As Jews mark a formal beginning of the introspective High Holy Day season with the Selichot service, Park Synagogue will host a speaker to consider the role of anti-Semitism in the world.
Melanie Maron Pell, managing director of regional offices for the American Jewish Committee, will speak about the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.
“The month of Elul and Selichot is a time of soul-searching and reflection in preparation for the upcoming High Holidays,” Pell wrote in an email to the Cleveland Jewish News. “As I reflect on this past year, it is one punctuated by increased acts of anti-Semitism and hate. This study session, focused on one form of anti-Semitism, allows me the opportunity to share AJC’s work and our commitment in the year ahead to help combat the growing scourge.”
Pell told the CJN she will start with the basics and talk about the impact and how to counter BDS rhetoric as well as weigh in on its success and failure.
She said the impact of successful BDS initiatives has wreaked economic havoc on both Israelis and Palestinians because their economies are “intertwined.” She cited as an example the closure of the SodaStream plant in the West Bank.
“It hurt the Palestinian workers who lost good paying jobs,” she said.
Pell said she views the BDS movement as anti-Semitic.
“We have to be able to identify and call it out when we do see it,” she said.
In looking at the impact of the movement and its current shape, Pell said she believes it is changing.
“I worry that it is also morphing into different forms,” she said. “It has been largely unsuccessful in many regards, but it’s been largely effective in terms of PR.”
“We normally choose topics for our pre-High Holiday institute that will relate either to Jews as individuals or Jews as a group,” Rabbi Joshua Skoff said. He said Park chose to bring Pell because she is “the national expert on the issue.”