Choosing Hope in a World of Hate | Shalom Austin

Choosing Hope in a World of Hate

The Jewish Outlook

Aug 31, 2023

ADL Austin joined City leaders in a press conference on July 21 for the launch of the City of Austin’s We All Belong Campaign. Courtesy: City of Austin

By Jackie Nirenberg, ADL Austin regional director

Over the past three years, American Jews, many for the first time, have witnessed a chilling wave of antisemitic activity. Here in Austin, that activity has taken the form of antisemitic flyers left on driveways (the latest of which were reported just last month) and, in the most egregious of incidents, an arson at Congregation Beth Israel in October 2021.

With an ever-more polarized populous, the ramping up of extremist activity, and the proliferation of hate-filled rhetoric filling the airwaves and social media platforms, it’s not surprising that many people are feeling pessimistic. It can be hard to see the possibilities when bombarded by what feels like a never-ending stream of negative information.

But it’s important to understand that the very goal of these bad actors is to make people feel destabilized and demoralized. It must not be manipulated that way. If so, it will play right into their hands.

That was the message conveyed in July when ADL joined city leaders and staff at a press conference launching the city’s new anti-hate campaign, We All Belong. The goal of the city-wide initiative is to ensure Austin remains a welcoming and inclusive community by making it easier for Austinites to report hate crimes and incidents, both of which city leaders believe are greatly underreported. The effort is the result of a two-year push by elected leaders, grassroots leaders at ATX Kind, and ADL for a coordinated response to the alarming rise in antisemitism and extremist activity in Austin.

The campaign’s theme, We All Belong, is purposefully positive. Rather than amplify fear in the community (as perpetrators of hate would like to see), it is a message of empowerment and inclusiveness. The focus of We All Belong is not about the acts of hate or the actors who perpetrate them, but about empowering a community to stand up against them.

“We All Belong is much more than a slogan. It is a bold and clear affirmation that the City is committed to ensuring that Austin remains a place where diversity is celebrated, and hate is not tolerated,” said Assistant City Manager Veronica Briseño.

To learn more about We All Belong, visit ADL deals with hate every day. It’s easy to get cynical when working in that context.

Val and Jeff Newberg, ADL Austin 2023 Golden Door Awards Dinner Honorees. Courtesy: Val and Jeff NewbergBut there is no more powerful antidote to hate than hope. That’s why ADL invests resources into educational programs like No Place for Hate®, an ADL initiative that empowers over 160,000 K-12 students in Central Texas to address bias and bullying by learning to identify it and to stand up for one another. And that’s why, this year, as ADL Austin celebrates its 20th anniversary, they are doubling down on hope. On October 30, 2023, at its annual Golden Door Awards Dinner, ADL will honor two people who embody the spirit of hope and optimism—Val and Jeff Newberg. The Newbergs were early champions of ADL Austin, eager to advance its mission to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to ensure justice and fair treatment to all. Jeff served as ADL Austin’s fourth board chair, and Val is a longtime ADL board member and dedicated volunteer.

ADL is also excited to welcome Daniel Lubetzky, CEO of Kind Snacks and featured judge on the hit show Shark Tank as the Golden Door keynote speaker. Lubetzky, whose father survived the Holocaust, has dedicated his life to making the world a kinder place—not because he doesn’t see the hate in the world, but because he knows kindness is more powerful.

ADL invites everyone to join them on this journey of hope. When joined together, people are more powerful than the small minority of hatemongers who seek to foment fear and make others feel hopeless.

To find out about tickets and sponsorship opportunities at ADL Austin’s Golden Door Awards, contact Angela Atlas at

Latest Posts

CEO Column- December 2023

CEO Column- December 2023

Shalom Austin CEO, Rabbi Daniel A. Septimus. Courtesy: Shalom Austin "My heart is in the east but I, I am at the edge of the west." These are the famous words written by Judah Halevi, a renowned rabbi, poet and philosopher, who expressed the ageless longing of the...