Abraham Foxman to retire from ADL

Abraham Foxman, the national director of the Anti-Defamation League and one of the longest-serving and highest-profile American Jewish organizational leaders, is retiring next year.

Foxman will step down on July 20, 2015, according to a Feb. 10 announcement by the ADL.

“For almost five decades, ADL offered me the perfect vehicle to live a life of purpose both in standing up on behalf of the Jewish people to ensure that what happened during World War II would never happen again and in fighting bigotry and all forms of oppression,” Foxman, 73, said in the news release.

The organization said its search for Foxman’s successor will be conducted by the executive search firm BoardWalk Consulting, guided by ADL leadership.

Foxman, a child survivor of the Holocaust, started at the ADL in 1965 and became its national director in 1987. Under his leadership, ADL has expanded to 30 regional offices across the United States and an office in Israel.

In 2011, the last year for which data is available, the ADL reported nearly $54 million in revenue. The organization monitors anti-Semitic activity, offers discrimination-sensitivity training and runs anti-bigotry programs.

But it is Foxman’s personage for which the ADL may best be known. Seen as a spokesman for the Jewish people, Foxman has used his position as a bully pulpit to advocate for Israel, warn against discrimination and, perhaps most often, issue declamations of what does or does not constitute anti-Semitism.

President Barack Obama praised Foxman as “irreplaceable” in a statement released by the White House Feb. 11.

“For decades, Abe Foxman has been a tireless voice against anti-Semitism and prejudice in all of its forms,” Obama said, “always calling us to reject hatred and embrace our common humanity.”

After he steps down, Foxman will serve as a part-time consultant to the ADL and sit on the organization’s national executive committee. — jta