Anti-Defamation League National Director Abraham Foxman is stepping down from the post, after nearly five decades spent in the Jewish non-profit sector.

“For almost five decades, ADL offered me the perfect vehicle to live a life of purpose both in standing up on behalf of the Jewish people to ensure that what happened during World War II would never happen again and in fighting bigotry and all forms of oppression,” Foxman said.

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“My years at ADL, particularly the 27 spent as National Director, could not have been more rewarding. ADL continued its growth as a highly respected and influential organization both here in the United States and across the globe. We have never lost sight of the fact that we are an organization whose first priority is to fight anti-Semitism and protect the Jewish people. I’m proud of all that we have accomplished.”

Foxman’s retirement date is set for July 20, 2015, after which time he will retain the title of director emeritus.

In the meantime, the ADL is on the hunt for a new national director, an effort that will be led by the group’s national chair, Barry Curtiss-Lusher.

“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,” Curtiss-Lusher wrote in a letter to ADL’s National Commission. “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.”

He added: “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. … 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.”

The ADL is a leading human rights advocacy group fighting anti-Semitism. It celebrated its 100th year in 2013.

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