JN‘s new editorial initiative addresses the ways this evil has survived and mutated into the modern day.

This week we observed Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day. An odd time to mark this solemn anniversary. But in other ways, it’s eerily fitting. We’ve seen news stories in recent weeks about how Holocaust survivors around the world are responding to the COVID-19 outbreak: for many, it has meant the resurfacing of old traumas, as direct orders to stay inside or risk death are reminiscent of similar orders that kept them hidden from those who wished to destroy them. It’s strange, how Americans in 2020 share anxieties and restrictions with Jews from Nazi Europe.

At the Jewish News, we had been planning an ambitious, multi-part editorial project on anti-Semitism to address the ways this evil has survived and mutated into the modern day: longform features, community forums and arts coverage to help parse the ways our community, and other marginalized groups, understand (and do not understand) hate and bigotry in 2020. We originally planned to launch this project last month, but the virus reached Michigan that very week, and there were suddenly more immediate concerns for the Metro Detroit Jewish community.

But as is often the case, a new tragedy has begat ancient prejudices. This month the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish human rights organization researching hate groups, released a report showing how the virus has resurfaced familiar forms of anti-Semitism, including allegations that the Jews either originated this deadly plague or at the least deserve to catch it.

So we felt it was appropriate to relaunch our anti-Semitism project now, as a reminder that these problems are still with us. We are calling it, simply, The Anti-Semitism Project. The relevancy of this work has not faded; it has only grown stronger. And the JN’s unique ability to tell this story, while balancing our other pressing duties to the Jewish community during the pandemic, is, in my mind, exactly why we continue soldering on as a publication.

We begin with an in-depth cover story by reporter Maya Goldman with photography by Alex Sherman, on a new lawsuit concerning a longtime group of synagogue protesters in Ann Arbor. This case has a lot to tell us about the line between constitutionally protected free speech and outright racial targeting, and the line between criticism of Israel and outright anti-Semitism — both central themes to understanding anti-Jewish bigotry in 2020.

We hope to continue this momentum throughout the remainder of the calendar year, regardless of whatever else might be in store for JN. Our goal is one or two substantive stories per month centered around this theme, with social media pushes to accompany them. We have a podcast in the works, assuming I can catch my breath enough from the torrent of daily news to finish it. And if/when we can go outside again, we also hope to host the occasional live event.

I think this project will provide us with valuable opportunities for dialogue and understanding, across not only the Jewish community, but other groups as well. If you wish to help support our project’s editorial mission financially or in other ways, please contact our publisher, Arthur Horwitz: ahorwitz@renmedia.us.

And thank you as always for your continued support of JN, as we continue the work that must happen for us to reach a world free of hate. We couldn’t do any of this without you.

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