Last Wednesday evening, May 31, the New Jersey Jewish Business Alliance (NJJBA) hosted its first-ever symposium on antisemitism at St. Peter’s University in Jersey City and featured Simon Wiesenthal Center’s (SWC) longtime associate dean, Rabbi Abraham Cooper.
The evening began with introductory remarks from David Rosenberg, NJJBA’s executive director, as well as former New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey, who is currently the chairman and executive director of New Jersey Reentry Corporation.
Governor McGreevey spoke briefly on his experiences with antisemitism and introduced the featured speaker of the evening, Rabbi Cooper. Rabbi Cooper spoke on his past and current work and achievements in the field of tolerance and his pride in educating foreign leaders on the issues involved with antisemitism. He sprinkled his remarks with a number of powerful and humorous anecdotes from his travels to the Middle East and working with the leaders of Persian Gulf states such as Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.
A major theme of his talk was how important a role that individuals such as himself and others can make in tearing down virtual walls and building bridges with those from other faiths to combat religious intolerance. He stressed how important it was for Jews and all faith leaders to build alliances and friendships with each other before crises arise. He also talked about the amplifying effect of the recent pandemic on antisemitism and hatred against Chinese and Muslim people, in addition to Jews.
Rabbi Cooper also discussed the unprecedented antisemitism from neo-Nazis on the extreme far right to the extreme far-left, from ISIS, and Hamas and the incredibly powerful role that businesspeople can play in addressing these issues.
After his talk, he sat with Englewood Mayor Michael Wildes, who engaged him in a spirited dialogue and Q&A session, where they discussed a number of personal and personal experiences and shared anecdotes as prominent Jewish leaders working so closely with other faith groups and communities. They also discussed how to best represent Judaism to the outside world.
Rabbi Cooper also fielded questions from the audience about antisemitism on campus and he also spoke further about the work of the Simon Wiesenthal Center on campuses throughout the globe, and its work in the public sphere.
The cosponsors for the event were the Harrison Rand advertising and marketing firm, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, The Jewish Link, the Jewish Standard of New Jersey and Rockland, the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at St. Peter’s University, the Guarani Institute for Government and Leadership at St. Peter’s University, and the Frank J. Guarini School of Business at St. Peter’s University.
For more information about the NJJBA and its work, visit www.NJJBA.com
By Moshe Kinderlehrer