Longtime Israel advocate Julie Paris is making her Zionist stance more official. The Pittsburgher recently became Mid-Atlantic regional director for StandWithUs, a Los Angeles-based non-partisan organization that supports Israel and fights antisemitism through programming and education on six continents.
Paris is eager to share the organization’s resources with Pittsburghers and partner with local leaders to promote Israel and combat “the rising tide of hate,” she said.
According to a 2022 American Jewish Committee report, 89% of Americans believe antisemitism is a problem in the United States, and 82% of Americans think antisemitism has increased in the U.S. during the past five years.
StandWithUs has tools for helping students and adults respond to antisemitism. Curricula, conferences, social media use and missions to Israel are offered “at a very inexpensive price point or completely free,” Paris said.
Paris recently traveled to Los Angeles to gain insight into the organization and its offerings. Between March 2-5, she attended “Israel in Focus,” a StandWithUs conference featuring discussions with educators, lawyers and students. Paris hopes to bring several of those speakers to Pittsburgh and serve as “a resource for those who are struggling or have faced antisemitism,” she said. StandWithUs, she added, is a vehicle for “offering students and community members empowerment, pride, resources and engagement.”
Several local organizations are already committed to those efforts. StandWithUs isn’t seeking to displace any entities; rather, the group aims to serve in a complementary role, Paris said. “Any other organization that feels as strongly as we do, or is doing this work and is looking to increase their engagement with Israel and with fighting antisemitism, we are there and we want to partner,” she said.
Paris is tasked with representing the organization throughout Pennsylvania, West Virginia and portions of New Jersey. She manages a board in Philadelphia and hopes to create another board in Pittsburgh.
As much as Paris is looking forward to working with adults, and fundraising on behalf of the organization, she said some of the most critical work involves younger generations.
She is a parent of middle school-aged children and said she knows the pressure students are under — both within classrooms and online — when it comes to antisemitism and Israel.
Paris wants to work with educators and young learners by providing access to experts, opportunities for travel and materials that include facts and figures about the Jewish state.
For Paris, past excursions to Israel and the recent visit to Los Angeles were valuable learning opportunities. Whether it was seeing the StandWithUs Israel education center in Jerusalem or hearing from high school and college-aged students, Paris said she was reminded of how imperative it is to invest in the young: “These are our future leaders.”
Other than quarterly trips across Pennsylvania, West Virginia and portions of New Jersey, Paris will be based in Pittsburgh — where she’s long been known as an Israel advocate.
Years before accepting the position, she served as Western PA regional director of the Jewish National Fund and received the Israel Service Award from the Zionist Organization of America-Pittsburgh.
“We are delighted to welcome Julie Paris to the international StandWithUs family. Her passion and expertise, as well as her engagement with so many wonderful organizations make her a perfect fit for the work of StandWithUs,” said Roz Rothstein, co-Founder and CEO StandWithUs. “With Julie’s leadership, we are certain to impact growing numbers of local middle school, high school and college students, as well as the community at large.”
Joining StandWithUs is a chance to create new relationships, strengthen existing ties, and work with and learn from “an incredible team,” Paris said. “I want people to know that we are apolitical and nonpartisan; we are an education organization. And I want to bring the tools and the resources of StandWithUs to the forefront of our community.” PJC
Adam Reinherz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.