At Economic Forum, antisemitism in the workplace is discussed | Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle

At Economic Forum, antisemitism in the workplace is discussed

Milwaukee Jewish Federation leaders implored the city’s business community to remain vigilant against the continuing increase in antisemitism, including in the workplace, during the organization’s annual Economic Forum, held last month. 

Over the last eight months, three-fourths of Jews across the nation witnessed antisemitism against other people, one quarter experienced it themselves, and four-fifths reported feeling unsafe living in the U.S., said Joan Lubar, board chair of Milwaukee Jewish Federation, during her remarks at the forum, citing a recent report.  

“As the Milwaukee business community gathers here today, it’s important that we recognize the impact these numbers have not only on your Jewish friends, but your Jewish employees,” Lubar said.  Antisemitism “is always a warning to society. It is the canary in the coal mine.” 

Milwaukee Jewish Federation President and CEO Miryam Rosenzweig gave the audience a call to action to combat antisemitism and hate. First, she said, business leaders must work to better understand antisemitism, considered the oldest form of discrimination. It crosses geographies and shapeshifts, she said. 

“It always works itself into whatever society at that moment considers the worst moral behavior and is attributed to the Jewish community,” she said, giving credit to officials across the business community for the “tremendous work” they have done to understand what biases and discrimination looks like in the workplace through diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives. 

Second, Rosenzweig asked business leaders to consider partnering with the Federation, which has launched a new program to help corporate employees better understand Jewish identity and traditions, along with the best ways to address antisemitism in the workplace.   

“We are available to help you through it. I know that together we can make our workplaces in Milwaukee better for all of our Jewish employees and …for everyone,” she said, noting that the program began with a partnership with Northwestern Mutual.  

The program is strengthened by collaboration, including with the Federation’s Jewish Museum Milwaukee and Jewish Community Relations Council, Rosenzweig said.  

The Milwaukee Jewish Federation is one of 146 Jewish Federations across the nation that serve their local communities. Each year, the Federation holds an economic forum, bringing together Milwaukee’s business community. The purpose of the networking event is to support the community while discussing relevant economic and social issues. This year’s focus was the political polarization in the U.S. ahead of the presidential election as well as combating hate and bigotry.  

“The Hebrew words ‘tikkun olam,’ which mean to ‘repair the world’ is a core Jewish value and is part of our Federation mission,” Lubar said. “I know that repairing Milwaukee is a shared mission for all of us and can (only happen) when we all work together.”