Teenager on a Mission to Rally Generation Z Against Anti-Semitism

October 29, 2020

The Washington Jewish Week recently published a story about Zack Singerman, a Jewish teenager who is on a mission to combat anti-Semitism, and is also a past winner of the Combat Anti-Semitism Movement’s Herzl Take Action Award.  Zack started a new organization to energize his peers in Generation Z to get engaged in the fight against anti-Semitism.

Back in January Zack announced that he was organizing a summit against anti-Semitism for“Jewish teens to learn about anti-Semitism and how to stand up to it when confronted.”  The 15-year-old’s original plans for the event were scuttled by the coronavirus pandemic. Last month, Singerman was finally able to host his summit in a virtual format. Attendees were given an overview of anti-Semitism, including anti-Semitic rhetoric and propaganda, according to Singerman.

Singerman was able to raise the profile of his summit by securing former New York Times columnist Bari Weiss, author of “How to Fight anti-Semitism,” to be the keynote speaker for the event. Weiss emphasized “being proudly Jewish” by integrating cultural practices, such as Jewish poetry or cooking into your daily lives during the program, Singerman said.

Singerman, a student at Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School in Washington, D.C., said of anti-Semitism, “It wasn’t always this bad. When my mom was growing up, there was not as much antis-Semitism as there was during the Holocaust or as there is now. But after the Tree of Life shooting, it’s like a switch was flipped and you could see it everywhere,” he said.

Singerman was moved to action by the October 2018 Tree of Life shooting in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The tragedy, which was the deadliest attack on Jews in American history, hit close to home for him as his grandmother’s congregation, Dor Hadash, was targeted in the shooting.

“My grandmother’s congregation was there when [the shooting] happened. My mother was calling her up to make sure she was OK. Thankfully, she wasn’t there. But one of her friends was murdered and another one shot.”

The organization that Singerman founded to engage his generation, Gen Z Jews Fighting Anti-Semitism, has received support from the Combat Anti-Semitism Movement and now has three adults that serve on the organization’s board.

In Singerman’s lifetime, anti-Semitic rhetoric has taken on a distinctly 21st century form, with online anti-Semitism fueling a rapid spread of hate. Singerman, however, believes that technology can also be a helpful tool for fighting anti-Semitism and other forms of hate.

“It’s definitely easier to spread misinformation and hate, but we also have to use the internet and social media to spread our message and our truths about Judaism,” he said. 

Singerman is focused on fighting all forms of anti-Semitism regardless of where they fall on the ideological spectrum. “The right is more about directly threatening Jewish people. It’s more overt. But there is anti-Semitism on the left, which gets tied in with Israel, which is the homeland of the Jewish people.”

Singerman’s organization started a YouTube channel for Gen-Z and he has so far interviewed individuals such as presidential scholar Tevi Troy,  Reps. Brad Schneider (D-Ill.) and Max Rose (D-N.Y.) and Olympic athlete AJ Edelman.

Now that the summit is completed, Singerman plans to continue raising awareness among his generation and believes it is essential for Generation Z to help build a better world for the Jewish community and push back against hatred. “You have to be hopeful in this. If you’re not, you’re just gonna spiral down,” he said. “We’re going to achieve our goals. You don’t always know how long it will take or how much work you’ll have to put in, but you have to be willing to put in that work.”

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