By Karen Callen
What do Jewish values mean to our Atlanta community? As the 2016 election winds down, I find myself asking this question more often and wondering whether our leading institutions really have an answer.
I was shocked to learn that the Atlanta Jewish Times is planning to host Bernie Marcus for a prominent speaking engagement at its Jewish Breakfast Club, an event the AJT bills as “an opportunity for the leaders of our community to pass on core Jewish values to the next generation.”
I strongly believe in building programs and institutions that support community leaders in living their lives in accordance with Jewish values. I have personally benefited from a number of these programs in Atlanta. What I can’t understand is how the AJT can claim that Bernie Marcus, one of the country’s most prominent defenders of Donald Trump, could represent Jewish values or serve as a suitable mentor for the next generation.
Mr. Marcus certainly has the right to speak his mind. And given his deep financial support for much of the Atlanta Jewish community, including the AJT, I can even understand why our community institutions are reluctant to proactively criticize Mr. Marcus. However, in this very publication Mr. Marcus has publicly defended and endorsed a campaign built on hate and the targeting of minorities. Marcus even went on record defending Trump’s conduct after video surfaced of Trump bragging about sexually assaulting women.
More than a dozen women have since come forward to confirm that Trump is indeed a serial perpetrator of sexual assault. Our Jewish community’s values of the inherent dignity of every human being and the pursuit of justice are not reconcilable with these actions.
Marcus’ speaking engagement should be canceled. We have so many individuals and organizations within our Jewish community doing important work to make our world a better place. Let’s highlight these admirable efforts that support our Jewish values, instead of promoting someone who has compromised himself by associating with a hateful presidential campaign. Our community deserves better.
Karen Callen is an active member of Atlanta’s Jewish community. She lives in Decatur with her husband and two young daughters.