By Sara Koplik
On June 26, the Anti-Defamation League announced that its New Mexico regional office would close on September 2, and all operations would be absorbed into the Denver office which currently serves Colorado and Wyoming. Suki Halevi will no longer be employed by the organization. In a letter to community leaders, David Waren, ADL vice-president for regional operations and Scott Levin, director of the ADL’s mountain state region, praised Halevi for her work over the past three years, and stated: “Suki has been a strong community presence for ADL and as a champion for counteract hate, and bringing about understanding and inclusion for all.” Indeed. Suki has brought so much to our community.
While I understand that this change is due to economic exigencies, that ADL considers New Mexico too small an area to have its own staff person, and Scott Levin is keen to work in our state, nonetheless, it is a real blow to our community. We are losing a tireless advocate for justice. Suki Halevi stood against hate in all its pernicious forms. She advocated for the most vulnerable in our society, including inmates, refugees and the undocumented. She built bridges to the Latino, immigrant, Muslim, LGBTQ communities as well as law enforcement, local and state leaders.
Suki Halevi stood by my side on campus, supporting Jewish students and helping them cope with hate from both the left and right side of the political spectrum. In some of our most challenging moments at Hillel House, she was there for us. She helped turn enemies into friends and partners. Suki never stopped caring about our community, and did her utmost to make it better. In these days when xenophobia, extremism, and hate are emerging from the shadows, it is even more disheartening to lose such a strong advocate. While I am certain that the Denver office is full of wonderful people who do good work, nothing replaces a full-time, dedicated individual who was willing to build relationship after relationship, and never tired of having the hard, face to face conversations.
The next time I receive a letter from an inmate describing anti-Semitic abuse, or a phone call from a worried parent whose middle schooler has a teacher espousing conspiracy theories, I will miss Suki Halevi. With the appearance of each new injustice and indignity, we will miss her. The loss of her special role in our Jewish community will be deeply felt.
Suki, we are so grateful for the years you spent as our advocate and ally. Thank you for serving our community with wisdom, grace and consummate professionalism. May you go from strength to strength.