of Canada’s population, it is essential that we reach out beyond our community to ensure we are not alone in pushing Jew hatred back to the margins.

Today, I am writing to share a brief update on five elements of UJA’s efforts to build allies throughout Canadian society, which are central to our strategy to combat antisemitism.

1. Building allies who will share our mission of Never Again.

On Monday, more than 1,000 people gathered in person and online to attend the powerful, annual Yom HaShoah ceremony convened by UJA’s Holocaust Education Centre (soon to become the Toronto Holocaust Museum) and other organizations. This week also saw a creative program bring survivor testimony to new audiences through a community-wide network. Volunteers hosted intimate gatherings at roughly 100 locations across the GTA through UJA Genesis’ Living Room Legacies program, in partnership with March of the Living Canada and the Holocaust Education Centre. Peers and colleagues of all backgrounds were invited to watch survivors share their testimony online, reflect on the Holocaust, and discuss the dangers of antisemitism today. It was especially encouraging to see the strong response to this program beyond traditional Jewish community settings, including corporate firms in technology, law, and engineering.

2. Strengthening our partnership with police.

Healthy vigilance and preparedness are essential in keeping our community safe. UJA Community Security recently facilitated emergency training exercises for our law enforcement partners, enabling police tactical units to become even more familiar with our Sherman Campus (in North York) and Joseph and Wolf Lebovic Campus (in York Region). These intensive crisis simulations were not in response to any specific threat, but rather were proactive exercises to ensure police are even better positioned to keep our community safe. Parallel to this, UJA Community Security has continued to prioritize training programs for community members and staff, which have proven to save lives during antisemitic attacks elsewhere in the Jewish Diaspora. In 2022 alone, more than 1,100 community members enrolled in UJA Community Security programs. Want to explore security training or volunteer opportunities?  Please connect with us.

3. Building allies in Canadian politics.

To ensure effective federal policies and political allies against antisemitism, our voice must be heard on Parliament Hill. Momentum continues to build  toward Antisemitism: Face It, Fight It—a national gathering of Jewish activists taking place in Ottawa on October 16-17, 2023. Convened by Jewish Federations across Canada and our advocacy agent the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), this program will be a powerful signal to federal officials of our united determination to combat Jew hatred. Highlights include meetings with elected representatives on Parliament Hill, a parliamentary gala bringing together Jewish activists and political officials, advocacy training, and networking—including a special focus on student activism. Mark your calendar and connect with us if you would like to save your spot.

4. Fostering allies among diverse communities.

Our efforts are stronger when we combine forces with Canadians of all backgrounds, especially given how antisemitism often goes hand-in-hand with other forms of hate. In honour of May being both Jewish and Asian Heritage month, the Schwartz/Reisman Centre and UJA Genesis are bringing together the two communities for an evening of learning and dialogue. The program will include a conversation moderated by Professor Liang-Hsuan Chen of the University of Toronto Scarborough, with award-winning author Weina Dai Randel on her recent novel, Night Angels. This incredible story is based on the real-life heroism of Dr. Ho Fengshan, Consul General of China, and his wife Grace, who issued thousands of visas that enabled Jews to escape to Shanghai before the Holocaust. This unique program will take place at the Schwartz/Reisman Centre on the evening of May 8th—please see here for tickets.

5. Strengthening our community’s ability to mobilize allies in times of crisis.

There are many wonderful organizations in our Jewish community working hard to build allies throughout Canadian society—be it through advocacy, media relations, campus activism, or interfaith outreach. Now more than ever, it’s crucial to elevate co-operation between Jewish organizations, especially in times of emergency or heightened threat. UJA recently convened a crisis scenario planning retreat that brought together a range of Jewish advocacy organizations, including our traditional UJA-funded partners as well as organizations we haven’t formally supported in the past. Through professionally facilitated, interactive exercises, key lessons were learned that will inform our collective strategy in a future crisis—all while strengthening collaboration among Canadian Jewish groups.

While there’s much more work to do, these are just a few examples of the important efforts underway to ensure our voice is not just heard, but ultimately shared throughout Canadian society. I encourage you to reach out to UJA Genesis, our community mobilization team, if you’d like to get more involved and make an impact.




Linda Frum

Chair, UJA’s Committee to Counter Antisemitism and Hate