James Pasch has been the regional director of the Anti-Defamation League since 2019. But it was Pasch’s time as a volunteer board leader that he said had the greatest impact on the trajectory of his career.

It was during that time that a shooting occurred in 2018 at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, killing 11. Pasch, who lives in Beachwood, got a telephone call from former ADL Director Anita Gray and the former ADL board chair David Malik. Pasch drove to Pittsburgh to attend some of the funerals with fellow board members and to be there to support the greater Pittsburgh community in the aftermath.

Pasch said, although we read frequently about incidents of mass violence in the United States, he had never seen up-close the aftermath of “such horrific violence as he did after the shooting at Tree of Life. People lost their lives because of who they were – because they were Jews.” Listening to family members and friends speak about their loved ones that they lost so suddenly, had a profound impact on Pasch.

“The amount of pain associated with what occurred that morning is indescribable …” he said. “But, what I got to see on the ground was also the outpouring of love, support and strength in the face of that horrific event.” Seeing that, Pasch said, led him to recalculate what else he could do in his life to make an impact when it comes to fighting back against antisemitism and hate.

During Pasch’s time at the ADL, the organization has run No Place for Hate programs, which seeks to engage students and staff in dialogue and active learning on the topics of bias, bullying, inclusion and allyship. Pasch has a fundamental belief that the best way to stop the spread of hate is to counter it with education. When he started as regional director in 2019, they only reached about a half dozen Pittsburgh-area schools. This past year, Pasch said they were in over 35 schools in Greater Pittsburgh. Across the region, Pasch said over 50 schools completed the No Place for Hate program, the most schools the ADL has ever worked with, region-wide, in its history.

Pasch and the ADL have also presented Holocaust education and law enforcement trainings. He said he is proud of the work ADL does with law enforcement and the Jewish federations, ensuring that they are always responding to incidents of antisemitism and hate. Pasch said, “nothing is more important than responding to and working with victims of antisemitism and hate and letting them know that we are here to help.”

Pasch said he has presided over a time period where this kind of work has never been more important. This past year, he said the Jewish community saw both the highest amount of antisemitic incidents in the region’s history since they began tracking them in the 1970s, as well as the largest percent increase of incidents they’ve ever seen.

“For me, it’s about the work I can accomplish in conjunction with our dedicated staff, our dedicated board and surrounding community,” Pasch said. “These are global issues that will require a whole of community response, and I am so grateful to be surrounded by a great team of people and community leaders from all walks of life, that are joining us in our fight against hate. At the end of the day, we will win the fight against hate, and we will do it together.”

Pasch spent eight years on Beachwood City Council, including serving as vice president and currently as president. He announced May 17 that he will not seek re-election and will serve out the remainder of his term which expires Dec. 31.

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