Rabbi David Wolpe was appointed as the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) inaugural Rabbinic Fellow on May 1.
The announcement was made during the ADL’s National Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C. In his role, Wolpe will be a “thought leader” in the ADL to incorporate Jewish values and views into the ADL and its work, according to an announcement on the ADL’s website.
“I’m so pleased to welcome Rabbi Wolpe into the ADL family and look forward to his insights as we seek to expand interfaith relationships and incorporate an inclusive focus on Judaism into our everyday work,” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement. “As a former congregant of Sinai Temple, I have experienced the rabbi’s inspirational leadership firsthand. He is one of the nation’s leading rabbinic theologians and scholars, and we are deeply fortunate to be able to tap into his knowledge of Jewish values to inform our work combating antisemitism and hate in all forms.”
Greenblatt further told the Journal in a phone interview that the ADL has been looking at how to bring “some of his thinking into ADL.” “For a long time, I’ve been thinking about, reflecting on how I can bring more Jewish values into the work of fighting anti-Jewish hate,” Greenblatt said. “And so, I’m excited for Rabbi Wolpe to help us think about our traditions and rabbinic teachings and bring his gifts to this organization so that while we’re fighting hate, we’re also building hope. While we’re trying to defend the Jewish people from external threats, we’re also strengthening the Jewish people internally, fortifying our community with our values, with our teachings, with our traditions.”
“While we’re trying to defend the Jewish people from external threats, we’re also strengthening the Jewish people internally, fortifying our community with our values, with our teachings, with our traditions.” – Jonathan Greenblatt
He added that the Rabbinic Fellow position is a new position for the ADL. “Some of this we will develop as we go, but I anticipate that, number one, he’ll be advising me, he’ll be advising the board, he’ll be advising the staff, the whole organization [on] how we infuse values into the value chain of our work,” Greenblatt said. “Number two, he’ll be out there speaking and writing under the ADL banner.”
Wolpe had announced his retirement from Sinai Temple in April 2022, a role he has held since 1997. Beginning June 30, 2023, he will assume the position of Emeritus Rabbi. During the 2023-24 academic year, he will become a visiting scholar at Harvard University. He has authored eight books and was named the most influential rabbi in America in 2012 by Newsweek and The Daily Beast.
“I’m honored and excited to join the fray,” Wolpe said in a statement to the Journal. “As I said in the video that introduced me, I hope to add Jewish learning and wisdom to the fight against antisemitism and hatred.”
“We are on the front lines of fighting hate,” Greenblatt said, “and to have someone of his intellect and thoughtfulness will make us better at what we do.”