Every generation has an inflection point. Ours is right now.

We’re almost eight months into a heartbreaking war we did not ask for. At home, antisemitism has metastasized and taken hold in ways unimaginable only a short while ago. Many Jews feel increasingly unsettled and alone. We have since October 7, when the condemnations were tepid, and the justifications were not.

Years from now, when we look back at this period, that could be the whole story we tell. And if it is, then we’ll have let ourselves down and failed succeeding generations. Because even as all this is taking place, something else is happening in tandem — something with the potential to redefine our Jewish future here in America.

Against the current backdrop of heartbreak and unease, we’re witnessing a powerful resurgence of Jewish pride. Jews searching for community. Wanting to be with other people who stand with Israel and believe that Zionism is core to who we are. Who want to send their children to Jewish camps to celebrate this identity. Jewish college students flocking to Hillels and Chabad. Jews of all ages seeking one another at community centers and synagogues. Jews donning dog tags for the hostages and wearing Stars of David or kippot. Craving Jewish life with a newfound hunger.

There’s data to back this up. A recent national survey by Jewish Federations of North America found that since October 7, a remarkable 43% of Jews in America have sought to engage more with Jewish life.

The comedian Alex Edelman wryly observed that the best response to antisemitism is “extra-semitism.” He’s right. And the concept encapsulates how, for the first time in a long time, Jews across the religious and political spectrum are leaning into their heritage and identity.

We must meet the moment.

In that regard, I’m delighted to report that UJA’s board of directors voted last week to provide an additional $25 million from our endowment that will be used over the next three years to invest even more heavily in Jewish life.

In no way does this investment preclude our significant focus on combating antisemitism. From threats of violence to actual violence to hateful rhetoric, in recent years — more so in recent months — we’ve been called to fight with new vigor. But that fight has always been a means to an end. The end? Proud and public flourishing Jewish communities across our country.

With that goal in sight, we plan to make big bets on projects that will inspire, lift up, connect, and ensure that Jewish pride, knowledge, and engagement thrives and carries forward from this generation to the next. We want Jews of all ages, backgrounds, and observances to find the path to high-quality experiences so they can embrace that much-needed extra-semitism.

To put it another way, antisemitism aims to diminish us; it wants us to hide ourselves, to retreat. “Go back to Poland,” they say.  What could be a more fitting response than showing up in greater multitudes with an even more optimistic and joyful Judaism.

We’re in the last days of Jewish-American Heritage Month, and with Memorial Day approaching, it’s appropriate to remember how much we’ve given this country and how much it’s given us. But in these highly challenging times, a month isn’t remotely enough.

With this additive investment — and, hopefully, significant additional investments in Jewish life from foundations and philanthropies across our community — every day will celebrate Jewish American heritage.

And equally important, every day will celebrate Jewish American possibility.  

Enjoy the holiday weekend and Shabbat shalom