Ms. Rosenthal Goes to Milwaukee

Anti-Semitism Envoy Named Head of Jewish Federation

D.C. to Midwest: Hannah Rosenthal, the state department’s top official dealing with anti-Semitism, is preparing to take over the reins at the Milwaukee Jewish federation.
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D.C. to Midwest: Hannah Rosenthal, the state department’s top official dealing with anti-Semitism, is preparing to take over the reins at the Milwaukee Jewish federation.

By Josh Nathan-Kazis

Published July 27, 2012, issue of August 03, 2012.
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Days earlier, the Forward had reported that Oren had called J Street a “unique problem” in an address to a group of Conservative rabbis.

Establishment Jewish leaders criticized Rosenthal for her critique of an Israeli official at the time. “As an official of the United States government, it is inappropriate for the anti-Semitism envoy to be expressing her personal views on the positions Ambassador Oren has taken,” said Alan Solow, who at that time was chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.

Since then, Rosenthal has steered clear of such controversy. Her two and a half years as anti-Semitism envoy have won praise from some who were critical of her in the weeks after her appointment.

“I think she worked hard to establish that anti-Semitism is serious and needs to be dealt with,” Abraham Foxman, the Anti-Defamation League’s national president, said in an interview with the Forward. And though “her style” was not necessarily his own, Foxman said, he deemed her tenure a success.

That style incorporated an unusual personal touch for a special envoy of the United States. “Diplomats aren’t supposed to cry,” Rosenthal wrote in a recent essay posted to her [official Facebook page about a State Department trip to Mannheim, Germany, where her father was a rabbi before the Holocaust. But at a ceremony honoring her father and attended by the city’s mayor, Rosenthal wrote, “all I could do was sob.”

“Hannah is a tireless champion in the fight against anti-Semitism and all forms of hate,” said Michael Posner, assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor. “Her energetic approach and refreshingly direct style have allowed her to successfully bring the issue of anti-Semitism to the attention of many world leaders.”

Milwaukee federation officials would not disclose Rosenthal’s prospective salary, but her predecessor was paid $262,000 by the federation and related organizations, according to the latest available tax filings from the federation. That’s on the low end of the salaries earned by executives at some of the larger federations.

The federation has just completed what leaders call a “reimagining” process. Over the past two years, the group worked with consultants to talk with community members about the role the federation should play.


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