In the News


January 2021

Sandra Bornstein Holocaust Education Center announces adoption of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Working Definition of Antisemitism

Early last year, prior to the pandemic, SBHEC hosted a presentation introducing the non-legally binding International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Working Definition of Antisemitism and received copies of a ground-breaking study, THE NEW ANTI-SEMITES, co-authored and endorsed by over 100 American Jewish organizations.

This IHRA Working Definition was created to set a common international standard for judging whether speech or actions are actually anti-Semitic. The rationale behind it is to review and update classic understanding of antisemitism to accurately reflect modern behavior and thus provide a tool for fighting anti-Semitic speech and behavior.

A key tenet of the Working Definition supports free speech by stating that criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as anti-Semitic. But along with older forms of Jew-hatred, it says that anti-Zionism – that is, an attack against Israel’s right to exist – is anti-Semitic.

The Jewish Agency stated in July 2019, “We call on all world governments, national and international institutions, and NGOs to adopt and implement this definition as a means of education, combating phenomena, and enforcement against hatred of Jews around the world.”

During this past year, two RI organizations – the Jewish Alliance of Greater RI and RI Coalition for Israel – had formally adopted the IHRA Working Definition. Nationally and internationally it has found increasing acceptance by governments, NGOs, law enforcement, and higher education.

A special committee was formed to research and evaluate the Working Definition for SBHEC. The committee came back after several months of careful study and recommended it be adopted by SBHEC. On Wednesday, December 16, the 7th night of Chanukah 2020, the board formally adopted the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism. Supporting this Working Definition goes hand-in-hand with our mission of Holocaust education.

We are proud to join the growing number of community organizations that have adopted the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism.

The full text of IHRA’s definition can be read at this website: