February 10, 2014
The following is a letter to ADL Leadership from Barry Curtiss-Lusher, National Chair, on the retirement of Abraham Foxman, National Director
Thanks to our National Director, who has devoted 50 years to our Mission - protecting the safety and security of the Jewish people and securing justice and fair treatment for all.
Abraham Foxman, ADL's National Director for the past 27 years, has announced that he will retire from this position on July 20, 2015, the 50th Anniversary of when he joined ADL.
We are extremely fortunate that we have had the benefit of Abe's wisdom and talent at ADL for 50 years and as our leader for nearly three decades. He inspires us to pursue our Mission tirelessly, to be the pre-eminent Jewish civil rights organization in the world, and to stand up to anti-Semitism wherever and whenever it raises its ugly head. ADL has completed its first century with many accomplishments. Now ADL begins its second century with a search for its next great leader, one who will build on Abe’s legacy and lead ADL forward.
Abe Foxman is a unique leader in American Jewish life. No one brings the combination of passion, experience, insight and courage to the Jewish community like Abe. We at ADL have, of course, been the main beneficiaries of this. But, the entire Jewish community and all of American society has benefitted significantly as well.
Abe’s success is the result of many things.
Abe knows who he is. His experience as a hidden child and the son of Holocaust survivors imprinted on his consciousness a deep pride in his Jewishness and the need to stand up for Jews wherever and whenever they were treated badly.
From its beginnings, ADL combatted anti-Semitism. Under Abe the added dimension has been the self-confidence about being Jewish which manifests itself in a willingness to take courageous stands on behalf of the Jewish people.
Under Abe’s leadership, the safety and security of the Jewish people remain at the core of ADL, even as ADL’s reputation as a staunch defender of civil rights grows and ADL fights to secure justice and fair treatment for all.
Related to this are the personal relationships Abe has been able to establish with significant political, religious and cultural leaders around the world, to the benefit of ADL. Abe's passion is infectious, his creativity in solving problems unique, all of which make a marked impression on dignitaries here and abroad.
And then there's Abe's optimism in the face of evil. One of Abe's favorite comments is that "the Jewish people don't have the luxury to be pessimistic." This willingness to go on, to overcome, to believe that people will ultimately do the right thing if educated, has propelled this organization to do more: to do more to expose the bad guys; to do more to educate young people; to do more to work with people of other faiths and perspectives.
Abe's openness to deal with a changing environment is another one of his characteristics that has made him such a strong and effective leader. When the Internet came on the scene, he recognized early on not only the benefits to society but the challenge of a new medium for Hate. He moved ADL to take on this challenge as a priority.
So, too with the growth of the Hispanic community in America. The Jewish and Hispanic communities had limited engagement historically. Abe had the vision to see how important it was for that to change, for each to learn more about the other, to understand how a deeper relationship could be mutually beneficial. So he moved ADL to take on this challenge as well.
ADL prides itself on its dual mission. Abe embodies this duality in a very special way. He believes strongly that we must secure justice and equality for all, the second part of our mission, but he saw us succeeding in that only if we make sure we are more successful than ever in protecting the Jewish people and in defeating those who would do us harm.
In a word, it’s all about Inspiration. Abe has inspired us all and we are so much the better for that, as individuals, as an organization, as a community.
We are fortunate that as Director Emeritus, and as a part-time consultant for the League after his retirement, Abe will continue to advance ADL’s mission and assist us with the transition to new leadership.
Going forward, we have in place a committee and a process to find a successor to Abe. Our Succession Committee has been at work for some time, preparing for this moment and focused on ensuring that this important leadership transition is as smooth as possible.
As ADL looks to the future, please join us in thanking Abe Foxman for all he has done to make this a better world for us, our children and our grandchildren.
ADL National Chair