Why is anti-Semitism on the rise?

 What is the future of Jewish life in Europe?

 How can we keep our local community safe?

These are just a few of the questions that will be addressed at “Hope Against Hate,” a unique one-day conference, screening and talk that examine the existential challenges—and potential solutions—facing Jewish communities today. Co-hosted by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) and the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit, the May 8th event will explore the complexities of Jewish life in communities ranging from Serbia, Paris and Berlin to metro Detroit and beyond.

Monday, May 8: Three Compelling Events, featuring keynote speaker, Deborah E. Lipstadt

The day begins with Fight or Flight: A Conference on the Modern Jewish Community (12 pm – 5 pm), offering a variety of in-depth sessions on the profound challenges—and opportunities—facing Jewish communities today. Speakers include on-the-ground professionals from the JDC and the national Anti-Defamation League (ADL), as well as local and national law enforcement figures, including Daniel L. Lemish, Acting US Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan. The conference will include a keynote address as well as a number of break-out sessions on topics such as global and local anti-Semitism, the BDS movement, and the existential threats facing today’s European Jewish communities. Attendees will also enjoy a complimentary kosher lunch.

Deborah E. Lipstadt, Jewish historian and author of the acclaimed book Denial: Holocaust History on Trial, which was the basis for the film Denial, will serve as the keynote speaker, along with Alan H. Gill, the JDC’S Executive Vice President Emeritus.

In her acclaimed 1993 book Denying the Holocaust, Deborah Lipstadt called David Irving, a prolific writer of books on World War II, “one of the most dangerous spokespersons for Holocaust denial.” The following year, after Lipstadt’s book was published in the United Kingdom, Irving filed a libel suit against Lipstadt and her publisher. She prepared her defense with the help of a first-rate team of solicitors, historians, and experts, and a dramatic trial unfolded.

Denial, previously published as History on Trial, is Lipstadt’s riveting, blow-by-blow account of this singular legal battle, which resulted in a formal denunciation of a Holocaust denier that crippled the movement for years to come.

Break-out sessions

From Risk to Resilience: The Journey of a European Jew with  Dr. William Recant, Assistant Executive Vice President, International Development Programs, JDC  and Anja Olejnik, Representative in Berlin, JDC

From one European war-torn country in the East to a power player in the West, find out how one woman endured the challenges of growing up as a Jew in the unstable and vitriolic environment of Bosnia and Serbia, and what led her to become a change maker in the Jewish community today.

Confronting Anti-Semitism: A Local Perspective on Hate-Speech and Threats  with Susan K. DeClercq, U.S. Attorney’s Office – Eastern District of Michigan, Detroit, Michigan
Daniel L. Lemisch, Acting U.S. Attorney and  Kevin Mulcahy, Executive Assistant U.S. Attorney

The resurgence of Anti-Semitism has taken a variety of forms, both locally as well as across the globe. This seminar will look at the unique characteristics and distinctions between ‘hate speech’ and those actions that constitute ‘true threats’ to safety and security. Our panel of seasoned law enforcement professionals will also discuss the most effective responses to both of these virulent forms of Anti-Semitism.

The Upside of Crisis: Defining European Communities in the Face of Challenge  with Dr. William Recant, Assistant Executive Vice President, International Development Programs, JDC
Gideon Herscher, JDC Director of International Partnerships

Within every crisis, lies an opportunity. In the face of great adversity, European Jewish communities are compelled to explore and define what the Jewish community of 2017 will be, despite of and in response to imminent threat.

The Rise of Neo-Fascism with Marilyn Mayo, Research Fellow, Center on Extremism, ADL

Gideon Herscher
Gideon Herscher

The emergence of neo-facist ideology has unleashed a new wave of nativist and xenophobic ideology, often leading to outright racism and Anti-Semitism. Marilyn Mayo, of the Center on Extremism of the Anti-Defamation League, shares her knowledge and insights on this disturbing new movement.

Gideon Herscher, JDC Director of International Partnerships, is one of the organizers of the conference as well as a moderator. “At a moment of such uncertainty in the world, especially for the Jewish people, we’re fortunate to have an incredible lineup of speakers with a global perspective from communities worldwide,” he notes. “We’re thrilled to share this day of learning and dialogue with one of the most engaged Jewish communities in North America.”

Co-chairing the event are Penny Blumenstein and Matthew Lester, both longtime Federation leaders who have worked closely with the JDC on behalf of the international Jewish community. “The concept of this event—that we all have a role in each other’s future—is more important now than ever before,” notes Penny Blumenstein. “This is a unique opportunity for anyone interested in the future of our Jewish communities.

Exploring Denial with Deborah Lipstadt


History on Trial, by Deborah E. Lipstadt comes to the big screen in Denial, starring Rachel Weisz, Tom Wilkenson and Timothy Spall.

Following the conference, Federation and the JDC will host a screening of the film Denial (5pm-7:30pm), starring Academy Award® winner Rachel Weisz, Academy Award® nominee Tom Wilkinson and Timothy Spall.  Denial recounts Deborah E. Lipstadt’s legal battle for historical truth against David Irving, who accused her of libel when she declared him a Holocaust denier. Written by acclaimed playwright David Hare, the film is a suspenseful courtroom drama as well as window into the dark world of modern Holocaust deniers. A kosher box-meal and snacks will be available during the movie.

After the film, Ms. Lipstadt will share her spellbinding account of the experiences that led to her book, as well as her insights into the lasting legacy of anti-Semitism in Europe and elsewhere today (7:30pm – 9pm).

“We’re extremely fortunate to have Deborah Lipstadt joining us for this event,” says Matthew Lester. “Ms. Lipstadt is a renowned Jewish historian with an incredible story to tell, as well as a powerful and fascinating speaker. She is also a board member of the JDC who is personally committed to improving the lives of Jews throughout the world.”

Attendees are welcome to register separately for the afternoon conference, the screening and the talk. An $18 minimum donation to the Jewish Federation is required to attend any of the events, plus an $18 couvert for those attending the conference.

To learn more about the sessions and speakers, and to register, visit: jewishdetroit.org/hope