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Abraham Foxman retiring from ADL

JTA

February 10, 2014 | 1:40 pm

Abraham Foxman in 2011. Photo by Justin Hoch/Hudson Union Society

Abraham Foxman in 2011. Photo by Justin Hoch/Hudson Union Society

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 from his post.

Foxman will step down on July 20, 2015, according to an announcement Monday 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 an ADL news release. “My years at ADL, particularly the 27 spent as National Director, could not have been more rewarding.”

Foxman announced his retirement at the ADL’s annual National Executive Committee meeting in Palm Beach, Fla. The organization said its search for Foxman’s successor will be conducted by the executive search firm BoardWalk Consulting and will be guided by ADL leadership.

A lawyer by training, 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.

Whether they be condemnations of foreign leaders or pardons of celebrities who have made ill-considered utterances, Foxman’s has been the authoritative voice on what is or is not acceptable to Jews.

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

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