A new position at the Baltimore Jewish Council will focus on addressing and educating on anti-Semitism.
The new position will be filled by Emily Goodman, who previously served as the program coordinator for the BJC. Her new role is director of Holocaust and countering Antisemitism programs. Part of the role will involve implementing the recommendations of the Baltimore Jewish Community Task Force on Anti-Semitism.
“Anti-Semitism has always been something that’s very important to me,” said Goodman, who has worked for the BJC since 2018.
“Being a Jewish individual and seeing the amount of anti-Semitism that’s occurring and the rate that it’s increasing is so alarming,” she said.
Goodman’s new role is an expansion of the BJC’s previous position of director of Holocaust programs. Jeanette Parmigiani served in this role from 2007 until her retirement at the end of last year. As director of Holocaust programs, Parmigiana organized Holocaust speaker events and commemoration programs. A few months ago, she announced that she planned to retire.
At the time, the Baltimore Jewish Community Task Force on Anti-Semitism was well underway, working on completing an action plan filled with recommendations to combat anti-Semitism.
The task force formed in 2019 and released its action plan in November of 2020. The recommendations focus on four key areas: education, advocacy, relationship building and monitoring and responding.
“There are a lot of recommendations in there,” said BJC Executive Director Howard Libit, who served on the task force staff. “While many of the recommendations are to be implemented across the community, not just by the BJC or The Associated, but by other agencies or synagogues or other organizations altogether, a lot of it and a lot of coordination was going to fall to us, and we’re ready to step into that role. It seemed to me that if I could also create some staff capacity to help organize programs, to help think through responding to anti-Semitic incidents, to help lead implementation of the task force recommendations with me, I thought that would help us move further along.”
As Parmigiani’s role had been a part-time position, Libit had the idea to expand the job to include additional responsibilities to help combat anti-Semitism.
According to Libit, Goodman seemed like the right choice for this new, expanded role. In Goodman’s previous role at BJC, she had supported different initiatives within the BJC, including Parmigiani’s work on Holocaust remembrance, and so it seemed like a natural transition for her. Goodman also sat on the BJC’s Holocaust Remembrance Commission.
Implementing the recommendations of the task force “is a very hefty lift,” Goodman said, “but it’s something we’re going to work on gradually.”
One project Goodman is working on in the new role is a training curriculum for diversity offices, so they can better handle incidents of anti-Semitism when they arise. She is also helping to organize a conversation on anti-Semitism with David Hirsh, co-founder of Engage, a campaign against the academic boycott of Israel. This event is scheduled for March 8.
Some of the upcoming Holocaust programming Goodman will be involved with include BJC’s virtual Yom Hashoah program, which will take place in April.
The pandemic does present some challenges to the new role, Libit said. For the Holocaust component of the job, it creates an obstacle for survivors to participate in programming. The main challenge to the anti-Semitism component is that the pandemic makes it more difficult to build relationships with other communities and organizations.
Goodman is passionate about wanting “to make sure that survivors and those who perished in the Holocaust are not forgotten, that their history lives on and that we as a society learn from that history rather than perpetuating continued anti-Semitism,” she said.