Doug Emhoff Emerges as Face of White House Fight Against Antisemitism

And there has been a nationwide surge of antisemitic incidents, including 2,717 such acts across the United States in 2021, a 34 percent increase from the year before, according to the Anti-Defamation League.

Sheila Katz, the chief executive of the National Council of Jewish Women, said Mr. Emhoff’s faith was significant.

“I think a lot of people didn’t realize how significant it was right away that he’s a Jew in that role,” Ms. Katz said. “These spaces have never been our places before, and what Emhoff is doing by who he is and who he’s engaging with in the community is just nothing we’ve seen before.”

Shortly after Mr. Biden came into office, Mr. Emhoff visited Ellis Island to see the written signatures of his great-grandparents who escaped Poland. He hosted a Passover Seder at the vice president’s residence and has occasionally joked about the three-piece velour suit he wore for his bar mitzvah. During a Rosh Hashana celebration at the White House in late September, he described his family’s tradition of cooking brisket for the holiday in his childhood home in Brooklyn.

Ted Deutch, the chief executive of the American Jewish Committee and a former Democratic congressman from Florida, said Mr. Emhoff had expressed concern over the spread of hatred since white nationalists marched into Charlottesville, Va., in 2017 — but also about the more common antisemitic attacks amplified on social media and college campuses throughout the nation.

“He’s in a unique position to help combat it,” Mr. Deutch said.

The event, which did not produce any policy announcements, is just one part of a strategy to challenge extremism.

Federal law enforcement officials have said the rise of antisemitism is part of a broader wave of domestic extremism in the United States, and in response have established a domestic terrorism branch inside the Homeland Security Department to more frequently distribute intelligence warnings. The administration has increased grant funding for nonprofit organizations, as well as houses of worship, focused on preventing extremist acts with a budget of $250 million in 2022, an increase of $70 million from 2021.

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